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Travelling to Spain with 2 kids (8 and 10)

Hi All,
We are a family of 4 travelling to Madrid from Tampa FL(Arriving into Madrid Sat afternoon). I am thinking of the following itinerary

Day#1 : Arrive to the hotel by 4pm (planning to take the kids to the Royal Palace and go for dinner to Gran Via and eat there.
Day #2 : Day trip tp Toledo
Day 3# ; Arrive into Seville by 9;30am (Take a train from Madrid at 7am) will this be too much for the kids given that it will be 1am EST.
Spend time in Seville all the touristy spots and go do a flamenco dinner in the evening.
Day #4: Take a tour to see Granada and the tourist spots (13hr trip costs 500$ for the 4 of us ..)
Day#5 : Either rent a car and drive to the white villages or book a tour(any suggestions on driving in the Andalusia area?)
Day #6 : Take a train into Corboda and do the sight seeing and return to Madrid
Day #7 : Do some kid friendly activities and relax the last day in Madrid
Day# 8: Flight at 8:50am back home.

Are there any other options for Day #4 and 5? Is this itinerary practical or too much trotting with the kids? my 10 year old almost 11 and is very fit (competitive swimmer) My 8yr old is active too but he gets tired :(

Please help!

Posted by
251 posts

My sense is that this is a lot for your timeframe. Transitions can be tricky with young folks, and can leave adults feeling tired too. In a guided tour it can be a little easier to go go go because someone else is figuring out your transportation, but you'll be doing a lot of getting folks packed, into a taxi or walking to the station, navigating trains / buses, etc.

I think if it were me, I'd try and decide what my absolute top things to do would be (bearing in mind to keep it kid-friendly). That might mean cutting some things. You technically have six days to be doing something, seven nights of accommodation. An easy cut might be the white villages day and the stop in Cordoba prior to returning to Madrid (the logistics for that day sound tricky since I'm assuming you'd still have luggage to deal with). That would give you more time in both Seville and Madrid. It would also let you perhaps move that day trip to Toledo toward the end of the trip when everyone is better acclimated to the time change.

Is this a first international trip for your children? It can be hard to know exactly how they'll react to that "arrival day" feeling. That's something I usually like to try and prepare the students I work with for it so that it's not a surprise, and so it's easier to talk to them in that moment to acknowledge how they feel and why we actually are going to keep doing something!

Posted by
2050 posts

I think this schedule is way too much, even without kids. You have allocated yourselves only 7 nights to tackle the 5 top tourist areas of Spain (Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla, Pueblos Blancos, Granada). It will become an all-out marathon, I doubt your kids will remember any of it, except for being tired! ;-)

Some initial thoughts:

  • I would not do a day trip to Toledo (quite exhausting place) less that 24 hrs after you arrive from a transatlantic flight with kids. It usually takes me 2-3 days to recover from Jet Lag.

  • By flying in and out of Madrid, you are forced to backtrack, is it possible to fly open Jaw? Into Sevilla and out of Madrid.

  • I honestly don't think you have time to include Madrid/Toledo and Andalucia on this trip. Consider focusing on only Andalucia, and leave Madrid sites for another time.

If just focusing on Andalucia (leaving Madrid for another time):

Fly in to Madrid
Take AVE train directly to
Cordoba (1 night) - to get over jet-lag
Continue AVE to
Sevilla (3 nights)
Rent car visit Pueblos Blancos for the day
Drop off car at
Granada (2 nights)
AVE back to
Madrid (1 night)
Fly out of Madrid

Hope this helps :)

Posted by
90 posts

My kids are older (16, 13) but in doing our planning for a similar trip, I've looked at these same places and activities. You know your crew and their pace, and others have pointed out this is very fast. My kids do prefer a high level of activity and aren't as interested in architecture and historical buildings as me, so I have to keep that in mind! For that reason I would consider taking out Cordoba and enjoy more time in Seville.

If you do decide to rent a car and do some driving in the south, I encourage you to take a look a the "Caminito del Rey" hike near El Churro, very near Ronda. It looks very exciting without being dangerous anymore, something my own kids would love and I expect others would too. I had to cut it from our trip because of timing, but think if you wanted to rent a car for a day from either Seville or Granada this would make a terrific day trip in combination with Ronda (one of the white villages). There are also some torus that will do the work for you :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caminito_del_Rey

There are several companies that do kid-friendly tours of the Prado if you want to do that when you are in Madrid, I recommend checking that out. We did one in Paris at the Louvre and it was so enjoyable for me to relax and enjoy being in the Louvre with someone else to entertain my kids and make it fun for them (they were the same age as yours at the time, I think).

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for the response.. you are right Carlos.. the only thing they will remember is getting exhausted :) . My kids have travel internationally almost every year .. so they know about Jet Lag. I read somewhere that luggage can be stowed in Corboda that is why I was toying with that option.

I found this tour as well that kind of covers everything I am looking for.. but looks like its a bit rushed.
Day 1: Madrid
In and around Madrid
TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS: Transfer to the hotel. Evening transport to the Gran Vía district.Welcome to Madrid! Upon arriving at the airport, we will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Check the information boards in the hotel reception area for details of the welcome meeting with your guide and fellow travellers. Towards the end of the day, we provide transfers to the Egyptian Debod Temple, Plaza de Es­paña and Gran Via; a vibrant district where you can dine at your preferred restaurant: Indian, Chinese, Spanish and Middle Eastern are some of the options available.

Day 2: Madrid
TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS: Madrid city tour. Stroll through the Retiro Park. Visit to the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas bullring. Night transfer.The morning starts with a comprehensive tour through the centre of Madrid including Paseo del Prado, Cibeles, Neptuno, the Gate of Alcalá, Plaza de Colón and Plaza Mayor. We then visit to Retiro Park, an oasis in the city centre, where we will see the lake and the Glass Palace. A visit to Las Ventas Bullring (admission included) is next, this is one of the most famous bullrings in the world where we will learn about the tradition of “corridas” in the Bullfighting Museum. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure. At sunset we provide a transfer to Plaza de Oriente, opposite the Royal Palace, an elegant and bustling area with many restaurants serving different cuisines such as local Spanish food, international, and Chinese. Enjoy a pleasant dinner of your choice, then return to hotel together.

Day 3: Madrid, Granada
TODAY’S HIGLIGHTS: Lunch included. Entrance and local guide in the Alhambra. Evening transfer. We leave Madrid in the early morning (if the group of English-speaking travellers is small, they may share the trip to Granada with Spanish-speaking passengers). We travel to the south across La Mancha, stopping in PUERTO LAPICE, a ‘manchego’ village evoking the figure of Don Quixote. We will enter Andalusia via Despeñaperros, arriving in GRANADA. Lunch included. In the afternoon we will visit the immense Alhambra Palace, with entrance and local guide included, and its beautiful Generalife gardens, built in Arab times. In the evening we visit the Albaicín district of Granada, a World Heritage site along with the Alhambra, where you can enjoy dinner in the narrow winding streets of this captivating Medieval Moorish quarter. Tonight, you have the option to attend a flamenco dance show and the traditional neighbourhood of Sac­romonte.Note: In the Alhambra complex, the Nazari palaces allow a limited number of people in at a time. In the highly improbable case of not being able to visit this area of the Alhambra, a visit to the Alcázares will be included in Seville (which have similar architecture and features).

Day 4: Granada, Malaga, Marbella, Ronda, Seville
TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS: Costa del Sol and the Andalusian village of Ronda. Departing from Granada and travelling towards the Costa del Sol, we will arrive in MALAGA and explore the historic centre, with its cathedral and the Picasso Museum. After this we will continue along the coastal motorway with beautiful views of the Mediterranean. Stopping in PUERTO BANUS, Marbella, a pretty resort known as a playground for Europe’s rich and famous. In the afternoon we will continue through the hills until we reach RONDA, a very beautiful white town with its large gorge that divides it in two. Continuing to SEVILLE, arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 5: Seville
Thoughts?

Posted by
20973 posts

When is this? Are you locked into RT to Madrid? Are you flying business or first class? I see a lot of potential problems, some already mentioned, with this schedule.

PS -- cross posted with your above trip -- that is not an improvement.

Posted by
11 posts

We are coming in on Nov 22nd and flying out on the 30th 9am. I booked the air tickets already..

Posted by
11 posts

See my revised plan?

Day#1 : Arrive to the hotel by 4pm (planning to take the kids to the Royal Palace and go for dinner to Gran Via and eat there.
Day #2 : (Day trip tp Toledo) Replace with Madrid
Day 3# ; Arrive into Seville by 9;30am (Take a train from Madrid at 7am) will this be too much for the kids given that it will be 1am EST.
Spend time in Seville all the touristy spots and go do a flamenco dinner in the evening.
Day #4: Take a tour to see Granada and the tourist spots (13hr trip costs 500$ for the 4 of us ..) Rent and car and drive to Rhonda and the hike and go into Granada
Day#5 : Sight see Granada
Day #6 : Return to Madrid
Day #7 : Do some kid friendly activities and relax the last day in Madrid(add Toledo if possible)
Day# 8: Flight at 8:50am back home.

Posted by
18156 posts

I think Carlos's plan is much, much better than the original or the revised plan. I also think the Caminito del Rey would probably be a huge hit with the kids--but does anyone in the family have a fear of heights? It could go into overdrive at the Caminito del Rey.

Both of your itineraries--I'm sorry--looks like utter nightmares to me. With the exception of Madrid (not an over-the-top exciting sort of place, I'd say, except for big-city nightlife), those are visually memorable destinations, but you need to stay in them long enough that you're not spending a large percentage of your time getting to your hotel, sleeping, eating 3 meals a day, and getting back to the train station. When are you going to enjoy being there?

The trains between Madrid and Toledo and on the Madrid-Cordoba-Seville line are so fast that there's no advantage to a tour in terms of logistics; the tour bus wouldn't be as fast as the train.

Granada is not a good day-trip from Seville; it's too far. Are you sure you can even find a tour that has tickets to the Nasrid Palaces for 4 people on your date? There is at least one company marketing Alhambra tours that don't include the Palaces, which are the most interesting and beautiful part of the complex.

I cannot imagine arriving at a hotel at 4 PM and being interested in seeing the Palactio Real that day. I found it dull even though not jetlagged, but many people do recommend it, and I think there's some armor. I believe armor is a big hit with other folks (not with me).

I love Toledo but it's very hilly and might be a hard sell on the first full day in Europe.

Please go back to the drawing board. You're trying to cover five of Spain's major destinations in six non-jetlagged days. That's a great way to have a really bad vacation.

I don't understand your plans for Days 4 and 5 in the revised itinerary. You propose a tour to Granada on Day 4 and also driving to Granada. Then you list Day 5 as sightseeing in Granada. If you take a tour to Granada on Day 4 you will be back in Seville that evening.

Posted by
20973 posts

Agree more than hundred percent (if I could) with Acraven. You really need to dial it back and recognize the distances and time travel involved. This is a trip that really calls for open jaw tickets so am sorry to see the tickets already booked.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for the tips .. I knew that was too ambitious of an itinerary.. I think this is doable. We will have to come back for Barca anyway I will add Corboda if possible. This look better ?

Day#1 : Arrive to the hotel by 4pm (planning to take the kids to the Royal Palace and go for dinner to Gran Via and eat there.
Day #2 : Madrid
Day 3# ; Arrive into Seville by 9;30am (Take a train from Madrid at 7am) will this be too much for the kids given that it will be 1am EST.
Spend time in Seville all the touristy spots and go do a flamenco dinner in the evening.
Day #4: Seville
Day#5 : Either rent a car and drive to the Granada Via Ronda
Day #6 : Granada
Day #7 : Madrid
Day# 8: Flight at 8:50am back home.

Posted by
18156 posts

That does look better. However:

When is this trip? I get the sense that it's coming up soon. Tickets for the Alhambra sell out months in advance. Have you checked to see whether you can get tickets on the day you propose to be in Granada? General tickets are sold out for October 10-31, November 1-11, November 15-17, December 6-9, December 23-31 and January 1-4. There are higher-cost options that might be available if your visits falls on one of the sold-out days, but you need to figure this out ASAP, because the remaining tickets could evaporate at any time.

The Alhambra is not the only interesting thing to see in Granada, but it frankly doesn't make much sense to travel all the way to Granada if you can't see the Alhambra in full, given that you are skipping the much, much easier-to-get-to (and lovely) Cordoba.

I do not know whether the 7 AM train on Day 3 will be too much for your children. They are more than 55 years younger than I am, and I have sleep issues. However, you need to think about what time you will have to get them out of bed, not what time the train is scheduled to pull away from the platform. Madrid is a large city. How close will your hotel be to the station? Atocha Station is large and potentially confusing. You may well need to ask someone (look for a person in uniform) to point you toward your platform. There will be minor security (luggage scanner) before you reach the platform. It doesn't take long, but you cannot just pull up to the front of Atocha Station 10 minutes before departure time; that would be very, very risky. I'd want to be there by about 6:30 AM.

And what about breakfast? Surely you'll need to at least stop somewhere and grab some food to take on the train, right? That can be done inside the station, but it might be prudent to arrive a bit earlier for that. Or you could grab something close to your hotel. So: What time will you need to get a taxi from your hotel to be at Atocha by about 6:30? What time are you going to have to wake the kids up to get them downstairs by whatever time that is? Four people; one bathroom (I assume). Won't your alarm have to go off at something like 5 AM? This doesn't sound reasonable to me; vacations are supposed to be fun. But as I say, I have sleep issues.

As for the flamenco dinner, my totally-uninformed guess is that both the dancing and the food will be better (and probably cheaper) if you separate the performance from the meal--meaning see flamenco at one place and eat at a restaurant suitable for your family. I wouldn't think this would be very enjoyable for your children in any case (unless they are taking dance classes of some sort), and this is in the evening (or late in the afternoon from the Spanish perspective) on the day you have dragged them out of bed at an extremely early hour. This does not seem like a good idea to me. (Note: I do not have children.)

Posted by
11 posts

Oh my gosh acraven.. what valid points! .. back to drawing board I guess lol :)

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for this group I went back and revised my Itinerary
Option #1
Day#1 : Arrive to the hotel by 4pm
Day #2 : Explore Madrid
Day 3# ; Arrive into Seville (Depart at 10am arrive by 12:30pm) Venture out in the evening.
Day #4: Explore Seville
Day#5 : Either rent a car and drive to the Granada Via El Caminito Del Rey
Day #6 : Granada( Tix to Alambra are still available)
Day #7 : Here I want to see if I can go to Madrid via Cordoba? ( Take a bus to Corboda and stow the luggage in the bus station and check out Mezquita). Take an evening train to Madrid sleep there and get to the airport in the morning.
Day# 8: Flight at 8:50am back home.

Option #2

Drop Granada and do a day to Corboba on Day#6 and sleep in Seville
Day #7 ; Back to Madrid spend some time relaxing and get ready for departure next day

Thoughts?

Posted by
251 posts

I think adding the Caminito del Rey is a great idea; it is so fun! I'd recommend checking to make sure you can get tickets on the day you'll visit. While it's not as hard to get tickets for as the Alhambra, they do sell out.