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Seeking itinerary input - 2 week trip September, 2019

Hi Everyone,
I'm laying out a 2 week trip for my wife and I in the fall of 2019. Current dates are 9/1 to 9/14 (UPDATED to Mid-OCTOBER based on feedback below), but we have some flexibility on the dates this far out. We are thinking fall because of the smaller crowds and cooler weather. We are in our early 50's and have traveled to Europe before, but not to Spain. Our interests lie more in History (structures/sites more so than art), food and strolling and aren't adverse to some touristy things. I strongly prefer to use public transportation vs. renting a car, but I'm open to input.

Here's what I have so far:

  • Fly into Madrid from Detroit - 1 night
  • Train to Toledo - 2 nights
  • Fly (AVE Train) to Seville (from Madrid) - 3 nights
  • Train to Cordoba - 1 night
  • Bus to Granada - 3 nights
  • Fly to Barcelona - 3 (4) nights

Some thoughts:

  • Does anyone know if the AVE route from Cordoba to Granada will be complete by 9/19? I read on another forum that track testing has begun.
  • Another option under consideration is to drop Madrid/Toledo and spend some time in Palma de Mallorca instead.
  • Undecided if a night in Cordoba is better than a day trip to Cordoba from Seville.

Any feedback is truly appreciated. Thanks!

Edited to add changes in BOLD.

Posted by
1891 posts

I think the number of nights in each place is about right given the amount of time you have. Some will say do Córdoba as a day trip so you don’t have to change hotels another time. If you don’t mind changing hotels again, spend the night there. Don’t drop Toledo. With only one night in Madrid, and since you will be tired, select a hotel near the main sights; Plaza Mayor, palace, Puerta del Sol. If you were gong to visit the museums, select one near the Prado, Reina Sofia, Alcala gate, Plaza de Cibeles, Fuente de Neptuno, or Retiro Park. From the Plaza Mayor to Retiro Park is only a 15-20 minutes walk.

Posted by
3025 posts

Spanish and Portuguese school children will still be on their summer holidays for the first week of September, so crowds won’t be much smaller than August. It will be slightly quieter if you pushed the trip back at least a week.

To me, your trip is rushed, as you are going to lose at least half a day every time you move locations. Scratching the surface of Seville takes 3 days etc. Six destinations in under 2 weeks is two too many IMO.

Toledo is more interesting than Mallorca.

Posted by
12944 posts

I agree with Jennifer: Too many destinations. And 3 nights in Barcelona (meaning 2-1/2 days if you get an early flight from Granada) is really, really inadequate. If you cannot add a couple more days, I'd leave Barcelona for another trip and shift those days to Madrid to allow for day-trips to Segovia, Cuenca, and maybe Alcala de Henares. Or add them to Seville and take side trips to Jerez, Cadiz, Ronda, and/or the white villages. (The white villages would be a good time to have a rental car for a day or two.)

There are many wonderful destinations in Catalunya aside from Barcelona; that area would make a great trip of its own.

Don't attempt to fly from Toledo to Seville. You'd have to go back to Madrid-Barajas to get the flight. Take the train back up to Madrid (it only runs north from Toledo) and then the super-fast AVE to Seville.

Your trip is tilted toward Andalucía, which may still be extremely hot in September, especially at the beginning of the month. These are the average high temperatures in Seville for the months indicated:

August 95.9 F
September 89.1 F

Posted by
12304 posts

September is not fall and weather is not cooler. For example:
Sevilla high temps on Sept 1
2018 - 99
2017 - 97
2016 - 95
2015 - 84

on Sept 6
2018 - 88
2017 - 99
2016 - 108
2015 - 90

Conditions in Madrid and Cordoba are about the same. Maybe Toledo and Granada are slightly less hot because of the higher elevation?

Even in early October, temps in the 90s are not at all unusual. As for your itinerary, 3N is not nearly enough for Barcelona. I'd suggest leaving it for another trip. There's plenty to see and do in Andalucia and around Madrid to fill a lot more than 14 days.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the feedback! I really do appreciate you taking the time to help us out.

  • Seems like a no brainer to move the trip back for the cooler temps. We'll look for mid October instead.
  • I agree that we're better off going back to Madrid from Toledo to fly to Seville. I will make it clearer in the original post.
  • We will also add a night in Barcelona at the end. This is probably the best we can do in terms of trip length.

I'll update the original post with these changes and see if anyone else has input.

Posted by
789 posts

Moving your dates back just a tad, I would rearrange along these lines (Sept 20 - October 4):

Fly in to Barcelona
Barcelona (4 nights)
Fly to
Granada (2 nights)
ALSA Bus to
Sevilla (3 nights)
AVE Train to
Córdoba (2 nights)
AVE Train to Toledo via Madrid Atocha
Toledo (2 nights)
AVE Train to Madrid
Madrid (1 night)
Fly out of Madrid

I put Barcelona at the beginning, around Sept 20, so that you would be able to catch our annual city festival, La Mercè (Sep 21-24).

La Mercè is huge, there are 100s of events spread throughout Barcelona's squares, streets, museums, and parks. The best part - all the entertainment is free. This is something that we put on for ourselves, not just for tourists. If you want to experience Catalan culture like a local, at least for a few days, I think this is a great opportunity.

As for the weather situation in Andalucía, during the summer months, it's really a hit or a miss, I was in Sevilla/Córdoba a couple of years ago during August and during the entire week I doubt it got over 30 C (around 85 F), hot but not a hellish inferno. I think you will probably be fine in late September/early October.

Posted by
648 posts

a) You still seem to be planning to fly between Madrid and Sevilla. I'd encourage you to consider doing this journey by rail - the express ("AVE") service is only 2.5 hours and likely faster than by aeroplane when you take account of the hassles/enforced waiting around of flying, plus rail is more comfortable and civilised (especially in first class which is often not expensive booked in advance and on weekdays, I think, includes a light meal).

b) a fast AVE service to Granada from Cordoba/Sevilla may be open by next October. But since it is already many year's late, who knows? The line is built, but failed testing. Best check nearer the time. If not the direct coach or train/coach combination are both excellent ways to make the journey.

c) I guess after a long transatlantic flight you may not want to extend your journey. But, I'd consider going straight from the airport to Toledo and drop a night in Madrid (unless you book a car, you will need to travel via Madrid, but only to change train). You wouldn't have long to see much anyway in the capital and it's top sights are art related which you say is not your big interest. Dropping Madrid would give you an extra night to play with. Perhaps add to Sevilla and take a day-trip to the seaside (e.g. Cadiz), or to Granada and go to a town in the lower mountains for a day?

d) All being well, weather in the south should be ideal in October. Warm enough for shirt-sleaves, but not so hot as to make it feel like your eyeballs are frying (though to be honest some of the dire warnings about the Summer heat are a little over the top; it's a dry heat generally, one just has to plan the day around it such as having lunch in the shade between 2 and 4, not clambering around some Moorish ruins).

Posted by
468 posts

If you have flexibility, I agree with Carlos recommendation to start with Barcelona and attend some of the La Mercè (Sep 21-24) events. We went this past year and the festival is fun—parades, music, fireworks. It is a chance to see beyond the tourism in Barcelona and celebrate with local residents. We took a similar route to the rest of his recommendations and didn’t feel rushed.

If you are interested in food, then plan to slot in some food tours, a cooking class, or winery tours. Spain has some of the most innovative chefs that are combining modern techniques with classic flavors and learning more about Spanish and Catalan food and wine were highlights of our trip.

Posted by
12304 posts

Add another BOLD edit to train, not fly, to Sevilla.

I like Carlos's itinerary, starting in Barcelona.

Most people don't stay overnight in Cordoba. They either day-trip from Sevilla or stop for the day en route between Sevilla and Madrid (there's luggage storage at the bus station next door to the train station). I think people who take the time to stay in Cordoba find it very rewarding.

Posted by
5 posts

Great idea on starting in Barcelona for the festival Carlos, Thanks!

Carlos' itinerary looks like a winner. About the only tweak we are considering is an extra night in Granada and one less night in Cordoba.

Thanks for all the input!

Posted by
1556 posts

Is there a reason why you want to fly from Madrid to Seville as opposed to taking the train? The AVE trains take less than 3 hours to reach Seville from Madrid.

Posted by
5 posts

Is there a reason why you want to fly from Madrid to Seville as opposed to taking the train? The AVE trains take less than 3 hours to reach Seville from Madrid.

Nope. Previous feedback has pointed out that the AVE train is the way to go. I'll change it in the OP, but that itinerary is out the window in favor of Carlos'. Thanks.

Posted by
12304 posts

What do you want to see in Granada? If you fly early in the day, you'll have 1/2 day to see the Cathedral and make your way up through the Albaicin to Plaza San Nicolas for the sunset view around 7.30, then dinner. Then you have a full day for the Alhambra, and a bit more of Granada's center.

Posted by
5 posts

What do you want to see in Granada?

Hi Chani, thank you for the question. It is EXACTLY this type of feedback that will make our itinerary the best it can be!

While I haven't planned out exactly what we will see in each location, it just seemed to me that most of the itineraries including Cordoba were for 1 night (at most). Based on this not too detailed research, I thought it may be better to spend 1 night in Cordoba and move that extra night to a different location. Perhaps I should do a more detailed plan of each city and decide if we want to spend 1 or 2 nights in Cordoba.

Thanks for your feedback!

Posted by
7112 posts

This is my classic 2 week plan, minimising hotel changes.

1. Arrive Madrid (4 nts)
2. Madrid
3. Day to Toledo
4. Day to Segovia
5. Train to Sevilla (4 nts)
6. Sevilla
7. Day to Cordoba (Mezquita)
8. Sevilla
9. Train to Granada (2 nts)
10. Visit the Alhambra
11. Fly to Barcelona (4 nts)
12. Barcelona
13. Barcelona
14. Barcelona
15. Depart Barcelona