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Spain newbie-is this a good plan?

My daughter is doing a study abroad in Seville, so a friend and I will be doing a 10 day visit to Spain. Just want to make sure what I have planned will work! Suggestions appreciated!

Fri-land in Madrid @ 2:25pm- use Bolt driver to train station- train from Madrid to Seville-leaving @ 4:30 (do-able?)
Sat- Seville - Cathedral tour
Sun-Seville- Alcazar tour
Mon- rent car early-2 hr drive to La Linea to park- visit Gibraltar (monkeys r on my friends must-do list-eyeroll-or I wouldn't do it)
Tues-1HR30M early drive to Ronda- Walking tour- 2H20M drive to Granada- return car on way in by 8:30pm
Wed- tour Granada
Thurs- Alhambra tour
Fri- Train from Granada to Madrid (3H40M)
Sat- day trip by train to Toledo (do I need to get train tix early?)
Sun- tour Madrid (I feel like a driving tour to get an overall feel is enough?!? We are staying off the Grand Via)
Mon- fly home

I am hoping the driving (Seville-Gibraltar-Ronda-Granada) will not be too scary since it will be mostly country driving- not much city driving? yes/no?

Posted by
6099 posts

Your itinerary is fine though I always like to see Cordoba, which is a gorgeous city, in any Andalusia itinerary. It is very easy to take a train from the airport to Atocha station where the trains to Sevilla leave. Yes, you would save money to buy those tickets in advance, but I wouldn't. You never really know what will happen with air travel.

We didn't go to Gibralter, but we did pick up a car at the Sevilla train station and drove to Granada via the pueblos blancos where we stayed a couple nights. I did drive into Ronda and parked just outside of the tourist area.

At least when we went to Toledo, getting tickets a day ahead was fine. Make sure to get a ticket to return to Madrid as those trains do sell out.

I don't think you need a driving tour of Madrid. Get the RS guide. See what sights interest you and do the walking tour.

Posted by
275 posts

Looks like you're heading out on a wonderful trip! Below is a link to Rick Steves Madrid at a glance page to list the key sites! I mention it because I don't know if a driving tour of Madrid should be a priority. But by all means do what you think is best!

I'd suggest you look through the Rick Steves Spain other city pages too!

At a Glance
▲▲▲ Royal Palace Spain's sumptuous, lavishly furnished national palace.
▲▲▲ Prado Museum One of the world's great museums, loaded with masterpieces by Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya, El Greco, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, and more.
▲▲▲ Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Modern-art museum featuring Picasso's epic masterpiece Guernica.
▲▲▲ Paseo Evening stroll among the Madrileños

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1508 posts

Looks like an exciting plan. A couple thoughts come to mind about fine-tuning transit: I’m not sure you can plan on getting from Madrid’s airport to Madrid Atocha train station on a Friday afternoon by car two hours after your flight is scheduled to arrive. You may be better off taking the Cercanias (commuter) train which won’t get delayed by surface traffic. Trains leave every 15 minutes from Terminal 4 and take 31 minutes to reach Madrid’s Atocha train station. There is a free shuttle at the airport that takes airport passengers arriving at other terminals to Terminal 4. Tickets are about €3. has all the details under “Transit Options.”
Because Atocha train station is still in a major construction project, give yourself extra time to make your train. You might want to take a high-speed train to Seville at 5:30pm which gives you more flexibility. You can check schedules and fares at for the Madrid to Seville leg. Renfe ( also has trains traveling this route along with the Granada to Madrid route.
As train ticket prices rise the closer the calendar gets to the train’s departure date, you’ll save money by buying them now online. It’s wise to buy your Madrid to Toledo train tickets well in advance. When I was in Madrid a few months ago, the last two trains returning from Toledo to Madrid were completely sold out.

Enjoy Spain!


Posted by
1046 posts

Catch a taxi from the airport to Atocha.

Bolt and Uber aren't widely used in Spain. Taxis are reliable and there's a set fare of €30- from the airport to the city in Madrid.

Posted by
6099 posts

The staff in the train office in the Madrid airport is very helpful. They sell the tickets that make sense in terms of timing. The local Cercanías train was close to the office and that train obviously gets into the Atocha train station where you can easily make the transfer. Like was said above, cabs can get delayed by city traffic.

You will indeed save money by purchasing that ticket in advance. However, you could lose the entire purchase if your plane is delayed. For us, we got into Madrid way early and went thru the customs process much quicker than expected. We then purchased our tickets for a train much earlier than we would have expected which gave us a few more hour in Sevilla and no waiting around in the train station.

Posted by
799 posts

For your train trips, you may be able to purchase a semi-flexible ticket for a later time (for your trip Madrid to Seville, for example), then if you arrive at the Atocha station earlier, exchange it for an earlier train at a low price. We did this a couple of year ago, in Italy, and the change was something very reasonable, like 5 Euros per ticket. Obviously, read the conditions of whatever ticket you purchase.

I second the idea to NOT drive in Granada if possible.

I also second, if you like art, the suggestions of the art museums in Madrid. I am very big into art museums, and would include Madrid only second/third to Paris and Rome as cities with a huge amount of amazing art to see.

Posted by
8 posts

The plan is to drive from Seville- park in La Linea- I already have a spot reserved w Parclick. Take just a backpack for 1 night to stay at the Elliot hotel in Gibraltar. Then get up the next morning to drive to Ronda- tour- then return car at the train station there.
Q: Should I expect a long traffic line coming into LaLinea?
Q: Is it safe to leave luggage in trunk at the “secure” car park and only take a backpack w essentials/valuables across for the 1 night stay?
Q: I was thinking to return car at Granada train station bc it wasn’t too far from hotel. Would it be easier to return at the airport?

Posted by
296 posts

Beware the monkeys! Hold onto everything tightly as they will grab, tug at and pilfer anything within their reach. Perhaps leave the backpacks at your hotel prior to going up to the top of the rock.

Posted by
8 posts

Q: Should I expect a long traffic line coming into LaLinea?
Q: Is it safe to leave luggage in trunk at the “secure” car park and only take a backpack w essentials/valuables across for the 1 night stay?
Q: I was thinking to return car at Granada train station bc it wasn’t too far from hotel. Would it be easier to return at the airport?

Posted by
6099 posts

We returned a car to Europcar, across the street from the train station in Granada. It was fairly easy, once we figured out the location.

Posted by
960 posts

I spent multiple days in Gibraltar several years ago.

I agree the monkeys were not a highlight and, as noted above, they are aggressive. I had had experience hiking with Asian macaques (another variety of the type in Gibraltar’s). Despite this and the care and awareness I thought I was displaying, a Gibraltar critter snuck up from behind and grabbed at my pack. Don’t look at them directly - this shows aggression and they may come at you.

If you have time, try to see the tunnels - siege and WWII installations - ver interesting. The Windsor suspension bridge, if this is to your liking, had great views. (I have a significant fear of heights, but managed to crossover.). A great hike along the Mediterranean Steps, but not easy.

Hopefully, you can find some interesting sites to redeem the “forced” friend’s monkey visit!

Posted by
57 posts

Just my two cents. Yes, the AirBnb we stayed at in LaLinea was not quite as nice as most of the other ones that we stayed during our May trip--but it was far from the worst one. We were a block or two from the bus station and a block from the border crossing. AirBnBs are much cheaper in LaLinea than Gibraltary.

Before we went I was not totally sold on Gibraltar, but am glad we went--way, way more interesting than it appears on the RS videos. We logged in many miles of walking and exploring the rock as well as the tunnels. Make sure that your backpack does not have any scent of food in it (any food item should be double or triple zip locked). The monkeys just eyed us cautiously but left us alone. We saw a couple folks get jumped by a monkey--its amazing how quick they move and how quickly they can reach inside pants pockets and backpacks!

Am glad we stayed a couple nights in LaLinea--we were able to get an early start at Gibraltar (we walked across the border well before the shuttle buses started running and before the ticket office in LaLinea opened)--quite an interesting and longer than expected trek through the city to the tram and it was nice to be able to just relax after returning to the apartment and not have to drive anywhere. We came back through the border probably around 4 or 5 and spent almost an hour getting through immigration--long disorganized line that spread through traffic lanes. There were not many folks walking through when we went the other direction at 9AM.

As far as the drive goes from Granada to Ronda to LaLinea, it is impressive how well and how fast bus drivers go. We took the bus from Granada (with a transfer at Malaga) to Ronda--very pretty scenery, some very steep canyons/hills), another bus from Ronda to at street in San Pedro de Alcantara, had lunch and boarded a different bus line to LaLinea. Pretty cool going from Ronda to San Pedro, beautiful scenery. We also took the bus from La Linea to Seville, again pretty scenery and we went through Jerez de la Frontera--so saw a few cities that we would have missed if we did point a to point b driving.

We traveled by bus because some of these places either have few trains scheduled or no train service at all.

I think if we had rented a car I would have missed out on seeing the scenery especially the villages/cities in the White mountains that are quite a distance from the highway. Granted we had to plan our travels according to the schedules, but it was nice to just throw the bags in the cargo bays and sit and watch. There was construction on the road from Granada to Malaga and there was only one lane of traffic on our side--we arrived 45 minutes late (but in time for our connection) but at least I wasn't behind the wheel and having to pay attention to the other vehicles on the road.

Posted by
31 posts

I think I would spend a night or two in cordoba after Granada and skip some the Madrid/toledo stuff. The train goes through cordoba anyway.