Please sign in to post.

Spain

We wanted to take a trip to Spain next Fall 2015 and was wondering how realistic our plans were:

Starting in Madrid, then drive to Toledo,Seville,Marbella,Malaga to Granada and Valencia. From Valencia we are trying to find a train to take us to Santiago de Compostela which would give us a respite and a day to recoup and rest in the train. Drive from Santiago to up North to Santander, Lourdes, down to Barcelona and leave from that city. Three weeks. Cant find a Train from Valencia to Santiago? Too much driving?? doable?? any suggestions? places to stay? roads Okay? thanks!!!!!!

Posted by
9363 posts

Not sure why you can't find trains from Valencia to Santiago de Compostela. Renfe.com shows AVE (high-speed) trains with prices from just over 47.00 euros, but it's too early to check schedules for a year from now. It is an 8 hour trip.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you! How about the itinerary? anyone...too much driving??

Posted by
2707 posts

How long? That's a ton of places, with long distances between many cities. So...how long do you have? My gut says too much, but with a very long trip and a lot of thought it might work. Draw out a itinerary with days, travel time, and nights. Example:

Day 1 arrive Madrid 10 AM. Sleep Madrid
Day 2. Madrid. Sleep Madrid
Day 3 drive to Granada, 4 hours plus stops and delays...6 hours? arrive for dinner but not in time for sights. Sleep Granada
Day 4 Granada
Day 5 drive to Malaga. 2 hours. Sleep Malaga
....
Not that I suggest that order especially. Just illustrating a clear way to see how much time you have on the ground in each place (example day 3 is mostly transit, can't really count it as a day in Madrid OR Granada. Example day 5 has less transit so you could spend a lot of the day in one place or the other)

Some of these places can be done by train, or as day trips from other cities.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, I had thought about the same - beginning in Madrid and then travel down South, we have three weeks for this trip. After Valencia take a train for a day up North and then do that leg of the trip..My ancestors were born in the North and I want to visit the towns were they lived...

Posted by
14898 posts

I've found that the trains are better than driving most of the time in Spain. I plan to use the train as much as possible, and use a car only for the places that are difficult to get to by train. In Madrid, Toledo, Granada and Seville you don't need a car - it will just be a nuisance and an expense.

I use viamichelin.com for driving distances/times in Europe. After checking I decided not to drive from Cordoba to Toledo. Even with changing trains in Madrid, it's still faster by train, and I won't get lost!

If you've driven in Europe, I think you'll find Spain pretty easy. You will need an international driving permit (get it at AAA) for each driver.

Posted by
2707 posts

Most of your southern cities are connected by train, so I'd do something like Madrid airport straight to Toledo - Madrid - Seville - Granada-Malaga-Valencia, then north. Granada to Malaga is a bus (a fine bus, not like the US long distance busses I've seen). I don't know the north too well, you might need a car up there, but in the south for the places you listed it's not necessary. Train is easier, and faster for many of the routes (Madrid to Seville is a 2.5 hour train or a 5 plus hour drive).

If you want to drive it, go ahead, just plan the times and the parking carefully. Don't try to drive in the cities, especially the old sections. Depending on your hotel, it may not be allowed anyway, and it looks like a nightmare, anyway.

Posted by
6 posts

Mira, so what you are saying is land in Madrid, take a train to Toledo ,go back to Madrid take a train to Seville and then to Malaga-Granada- a bus? So what happens when I get to a city from a train or a bus station ? Do I take a cab to the hotel ?or are there hotels walking distance from the train stations? thanks you for all your responses!

Posted by
4535 posts

From your questions, I take it you haven't researched guidebooks too much yet. Do so; it will answer many of your questions and give you a sense of what to see and how long you might need/want to spend in each place. They'll have recommendations for accommodations and tips on how to get around each city (most have extensive public transportation).

As noted, a car in Andalusia is not usually worthwhile and so it seems in your case as you plan to stick with the main cities. I do think a car would be more useful for the northern swing as rail connections are not as efficient there yet. But keep in mind with a car that you will need to drive and park in cities. While I find Spain to be fairly easy to drive in, city driving and parking can be a real challenge if you're not used to that sort of thing.

Even for three weeks, it is an very ambitious itinerary. Spain is a big country geographically and most people stick with two or three regions on a 2-3 week trip. You are planning 5 regions. I think you'll see more highways and railroads than sights. You have about 21 days and just counting the number of places on your list is 12 (including your all day travel from Sevilla to Santiago). That leaves less than two days each and doesn't count travel times between the other cities. Start with the places that are most important to you, then add interesting places nearby. Factor in your arrival and departure cities (getting an open-jaw, or multi-city ticket helps a lot). That will help you plan a more realistic itinerary. Then if you love your trip, plan to return!

Posted by
2707 posts

Tani, that's what I would do. The reason is that almost all trains (as far as I know) from Toledo stop in Madrid. So to get Toledo to Seville, you'd take a train to Madrid (40 minutes?), then change trains for Seville. Worked for me, but you could do Madrid first, then Toledo, then train to Seville and so on. Doesn't really matter. But I do advise thinking strongly about the train, whichever order you pick.

Usually, train stations are pretty central. Sometimes hotels are within walking distance, sometimes there is a bus or subway, sometimes there is a short cab ride. It might cost 10 Euros? Varies, but I've never seen one be too expensive. There are ALWAYS cabs available at any train station, certainly all the ones you're taking about! There are usually hotels very near the station, but that may or may not be the area you want to stay in. Just stay in the area you prefer and take a cab, bus, or walk depending.

Let's take Toledo for an example...train station is about a mile from the hotel I stayed at last time. Walkable, or a cheap cab if you have luggage or don't want to walk. It is a heck of a lot cheaper to take a cab to your hotel than to pay for parking! I don't usually drive much in Europe, but I did on one trip through Southern Spain to reach the hill towns etc. I stayed in Seville, in the old section for 3 nights (Barrio Santa Cruz, IMO best area to stay in Seville). Hotel had no parking (very common, there is just no room for parking in these areas!), and there's no way I would have driven in those streets anyway - they don't look wide enough for a car! So I parked my rental car for 3 days at a garage outside the old section. I think the garage was between 15-20 Euros a day for three days. Add that to the rental car fees and super high gas prices...this is why most European travelers don't use cars for city trips.

A car is useful when visiting smaller towns, going off the beaten path, etc. But city to city, trains almost always are easier and cheaper, and you're not going to drive around Seville, Toledo, Granada, Madrid, etc. You are going to park it and walk or take transit - there is practically no parking outside any of the tourist attractions or things you will be doing, so your car will be sitting in a garage costing money. Again, I don't know about Northern Spain (except Barcelona, no car needed there), but for the places you listed in the south and center...not useful, IMO.

Posted by
16883 posts

Most train and bus stations are centrally located in each city, with hotels nearby, but in the larger cities you may want to stay in anther neighborhood and take a taxi to/from your hotel with luggage. Taxi won't cost any more than parking a car (and maybe less). Rick's guidebooks have all the info you need for connecting his recommended sites and hotels. Other maps like Google and viamichelin.com will also show the location of train stations.

In addition to the Renfe site for Spanish trains, the link at How to Look Up Train Schedules Online shows current schedules for all of Europe.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you so much to all that have taken the time to answer!!!!! I have a feeling we might just go to the North at this stage.....and to the South another trip....it might be too much traveling for there weeks like most of you say...Although I would prefer traveling to the South,but my ancestors come from the North and there is even a town with my last name!

Posted by
353 posts

Hi Tani,

I think you could still visit both the north and south if you cut a location or two and spent 2-3 days in most towns. Here's a suggested itinerary:

Arrive Madrid, take train to Toledo (2 nights)
Train to Sevilla via Madrid (3 nights)
p/u car when leaving Sevilla, drive to the Pueblos Blancos (2 nights - either 1 night in Arcos and 1 in Ronda, or 2 in Ronda)
drive to Granada (2 or 3 nights)
drive to Valencia, drop car (2 nights)
take train to Barcelona (3 nights)
fly to Santiago (2 or 3 nights) - Ryan Air and Vueling have inexpensive, direct flights - see www.skyscanner.com
train or fly to Madrid, spend 3 nights
fly home via Madrid

Posted by
6 posts

Sounds like a doable itinerary,Rich, the only thing is that we wanted to travel Northeast after Santiago , to the small little towns where my grandfathers were born. , on way to Santander. We'll have to think about this trip and read up more , we still have a year,so,we have some time...thanks, again!! .

Posted by
353 posts

Depending on how much time you want to spend in the north, you might want to consider eliminating a few of the destinations in the south as to not spend all your time moving from place to place. For instance, from Sevila, you could train to Granada for a few days then fly to Barcelona (skipping the Pueblos Blancos and Valencia). After spending 3 or 4 days in Barcelona, fly to Santiago. From Santiago, renting a car would probably be the best option, driving through the region to visit the smaller towns your family comes from and on to Santander. From Santander, you could drive, take the train or fly back to Madrid. With more time, you could continue on to Bilbao and/or San Sebastian, where you could drive, train or fly back to Madrid.

Posted by
5618 posts

If weather might be any kind of factor for you, and depending on how early or late in the fall you're going next year, be aware that southern Spain can be VERY hot in the summer, so a cooler time of year is arguably a nicer time to visit.

We were in Madrid and points farther north (Segovia, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Barcelona) last November, and while a jacket was usually enough to be comfortable, some days were very cool or outright cold, and we had some rainy days, too. So in general, late spring, summer, and early fall might be ideal times to visit nothern Spain, for anyone with that option in the future.