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Spain September 14 to September 25, 2014

Me and two friends will be arriving in Madrid early morning 9/14/14. None of have ever been there - we only booked our flights - One friend wants to "wing" it a little with no real itinerary (hotel first few nights and then wing it..)

But I was thinking:
A tour of other cities from Madrid - maybe three to four days that covers southern Spain, Cordoba, Granada, Seville -
maybe Portugal for a night? Could we squeeze in a day trip to Gibraltar?
Once back in Madrid, take train to Barcelona for two to three days take in the sights and then I thought booking a Vueling flight too Rome for a day or two and either flying back to Barcelona or probably Madrid to finish out our trip.
TOo much?? I see some tour packages that cover multi cities.

I guess we could "wing" it. Take the rail to different cities - stay a night or two different hotels each city, won't that be more expensive??
Could also start at Madrid, and head towards Portugal making a loop around Southern Spain up towards Barcelona for that trip to Roma and then back to Madrid..

I know I have so many thoughts!! Can anyone help me narrow it all down or provide suggestions for us to make the most out our trip without spending TOO much money-? Economical Route :P

I really appreciate any guidance!

Posted by
2393 posts

Take a breath! So you have 11 nights and you fly in and out of Madrid - already booked. Depending on your return flight departure time you may want/need to spend the last night in Madrid.

I am guessing you are all fairly young?

You might consider a flight to Barcelona the day you land in Madrid and save for Madrid for the end the trip as you fly back from there anyway. Check skyscanner for flights but they are pretty cheap $50 or so

What are you really looking to see/experience?

Art, architecture, history, landscapes, club scene? Pinpointing these would help make deciding easier.

Barcelona - 3 or 4 nights

Fly to either Seville or Granada - 3 or 4 nts

fly to Madrid for final 3 or 4 nts

From Seville you can explore the area by car and depending on your preferences do a stop in Gibralter

Posted by
1495 posts

First trip to Spain, keep it simple and enjoy more.
One, Spain starts after 10 p.m.; keep that in mind if you desire to experience how Spaniards live.
Two, forget Portugal, Gibraltar and Rome as this is trying to jam in too much and would provide memories of transportation centers.
Three, wish you had asked the question prior to buying airfare as purchase of an open jaw ticket is the same as a roundtrip and would have allowed more travel flexibility.
Four, recommend the following travel:
Two nights in Madrid
Train to Seville, stop over in Cordoba for a couple of hours on your way to Seville
Three nights in Seville, take a day trip via bus to Ronda
Bus to Granada
Two nights in Granada, be sure and carefully research how to visit Alhambra and buy your tickets in advance
Train back to madrid
I would not just wing it for finding accommodations as this becomes a source of frustration. Besides it is so easy to use the net to find accommodations and usually pay less as a result.
Sounds like you have a lot of research to do in order to understand the full menu of opportunities available.

Posted by
4 posts

wow.. I appreciate all the feedback.. yes, I didn't think "winging" was a great idea! I needed experienced feedback :)
I will certainly speak with my friends and based on the comments..

glad I found this site!

thanks again
if anyone else has any suggestions that would be great! :)

have a good day, everyone!

Posted by
2393 posts

We have always "winged" it - never had a problem. We book for the next place the night before we leave for it - it is so easy to do these days with all of the info out there and great review sites to steer you in the right direction. Just be sure and find out if there will be any festivals in the places you are going when you want to be there - that is a game changer.

Posted by
15477 posts

There's plenty to do in Spain. And Spain is pretty big. Anyway, there's no efficient way to get from Spain to Portugal. Traveling from place to place will eat up money and time faster than just about anything else. That's why we've all said to reduce the number of destinations and miles.

You should read this explanation for the Spanish rail website You can get considerable discounts on tickets IF you purchase in advance - which means committing to a schedule. The biggest discounts are if you buy 60 days in advance, which is coming up pretty soon, so you want to look into this now. If you want to visit Barcelona this is the way to do it. The train ride is 2.5 to 3 hours, so it will take less time than flying, since the train stations are in the cities. If you want to wing it for part of your trip, then Barcelona should be either the first leg or the last, and do your "winging" from Madrid.

Andalusia will be pretty hot (Seville, Cordoba), not that you'll have cool weather anywhere. You may want to add Toledo, Segovia, and maybe El Escorial around Madrid. Toledo is best as an overnight. The only train route there is from Madrid, so you'd backtrack to go somewhere else afterward, but it's a short ride.

Granada's Alhambra is terrific, but getting to Granada takes time. Again, buying train tickets (or bus) well in advance will save you a lot of euros. You also need to buy tickets in advance as they sell out!

What kind of accommodations do you want? Are the three of you hoping to stay in one room (hard to find rooms that accommodate 3 and usually that means a double bed plus a single). Even looking for one single room isn't easy. Most rooms are doubles and many of the doubles are 2 people in one bed. I bet finding space in one hotel for 3 rooms is going to be hard if you are winging it, unless you stay in youth hostels. Most people here who wing it are traveling either as a couple, solo, or maybe 2 couples with a car.

And, as others have said, we will be a lot more helpful if you give us an idea of the things you want to see and do and maybe your age group.

Posted by
1178 posts

Recommend you get a copy of the Moon Guide to Spain...invaluable!!!

Posted by
30 posts

I'd recommend having the phone numbers, email addresses, and addresses of several hostels in all the cities you'll be visiting. That way, if you're friends are determined to keep an open itinerary, you know what options you have. Sort of semi-winging it.

Posted by
16893 posts

I don't have a problem with winging it, but making choices on the fly is easier when you know your options. Rick's Spain book will give you everything you need before arrival at those destinations, so read it thoroughly in advance. Portugal is definitely not easy to get to, so stick to the shorter Spanish destination lists suggested above.

Posted by
4 posts

Hello, again!

Here is an update:

We Fly into Madrid on Sunday,
For Monday morning, we booked a flight to Barcelona to stay three days. (M, T, W)
Thursday morning, we will travel to Seville - still working out if by train or flying (even talked about driving)
5 hour train travel is higher priced than a 90 min flight (from research this morning)
Fly to Seville? then
From Thursday to Tuesday AM- still planning - open to suggestions,
Definitely want to see Andalucía - Granada, Cordoba, Maybe some Spanish coastline?
Seville seems like a good jumping point to Granada, Cordoba, are there short tours to maybe do a loop of the three cities?

((Willing accept that Portugal and Morocco may not be the best idea this trip)) from Seville is it possible? day trip excursion? Ok.. Ok.. I will leave it alone ;)

Based on feedback here, Tues, Wed, Thurs of the following week will be in Madrid to see things before we leave Friday :(

We are in our 30s (38, 33, and 32) but very young at heart :)
No hostels :)
We will book one night in Madrid the Sunday we arrive and three nights in Madrid at the end of our trip (hotel recommendations??)
We will book three nights in Barcelona (any suggestions??)
How many days to stay in Seville - still deciding

to get back to Madrid, thinking of the Speed train
hopefully this update is a good one??

Appreciate everyone's time!

Posted by
1495 posts

You should go by train from madrid to barcelona. Less hassle than flying, actually saves time, far more comfortable and you get scenic views.
From barcelona to seville you should fly. Crazy to think of driving.
Seems like you keep trying to add stuff on, but i dont see where you are doing research on what you should be doing at each destination.

Posted by
4 posts

Hello ..

Actually, the planet ticket for three from Madrid to Barcelona was really cheap; and takes a little over an hour.
The train price was double and took much longer.

The flights are all pretty cheap. I've been researching and reading and have made changes to the way some things are planned based on feedback here and reading elsewhere; appreciative of all the feedback!
Portugal and Morroco are less and less of an option for all the pre-planning- who knows what could happen when we get there.

We know a few sites that we would like to see in each city - but yes, nothing is set.
- I guess the help to plan which cities and how to get to each has been the most useful information on here.

We are checking out hotels today.

Posted by
1495 posts

Suggest you compare the total travel time to understand the advantage of train travel.
Train, arrive at station 30 minutes prior to departure and both stations are central and convenient to tiurist districts. The train is high speed and compareable to business class plus far less hassle with security and much more opportunity to see spain.
The airports add a minimum of 45 minutes getting to and from tourist districts so there is 1.5 hours plus you add a minimum of arriving an hour before departure. So you have additional 2.5 hours to your trip for the plane. Plus you lose control of your luggage.
Train prices are cheaper if you plan ahead.