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Physical Demands Barcelona/Madrid

This is listed as the most physically demanding tour which frightens me. I have been on the RS Rome and Paris tours and did fine, I just pace myself. For those of you who have been on numerous tours how much more demanding was the Barcelona and Madrid? Are there ways of working around some of the worse demands? Please give some advice. Thanks

Posted by
4818 posts

Sorry, you didn't provide any details on your tours. I have spent several days in both locations and did most of the touring on my own.
Suggest that you take up your concerns with the tour company.

Posted by
14267 posts

The OP means the RS tour. Honestly, I don't know why they rate this as among the most strenuous. I read the itinerary. I guess "strenuous" because of a lot of walking and standing. The walking is on level ground, maybe a little uphill or downhill slant here and there. Except Toledo which has some steep hills. All the "strenuous" days have hours of free time built in. I wouldn't worry but I would start walking more. And maybe get a portable stool.

I haven't been on any of the city tours, so I can't compare them.

Posted by
4818 posts

I looked over the Barcelona and Madrid tour that you mentioned. Some days are strenuous and others moderate.
Example, one day you go to the Prado and it was labeled strenuous.
We did the Prado and have done many art museums. We are in our early 70s and can handle 3 hours in an art museum. Yes, there is a lot of standing and you might not have a place to sit for a considerable period of time. To me this borders on strenuous, but I think of strenuous as hiking up steep hills or stairs.
We did the 800 steps in Naphilon, Greece to the fortress and passed several people half our age. It depends on how fit you are.
Get out and walk and get used to walking. Walking is healthy and helps me with my arthritis in my back.

Posted by
379 posts

All the major museums and cathedrals have free wheelchairs. If you think 3 hours of walking around the Prado is going to be too much, ask your tour guide to get you one.

Posted by
218 posts

I've been on 3 RS tours: Venice/Florence/Rome; Munich/Salzburg/Vienna; Barcelona/Madrid. I generally prefer to traverse large cities via subway or walking. I am in good health and walk for exercise.

I expected the Barcelona/Madrid tour (May 2019) to be strenuous due to its classification as strenuous and because there was no bus time. I had no problems keeping up with the group but found myself more tired at the end of some days than I'd expected, particularly on the day in Madrid when we walked from our hotel on the Gran Via to the Royal Palace then to The Prado. (note: the published itinerary says The Prado and Reina Sofia are seen on the same day; those museums are relatively close; instead we saw The Royal Palace and The Prado on the same day). The walking in Toledo was no problem at all.

My recommendations are:
1. in both Barcelona and Madrid, during your free time, be prepared to take taxis and the subway, being flexible between the two modes of transportation. For example, when our group tour of La Sagrada Familia ended and our free time began, I returned to the church to spend more time there. I had planned to take an easy subway ride back to our hotel but there was a subway strike on that day. I should have taken a taxi rather than walking back. Similarly, I had planned to ride the subway in Madrid, but the Gran Via metro stop by our hotel was closed for a long period for renovation. Again, I could have saved energy if I had ridden taxis in free time rather than walking.

  1. if you generally prefer the metro over taxis, if you are staying on/near Gran Via, find out before if the construction work at the Gran Via station has been completed.
Posted by
1258 posts

Hi John,

From what I’ve read about this tour in the reviews is that there is a lot of walking. One person was pretty upset about it too. Maybe it was hot? On the tours I’ve done (Turkey and BOE 21 days), the BOE had a lot of walking in Paris and for sure in Amsterdam. My only problem was the heat and humidity and standing for long periods at some art exhibits. One friend with us had bad shin splints (she took a foldable cane seat) prior to the trip and suffered through. Another had plantar fasciitis and hobbled his way through. Both found ways of resting along the way by taking public transportation in Switzerland (as an example) rather than walking back to a cable car or sat in a cafe on occasion or on a bench at times.

Me, I sat on benches in museums because standing hurts my lower back after about ten minutes in one spot.

My husband just recently developed hip pain. I see him sitting out a bit on our Barcelona Madrid tour in September unless the steroids kick In a bit more.
When are you going?

Posted by
12 posts

John, When are you going? I am on the March 8th Barcelona/Madrid tour. I am excited for the tour members list to come out in a couple of weeks.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks guys for your responses. I am on the Munich, Vienna tour end of April first of May so I was thinking of taking this one in September. Someone else noted they were on this in September. Did fine on the Paris and Rome tours. It's the steps that get most of us and the Rome tour has many more steps yet rated equal to Paris.

Posted by
14267 posts

Sometimes it's relative. I was on the Greece tour which is labeled as one of the more strenuous. My tour was April/May and I didn't find it at all overtaxing, except for one day when it was warmer than usual and there was a lot of up and down. I can see that in hot weather - when most of the tours are - it would be a lot harder since many days were outdoors with almost no shade.

Walking a lot in Madrid and Barcelona in the heat will be more draining than it would be in milder weather. Use timeanddate.com (past weather link) to find daily conditions for any month for the past 10 years. That will give you a better idea of what to expect. Without checking, I think Madrid will still be quite hot in September, maybe Barcelona too. I don't do well in the heat, I'd go in late October or even November.