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Spain First Timers

Hi. My husband and I are planning a 30th anniversary trip to Spain in Late Oct/early Nov. Some details: first timers; we're flying from NYC and we're planning on about 10-12 days give or take; we'd rather stay in fewer places longer than travel a lot of places for 1 or 2 nights; we're big foodies; he's into history; I'm into art. I keep going down an ADHD rabbit hole in my searches trying to narrow down a geographical focus. One second I think for this first time we should just stick to Barcelona and Madrid (and nearby day trips), and then the next after reading some posts I think maybe Madrid, Sevilla, Granada. Any advice to help make the decision is appreciated. Thanks!!

Posted by
4700 posts

Both of those are great itineraries.
Because Andalucia is so hot in summer, I think having an opportunity to visit in fall is something in its favor, plus you will find ample opportunity to fly into Madrid again, or Barcelona--with them being the major intl airports. But, if Madrid and Barcelona are what call you this time, go for it. You can't go wrong either way--congrats!

Posted by
2492 posts

Hi greenbach. I went to Spain last year for the first time and loved it. Great choice for an anniversary trip and early November was when I went - really nice weather and lower crowds. We had 14 nights, so we skipped Barcelona, although I am planning to go there in the future. Seville was our absolute favorite.

Here's my trip report that may help you. For 10-12 days you could probably do something similar to what I did and either skip Toledo or do it as a daytrip from Madrid, and maybe one less day in Seville.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-spain-november-2023

If you love art you'll love The Prado. Also, if Seville is part of your itinerary the Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla was great. If your husband loves history, The Alhambra was mind-blowing.

Posted by
8070 posts

Skip Barcelona this time; while it has some great sites it is suffering from over tourism and you always have to be on guard there.

Book your flight into Madrid and back from Seville.
Here is a rough itinerary (note : you can do Cordoba or Seville on day trips from each other).
Madrid 4 nights
Train to Granada
Granada 3 nights
Train to Cordoba
Cordoba 2 nights
Train to Seville
Seville 3 nights
Once you decide the cities you want to go to then look at lodging and attractions restaurants etc.

Posted by
4003 posts

I agree with Mary, I would visit Madrid and Seville with such a short amount of days. We were there in October 2022 and spent 6 nights Madrid and 4 Seville as part of a longer trip. Barcelona was my least favorite city.

Posted by
7906 posts

Jazz had a good plan, but you must include Toledo for at least a full day.

To me Toledo and Seville are the best in Spain.

Posted by
208 posts

We did a 10+ day trip to Spain which was simply Madrid & Seville with a day trip in Cordoba (en route from Seville back to Madrid). Those fit really well into that itinerary. We flew in to Madrid and immediately trained to Seville for several days, then, on our train trip to Madrid, we got to Cordoba early, spent a full day, and continued to Madrid (luggage stored at the train station). Flew out of Madrid several days later.

It was a straight-forward and great time with minimal unpacking, and just barely enough time to be comfortable in each city's core for wandering and eating. And the cities were totally different, so that was a big plus.

Potentially, you could train to Cordoba in the afternoon, spend the night (or two) there, and then continue. With 12 nights, that works well enough - 5-2-5 - and isn't too disruptive. Otherwise, 5&5 or similar in Seville and Madrid.

While we also loved Barcelona and other places like Valencia or Granada, that's too much for the type of experience you are aiming for. I could see pairing Madrid and Barcelona, so really, the key more seems sticking with your 2 main stays idea.