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Request input on our 10 day Spain itinerary - please

Hi all,
My husband, 16 year old daughter and I will be flying into Madrid on July 1st and have to be back in Madrid on July 11th. I have to plan where we will go and what we will do, I have a shell of a plan and would like your input to see if we should spend more or less time in any of these places, or if we should cut out of these places out or add time in another... We would love some input from other travelers and also some recommendations on hotels and other things not to miss Thanks,

July 1-3 acclimate in Madrid.
July 3- drive to Granada
July 4 - see the Alhambra
July 5 ?
July 6 drive to Seville
July 7 see Alcazar
July 8 ??
July 9 - 1.5 hr drive to Cordoba
July 10 Hang out in Cordoba then dive to Madrid in the afternoon

Posted by
2080 posts

I have done several excellent driving trips in Europe, but when you have a train going to all of those places, and no plans to stop, I would definitely add the ease of train travel to your plan. Even on routes where I took the bus, I would not have driven given the particulars of this itinerary.
Of course it all depends on your plan and how far you are flying, etc., but I like to go to one of my other destinations upon arrival and work my way back to the last stop. Cordoba is great for this because it is such a quick trip from Madrid. But starting in Madrid works fine too, just a thought.
Your plan looks good, and I would add the open days to your existing stops--I really loved Cordoba and could always add time there, but Sevilla would probably be the most popular place to add time and has the most things to do. Casa de Pilatos was one place in Sevilla that I particularly enjoyed.

Posted by
19207 posts

Rick's top sightseeing suggestions are right on this website: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/spain. Click on one of your target cities under "Places", and then click on "At a Glance".

I agree that Seville, being the largest of the Andalucian cities, needs more time than the others.

On such a short trip it's a real shame to have to check into Madrid hotels twice. It's not a good use of your precious time. And if, like many of us, one or more of you is sleep-deprived/jetlagged on arrival day, that day's going to be a total loss if you hope to use it for sightseeing in Madrid. This is the logic behind the suggestion that you move on to one of your other stops on arrival day. That is really only practical/safe if you take the train rather than driving on this itinerary. But it makes great use of otherwise nearly-useless (for many travelers) time on arrival day and makes your last full day a great one for sightseeing in Madrid, without having to worry about getting back there from one of your other stops.

Americans tend to assume a car will be faster, but between major European cities that's usually not the case. Your route involves under 9 hours sitting on a train, versus an estimated 13-1/4 hours by car. That driving-time estimate is from ViaMichelin and does not allow for stopping, getting lost, traffic tie-ups or looking for parking. Realistically, you'll be spending close to 2 of your 9 days sitting in a car if you choose to drive. On a train you can at least enjoy a lunch or dinner you've packed.

Posted by
4010 posts

The train would get you all those places faster and cheaper. I would recommend taking the high speed train immediately upon your arrival to either Cordoba or Sevilla. Ten days is a good amount of time for Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba, so much easier, less stressful to use public transportation. I would absolutely recommend spending the last evening in Madrid prior to getting the plane the next day. I'm sure it doesn't happen often, but we had a train cancelled on us from Cordoba to Madrid.

EDITED TO ADD: We took the train to Sevilla right from the Madrid Airport. We probably slept during at least half the train ride. When we arrived to Sevilla we were ready to hit the town.

Posted by
4010 posts

If this were my trip (which unfortunately it isn't!), I'd do 4 nights in Sevilla, 2 in both Cordoba and Granada. That's gives you 2 in Madrid at the end. My favorite two sites were the Mezquita and the Alhambra, but honestly, everything was beautiful and interesting. My favorite cities were Sevilla and Cordoba.

Posted by
3166 posts

I agree with everthing said so far, but will add that it is likely to be VERY hot. Even though a car would have ac, the sun burning down through the windows will make it uncomfortable. Much of the landscape will be very brown and dry. Take trains.

Posted by
3316 posts

I agree that Sevilla needs more time. If you don’t intend on stopping between the cities you may as well take the train. A car works well when you want to make stops between cities. The heat shouldn’t be a factor on whether you rent a car, but you don’t need a car in the cities you want to visit and right now rental car prices are very high. I normally rent a car. I priced a rental car for the same dates as our 2017 trip and the current price is double what we paid then.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks all,

Great suggestions.
I think we will reverse our route and follow the advice to press on to our first destination rather than acclimate in Madrid at the end.
In doing so we will also reverse our route as Cordoba will be the shortest distance and after a long flight we will want to get to our hotel asap.
So how does this sound
July 1 - arrive in Madrid and take train to Cordoba.
July 2-3 acclimate and enjoy Cordoba
July 3 train to Sevilla arrive in evening
July 4, Alcazar
July 5 - ? other Sevilla sites
July 6 - ? other Sevilla sites
July 7 train to Granada (afternoon/evening)
July 8 - Alhambra
July 9 - ? Other Granada sites
July 10 train to Madrid.

How does the distribution of time look??

Posted by
1614 posts

I‘d take the train. I visited in 1970 and the few trains they had were very slow and the buses we took were even slower. Trains are much faster now.

Consider visiting Toledo from Madrid. I enjoyed it the most.

Posted by
4010 posts

I think its a good plan. Are you flying out on the 11th? I'm just asking because I would always try to be in my airport city the night before.

Posted by
1206 posts

Don’t know what time your plane lands in Madrid on Thu. Jul 1, but Iberia Airlines, ESs flagship carrier has a non-stop flight at 11:50a from Madrid to Granada for $128. By the time you clear customs it might be worth jumping on that flight arriving in Granada at 1p.
If not then take the train or bus from the airport to the Madrid-Puerta de Atocha train station. There’s one direct train to Granada departing at 2:35p (3h 30m).
The other alternative is to go to Cordoba first since more frequent direct trains depart Madrid-Puerta de Atocha at 8:30a, 9:35a, 9:45a, 11:35a, 11:50a, 1:30p, 2p and 2:35p (2h) and make Cordoba your first stop.
From the Cordoba Central station take a direct train to Granada (1h 30m). If you’re going to rent a car, do it in Granada the day you leave and drive to Ronda (2h 30m) and spend one night. The next day drive to Sevilla (2h) and return the car.
There’s a direct train from Seville Santa Justa station to Madrid-Puerta de Atocha (2h 45m). I would also take a day trip to Toledo (45-minutes) by direct train from Madrid.
I highly suggest that you buy Rick Steve’s ES guidebook https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/spain-guidebook and you can download an electronic version from his app.

Posted by
3166 posts

Just a note of caution regarding the suggestion that you get the Iberia flight from Madrid to Granada. It’s not customs that you will need to clear; it’s immigration, or as it’s sometimes called, passport control. How long it takes depends on how large your plane is and how many other planes land at the same time. Each passenger’s passport will be scrutinized; and, possibly, some questions wiil be asked. You would then need to retrieve your baggage and clear customs, an almost non-existent procedure unless you have something to declare. You would need to find out what your new departure gate is and get there, maybe needing to go through security again.
The suggestion of flying between Madrid and Granada is a good one, however. Go to a site like kayak or Skyscanner to see all the possibilities. In addition to Iberia, Vueling probably services that route. Most likely others, as well. Just be sure to allow plenty of time, because you would be flying on different tickets, which means no protection if you miss your flight.

Posted by
2080 posts

Looks fantastic! Now all you need is a guide book to determine what your family would most enjoy, but there are tons of options whether you like art, architecture, archaeology, or just tapas!