This forum has some of the best advice I have found, so I am hoping you experts can help me with a few itinerary questions. (fyi - you convinced me last year not to bother driving Valencia to Nerja!!)
My husband and I (mid-50's, Canadian, just retired, independent travelers who go with one carry-on bag each, pretty low key, both learning rudimentary Spanish now, and not so keen on big cities) will be spending 2 weeks in Spain in October. Flying into Madrid Wednesday Oct 8 from Edinburgh, arriving via Brussels Air about 11:30 pm. Meeting friends in Madrid Sunday Oct 12, and have booked an apartment for 2 nights near Paseo del Prado so we can see museums and soak up some local culture. We also have an apartment booked in Nerja for 6 days, October 18-24, before we fly home from Malaga.
We have been to Spain for 10 days a few years ago and loved it - Nerja (stayed in Hostal Marissal - simple, clean, perfectly located on Balcon de Europa, great walking area, vistas right outside, and paseo-watching from the bar downstairs), Granada (wonderful Alhambra and tapas), Cordoba (cute but over-rated), Ronda (beautiful spot and great mountain drive from Ronda to Malaga for our flight home).
We'd like to visit Ribera del Duero region for red wine, probably before we meet our friends in Madrid. Would like to see Toledo at night. Other than that, we are looking for spectacular scenery, quintessential Spain, fewer tourists, car or train. (Oh, and will be walking last part of the Camino next spring so will steer away from that area, plus will come back another time to hike in Picos de Europa and visit the Rioja region too.)
What do you think about the following itinerary?
Oct 8 - arriving late so stay in an airport hotel Madrid Barajas - any recommendations?
Oct 9 - 12 - Pick up rental car and drive to Duero for wine tasting - thinking maybe Penaranda or Penafael to stay - are those good spots or are there better locations in the area to stay? Maybe see Segovia en route to or from the area? Segovia better stop than Avila? Too far to get to Salamanca?
Oct 12 - return to Madrid, drop car, stay Madrid until Oct 14.
Oct 14, 15 - Toledo, by train
Oct 16, 17 - drive from Toledo to Cuenca and Teruel, to get off the beaten track and experience medieval villages and good scenery - good options? are there better choices? Pedraza de la Sierra? Siguenza? which spots would you stay? Is there one spot you could stay 2 nights and have a picturesque drive around the region on the day between? Or would it be better to go back up to Segovia or Salamanca in Leon instead? Or down to Seville by train instead for 2 days?
Oct 18 - train to Nerja - probably Malaga and pick up rental car to get to Nerja.
I will really appreciate your thoughts!! Thank you in advance for you experience and insights.