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Please critique my 13 day Spain itinerary

Hi, My wife and I (in our late 20s) will be visiting Spain for the first time in late March 2019-early April 2019. Could you please review our Spain itinerary? We both are native Spanish speakers, we do not like too many art museums (hence the limited time in Madrid). We like architecture, beautiful cities, live music (like flamenco), etc.

We'll be traveling by train to most places except the trip form Granada to Barcelona will be by plane. We already bought tickets to get into Madrid and leave from Barcelona, so that is set in stone

Day 1: arrive to Madrid (afternoon) from Los Angeles
Day 2: Madrid
Day 3: Toledo (stay overnight in Toledo)
Day 4: Cordoba day trip then stay night in Sevilla
Day 5: Sevilla
Day 6: Sevilla
Day 7: Travel to Granada
Day 8: Granada
Day 9: Granada
Day 10: Travel to Barcelona by plane
Day 11: Barcelona
Day 12: Barcelona
Day 13: Fly back from Barcelona to Los Angeles (afternoon)

Posted by
2594 posts

You have limited time which is the way life is sometimes. Looks fairly reasonable to me. I don't think you will end up with much time in Cordoba and you will have to hope you can store your luggage somewhere. Personally, I would knock off all the time in Madrid and go to Toledo when you arrive. I would stay overnight at least one night in Cordoba which is an amazing city. You may be able to cut a day from Granada. If you have extra days, I'd add to Barcelona. Madrid is fine, the other cities on your list are much more historic and interesting.

Posted by
12868 posts

I agree with everything Jules said.

If you haven't dug into rail schedules yet, you may not be aware that to travel from Toledo to Cordoba you must first take the train back to Madrid. That will, indeed, cut into your time in Cordoba.

Also, there are at least six extremely popular sights in Barcelona for which you'll need to buy tickets (probably timed tickets) in advance to avoid standing in very long ticket lines and quite possibly missing out entirely. These are the problem sights I am aware of: La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Picasso Museum, Casa Mila/La Pedrera, Casa Batllo and Palau de la Musica Catalana. Because of the need to pin down entry times to any of those places one wants to see, quick trips to Barcelona are unusually challenging. You just don't know how much time to allow between the first sight of the day and the second, except that when I took the tour at PdlMC in 2016, it lasted just under an hour. The other places will all take longer.

Research the possibilities and ask yourself, for each one, "Am I seriously interested in this, or is it on the list just out of a sense of duty?" The Picasso Museum in particular is very often so crowded you struggle to get close enough to the art to see it well and read the descriptions posted alongside.

Posted by
772 posts

Hello, so how I understand your itinerary, it goes a little like this:

Fly in to Madrid
Madrid (1 night)
AVE train to Toledo
Toledo (1 night)
AVE train to Sevilla via Madrid Atocha
Sevilla (3 nights)
ALSA bus to Granada
Granada (3 nights)
fly to Barcelona
Barcelona (4 nights)
Fly out of Barcelona

I agree with Jules and Acraven, if Madrid is not high on your list, I would not throw away one of your nights there, but rather go directly to Toledo and spend two nights there, it's a great place to get over jet-lag.

I would also remove one night from Granada and stay one night in Córdoba, the city is so much more than just a day-trip, in the same vain as Toledo. When Córdoba really comes alive is in the golden hours of the afternoon, when all the day-trippers from Sevilla have left, and one can wander the twisting white-washed streets, without having to dodge flag waving tour groups.

Taking in those considerations, here would be my revisions to your itinerary:

Fly in to Madrid and take AVE train to Toledo
Toledo (2 nights)
AVE train to Córdoba via Madrid Atocha
Córdoba (1 night)
AVE train to Sevilla
Sevilla (3 nights)
ALSA bus to Granada
Granada (2 nights)
fly to Barcelona
Barcelona (4 nights)
Fly out of Barcelona

Que tengas un buen viaje, España te va a encantar! :)

Posted by
2594 posts

I like Carlos's itinerary. My own personal preference would be one night in Toledo and two in Cordoba. BUT, in your specific case, I think it would be nice to have the extra day in Toledo since that is the beginning of your trip and you will likely be tired from your flight. In Toledo, right off Plaza Zocodor is a wonderful, inexpensive tapas place, El Trebol! I was just in southern Spain and I've provided links to my trip reports. My own personal bent is to go to inexpensive/good value restaurants and inns with local charm. Spain is a great place for that. You will want to finalize your itinerary soon and purchase advance tickets for Sevilla's alcazar, Granada's Alhambra and the sights you want to see in Barcelona. My guess is that the Alhambra may already be a bit tight.

Links:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/spain-andalusia-toledo-madrid-segovia
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/spain-andalusia-toledo-madrid-segovia-part-2
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/spain-andalusia-toledo-madrid-segovia-part-3
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/spain-andalusia-toledo-madrid-segovia-part-4

Posted by
12868 posts

I looked at the Alhambra website yesterday and it was a sea of yellow. No way to tell whether those days have 1 ticket left for one time slot or 10+ tickets left for every time slot unless you want to go through the booking process to check.

Posted by
2594 posts

@qfbariza, I'm curious how your planning is coming along and what decisions you've made. Also, I just wanted to say that it looks like there are still some tickets left for the Alhambra. If some reason Alhambra tickets for your actual date are unavailable, there are other ways to get yourself tickets. Probably more expensive, but I don't think its fruitless at this point. One would be to check with any tour guides in Granada. They may have tickets that they'd include in a tour price. Another would be to book your hotel and then reach out to them for suggestions. This would be a good reason to book your hotel by contacting them directly to establish a relationship.

Posted by
2668 posts

I want to put in a plug for getting a guided tour of the Alhambra. Just so you know, we are not neophytes (years of travel in Europe, graduate studies in history, including Islamic and medieval history), but we found that a good guide was invaluable. The site is massive, and you’ll get more from your visit with an expert to help you understand what you are seeing. I have visited twice. The first time we booked through our hotel; the second, on line. Both were excellent. You can see many guided tours listed and evaluated on Tripadvisor.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks everyone for their great feedback, I truly appreciate. It is really challenging everyone gave great suggestions and I know I have to go back since I won't have enough time to see it all. My updated itinerary is this one and I already bought my Alhambra tickets.

I forgot to mention two things: 1) We never get any jetlag and 2) We're traveling with a one bag carry-on only (Tortuga Setout Divide), so we don't need to store luggage for anything since our backpack is fairly light (less than 7Kg).

Day 1: arrive to Madrid (afternoon) from Los Angeles
Day 2: Madrid
Day 3: Toledo day trip (sleep in Madrid)
Day 4: Cordoba (overnight in Cordoba)
Day 5: Sevilla
Day 6: Sevilla
Day 7: Sevilla
Day 8: Granada
Day 9: Granada
-Alhambra
Day 10: Travel to Barcelona by plane
Day 11: Barcelona
Day 12: Barcelona
Day 13: Fly back from Barcelona to Los Angeles (afternoon)

Posted by
2572 posts

Not too bad, but you can do a day trip to Toledo from Madrid. Just take the train.

I would add a day to Sevilla and cut a day from Granada.

Another choice is to fly into Barcelona, then take the high speed train to Madrid and end your trip in Sevilla and fly home.

Posted by
115 posts

I enjoy Madrid more than most people who post on the RS forum; it is so much more than a couple of world class art museums. Every time I visit Spain, I spend some time in Madrid and plan to continue to do so. That being said, I enjoy Toledo much more when I spend a night there than just as a day trip. I highly recommend you reconsider trading one night in Madrid for a night in Toledo. It is so crowded during the day and so peaceful (relatively) at night; a joy to wander the medieval winding streets under the stars. Apart from that, considering what info you've given us, I think your adjusted itinerary is good.