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Suggestions on Itinerary for Southern Spain for April 2015

Hi, I am traveling to Spain this April for the first time with my 25 year old son and my sister for 10 days. We are hoping to do some hiking, a little beach time, sightseeing and wine/tapas. We will be arriving and departing from Madrid.
* I am thinking 1st night in Madrid. We arrive in the morning.
*Train to Seville for 2 nights.
*Rent a car and drive to Rondo stopping in Grazalema on the way.
*Stay 2 nights in Rondo and hoping to get a hike in here.
*Drive to Nerja for 2 nights and hope to get some beach time and a hike in.
*Drive to Granda for 2 nights to go to Alhambra.
*Train back to Madrid for one night.

We love outdoor adventure and getting to know where the locals like to go. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks!

Posted by
1262 posts

using an open jaw ticket please consider flying to granada to commence your trip trip as doing so will increase travel efficiency.
Granada is ideally located as part of the Sierra Nevada mountains which offer terrific hiking experiences. The peaks will still have snow and you will find a range of temperatures. Including a day at the Alhambra, another day exploring Granada (which is often an uphill/downhill continuous hike) and a day trip hiking experience; suggest three nights in Granada.
Given the time of year and pebbly beach of Nerja, suggest skipping attempting a beach experience.
Ronda offers an excellent hiking experience down into the gorge.
After Ronda I would head to Seville for three nights and then take the train to Madrid for two nights. Fly home from Madrid.

Posted by
14891 posts

Watch out with flying into Granada. Since it's a small airport, you will probably have to change planes and if the layover is long, you could be better off with your original plan.

Since you arrive in the morning, there's no reason to stay in Madrid on your first night. I'd recommend going straight on to Cordoba (by the way, your ticket to Cordoba will include the ride to Atocha station). The Mezquita in Cordoba is wonderful and should not be missed. Then continue on to Seville. If you decide to skip Cordoba, then go straight to Seville after landing. Then you can have 2 nights at the end to see Madrid. If you don't want to spend time in Madrid, that gives you an extra day in Andalusia.

I also think that it will be too early in the year to enjoy the beach, the water will be very cold. There are many other good places to visit.

Jerez is the sherry and flamenco capital. There are several bodegas you can tour and taste the sherry at without reservations (unlike the rest of Spain). It's an easy train ride from Seville. You can day trip by train to Cadiz and/or to Arcos by bus. You can rent a car there and head for the hill towns.

From Rondo spend a day visiting El Torcal and the "pink lagoon", so-called because of the thousands of flamingos that stop there on their way from Africa to Europe. In April they should still be in Spain. El Torcal is a national park with unusual rock formations, good for hiking. Stay overnight in Antequera, then on to Granada.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks so much for your suggestions. I have spent so much time researching but it can get overwhelming. It is helpful to hear from people who have traveled here before. I have already booked our flights in and out of Madrid. We have a flight from Madrid to Boston and I was nervous about dealing with an extra flight from Granada or Malaga.

Now, I am definitely considering skipping Nerja and am interested in Antequera. Chani, what would the drive be like from Rondo to Antequera? We will be renting a car in Seville and dropping it off in Granada.

You also mentioned going straight to Cordoba when we arrive in Madrid. Should we spend the night there or head to Seville after touring Cordoba? You also mentioned that the ticket to Cordoba would include transport to the Atocha station. Can you explain how we get to the Atocha station from the airport?

Does it sound reasonable to drive from Seville to Rondo with stops in Jerez and Arcos or Grazalema?

Thanks so much for any suggestions you can give me.

Posted by
14891 posts

I am interested in Antequera. Chani, what would the drive be like from Rondo to Antequera? We will be renting a car in Seville and dropping it off in Granada. The roads are in good condition and well-signed. The roads through the hill towns are scenic and well-graded. Just a note, the speed limits for curves were just about the maximum I felt comfortable taking them at . . . unlike in the U.S., for instance, where you can usually take curves at much higher speeds that posted. You go right past Antequera on the main road between Ronda and Granada. Antequera is on a hill surrounded by plains. If you want to see the town, you should stay up on the hill, in the old center. There are hotels near the highway, more convenient if you just want a place to sleep. You could probably leave Ronda early, visit the pink lagoon and hike in El Torcal and still get to Granada for the night.

You also mentioned going straight to Cordoba when we arrive in Madrid. Should we spend the night there or head to Seville after touring Cordoba? I'd recommend an overnight there because [1] it's your first day, you may not have a lot of energy and [2] I really liked it in the evenings.

You also mentioned that the ticket to Cordoba would include transport to the Atocha station. Can you explain how we get to the Atocha station from the airport? There are Renfe (the Spanish rail system) trains that connect the Madrid airport to Atocha. The train station is in the airport. Just look for signs for trains or Renfe. There's a ticket office where you can buy your tickets. There are several very dedicated volunteers on the Spain Forum of Trip Advisor who have written excellent, detailed guides for using trains and for driving in Spain. Go to any of the Spain forums there and look at the "Top Questions" section on the right. They will help you immensely. You can save a lot of money on train tickets by buying them online when they go on sale. It used to be 62 days in advance but I found lately that it could also be 3-4 months in advance.

Does it sound reasonable to drive from Seville to Rondo with stops in Jerez and Arcos or Grazalema? Do you mean in one day? I guess you could stop for a few hours in Jerez, then in Arcos and still get to Ronda before dark. . . a bit rushed, perhaps. You could also drive to back to Grazalema and visit other hill towns too as a day trip from Ronda. While you're looking at the TA Top Questions, also read the one about driving in Spain. By the way, every driver must have an interational driving permit.

Posted by
479 posts

Just adding to what others have said.....When you arrive in Madrid, it will be too early to check into a hotel and you will be tired. I think it's a better use of time to just continue your travels. I agree that Cordoba would be a great first night stop. The old section of the city is close to the train station. If you are traveling light, you could walk there or easily take a cab. I'd suggest staying in the old city so that everything you will need (restaurants, sightseeing, etc., ) will be within walking distance. The old town is particularly pleasant with a medieval ambiance in the evening after the day-trippers are gone.

Posted by
7124 posts

I agree it's a great suggestion to force yourself on to Cordoba on that first night after flying into Madrid.
It's a quick train ride, in the direction you will be travelling, and you get to add the Mezquita to your trip.