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neighborhoods to stay in during 2 week trip to Spain that are less touristly,

Hi All,

My wife and I are planning a two week trip to Spain in early-mid October. I'm trying to see if we can do most of the trip by public transportation. Have only been to Barcelona previously.

We'd like to find neighborhoods that have local flavor and opportunity to interact with spanish people. During a trip to Portugal we stayed in alfama neighborhood in Lisbon where the neighborhood was staging a festival, complete with music all night in the tiny square, food and the world's smallest beer truck.

Thinking of 3-4 overnight destinations so we aren't always packing/unpacking. We are more half-day tourists with time spent people watching in a cafe.

  1. Madrid for 3 days,
  2. Looking at Seville if the experience (considering Madrid) doesn't make the whole vacation seem too 'urban'
  3. Granada
  4. Toledo, perhaps coming back from the south on the way to Madrid?

Backup thoughts would include Valencia or Salamonca

Any advice welcomed.

Thank you

Posted by
7991 posts

You have chosen excellent places to visit but they are all urban. You infer that you do not want all urban. Salamanca would be a contrast to the others as it is a university town.

Posted by
21307 posts

Just FYI: To get to Toledo from Granada (or Cordoba or Seville) by rail you would travel first to Madrid and change trains there. Toledo is on a spur railroad line that only connects to Madrid. The trains are fast, so this isn't an issue; I just didn't want you to be confused by the rail routing.

Posted by
511 posts

Here are a few ideas for you knowing that you might not want all city experiences. (Looking at your backup choices, I would say Salamanca over Valencia).

Since you will be going to Granada (the Alhambra is spectacular) take a look at Baeza and Úbeda. They are two small neighboring towns that are quite pretty, about 120 km north of Granada. Neither town has a train station. We got there by train from Madrid to Linares (the nearest train station) and then we had arranged a taxi to take us over to Baeza. We left by bus, and went south to Jaén but that route continues on to Granada. I see that now the RS Best of Andalucía tour makes a stop in Úbeda.

You already have Toledo on your list. Although many people do it as an easy daytrip from Madrid, consider staying overnight. Lots to see and do in Toledo and it is very pretty all illuminated at night. Make sure you go to one of the lookout points across the river to see Toledo in all its glory. The gates to the city are also very fascinating. The Toledo Cathedral is quite beautiful, my favorite. If you were to stay two nights in Toledo, that gives you time to explore Toledo and the next day take a bus over to Consuegra to see the windmills and the castle above the town. The views from the windmills overlooking the plains below are impressive and you will feel like Don Quijote.

Sevilla is great. Cordoba is smaller, pretty, and might give you that less urban feeling. The hardest part is just narrowing down all the options. Good luck.

Posted by
83 posts

First, many places that would fulfill your requirements are accessible by Spain's excellent train system; there's usually no need to rent a car, though it's hard to talk some people out of it. I've visited several such places myself, with Teruel, Zafra, and Trujillo standing out. One might debate about how small a town needs to be before it ceases to be "urban," but these towns definitely weren't "big city." I've taken all my Spain trips during the "off-season" months of November and December, so I don't know what my chosen destinations are like in "high" season, or even October; but had you visited them when I did, you would have found the un-touristy local flavor you seek, and would also have fulfilled your stated goal of "interacting with Spanish people," since they were the only ones there to interact with.
I should add, though, that towns like the one's I've recommended, though they usually have their respective points of interest, tend not to have the Famous and Fabulous "Must-See" Spectacles that you find in those 100-places-to-see-before-you-die lists.