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RS Tour May-June: Then what?

Departing for a Rick Steves Tour of Spain May 23:

Barcelona (3)
Madrid (3) + Segovia
Toledo (1)
Granada (2)
Ronda (1)
Arcos (2)
Seville (2)
Then (June 5th) We are wanting to travel around Southern Spain. Thinking:

Cordoba (2)
Malaga (1)
Gibraltar day trip? [several have advised that Tangier is not worth it.]

Nerja (?)
Frigiliana (bus from Nerja)
Another coastal town? Murcia?
Vallencia
Should we rent a car for some/ all of it? Trains?

Other recommendations along the way?
Then fly over to Mallorca for a couple of nights before flying back to Madrid to return home.

Suggestions / Comments?

Thanking you, all that respond in advance!!!

Posted by
143 posts

My 2010 RS tour of Spain was outstanding. At the time it included two nights in Tangier, Morocco. Having a guide show us around was essential. The people, the culture and the country are unlike anything I had experienced in Spain. I spent three weeks in Morocco in March 2020 and had a phenomenal time until the pandemic shuttered everything. Planning to return soon.

Posted by
4211 posts

I highly recommend Cordoba. The Mezquita is a amazing, a church built inside a mosque! The old town and its patios are stunning. Jewish quarter is picturesque and the views along the river are very nice.

Posted by
2505 posts

How many nights do you have between the end of your tour in Sevilla and the flight to Mallorca (from which city?)?

Only 2 nights in Sevilla feels woefully inadequate.

Posted by
20797 posts

The two nights the tours spends in Seville aren't enough. It's a large city with a lot of sights, and they are scattered. Adding more time there (maybe two more nights) would be the first way I'd use part of your extra time, because it would all be productive, with no time spent traveling to a new city. In suggesting that you add two nights rather than three or more, I'm allowing for the fact that the tour will help you see part of the city more efficiently than you could manage it yourself.

Actually, tied for #1 as the best way to use extra time you have available would be to arrive in Barcelona at least two days early, because spending only two nights there is painfully inadequate.

Cordoba is certainly worth a couple of nights (more in my case). That would be my first choice of a new destination for you.

Malaga is also enjoyable. It has some interesting sights, just not as many and important as the ones in the cities I've already mentioned. I would want at least two nights there, though. One night really just means a few hours. The tour moves really fast, and I don't think you're going to want to keep going at that pace during your post-tour travels.

I haven't been to Gibraltar, Nerja or Frigiliana despite having spent 4-1/2 months in Spain since 2016, because I judged I'd enjoy other places more and wanted a lot more time in the cities your tour goes to than the tour itself allows. I took a lot of day-trips, including a visit to Carmona while I was staying in Seville for six nights.

I have been to Tangier and don't recommend it. Morocco is so wonderful, and Tangier just isn't. Plus it takes quite a while to get there. You have to get to the port from whatever city you previously visit in Spain, and you have to be there in plenty of time to catch the ferry, then you have the ferry ride itself. Then you have to repeat the trek in reverse. And when all is said and done, you have only managed to see Tangier. There are flights to much more interesting Moroccan cities (like Fes and Marrakech) from a lot of European cities, so you can hop over to Morocco during a later trip to Europe. You don't have to settle for Tangier just because you happen to be in southern Spain.

Our poster who lives in or near Murcia has indicated, I believe, that the food in that area is very good but the sightseeing charms are a bit subtle by comparison to many other places. I haven't been to Murcia myself, but I can tell you (having traveled through the area) that transportation from Granada up to Valencia is a slog. If traveling by rail you are routed (on the very fast AVE trains) back to Madrid before heading east to Valencia. The bus takes all day and is $$$ unless you figure out how to break the ticket at the right point (which might actually be Murcia).

Valencia I would rank roughly in the same category as Malaga. Nice, attractive, some things to see, but not as distinctive a destination as Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Barcelona or Madrid.

If you go to Valencia, hilly, medieval Cuenca--which is right on the AVE rail line between Madrid and Valencia--is a very nice stopover for a day or so. It's much smaller than Toledo (which you will probably not have gotten your fill of since the tour only spends one night there), and there are a couple of small but worthwhile modern-art museums.

Other places of interest in Andalucia include Ubeda and Baeza, which are Renaissance towns quite different from what you'll see elsewhere. At least part of the journey to those towns from any direction includes a segment of bus travel.

The rest of the post-tour traveling you're contemplating can be done by public transportation. A car might be helpful to get to Valencia more rapidly, but that would depend on where you were the previous night. For example, you might think renting a car for the 6-1/2 hour drive from Malaga to Valencia would save a lot of time, but AVE service via Madrid is faster by as much as 90 minutes.

Posted by
20797 posts

I ran out of space before addressing the idea of flying to Mallorca for two nights. I haven't been there yet but have researched the island. It definitely doesn't seem like a two-night destination to me. I'm planning on at least six nights and would think four would be the minimum; I think you'd need more time if you want more than half a day to explore beaches. Palma has interesting sights (including some modernista buildings), there's a man-made pearl industry on the island to check out, and the terrain makes for really nice scenery. (Mallorca's the place to rent a car.) Don't discount the irritation factor of having to deal with airports just two days before you're due to fly home. And be sure you'd be able to start from Palma and still make it home in one day, as you could from Barcelona or Madrid. Otherwise, having about 1-1/2 days on Mallorca will cost you three days of your time, which doesn't seem like a good deal to me.

The other thing to keep in mind is that by the time your tour ends, you're into June. It may be quite hot down in Andalucia by then. It's a trade-off: Do you want to take advantage of already being there to see many or all of the other places in southern Spain that sound intriguing to you, or do you want to head to cooler climes after the tour, understanding that you may very well feel like you must get back to that part of Spain soon, but a bit earlier in the year.

Posted by
452 posts

"…Gibraltar day trip? [several have advised that Tangier is not worth it.]"
Tangier isn't worth it and neither is Gibraltar … IMO…unless, of course, you are in need of faux-Brit food and drink, and have a die-hard fascination for Napoleonic-WW2 epoch military archaelogy.
A suggestion is if you're down in that neck of the woods of southern Andalusia, is to visit Cádiz, a warm (in all senses) city which feels like a town made of several small villages. Cádiz doesn't boast as loudly as other Andalusian cities — apart from the fact it hosts the biggest and best Carnaval outside Rio de Janeiro — but it has a very certain charm, a quirky museum, examples of the same kind of monkeys you would have found in Gibraltar, and a ferry to Puerto de Santa Maria — where you can sip some of the best sherries, and eat some of the best seafood in Spain.
Enjoy your visit.

Posted by
5221 posts

A lot of good informed advice from acraven, as usual. I took this tour in fall 2019 and loved it. I got to Barcelona several days early, and after the tour stayed in Sevilla another night (could have used more), then train to Cordoba for two nights, then train to Madrid for a few more nights before flying home from there. The tour is fast-paced and very well designed, but additional time before and after makes a better overall trip.

I also agree with julesm about the Mezquita and Cordoba generally -- not to be missed or short-shrifted. (The Museum of Andalucian life wasn't worth the walk across the bridge for me, but the views were.)

I suggest Mallorca not as the last destination on your land trip, but as next to last, with your last place being the city you'll fly home from (like Madrid or Barcelona). That gives you more flexibility.

Posted by
64 posts

You all are so knowledgeable and helpful!!
Yes, we will arrive in Barcelona a few days prior to the tour, so we can see things not on the RS tour (and catch up with the time change !)

Posted by
2505 posts

Cádiz doesn't boast as loudly as other Andalusian cities — apart from the fact it hosts the biggest and best Carnaval outside Rio de Janeiro

I think you'll find that distinction belongs to Carnaval de Santa Cruz on the Island of Tenerife, although both are fabulous nonetheless ;-)

Posted by
452 posts

@Carlos ;-) back atcha. You know, and you know where I'm coming from. However, you must agree that Cádiz is a fascinating city. All the best.

Posted by
64 posts

Revised based on the wonderful comments received!
Thoughts??

Barcelona early arrival (4)
RS Tour begins:
Barcelona (2)
Madrid (3) + Segovia
Toledo (1)
Granada (2)
Ronda (1)
Arcos (2)
Seville (2)

Then, on our own:
Seville (1)
Train to Cadiz (1)
Train to Cordoba (2)
Train to Malaga (1)

Bus to Nerja (2) Bus / daytrip up to Frigiliana
Bus to Malaga; Fly Malaga – Mallorca (3)
Fly home

Posted by
20797 posts

Granada (2)
Ronda (1)
Arcos (2)
Seville (2)

Then, on our own:
Seville (1)
Train to Cadiz (1)
Train to Cordoba (2)
Train to Malaga (1)

Bus to Nerja (2) Bus / daytrip up to Frigiliana
Bus to Malaga; Fly Malaga – Mallorca (3)
Fly home

That's rather a lot of transportation to get just some hours in Cadiz. It's a nice historic city, but you're traveling from Seville south to Cadiz, then north back past Seville to reach Cordoba, then south (on a different train line) to Malaga. By the time you add in the getting-to-the-train-station time, the jog down to Cadiz is probably going to cost you about six hours (plus extra for checking into and out of the hotel). That's a lot of overhead.

And I think you still have too little time in Mallorca. To reduce travel time and maximize sightseeing time, I'd drop Cadiz in this situation. (It would be different if your tour didn't include Ronda and the white villages and you were going to take a road trip from Cadiz through that area to Malaga.) I'd throw the extra (ex-Cadiz) night to Mallorca; second choice would be Seville.

This is just one person's opinion. And this person admits to being a very slow traveler.

Posted by
64 posts

acraven YOU are a savvy traveler!!

I tend to agree about Cadiz. ---Save that for another trip.

Sevilla: We are already there 2 nights with RS, and 1 on our own.
Mallaga: We are currently showing 3 nights, so two full days (plus the afternoon upon arrival).

Which to add to: is this a coin toss? Or do you have strong feelings about more time in one vs. the other?
Thanks!

Posted by
796 posts

I would spend a total of 4 nights in Seville. It is a wonderful city with plenty of exciting and important historical sights. And a beautiful city just for wandering around and enjoying the ambiance. Do spend some time in the Triana district of Seville. Don't rush through the Alcazar. It is amazing!!! We loved the cathedral, Plaza de Espagna, and the Casa di Pilatos. Take a horse & buggy ride. See a flamenco show.

You currently show 1 night in Malaga. I would spend 2 or 3 nights in Malaga. We loved it and I think it's an underrated city. The old city center is beautiful. We spent about 2/3 of a day slowly walking to the top of the Alcazaba and Castillo. There is a wonderful market; many impressive small art museums; we enjoyed the Picasso Museum. Also take a walk along the seaside promenade and have drinks overlooking the harbor while the sun is setting.

Posted by
64 posts

With only 3 nights between Malaga and Nerja, how should we split those up?
Or, can Nerja + Frigiliana be done as a day trip (just staying 3 nights in Malaga)?

Posted by
20797 posts

I wasn't suggesting adding the night to Malaga, but rather to Mallorca. That's an entire island, not just a city. Three nights there (requiring additional flights) just doesn't seem like a good idea to me. I definitely don't think four nights in Seville is too long, but to fly all the way to Mallorca for less than three full days is something I wouldn't dream of doing.

I have no experience traveling east of Malaga along the coast and am not sure of the transportation available, but I believe it's buses. Rome2Rio.com isn't showing service beyond La Caleta de Velez (well short of Nerja), but that might just be a winter situation. I struggle to believe it's impossible to get to Nerja, at least, by public transportation.

Posted by
64 posts

Rome2Rio.com does show a bus from Malaga to Nerja, and RS comments on it in his book.

Here's our current itinerary. I note that others on this page are recommending more time in Sevilla, so that's what I've done.

Departing for a Rick Steves Tour of Spain May 23:
Barcelona arrival (3)
Barcelona (2)
Madrid (3) + Segovia
Toledo (1)
Granada (2)
Ronda (1)
Arcos (2)
Seville (2)

Then (on our own):
Seville (2)

Train to Cordoba (2)

Train + Bus to Nerja (2) Bus / daytrip up to Frigiliana

Bus to Malaga (1)

Fly Malaga – Mallorca (3)

Fly home

Posted by
67 posts

I've been following this thread as I'm taking the RS trip in April. We are spending extra time in Barcelona pre tour and 1 additional night in Seville post tour.

After Seville we are thinking of taking the train to Cordoba for 4 nights then a Madrid airport hotel the 5th night before our flight to the US.

After hearing the suggestions of Malaga would you suggest 2 nights in Malaga and 2 nights in Cordoba or stick to our original plan of 4 nights in Cordoba with a day trip to Malaga?

I'm still looking for lodging in Cordoba's City Center....Carlos suggested Hotel Eurostars Maimonides. Any other hotel/inn suggestions?

Posted by
4341 posts

I can answer the Bus to Nerja question. Yes, there’s a bus from Malaga to Nerja. We took it from Nerja to Malaga. There’s a slow bus that stops at numerous city bus stops along the way, and the other option that goes much quicker. I knew about both and somehow we still ended up on the slow one!

We stayed three nights at Nerja and took the early short bus ride up to Frigiliana one day to enjoy exploring all of the hilly lanes and take lots of photos. Burriana Beach is the best one around Nerja, and we also enjoyed the cave tour.

Posted by
64 posts

Jean: what a wonderful write-up you did for your 2017 trip! I can only hope that ours will be as wonderful as yours.
Thanks for taking the time to share and for writing to me!
Corky

Posted by
796 posts

Carolyn, I would recommend 2 nights in Malaga and 2 nights in Cordoba. In Cordoba, we stayed at Las Casas de la Juderia and loved it. It was one of our favorite hotels. In Malaga, we stayed at Soho Malaga, and enjoyed this hotel, too. Both hotels are in excellent locations. Las Casas is in the Juderia and a few minutes walk from the Mezquita.

Posted by
64 posts

At Las Casas, what type of room did you have? I see some of the 'standards' are in an independent block just 200 meters away from the hotel's main entrance.

In Malaga, I see 8 Soho hotels @ https://en.sohohoteles.com/ At which one did you stay?

Thanks!
Corky

Posted by
796 posts

At Las Casas, we were in the main building. The address is Tomas Conde, 10-12. Our room was spacious and we had a good-sized marble bathroom. We were on the second floor, I think. At the street level there is a lovely courtyard where the hotel provided an honor bar. We were traveling with friends, and we would meet at the courtyard bar for a drink before heading out for the evening.

In checking my notes for Malaga, I see that the hotel's name is Soho Malaga and the address is Cordoba 5. It is located in Barrio Soho, next to the city center, and very close to the pedestrianized calle Marques de Larios. The Soho Malaga is a small boutique hotel with 28 rooms.

I hope this helps.

Posted by
796 posts

I looked at the link Carolyn provided, and the hotel we stayed at is the Hotel Soho Boutique Malaga on Cordoba Street. We walked everywhere from the hotel.