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Best of Spain - Post tour itinerary

We have booked the RS Best of Spain tour for 2020. The tour ends on September 27th and we fly home from Madrid on October 4th. So we have 7 nights to do some things on our own. We are thinking of renting a car in Sevilla (where the tour ends) and hopping around the Costa del Sol for a few days. We will then return to Sevilla to drop off the car and then take the train to Cordoba and probably spend two nights there. Then we will take the train to Madrid to catch our flight home.

Generally, how does that rough itinerary sound?

In late September and early October, do you think we really need to make hotel reservations for the Costa del Sol or Cordoba? We prefer to go day by day and make reservations on the fly.

Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions.......

Posted by
5011 posts

Couple points...

The Costa del Sol is not everyone's favorite part of Spain (Rick Steves derisively refers to it as the Costa del Tourismo...you might want to consult your Rick Steves Spain book for why). I tend to agree with his assessment, but tastes vary. Personally I'd look elsewhere for better stuff with my extra days (consider the Pueblos Blancos, aka white hill towns) - there's no shortage of great things to see in Spain.

As for Cordoba, I'd definitely make advance reservations for the Alhambra; tickets routinely sell out (ETA: oops, of course, wrong city...sorry; the Alhambra hasn't moved, and Cordoba is great even without it). I don't like "winging it" for accommodations, I prefer to have those nailed down well in advance to get the best places.

Posted by
2120 posts

Instead of the soul-less Costa del Sol 😉, consider spending your time around the Costa de la Luz instead, it's much more authentic, with less foreign tourists, and is actually closer to Sevilla. I'd first head to El Rocío, an Andalucian cowboy town, then explore Cadiz for a couple of days, then snake down the coast until you reach Tarifa, before making your way back up to Sevilla.

Take a look here for some more ideas: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/sep/27/cadiz-costa-de-la-luz-andalucia-spain-stay-eat-drink-guide

PS: The Alhambra is not in Cordoba, but rather in Granada, I think David is referring to la Mezquita. The actual tickets for the Mezquita are not available for purchase online in advance, but rather are bought when you walk up to the ticket office, they 99% never sell out though :)

Posted by
3666 posts

I'm confused. You are going to Granada/ Alhambra with the RS tour, correct? They will get the tickets. In terms of Cordoba, wonderful city! So much to see and do. We did not purchase our Mezquita tickets in advance. We did get there before the tour groups and day trippers. (We arrived at about 8am and got lots of wonderful pictures as we were pretty much alone) We were there at the beginning of November. Definitely spend 2 nights in Cordoba. I've not been to Costa del Sol. Unless you have other things you'd like to see in Andalusia, a couple days should be nice. BTW, in Cordoba we stayed at the Hotel Mezquita. Literally 10 feet from the Mezquita. Clean, huge room and bathroom, well priced, helpful staff. At that time of year, I'd worry about making reservations on the fly.

I rented a car at the Sevilla Santa Justa train station. Relatively easy.

EDITED TO ADD: Carlos and I responded at the same time. He typically has wonderful ideas. I would look at his recommendation for the coastal area.

Posted by
5011 posts

PS: The Alhambra is not in Cordoba, but rather in Granada, I think David is referring to la Mezquita...

Actually, my brain was just not firing on all cylinders. Carlos is of course correct, and as always has excellent advice.

Posted by
2120 posts

No worries David, they are quite similar when you get down to it, just a lot more people go to la Alhambra lol!

Posted by
1523 posts

Carlos mi bueno hombre - Are there towns with Roman ruins in the Costa de la luz region? Is the area cheaper then Costa del sol since it's less touristy?

Posted by
4573 posts

I took that tour this October, you'll love it. Like you, I added some time at the end -- another night in Sevilla, two in Cordoba, three more in Madrid. I'd recommend lining up your accommodations ahead, it will be high season. As for the car rental, you shouldn't have to return it to Sevilla. Return it to Cordoba to save time and cost.

I don't know the pros and cons of Costa del Sol vs. alternatives, but Carlos and acraven generally (always?) know what they're talking about. You'll have seen some of the hill towns on the tour, plus Jerez. One place I regretted missing is Cadiz, very close to Jerez.

Re the Mezquita -- tickets are sold there, no advance purchase (unless you want to go in later the same day). I saw a discouragingly long line on my weekend visit, then saw machines near the wall with no lines and got my ticket right away. It wasn't crowded inside. One of the outstanding sights of my trip. And, yes, it's in -- wait for it -- Cordoba! ;-)

Posted by
7 posts

Really appreciate the responses from all you seasoned travelers.........😊 We will check out all the suggestions.

Posted by
4742 posts

I have been to Spain several times and Costa del Sol was my least favorite area of Spain. The beaches are not very nice and other places have far more to see in terms of history, art and cultural enrichment.

Don't miss Toledo, Segovia in the Madrid area.

Sevilla is wonderful. If you don't go to Granada, suggest doing so.

Posted by
14241 posts

I wouldn't spend the time on the coast, but I'm not into beaches. If that's what you're looking for, then Costa de la Luz is surely better, especially since it's been recommended by very knowledgeable Carlos.

You can day trip to Cadiz by train from Sevilla, or include it on your coastal roadtrip.

If you are looking for more small towns, consider the area around Ubeda and Jaen by car.

Cordoba is my favorite Spanish city. I've visited 3 times, the first time for 2 nights, then back for 3-4 nights twice. The only sight I return to each time is the Mezquita. There are lots of small, interesting museums and a very well-preserved medieval area. And, like everywhere in Spain, great food and wine.

You can rent a car in Sevilla and return it in Cordoba - I've done that. You'll want GPS, especially to navigate driving in and out of the large cities. There's also a lot more to see in Sevilla than the tour covers.

My trips to Spain have been in February and March and I always book ahead to get the best deals. Early October is on the cusp of high season in that area.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all of the great suggestions and comments. We really appreciate the time everyone has taken.

Posted by
3045 posts

I too dislike the Costa Del Sol and avoid it. For some, it’s exactly what they’re looking for. I’m going to suggest the town of Rota on the Costa de la Luz. It’s small, and is close to Cadiz via a ferry. It’s also close to Jerez de La Frontera, Puerto de Santa Maria, 40 minutes to Arcos de la Frontera, and an hour from Sevilla. Two nice hotels are the Duque de la Najera (in town) and Playa de la Luz (just outside of town). Because it would be toward the end of the tourist season, it may not be as busy as earlier in September. By mid-October much of the town will have shut down.

Posted by
203 posts

Cordoba was delightful. We loved the Mezquita. Toledo was a great day trip by train from Madrid. We only had two days of sightseeing in Madrid and wish we'd scheduled more as it was a beautiful city. Hotels and food were less expensive there than in Barcelona, Granada, Seville, and Cordoba. We stayed at Hotel Moderno, which was pleasant and very conveniently located on the Plaza del Sol with a Metro stop about two minutes form the door of the hotel. We were in Spain Oct 31 - Nov 13 and hotels and sights were still very busy, with some of the hotels we booked selling out. We booked a tour of the Mezquita through GetYourGuide in advance but didn't book other sights in Madrid or Toledo in advance.