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Train travel

I have read other posts but I wasnt sure how far in advance we need to book our trains to travel to Andaulcia. Is it okay to wait until we are in Spain? Also we saw many different views on whether to fly or take a train from Granada to Barcelona at the end of our trip early November.

Thanks so much - this forum has been a fantastic help with trip planning!

Posted by
1524 posts

Leslie - I would always recommend booking in advance for any key stages of a trip eg where an hotel is already arranged and /or you must be in a certain place at a certain time.

Most Spanish trains are not like those in northern Europe where you just buy a ticket and can get on, whether or not a seat might be available. Other than purely suburban or slow regional trains, numbered and reserved seats are assigned with every ticket. If a train sells out before you get there, you wait. Book in advance for a peace of mind.

Posted by
3175 posts

The further in advance you buy rail tickets online, the more money you will save. The savings can be substantial.

Posted by
6570 posts

Your best bet is to fly from Granada to Barcelona on Vueling Airways. We did it this past June, and the flight was just 1 hour. Spain's larger than most people realize.

Posted by
95 posts

Thanks so much! So booking now for mid October trip is a good idea right. Is it better to just rent a car I wonder..

Posted by
1524 posts

Leslie which part of the trip do you feel you will need a car? how many days are you planning to spend in Andalusia? The car might be useful to visit Pueblos Blancos towns like Arcos de La Fronterra and Ronda, but public transport will suit you fine on visiting larger towns like Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Málaga.

Posted by
19187 posts

On routes served by the AVE trains, those will be a lot faster than driving. I'd only rent a car if I had time to include stops in Ronda and the white villages, and then I'd just have the car for the leg from Seville (or Jerez or Cadiz) over to Granada.

We see a lot of proposed itineraries here that allow a painfully short time to see a large swath of Spain. I wouldn't recommend Ronda or the white villages if you don't have extra time after allowing for decent visits to Barcelona, Cordoba, Seville and Granada--plus Madrid and Toledo if you plan to include that area in this trip.

Posted by
95 posts

Thanks for all the great feedback! We are spending 2 weeks in Andalucia- we are staying in Cordoba, Sevilla, Malaga and Granada-On a trip a few years ago we drove around Turkey and it is a huge country and the driving was exciting but difficult in the cities.
We wanted to try public transportation but thought we could just be spontaneous and book trains a few days prior...We have our lodging all planned and we are excited about this trip!

Posted by
1524 posts

Leslie - You will enjoy and cherish the Andalusian experience. Andalusia is the best region in Spain from my experience traveling there. Going to the Pueblos Blancos towns will give you time to bond with locals and really experience Andalusian culture. The route from Zahara de la Sierra to Grazalema travels through some of the most stunning scenery in Andalusia, ending in one of its most emblematic towns.

Posted by
19187 posts

Yes, several of us have been to Cadiz. I consider it definitely worth visiting, but with only 2 weeks I wouldn't try to include it. To my mind, priority goes to Seville (4 nights), Cordoba (ideally 3 nights) and Granada (ideally 3 nights). If you go to Malaga, I'd stay for 2 nights. For my pace, that's all you have time for--no Ronda or white villages, which I would choose in preference to Malaga. Cadiz is more historic than Malaga but smaller.

Many folks would trim a night off my suggestions for Seville, Cordoba and Granada, but what I saw on my third day in Seville was at least as interesting to me as the Day 1 sights in Cadiz or Malaga (possibly with the exception of Malaga's Picasso Museum for big fans), and staying an extra day somewhere costs nothing in travel time. Now, if you really need some waterfront time or beach time on each trip, including Cadiz or Malaga is a very reasonable choice. I think trying to squeeze both in on this trip would be a strategic error, but I am definitely not a blitz traveler.

I suspect many people find Malaga more immediately engaging than Cadiz; I thought it had a more festive atmosphere.

If you're thinking about hitting both Cadiz and Malaga, be aware that there is no straight-shot fast-train service between the two. You'll have to head back north at least to Seville (some departures take you all the way up to Cordoba) before changing for Malaga. You will pay for those miles. Bus service may be more direct (I haven't checked), but it seems to be slower.

Posted by
14409 posts

You can day trip to Cadiz from Sevilla. It's about 1.5 hours on the train. It depends on how many nights you're spending there. If you have 3 full days, I'd be on the fence but leaning toward going. With less, definitely not. With more, almost definitely go.

Posted by
95 posts

I did not see the post by acraven until now. Our itinerary is exactly what you recommend. I would love to do a day trip to Cadiz but I think we will stay in Sevilla (Triana neighborhood) and just immerse ourselves instead of rushing off. Thank you!

Posted by
19187 posts

I allowed extra time in Seville because of Holy Week activities and made a last-minute decision to take a day-trip to Carmona. The bus takes about 75 minutes each way. It made a nice change from the bustling city. But you could keep Cadiz in mind in case you get itchy feet. It's not one of the routes on which the fare escalates as your travel date approaches. It looks as if a day-trip by train would be just under 27 euros round-trip. There's definitely more to see in Cadiz than in Carmona.

Or Jerez--substantially closer than Cadiz and costing less to reach. I haven't been there, but there are sherry bodegas and horse shows. It's possible the tickets to the horse show would need to be purchased ahead of time, however.