October 8 - 18

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.


Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
1010 posts

If you have reservations for October 12 (Spain Day) you should be fine -- I almost ended up homeless in Seville on that weekend several years ago. Big holiday.

Posted by H J
LaGrange, Ga, USA
1156 posts

Toledo....recommend the Posada de Manolo, near the cathedral..great breakfast overlooking the cathederal.

Airport Hotel...Hotel Ibis, in Barajas...simple, clean, van to the airport.

Sevilla for two days would be great...Really Discover Sevilla tour company...small and great service..they can recommend an excellent flamenco show. go early and sit on the front row!!! Segovia and Salamanca are both nice as well, but for one visit, I would choose Sevilla.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

It looks like you have three car rental periods. The short term rate is going to be about sixty bucks a day. You're going to be paying for train tickets and car rental on the same days, I think.

If you rent a car for a week or more, the daily rate will drop to less than twenty-five dollars. You'll also save the administrative time of picking up and returning multiple cars, getting to and from train stations, etc. You'd have to check train travel durations, but a car will be just about as fast, or maybe faster, overall. Driving times for the entire route is something less than twenty hours.

You might consider reorganizing the sequence.

Posted by Marbleskies
682 posts

Tach Madrid Airport Hotel is the hotel I booked for our daughter at 42 euro a night.
I drink almost exclusively spanish wines since 2005. Their vineyards offer a lot of great wine and many have a "come on in" mentality to visitors. Use google to map the vineyards and do your research on those you might desire to visit. Some of my favorite wines are: eguia, eguren, muga and tarima hill. Alicante has several exellent vineyards in the area.
I agree with Brad about saving money with a longer continuous rental of the car. Have you acquired the international drivers permit from AAA which is required by law in spain? It is $20 and should be viewed as an insurance policy.
I also recommend you take out a map, if you have not done so, and draw out the proposed routes. There may be a better optimum route by reorganizing the itinerary.
Given your experience and wonderful travel attitudes I recommend the car for the entire trip. Am confident you will discover some hidden gem experiences.
Our daughter is spending the summer in granada and is actually going to nerja this weekend. We are starting to question if she will return.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8835 posts

You've had some good advice already. I'd also skip the repeat of Nerja in favor of more new attractions, whether north or south!