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Spain Itinerary recommendation for a family of 22 in 2022

Our extended family is planning a 7-10 day trip to Spain in June of 2022. Many of the family members have not travelled to Europe and so I am trying to make travel logistics simple and enjoyable. I have travelled to Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba and Sevilla but not to Barcelona.

Our first option, is booking a large villa outside of Barcelona, in Sitges, for our stay and taking day trips to Barcelona and nearby areas. The water and beaches near Barcelona is a bonus but not the focus of the trip. Any suggestions for day trips from Stiges other than Barcelona would be greatly appreciated?

Our second option, is flying into Madrid and heading south towards Sevilla or Malaga. Since I have traveled this itinerary it seems like there are more points of interest but of course that is of personal preference.

I loved my 1st trip to Madrid and wondering which itinerary is the best for those traveling to Europe for the first time?

If you have an opinion of one itinerary over the other I would love to hear your feedback! I think traveling with such a large group gets tricky and I'm hoping to find a central location for accomodations and venture from there with as little packing and unpacking possible. Thank you in advance!

Posted by
6740 posts

I would hire a travel agent to make plans for such a very large group. Perhaps you can find a specialist in travel to Spain.
We prefer Madrid ourselves but in June, Barcelona or Sitges’ beaches would be an added plus.
There is so much to see in Barcelona and it’s environs that two days is no where enough time. Stay there longer. You can also look at combining Barcelona with the Costa Brava to the north which we did. More beach time.

Posted by
3299 posts

I assume that the entire group won’t engage in all the activities together, all the time. Either Barcelona or Madrid would work, but I’d make my decision based on what the family members like to do since each city and the things to see is different, as are the towns you’d visit as day trips. I’ve only been to Barcelona once and we took day trips to Figueres and Monserrat. From Madrid one could take days trips to Toledo, Segovia, Cuenca, Avila/Salamanca, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, or Valley of the Fallen.

Posted by
1026 posts

Day trips, not in order of preference: Cadaques, Girona, Figueres, Montserrat

Did you say 7-10 days there? The above plus Barcelona will give you plenty to do

Posted by
9993 posts

I'm also going to suggest you work with someone to help you book this. For such a large group, you can get discounts for everything from flights to transportation to lodging.

Even if family members are coming from different areas, you can still work out a special rate with the airlines. And getting from point A to point B might be cheaper to hire a coach than flying or trying to get everyone on a train together. This is true for when you arrive and for your day trips. With a coach, you make the schedule. You don't have to fit someone else's.

I worked in the group travel industry many years ago. It doesn't matter how much you've traveled if you have never worked with a group of this size before. The logistics can be a nightmare. When you work with a professional, you don't have to follow a set tour. You call the shots. You decide where to go and what you want to do. They just arrange all the logistics. You will not only save aggravation but possibly money as well.

Posted by
19160 posts

I'm guessing your family group includes a wide range of ages, including a good number of seniors, with some of the latter perhaps having mobility challenges. Lots of picturesque destinations are hilly.

I liked both Girona and Cadaques, but there's a lot more to see in Girona. Cadaques is primarily a gorgeous white former fishing village (now very touristy) dripping with bougainvillea. There's a Dali site outside of town, and the last part of the trip (which must be made by road) is very scenic. Girona has a medieval district with parts of the (walkable) wall remaining, two interesting churches, a Jewish Museum and a nice, not-too-large art museum. I believe Girona also has some seriously good restaurants (not that those in Cadaques are bad).

In my view the only reason to go to Figueres is to see the Dali Theatre-Museum and the co-managed jewelry collection. I enjoyed both a lot, but Figueres-the-town isn't particularly attractive, compared to other options. Those interested in neither art nor over-the-top jewelry probably wouldn't find much to do there.

All of the above are north of Barcelona, so they're quicker to visit from Barcelona than from Sitges. I think most folks go to Montserrat by train and then some sort of cable car or lift. If you were staying in Sitges, you'd need to get to Barcelona to start your trek to Montserrat by train.

Another option north of Barcelona (actually west of Girona--which also makes an excellent base for side-trips to Figueres and Cadaques) is Besalu, a small town with a medieval center and a fortified bridge. There's bus service from Girona and I think also from Barcelona. One of our other posters has written about a nice one-day bus tour he took to medieval villages in Catalunya, one of which was Besalu. You might take a look at the description of that tour and consider whether at least some of your family would enjoy doing something like that on a private tour. It seems the tour is conducted by a company called "Explore Catalunya", but I don't see it listed on that company's website; perhaps that's just because of COVID-19. This is a situation in which having your own transportation would be fabulous; you could visit multiple small towns in a single day with ease. Via public transportation you probably would only be able to get to one per day. I'd be shocked if the company wasn't willing to run a private tour for whatever part of your group was interested.

South of Sitges you have the coastal city of Tarragona, which has some Roman ruins (which I have not seen). Outside Tarragona is the smaller town of Reus, birthplace of the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. There are no Gaudi-designed buildings in Reus, but there is some lovely modernista architecture by others. Two of those buildings can be toured. If your group includes one or more modernista-architecture nuts, I definitely recommend Reus for them.

Zaragoza is about 1 hr. 45 min. SE of Barcelona by fast train (an hour or so longer by bus). It has a very nice historic center and a Moorish palace that has been refurbished and can be toured. It would take longer to get to Zaragoza from Sitges, because you'd first have to get to Barcelona. I should also mention that Zaragoza is likely to be seriously hot in June.

There are fabulous day-trip options from Madrid, and you're already familiar with the charms of Andalucia. However, June is not the best time of year to visit central and southern Spain because of the heat. If you're not lucky with the weather, it might be hard on any older people in your group. Arranging private bus transportation would reduce the time spent standing around waiting on scheduled service and maximize the time spent in an air-conditioned environment, but the fact is that the AVE trains are the fastest way to cover long distances, such as along the Madrid-Cordoba-Seville line.

Posted by
4 posts

Wow! Thank you all thus far! Very helpful!! It’s my first time posting and I knew there would be many savvy travelers out there with great suggestions. I will definitely look into a travel company for booking and group travel discounts! Thank you for the attention to details where I didn’t specify individual ages. My 80 years young mother-in-law will be with us along with her kids, grandkids and great great grandkids. It's good to know what excursions would not be good for her but she's pretty fit and gets around fine but we want to be sensitive to difficult terrain.

Any recommendations on a winery for tasting and perhaps lunch or dinner? We will most likely have a few cars to get us around.

Posted by
19160 posts

I can't help much.

The northern end of Girona's old town (near the churches), which is the more commercial area, is somewhat hilly--perhaps enough to be an issue. In addition, one must walk up steps if one wants to walk along the wall.

Cadaques slants down to the sea from the bus station. The streets curving around the bay(?) must be relatively flat, but the cross streets won't be.

In Barcelona the tourist sites on Montjuic hill (including the excellent MNAC art museum and the Miro Museum) will probably require at least some walking up and/or down. There are large outdoor escalators to do the bulk of the climbing. From the port and the medieval center (Barri Gotic) the city slants generally uphill to the Gracia neighborhood and Parc Guell, but the close-in areas are reasonably flat. City transit or taxis should allow you to avoid most of the hilliness if you head farther from the center. It would not be helpful to have cars for your Barcelona-sightseeing time, I don't think.

I haven't been to Montserrat and have no idea how much unavoidable climbing there is.

Much will depend on where you have to park if your party mostly drives around. In Europe, you can't always count on finding parking right in the historic center at any price. Come back when you have a firmer idea about what towns you want to see (even if you know you'll only have time for half of them). Those who've traveled often to those places should be able to provide some specific guidance.

Posted by
2258 posts

With such a large group, renting your own coach with driver might be a cost effective option for travel.

Posted by
4 posts

Wow! What a great family experience.
With that wide range of age groups you may want to consider whether or not you will all tend to do things together, separately, or what mix inbetween.

If there were 22 p[eople in my family I know that many would want to do their own things much of the time, so I know that I would look primarily for a place where there was a wide variety of things to do for people of all age groups: sitting, walking, biking, taking tours, enjoying night life, going to church, reading, enjoying the beach or museums or architecture or parks or children's playgrounds etc.
But other families are more homogeneous.
I'd start my imagining what each of the members might like to do and let that be the guide.

Posted by
3154 posts

We have been part of a group of 12 several times. Since no one had a vehicle that held more than 6, mostly 4’s, we didn’t even need to discuss what day trips to take. At dinner, people would discuss options for the next day; and people would sort themselves into carloads. Usually there were some who opted for no-go each day. It worked very well.

With such a large and diverse group, you should make it clear from the outset that most days you will not move as a group of 22. It would also be a good idea to get quite a few on board with sharing some of the child minding responsibilities. You should also settle, beforehand, how expenses will be handled. The 1st time we did our group adventure we kicked in €100/pp, and that covered food and alcohol for a week. However, as booze consumption ranged from a teetotaler to those would down a couple of cocktails before dinner + a share of 10 or 11 bottles of wine every night, the subsequent years we had a separate kitty for alcoholic beverages. Working the issues out in advance really helps to keep everyone happy.

Posted by
2575 posts

Hi Julie

As pointed, moving 22 people is not only cumbersome but if you have elderly in your party can also be limiting, especially in the heat of Summer. So the first thing would be to know the range of ages within the group in order to propose to you one thing or another. On second thoughts, rather than asking "ages", I'd say "potential limitations" (say a toddler, or someone who is not able to walk much, etc.)

Posted by
2575 posts

Just recovered an old post of mine for you to have something to get you started...

IN BARCELONA

Have a taste of some of the most iconic architectural landmarks. I've grouped them in 'logical visits' so to speak -one being close to the other or if not, then on the way to:

  1. PARK GÜELL + GAUDI MUSEUM in Park Güell + GAUDÍ EXPERIENCE also by Park Güell + SAGRADA FAMÍLIA + SANT PAU CENTRE MODERNISTA
  2. CASA BATLLÓ + CASA MILA (aka LA PEDRERA)
  3. PALAU GÜELL -not close to Park Güell!
  4. TORRE BELLESGUARD
  5. NOU CAMP -especially if you are a football lover -proper one that is, the one played with the feet! :)
  6. BARRI GÒTIC: the Gothic Quarter, the birthplace of the city, 2000 years of history there so too much to put in a couple of lines, sorry!
  7. EL BORN + BORN CULTURAL CENTRE + PICASSO MUSEUM
  8. LA RAMBLA + LA BOQUERIA -actually these can be combined with 6) 7) and 3) because they're all in the same area.
  9. MONTJUÏC, also too many landmarks here to put in two lines. Have a look here for such a list.
  10. BARCELONETA and waterfront

Do pre-book online wherever you can (see their websites) in order to avoid queueing -thus wasting precious time!- especially if you're visiting in summer. Barcelona gets nearly 12 million visitors each year, which might not sound a lot... but the city has 1.8 million inhabitants (nearly 5 if including the metropolitan area) so you grasp the idea, don't you? ;)

Some other ideas:
http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/ -Barcelona’s Tourism Agency
http://www.timeout.com/barcelona

ESCAPADES ELSEWHERE

Wine Tasting in Penedès -just around the corner from Sitges: Codorniú -one of the oldest, dating from 1550, and largest producers.

BESALÚ + GIRONA
FIGUERES
MONTSERRAT
TARRAGONA
VIC
ROSES
TOSSA DE MAR
...
again, more text-based info here:
http://catalunya.com/ -Catalonia’s Tourism Agency <<< This is especially informational!
http://en.costabrava.org/ -Costa Brava Tourism Agency
http://www.girona.cat/turisme/eng/index.php -Girona City Council
http://www.tarragonaturisme.cat/ -Tarragona City Council

Posted by
1180 posts

Tarragona is a 1h bus ride from Sitges and is probably your best bet.
Girona is 1h 45m by car, Montserrat 1h, Besalú 2h, Tossa de Mar 2h and Vic 1h 30m. The places mentioned above i.e., Cadaques, Figueres, Girona, Zaragoza, etc. are all more than a 2h drive from Sitges.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you so much everyone! I found a travel agent and booked our villa and we will have some time now to research all the great suggestions. Very helpful.