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Please advise on our itinerary for late June/early July Spain trip.

Hot, yes, but unfortunately due to graduation and work schedule that’s the only time it works for our family (2 college students & 2 adults). We’ve been to Barcelona in June for a week previously. Also, We’ve experienced with and familiar with HOT summers in Phoenix so hopefully won’t be such a shock. *cross fingers.

Our interest is mainly art & architecture, no driving. We’re planning to train between towns.

1.June 18, 19 Lisbon (for 2 of us! Great air fare RT to Lisbon. 1 of us have been to Lisbon previously.
2. Sat June 20, fly to Madrid. Sleep
3. Sun Jun 21, other 2 joined—Sleep Madrid
4. Mon,Tues, Weds, Thurs—Sleep Madrid. (Toledo day trip one day via Taxi for 4 of us)
5. Fri, Sat, Sun, June 26-27,28 —Sleep0 Granada. (*Alhambra ticket cross fingers)
6. Mon,Tues, Weds Jun 29,30,July1–Sleep Seville (Cordoba day trip)
7. Thurs July 2–train to Madrid (revisit Prado or other art museums or just chill)
8. Friday July 3–Day trip to Segovia. (Sleep Madrid)
9. Sat July 4th, 2 of us leave for home from Madrid, 2 sleep in Madrid
10. Sun —original 2 fly to Lisbon & home on Monday July 6th am

Doable? Any suggestion for changes?

Thank you ahead for your advice.

Posted by
463 posts

My first thought is that you’ll be in Granada over the weekend, which will mean its more crowded. There is a music and dance festival in Granada starting 6/21, which could be wonderful, but will probably mean more crowds. I would get lodging reserved (cancellable) quickly. We stayed in a great apartment in Nov. via AirBnB. Search for “Modern central penthouse, rooftop pool & terrace”.

Posted by
582 posts

Have you made your airline reservations yet? I am asking because I think you are wasting time flying to Lisbon. If you arrive on the 18th, the first day will be half a day and jetlagged, and then you only have one full day. Then at the end of your trip, you waste precious time by flying back to Lisbon. If you have made your reservations, then there is nothing you can do about it now. I don't mean to be rude, but by flying in/out of Lisbon, you have lost 2.5 days that could have been spent in Spain, and you only gain 1 - 1.5 days in Lisbon.

You are spending a lot of time in Madrid. It looks like you have 6 nights in Madrid at the beginning and 2 nights at the end. I really like Madrid, but you are shortchanging Toledo, Seville, and Cordoba. I would take one of those nights and spend one night in Toledo. Toledo is very, very crowded with tour buses during the day. It is so much nicer in the evening after the tour groups have left. If we saw Toledo as a day trip, I would have left there wondering what all the fuss is about.

You have 3 days in Seville, but when you consider the travel time getting there and the day trip to Cordoba, you really have only 1.5 days for Seville which is not nearly enough. IMO, you need 4 nights in Seville to see the important historical and cultural sites.

I would also spend at least one night in Cordoba. The Mezquita is amazing but there is more to Cordoba than just the Mezquita. We enjoyed the gardens of the Alcazar, Palacio de Viana, Roman Bridge illuminated at night, and wandering through the Juderia, with its white-washed walls, narrow lanes, patios and flower pots.

If you revise your itinerary, can you let us know the number of nights in each place? Many of us plan our trips by counting nights, not days. Two nights gives you one full day; 3 nights gives you 2 full days, etc. I don't mean to be nitpicky, but it is a bit confusing to figure out the number of nights by the way you wrote it.

Posted by
14267 posts

Do not get blinded by the plethora of art in Madrid to the point of ignoring it in other places. On my 3rd stay in Cordoba I happened into the Julio Romero de Torres Museum while waiting for my chosen restaurant to open for lunch. Also, while those great art museums are worth a lot of time, Madrid itself is by far the least interesting of all your destinations.

Both Toledo and Cordoba are much better as overnight stays, they are charming in the early morning and evening hours.

I agree with kmkwoo, if you haven't locked into flights yet, reconsider the plan. While you're saving on airfare, you are losing a lot of time by going through Lisbon and it sounds like time may be more precious to you than the added cost.

Posted by
62 posts

Thanks so much for your input. I’ll rework our itinerary on your suggestions.

There are 4 of us traveling, but only husband & daughter 1 are constrained by time due to work schedule; we haven’t bought their flight tickets.

Daughter 2 & I are free this summer, so when we heard RT to Lisbon was less than $700 on Delta, we jumped. We saved 2K doing this way, more than worth it for the hassle as we got time. I’ve been to Lisbon before, so I figure I could spend a couple days recovering from jet lag while spending some private time with Daughter 2.

I’ll figure out how to fit in Toledo & Cordoba for overnight stay. (I wanted to limit changing hotels because it’s a lot more hassle moving 4 people and than 2, we discovered from experience).

Seville got short changed because husband and I plan to return to Spain in cooler weather sometimes in next two years to do the camino, and then again travel to Southern Spain and do a more leisure drive around hill towns and explore Seville, Ronda etc... then. The daughters don’t want to be in a car this summer exploring little towns in the heat, they said. They like train travel.

Posted by
62 posts

Itinerary Revision #1.

Day 1-2: Sleep Lisbon for 2 of us (prob will stay at airport hotel for ease, and uber into town for sightseeing)
Day 3-7: Sleep in Madrid. (All 4 of us) Prob stay near museums area)
Day 8: Sleep Toledo. (Will taxi there with 4 of us)
Day 9,10,11: Sleep Granada. (Train from Toledo to Granada - 4 hours)
Day 12,13,14: Sleep Seville.
Day 15: Sleep Cordoba. (45 minutes train from Seville)
Day 16: Sleep Madrid Airport (2 of us fly Home, 2 to Lisbon)
Day 17,18: Sleep Lisbon airport again for original 2.

Flying into and out of Lisbon is not convenient, but as 2 of us have free time and even with hotel stays and flying RT to Madrid, what we still we be saving in airfare from States for 2/4 will make the whole trip in Spain easier with budgeting. ;).

Posted by
1239 posts

The outline of Itinerary #2 looks fine, except that I don't think you have taken account of practicalities of travel. In particular, I don't think there is any way you can go by train from Toledo to Granada in 4 hours. 6 or 7 hours is more likely and you have to add the time at each end getting between your accommodation and the railway station.

Personally, I'd drop Toledo and Cordoba as overnights and do them as day-trips, if only to reduce the number of hotel changes. Of course both towns are great and worth an overnight stop - but, again, I'd be practical and not wish to move accommodation so much. If that isn't a concern for you, then ignore me!

Between Madrid and Lisboa, for at least one of the two trips, I'd consider using the sleeper service. A much more pleasant way of travelling than flying.

Posted by
582 posts

Hi rafisach,
Ah, now I understand why you chose to fly in and out of Lisbon. 2K is a lot of money to save!

Your revised itinerary is much better! Looks like you have 5.5 days in Madrid, which will give your other family members some time to get over jetlag and for everyone to leisurely sightsee. I agree with staying near the museum area. If you are looking for hotel recommendations, we stayed at the Mercure Madrid Centro, Calle Lope de Vega 49, very convenient to the Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssen, and Atocha train station. Also within walking distance of Retiro Park and a block away from Calle de Jesus with all its tapas restaurants. And within walking distance to Puerta del Sol. We took a taxi to Palacio Real.

I like your allocation of nights for your other destinations.

Nick mentions that the train from Toledo to Granada could take 6 to 7 hours. You do have to change trains in Madrid, which is very easy. We did that with no problems at all. I wonder if it might make sense to change the routing of your itinerary a bit. For example, you could go to Cordoba after Toledo, which is what we did. The train from Toledo to Madrid is 30 minutes; we had a 30-minute layover at Atocha; then took AVE train to Cordoba which is about 2 hours. According to my notes, we were in Cordoba by 1:30PM.

So your revised routing could be:
Madrid to Toledo
Toledo to Cordoba
Cordoba to Granada
Granada to Seville
Seville to Madrid

I realize it's only a 45-minute train ride from Seville to Cordoba, but does that make it worthwhile to take 6 or 7 hours to go from Toledo to Granada? You should check all the train times/schedules before you make your final decision.

Train travel in Spain is excellent! It's the way to go on this trip!

Posted by
62 posts

Much appreciated for all your help! I had preliminarily used time estimate from RS' book but Nick's caution about travel logistics point me to more detailed research. (Still ongoing).

-Sigh. Going from Stay in Toledo to Granada's Stay would be ( 7-8 hours if no hiccups) with many changes.

Itinerary Revision #2
Day 1-2: Lisbon for 2 of us
Day 3-8: Madrid (All 4 of us). (booked apt 5 min fr Atocha. Keep apt with break to Toledo overnight D#6)
Day 9,10,11: Fri/Sat/Sun (From Madrid Atocha to Granada by train or by bus direct 5 hours)Sleep Granada.
Day 12, 13, 14 Seville (Bus from Granada to Seville, direct 3hours)
Day 15 Cordoba (Avant train from Seville to Cordoba)
Day 16 (F): Sleep Madrid Airport. (Cordoba to Madrid by train)

Day 17,18: Lisbon for 2.

Trains into/out of Granada seems limited still (I checked for Feb to get idea, though I understand they will change). I'm hoping this itinerary will give us flexibility of traveling by bus if needed, without it being more than 5 hours on bus at most.

Posted by
18746 posts

Yes, there don't seem to be many trains to and from Granada at this point.

One advantage of spending a night in Toledo and in Cordoba rather than doing day-trips is that you'll be sightseeing near your accommodations and will be able to head back to your air-conditioned rooms if you need a break in the afternoon. On a summer trip, that could prove helpful.