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Spain in April for two weeks

Hi,

I am going to Spain and Portugal next April with my family (parents in 60s and a brother in 30s) and was wondering if I can get your feedback on my itinerary. I know the duration is shorter than we would like it to be but is after all things considered.

The help I would need specifically are what destinations to eliminate e.g., Monjuic castle (as I have trouble packing light); whether to go to Segovia or Toledo or just spend more time in Madrid; spend more time in Seville or go to cordoba for a day trip given time constraints.
I would really appreciate your feedback based on your experience!

Spain & Portugal Itinerary (4/6-4/18)
4/6 Saturday Barcelona
1655-1900 everyone arrives
- eat dinner near Barceloneta Beach or Gothic Quarter
- Museu National d’Art de Catalunya: rooftop terraces for the view if able

4/7 Saturday Barcelona> Eixample
- La Sagrada Familia(Reserved at 10am)
- Casa Batllo
- Park Güell(Reserved at 1430)
- Food market Mercado de La Boqueria
- Montjuïc Castle?
- Ciutadella Park ?

4/8 Monday Barcelona

- Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey(Train from Plaça Espanya in Barcelona)

4/9 Barcelona -> Granada

- Airbnb check-out 11am
Barcelona -> Granada 1625- 1800 Flight(booked)

Dinner

4/10 Granada
* Alhambra
- Booked at 12pm
* Food market Mercado de San Agustín or
* Tapa restaurant

4/11 Granada -> Seville
* GRANADA
- Airbnb checkout 12pm
* Granada ->Seville by train (2.5hours)

  • SEVILLE
  • Santa Justa Train station-> Hotel Giralda Center
  • Royal Alcázar of Seville: To book 2 months prior
  • La Giralda
  • Catedral de Sevilla
  • Plaza de España, Maria Luisa Park
  • Santa Cruz : shops, tapa spots
  • River near the Torre del Oro
  • Setas de Sevilla (mushroom architecture)
  • Flamenco show

4/12 Seville -> Cordoba(45min by fast train)
- Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
- Alcazar of the Christian Monarch
- Juderia/ Jewish Quarter
- Palacio de Viana
- Vallejo de las Flores / Flower alley
- Roman Bridge of Córdoba

4/13 Saturday Seville-> Madrid
- Check out hotel
Madrid (3 hours by train)
- Royal Palace of Madrid
- Plaza Mayor
- Mercado de San Miguel for lunch?
- Parque de María Luisa (a pretty park)
- El Retiro Park
Optional:
- Museo Nacional del Prado Free admission two hours before it closes (Monday- Saturday 6-8pm, Sundays, Holidays 5-7pm)

4/14 Sunday
Option 1. Madrid-> Segovia
(56 minutes by train)
- Aqueduct of Segovia
- Alcázar de Segovia
- Catedral de Segovia
- Royal Palace of La Granja of San Ildefonso

Option 2. Madrid-> Toledo
(35 minutes by train)
- Puerta de Bisagra (castle)
- Plaza Zocodover
- Alcazar de Toledo
- Catedral Primada
- Synagogue of Saint Mary the White

4/15 Monday Madrid-> Lisbon flight
4/17 Wednesday Lisbon-> Sintra
- National Palace of Pena
- Park and Palace of Monserrate
- Castelo dos Mouros
- Quinta da Regaleira

4/18 Thursday Lisbon-> Home

Posted by
7473 posts

Forget Portugal for this trip, there is a lot more to see than a couple of days in Lisbon.

Go back and spend two weeks there.

Also, you don't spend enough time in Seville or Madrid.

Posted by
6177 posts

A few comments.:
María Luisa park is in Sevilla not Madrid.

La Granja de Ildefonso is a 20 minutes drive from Segovia, so check the bus schedules if you won’t have a rental car. The town itself is small with the palace and its gardens the main draw. The gardens are probably very pretty if the flowers are in bloom and the fountains are turned on. They are free to enter and the entrance to them is on the right side/end of the palace. The gardens reminded me of a mini Retiro Park. The palace is like many others. It is a self guided walk through with no photos allowed. One only gets to see a representative sample of rooms on the 2nd floor. The first first floor has copies of statues, so no old furnishings. We were through it in 30 minutes.

In Toledo, Bisagra gate is just that, an entrance to the historic center. It is not a castle. There are a couple pretty bridges in Toledo; San Martín and Alcántara.

As long as your list is simply a wish list, your plan is workable, but with the time you have allotted to each place you won’t have enough time to visit everything.

Posted by
5890 posts

Well, I have to say that you have squeezed a LOT into a short amount of time. For you and your brother, it might be fine but like your parents, I am in my 60's, and I would be exhausted by this itinerary! So you might want to scale it back a bit for your parents' sake.

I do agree with geovagriffith that adding Lisbon in here is really too much. You won't get to see very much and there is so much in Spain that you could see during that time. That would give you time to explore Madrid, but also see Segovia and/or Toledo without time constraints. I have not been to Segovia, but my daughter and son-in-law loved it so much that they named their daughter after the city.

Have you booked your flights yet? I saw that the Granada one is booked but wasn't sure about your initial flights and flight home. If not, consider flying into Barcelona and then out of Madrid. That will also free up some time.

Posted by
2267 posts

I don’t think you can fit all this things you think you can fit.

Slow down. Enjoy lunch.

Travel should be more than a check list of sights.

Posted by
26396 posts

There are few trains between Granada and Seville, and the schedule isn't tourist-friendly. On Thursdays there are departures at 6:30 and 6:58 AM, then the next one (a fast train not requiring a transfer) is at 1:22 PM. Assuming you don't want to wake up before 5 AM, you need to consider taking a bus instead. In any case, I think the list of sightseeing targets for April 11 is hopelessly long.

I agree with the other responders: This itinerary is beyond rushed. I don't understand the point of cramming in 2 days in Portugal (at the cost of needing an extra flight) when you are planning only one full day in Barcelona (plus a few hours on the arrival day and Montserrat day), one full day in Seville (plus a few hours on arrival day), and only scattered hours (not even one full day) in Madrid.

At the end of this exhausting effort, when I suspect you'll have your eyes on your watches the entire time, you'll be able to say you've been to those cities. Perhaps that's enough for you.

Trips often have to be shorter than we like, but we control our itineraries. By limiting how many places we plan to go and how many miles we cover, even a short trip can still be enjoyable. It's up to you.

Posted by
2907 posts

Re Barcelona.... IMHO that schedule is totally unreal unless your aim is simply to tick a list. The rule of thumb in Barcelona is to plan two to three sites per day assuming you want to "enjoy" the sites you visit. Also, don't underestimate travel time between places.

And then there's the question of allotted time in this city: to minimally visit bits and pieces of Barcelona and its region it's advised to plan at least 4 to 5 full days. I personally don't like running around like a headless chicken and wasting precious time constantly packing and unpacking in countless hotels. But again, different people have different travel styles, of course.

Posted by
36 posts

Wow, I appreciate all the valuable feedback from your experience! Though my draft was a rather exhausted wish list than a realistic schedule, I will definitely cut down on my itinerary and rethink priorities to enjoy rather than rush and go through checklists of landmarks. The challenge is that I booked flights and hotels making small wiggle room for change but when I plan trip to Europe next time, I know where to consult!

A follow-up question, if you have a choice, would you spend more days more in Seville or Madrid?

Thanks again and happy travel!

Posted by
1521 posts

This itinerary is way too rushed! For example, you are currently spending only 2 nights in Seville, but one of those days is a day trip to Cordoba. Then you backtrack to Seville, and the next morning you take a train to Madrid. At the every least, visit Cordoba on your way from Seville to Madrid.

However, I would re-do the itinerary. Omit Portugal from your itinerary and visit Portugal as a separate trip at a future date. Right now you have only 3 nights in Lisbon and one of those days is a daytrip to Sintra.

To do this trip properly, also omit Barcelona. Visit Barcelona and Costa Brava on a separate trip. Concentrate on Madrid and Andalusia. Possible itinerary could be:

Madrid - 4 nights with a possible daytrip to Toledo, although I prefer staying overnight in Toledo
Cordoba - 2 nights
Granada - 2 nights
Seville - 4 nights
Fly home from Seville if you can. Search for multi-city or open-jaw tickets. Fly into Madrid and home from Seville.

Posted by
26396 posts

The Madrid-vs.-Seville question comes down to how much time you want in the Madrid art museums, I think. Madrid is a nice, attractive city, but to me (and many others) it is not as distinctive as Seville. I happen to like art and looked at every painting in the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums. (There are other museums I didn't have time for.) For the many visitors who just want to pop into the Prado for no more than 2 hours and perhaps make a quick stop at the Reina Sofia primarily to see "Guernica", I think Madrid needs less time than Seville--at least one day less.

I'm speaking only of Madrid itself. That city has a large number of first-class side trips, beginning with Toledo, Segovia and Cuenca.

Posted by
216 posts

Like everyone else, I think this is way too ambitious. It seems like the idea is to try and hit all
the must-sees and say you've seen them.

Programming in time to simply wander around and discover, for instance in the Gothic part of
Barcelona, the Jewish part of Cordoba, or the Santa Cruz quarter in Sevilla, is where you will
find unexpected things and relax a bit.

It's also about managing expectations. If all you do is see just the things you planned to see,
then the best your trip will be is "satisfactory", and the stories of interesting things you found
that you never knew were there, or fun stuff that happened when you just let it happen, will
not ever come to pass. And really, what we remember about trips is the stories.

But, if this is the way you want to try and plan it, ok. But you would need to start thinking
about how you're going to get from one place to another in each city when you want to
cover so much ground in a short period of time. As an example, getting around Sevilla
can be difficult other than on foot since public transportation is only so-so, and the streets
are so narrow that taxis are of marginal value.