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Navigating around Madrid province and then on to Ronda, then Barcelona

After researching many areas of Spain, combining thoughts with ideas from family our itinerary for 2 adults/3 children will include:
a). July 20-24 Madrid/surrounding area (secured city hotel but not sure wish to stay there, although all in one room)
b). July 24-28 Ronda area
c). July 28-31 Barcelona/surrounding area
We will be flying into Spain From London, and out of Barcelona back to the US. When in the city, we plan to spend a little time on the hop on/off bus to "get our bearings." My questions relate to:
a). What we should focus on in the Madrid area, including surrounding areas, up to no more than one hour drive, prefer less. Is Laguardia too far away to visit?
b). Should we use a country setting as base vs. Madrid? Probably won't spend long hours in more than one museum in each destination.
c). What modes of transportation do you think are best considering young children carting around luggage, which they do fine with in US.
d). Which areas are we better off training to, or a rental car?
e). Should we fly Ronda to Barcelona or train? Cost efficiency is great so perhaps trains are better than flying. Don't mind a few hour drive but too much through the mountains not always great on kids' stomachs.
f). Have lots of ideas already related to Barcelona. Should we include a trip to Girona?
g). Considering shorting the Ronda visit by one day to add to either Madrid or Barcelona area.
h). One completely offshoot idea: I recently read on July 25 is feast of St. James and pilgrimage near Campo DiPostela (sorry for incorrect spelling). Has anybody does this or heard about it and worth trying to take part? My guess is you'll say nix the idea.
Thank you for your thoughts!
Lori

Posted by
1130 posts

A. Rent an apt in madrid to obtain more space and a kitchen. Do not rent a car. Pick a day trip and do it by train.
B. how are you getting to ronda? What is your definition of the "ronda area"? Ronda itself can be done in a day and can also be worth an overnight stay.
C. I would add 2 days to barcelona and rent an apt. No need for a car.
D. For the number of peole and luggage you will have i recommend staying w trains. You will need a large car for all the gang and even a minimal amount of luggage.
E. You keep referencing ronda, do you mean seville? From seville to barcelona i would fly.
F. No comment
G. If you really mean ronda then drop two days and add to barcelona. Nice beach to relax at in barcelona.
H. No comment
I. Have fun!

Posted by
138 posts

Thanks so much for responding! Feeling good about nailing down this itinerary and hopefully appealing to many ages and tastes. :)
A. Rent an apt in madrid to obtain more space and a kitchen. Do not rent a car. Pick a day trip and do it by train.
We currently have a suite in Madrid at the Westin Palace that we are using points for, however, I will look at apartments... and not rent car.
B. how are you getting to ronda? What is your definition of the "ronda area"? Ronda itself can be done in a day and can also be worth an overnight stay.
We will take the train from Madrid to Seville, pick up a rental. Tool around and then drive to ranch in Ronda and do day trips from there, horse back riding, swimming, etc. Also, thought would drive to Jerez for horse show. On Via Michelin site, noticing it is 1.5 to 2 hours each way for both Jerez and Seville. Perhaps I should rethink Ronda location... but knew my kids would love hanging out with their 200 horses, farm animals, etc. What airlines within Spain should we be looking at?
C. I would add 2 days to barcelona and rent an apt. No need for a car.
I will add a night to Barcelona, no car.

When you do day trips, how much walking from getting off train to getting to sites? Also, having trouble figuring Renfe out. I printed trip advisor notes... will go to them. Also heard Petrabax is good for finding Renfe train tickets, for nominal fee. However, having problem with site - do I need to use Explorer? My typed city does not show up.
I. Have fun!
Will do!

Posted by
9363 posts

I have stayed at the Westin Palace three times in the past couple of years, and I love it. It is perfectly situated for all of the best sites in Madrid - right across the street from the Thyssen and Prado museums, walkable distance to Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor, a block or so away from Retiro Park, and just a few blocks from Atocha train station.

Santiago de Compostela is all the way across Spain from where you otherwise plan to be.

How young are your children?

Posted by
14399 posts

Madrid - the Maritime Museum may be more interesting to your children than the art museums (Prado, Thyssen). The HOHO bus has commentary in English for children and it's more interesting than the one for adults. Toledo is an easy day trip by train.

Ronda is in the mountains. The hill towns (pueblos blancos), including Ronda, are built in mountain slopes and have steep narrow streets. Driving them can be challenging, especially with a large car. To give you an idea, the Hyundai Accent is considered a mid-size car in Spain, in the U.S. it's a subcompact.

Jerez is at least a 2-hour drive from Ronda, mostly in the mountains, but it's just about a 1-hour train ride from Seville. Check the riding school website http://www.realescuela.org/en/ for show dates, since they are only twice a week.

How does your family do in the heat? Seville (and the rest of Andalusia) can easily be over 100 degrees in the summer.

Posted by
1130 posts

Renfe site is a pain, but no need to pay someone else a fee. I utilze safari to access renfe. Patiently work w renfe site. Try tripadvisor site for good renfe instructions. Kids love horses then stick w plan to stay near ronda.
Pu car upon deprting seville. When you visit ronda park outside the old town area on a residential street. Means more walking, but avoids a lot of issues.
Madrid + kids = retireo park
Barcelona has an excellent amusement park plus nice beaches.
Vueling is an a irline to consider.

Posted by
138 posts

Thanks all!

  • Will stick with Westin Palace then
  • The Maritime museum is definitely on our tick list.
  • Our kids are 11, 11, and 8 and I'm trying to pick out things for each one in particular (all have different interests) but should appeal to them all. They love being in the mountains on a farm/ranch setting, which is rationale in part for Ronda location. Thanks for the points about steep hill driving. We may skip the Jerez show, especially with temps that could rise that high. I'll check out that site.
  • In regard to that and the distance, would it be helpful for us to train or fly into Malaga instead of Seville? It's a shorter driving distance and perhaps may not have as many steep roads, not that we didn't encounter them in Germany before:) )
  • I have nixed the Santiago di Compostela idea. Yes, too far away. I may come back to you all if I still need train assistance. :) For plane rides, eDreams seems to have great deals. Again, thank you!
Posted by
138 posts

Oh, and since I've nixed ideas of LaGuardia region add on, was wondering if any of you know of regions around Madrid, Ronda, Barcelona that you would recommend as "wine country" where a quick visit might be grand? Thanks!

Posted by
9363 posts

"When you do day trips, how much walking from getting off train to getting to sites?"

Where are you talking about, and what sites do you want to see?

The Maritime Museum that Chani mentioned is just down the block from Westin Palace, too, right around the corner from Cibeles.

Posted by
14399 posts

The horse show in Jerez is indoors. If you take the train from Seville (day trip), take a taxi from the train to the riding school. Then a taxi to your next stop. The Tio Pepe bodega has the best wine tour.

In Ronda, I went to Bodegas La Sangre de Ronda Centro de Interpretacion del Vino. Yes, it's a wine shop and tasting room (pretty good too) but it is also a museum and the kids would probably enjoy it too.

Posted by
980 posts

Stay in central Madrid where you can walk to everything. Take the train to Ronda. You can relax there and enjoy the small town atompshere and scenery. We took the train back to Madrid from Ronda and then flew to Barcelona (after spending a few nights). With a family I'd drive from Ronda to Barcelona. Have fun!!!

Posted by
138 posts

Kevin, thanks for replying. I was just about to pose a question if I should skip Ronda altogether. I've seen some cheap flights out of Malaga to BCN so intend to do that. Can you tell me what trains you took from Ronda into Madrid? I've begun to try out Renfe but there don't seem to be direct trains from Madrid to Ronda. I'll take another look when I have dedicated time.
Also, can you tell me how you spent your time in and around Ronda? Just want to make sure I'm using my time there wisely.
Again, thanks!