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So excited 2 weeks in Spain late October

I love this forum and received great advice last year! Just wondering what anyone thinks about airbnb stays in Barcelona, Cordoba, Sevilla or Triana, Malaga, and Granada? Has anyone stayed in Sacromente near Granada? We are considering hostales and pensiones also and are traveling around Spain by train- We love art, dance, off the beaten path,hiking. Any must do or must eat there recommendations are welcome. Also any train advice is welcome? We are now aware thanks to this forum that we must purchase tickets to the Alhambra in advance. Also I highly recommend the novels of Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Maria Duenas... Thanks so much!

Posted by
6202 posts

Get Alhambra tickets ASAP. Also, top sites in Barcelona need pre purchasing of tickets especially La Sagrada Familia.

Posted by
3497 posts

The Sacramonte is a super cool area with great views of Alhambra. IMO, it is not very convenient to other parts of Granada, but there is bus service. The train service is excellent in Spain. You can save a fair bit of money by prepurchasing your train tickets. We went to Grazelema in the pueblos blancos. It is a very pretty area within a national park with great hiking. The pueblos blancos can be difficult without a car. We rented for two days--picked up in Sevilla and returned in Granada.

Triana is a very enjoyable area of Sevilla.

I think all those cities in 2 weeks is WAY too much, and I am one who travels at a faster pace. You might consider dropping Barcelona at the very least. I've only stayed in an AirBnB once and it was in Switzerland. It worked well, I think look at locations you like and then within those locations (neighborhoods) look at varying options.

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you both for replying! This is great advice- Since we have never been to Spain I thought we would hit the main tourist cities, ie Starting in Barcelona to Cordoba to Sevilla-to Malaga-Granada and back to Barcelona. We have 17 days so over 2 weeks-We normally like driving but we thought we would try public transportation and packing lighter. Do you think the Pueblo Blancos are a must see?
When we stay in Sevilla I want to do day trips to either Cadiz or Jerez de la Frontera. I heard their was a newer high speed train from Granada to Barcelona?

Posted by
2048 posts

Hi, when looking for an AirBnB in Barcelona, make sure the listing has a H.U.T (Habitatge dús turístic) License. This is required for all rental listings under 31 days and was implemented to curb short term listings, pushing locals out of the city, particularity in the Ciutat Vella (old town) district. If the AirBnB does not have a H.U.T, then it is most likely an illegal listings, move on, you don't want to contribute to the problem.

On hiking near Barcelona, here would be some of my tips:

  • Definitely check out Montserrat, if the weather is good that day. It's a very unique hiking area close to Barcelona.

  • Also look at the Camino de Ronda, which is a coastal footpath along the Costa Brava, a once haven for smugglers and pirates. Now a delightful hiking trail that stops at whitewashed fishing villages and turquoise sea coves.

  • Depending on how "into" hiking you guys will be, you can do also a day trip hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains too. Very easy, just take the local R3 train (2 hr) from Barcelona to the mountain town of Ribes de Freser. From there take the rack railway (30 min) all the way up to Vall de Núria, close to the French border. Note that it may be quite cold by late October, check the weather beforehand.

Posted by
3679 posts

This is a lot to see in 2 weeks. Do you have your flights already booked? If so, what are the arrival and departure cities?
For train strategies, seat61 dot com is going to be a great start.
I didn't venture into Sacromonte as I was having foot issues and didn't want to have to rely on the tiny buses that feed that area. As said, it is cool, but not convenient. This is my AirBnB place I used in Granada: https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/1046979?source_impression_id=p3_1566837473_I9hdJ0MEn57M%2Bckc
For Cordoba, I used Hotel Gonzalez (Hostal). If you decide to overnight in Toledo, I used Hotel Santa Isabel (Hostal).
Seville AirBnB (a 'splurge') https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/1960965?source_impression_id=p3_1566837688_5VfINjbyykHgwsOc
Madrid AirBnB https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/12573892?source_impression_id=p3_1566837748_HyNLgXiWW0jONhdO
I ended up cancelling the Barcelona part of my trip as it was just after change in politics with protests, and other uncertainties and I didn't want to be worrying about it all for the earlier part of my trip. If I had gone, I had this apartment chosen. the hose has a few apartments and because he was good enough to refund all my money though he didn't have to, I would try him again. If it doesn't suit, you may want to look at the area for something outside the downtown core - particularly given Barcelona's recent uptick on the Travel Advisory pages. https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/1580586?source_impression_id=p3_1566837917_v0njQcDcrL%2BT8R9f

Posted by
95 posts

Is there a specific on-line site that is best to purchase the Alhambra tickets in advance? Thank you-

Posted by
3497 posts

For me, a lot of Spain is "must see". The pueblos blancos are very pretty as well as historically and culturally interesting, however, I'm not sure you should add it to your current itinerary. For me the very highest priorities in southern Spain would be Cordoba, Sevilla and Granada.

Posted by
3679 posts

This is the official Alhambra website. If you are having challenges for your date, consider the Dobla d'Oro ticket. It is a regular ticket with 3 days to see the secondary sites in the city belonging to the organization.
http://www.alhambra-patronato.es/index.php/Home/1472+M5d637b1e38d/0/
Barcelona - Granada - Seville/Triana - Cordoba - Madrid - Barcelona. Malaga is the outlyer. You could consider driving between Granada and Seville. I have no regrets missing the 'white villages'.

Posted by
95 posts

Wow! I am more excited now getting this great advice- I have printed the responses and will read after work. Thank you so much!

Posted by
578 posts

How many nights do you actually have? I plan my trips by counting my nights. Two nights, for example, gives you one full day for sightseeing and perhaps 1/2 day or less on the arrival day and departure day.

October is the perfect time to visit Andalucia because the temperatures are more comfortable. Summer months are very hot!

If you can, I recommend open-jaw or multi-city flights to avoid wasting time and money backtracking.

To give you an idea about allotment of nights, this is what we did in September 2017:
Madrid 4 nights; Toledo 1 night; Cordoba 2 nights; Granada 2 nights; Malaga 2 nights; and Seville 4 nights, for a total of 15 nights. For our trip, I would not have wanted fewer nights at each destination. We visited Barcelona on a previous trip for 6 nights; I think Barcelona requires a minimum of 4 nights.

You don't mention Toledo, but it is a favorite day trip from Madrid. Toledo is even better if you can stay 1 or 2 nights. Many people visit Cordoba as a day trip from Seville; however, if you can, I recommend spending 2 nights in Cordoba. The Mezquita is amazing but there is more to Cordoba than just the Mezquita, such as the Alcazar gardens, Palacio de Viana, wandering through the Juderia, the Roman Bridge, Mercado Victoria, etc.

We did not stay in Airbnb's, so can't give you any advice there.

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you all so very much! We have 17 nights and we wanted to focus mainly on the Andalucia province this trip. I wonder if a day trip to Nerja from Granada is worth it. Or should we stay in Malaga and then head to Granada? How many days would you all recommend in Granada?

Posted by
1698 posts

Nerja isn't particularly interesting, the caves are fine if you haven't seen a cave in a while. Skip it and spend your time in Málaga, Granada, the white villages... Wherever you fancy!

Posted by
95 posts

Any advice about whether staying in Castelldefels, near the beach, instead of in Barcelona is a good idea? We want to see the city for sure and realize it might be a 45 min bus or train ride..

Posted by
1698 posts

Standard advice: if you want to see the city, stay in the city. Plus, you can stay close to Barcelona's own beaches (which aren't bad). Castelldefels has a nice beach but isn't particularly charming otherwise, and I'd worry about aircraft noise...

Posted by
18154 posts

It is difficult to be an efficient sightseer in Barcelona since there are so many sights for which you need to purchase timed tickets in advance. You need to make sure your entry times are far enough apart that you can fully enjoy Sight A and have time to travel to Sight B. At some point you need to allow time to eat. The result is that you may end up with hard-to-use short snippets of free time. I can't imagine staying outside the city and dealing with the commute time as well.

Posted by
2048 posts

Castelldefels is the beach area that many locals of Barcelona go too, it's a bit like the Santa Monica area of Los Angeles, if you have been there. It's nice enough if you are looking for some beach/relax time with an enjoyable maritime esplanade. Because of its convenient train stop, Castelldefels also makes for a good base to explore the sites of southern Catalonia, like Tarragona or Sitges. If your main focus in the sites inside of Barcelona, you may want to stay closer in the city, try the Eixample or Gracia neighborhoods.

Posted by
3497 posts

Although I've seen some debate re. the beaches within Barcelona, I want to say that the beaches are fine, and actually the comparison to Santa Monica in terms of location an type of sand is a good one. The sand is not powdered sugar like the Destin area of Florida, or soft like a Caribbean beach, but I don't think many beaches in Europe are. I'm a little apprehensive about sharing this given the ongoing saga of the morons who took 10 plus bottles of sand from Sardinia, but we had a nice time at the beach and collected a nice handful of sea glass at the beach in Barcelona. It is my favorite "souvenir" from that trip. I have been to a lot of beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, Florida, Mexico, California, Lakes Michigan and Superior, etc., but still I enjoyed the beach in Barcelona. Just to have my toes in the Mediterranean Sea felt special.

I have not been to Cadaques and look forward to a trip at some point, but my impression is that if you want to take time for a beach in Catalonia, that would be a good one for a day trip, however, given your relatively short time for your trip, I'm not sure how much time I would want to set aside for beaching.

Posted by
578 posts

I would spend at least 2 nights in Granada, but I actually wished we had a 3rd night. We didn't see everything there is to see, and didn't have enough time for leisurely wandering through the Albaicin. We had 2 nights in Malaga, but would have liked a 3rd night there, too.

17 nights is a good amount of time. I agree with focusing on Andalucia in October. But make sure you allocate a good amount of time for Barcelona, a large city with many sites that require pre-booking. We also loved Girona and Cadaques, if you want to include those places in your itinerary.

Posted by
95 posts

Again big thanks! This forum was been super helpful. I understand now to really get a feel for Barcelona we should stay in the city! And yes we are planning 3 nights in Granada! I just booked the Alhambra and I really appreciated the advice about booking early!

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you so much for the previous advice. Does anyone have any thoughts on whether it might work better to stay in Granada for 5 nights or to stay in Malaga for 2 nights and then 3 nights in Granada. For this trip we want to travel by public transportation only so it might be harder staying in more places. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Posted by
3497 posts

I haven't been to Malaga. In my opinion, 5 nights is a lot for Granada. I would think you would want to find 3 day trips if you are in Granada that long. Sevilla I could stay 5 nights. In fact, in Sevilla, I think I could stay 10 nights!

Posted by
578 posts

I would spend 3 nights in Granada and 2 nights in Malaga. We spent 2 nights in Malaga in September 2017 and loved it! In fact, I wish we had a 3rd night. I think it's an under-rated city. We loved the coastal ambience, along with all there is to see in Malaga. We climbed to the top of the Alcazaba, a hilltop Moorish fortress started in 1040. There are ruins, gateways, arches, fountains, small patios, and lush greenery and flowers, in addition to spectacular views of the Mediterranean and the port. We walked to the top of the Castillo de Gibralfaro, with more magnificent views of the city and port. We visited the Picasso Museum, and there are many more art museums we didn't have time to visit. There is the Cathedral, Ataranzas Market, the Promenade by the port, and much more. The old city center is pedestrianized and beautiful, with tons of restaurants and cafes.

Rick's book doesn't mention Malaga, except for transportation info, I think. I recommend the Michelin Green Guide or Lonely Planet.

Posted by
578 posts

Forgot to add that it is very easy to travel from Granada to Malaga by public transportation. You can take the ALSA bus, which is clean, modern, comfortable, and air conditioned. It's about 1 1/2 hours. I'm not sure if the train travels between Granada and Malaga now that the train tracks have been finished. When we went they weren't finished yet, which is why we took the bus, and I have no complaints about taking the bus.

Posted by
885 posts

Everyone has slightly different interests. I had 4 nights in Seville and loved it. We included a day trip to Jerez. It would have been easy to stay longer. Here is where we stayed and would be happy to do so again. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15112965?checkin=03%2F11%2F2017&checkout=03%2F15%2F2017&guests=2&adults=2&children=0&infants=0&source_impression_id=p3_1567212545_EkW%2Fl55q7CMxrr5h

We stayed 3 nights in Granada and I would have been happy with 4. I loved Granada. Stayed here. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/876806?checkin=03%2F16%2F2017&checkout=03%2F18%2F2017&guests=2&adults=2&s=UbDbT7oC

Both places had stairs and no elevator but I loved them.

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you so much for the excellent advise - We will visit Malaga and follow the recommendations for Malaga to Granada and the bus information. Also we do plan to stay 4 nights in Sevilla-the Triana neighborhood and to try to see Jerez de la frontera.

Posted by
95 posts

We are so excited as October is approaching and our trip to Spain is near! Does anyone know the best way to go from Granada back to Barcelona where we fly back to the USA? Does the AVE train run yet? We are trying this trip without a car.

Also has anyone been to Sacromonte to see the caves?we are staying in the Albaicin while in Granada.
Thank you so much for the great advice.

Posted by
18154 posts

It appears the AVEs are running now, but it's rather a long trip (changing in Madrid) from Granada to Barcelona. Over 7 hours, and at the moment I'm just seeing a 7 AM departure time. I don't know whether there will be more; I'm surprised that rail line isn't getting more use.

I'd check skyscanner.com to see whether you can find a reasonable fare on a flight. Do consider the luggage limits and fees, and be careful about arrival airport. I know RyanAir often uses Girona on its "Barcelona" flights. The city of Girona is lovely and highly recommended, but not if you're just flying in and don't have time for a real visit to the city.

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you for the advice about train travel. We would prefer not to fly. So maybe going to Madrid then back to Barcelona would work fine by train.

Posted by
18154 posts

That's the fastest route to take. There's a lot to be said for "making a virtue of necessity". I often add places to an itinerary to fit my forced-transportation route. The three major art museums are within walking distance of Madrid's Atocha Station, and the station has a checked-baggage office. Alternatively, you have Retiro Park and the Botanical Garden right there, too.