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Trip Planning

There are So many wonderful tips here. We arrive in Madrid Nov 30 in the a. m., do you Taxi to your hotel in Gran Via?
We e thinking of doing a Hop on Hop off bus tour, worthwhile?
We have booked aDevour evening your of Tapas and Wine, any other tours and which company? Do you need a guide for the Prado Museum?
Any and All suggestions are appreciated.
Then after 4 nights in Madrid, bullet train to Sevilla and need Much help there🙂 Places to eat, things to do and see. Thank you, again

Posted by
4934 posts

HoHo bus tours can be good or bad. Don't do one in a city that has heavy traffic.
I suggest booking a half day tour of the city with a good tour company. Check with TripAdvisor.

If you love art, don't miss the Prado Museum. Also, the Royal Palace.
I recommend taking a day trip to each, Toledo and Segovia. We did it by train. Both cities are very walkable.

Posted by
439 posts

We didn't use a tour guide for the Prado, but YMMV. We prefer to see the "must sees" in a museum, and then wander as long as we feel like it and leave when it's all starting to become a blur.

Near the Prado is the large Retiro Park. We enjoyed exploring that and the pavilions within it.

Also go to the Reina Sofia, if you want to see Guernica. (Worth it.) The main train station across the street is gorgeous and worth seeing, but if your train to Sevilla leaves from there, you could see it then.

We really liked touring the palace and wandering around the Plaza Mayor area.

Also, I'd highly recommend a day trip to Toledo.

Posted by
19164 posts

It sounds as if you may not have dug into a good guidebook yet. It's really not an issue of what there is to see, but rather of what you are willing to skip because of limited time. Rick's guide to Spain covers the cities most often visited by American tourists, and in great detail. I recommend that you get that book ASAP and start reading. Much will come down to your personal interests. In the meantime, you can review Rick's top picks right on this website: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/spain. Choose a city and then click on "At a glance".

Rick's videos can also be watched on this website: https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/video/tv-show. There are eight shows on Spain. They aren't very recent, but the sights are still there.

I took a walking tour operated by the Madrid tourist office and really enjoyed it.

Madrid has a subway system (in addition to buses) that is useful for getting around. I'm not a fan of hop-on/hop-off buses; it seems to me you'd spend a lot of time waiting for the next bus to come along. However, I am not speaking from personal experience.

The low temperatures in Madrid may be down in the 40s at the time of your trip, so take some layers. Spaniards eat dinner very, very late, so you may be walking back to your hotel after 11 PM.

Posted by
3304 posts

Some of the popular places to visit in Madrid include the Prado and Reina Sofía art museums, Plaza Mayor, Puerta Del Sol, Plaza de España, Puerta Del Alcalá, Puerta and Puente de Toledo, Royal Palace, temple of Debod, Retiro Park, Palace of Cristal in Retiro Park. Naval museum, Fuente de Neptuno and Fuente de Cibeles. If you like Fernando Botero sculptures, there’s one at terminal one at the airport and a couple around town. Popular places to visit in Sevilla include the cathedral and Giralda Tower, Torre de Oro, Triana neighborhood, Plaza de España, María Luisa park, the Alcázar, and the Metropol Parasol/Setas de Sevilla.

What you see depends on what you like. We always use the metro to get to our hotel. We don’t use the hop-on, hop-off busses. Haven’t been to the Prado since 1995, but we didn’t need a guide. We just looked for the artists we were interested in seeing.

Posted by
44 posts

You could take a taxi if you want. I think it is a flat rate of 30 euros from the airport (at least that is what the sticker on the window of the taxi I took to the airport as I was flying back to the US said). But, if you want you can also take the metro or the Cercanías train. I took the metro to my hotel on Gran Via, but I traveled solo with only a carry on. If you have a lot of luggage, taxi is probably easier.

I took the Devour tour in Madrid too, but for the "Taste of Spain" tour which is basically breakfast and lunch. I thought it was pretty good. A little pricey though. If you are up for another food tour, you could check out Spain Food Sherpas in Sevilla. I took their tour in Granada and it was pretty good too, slightly cheaper than Devour if I am not mistaken. I'm not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination, I just wanted to try foods I may not have tried on my own.

I did end up getting a guide for the Prado. It was my first time using a guide for a museum and I think it was worth it. The interesting thing about this tour was before starting the tour of the Prado, our tour guide took us (actually just me since I was the only one on the tour) around the Letras neighborhood to give us a little historical perspective before viewing the art in the museum which I thought was a nice added value. Then we toured the most famous pieces of the Prado for about 90 minutes and at the end of the tour, you are left in the Prado so you can continue exploring on your own if you want. I found this tour on AirBnB. If you want more details let me know.

Posted by
13 posts

If you want to view Sevilla and don't want to climb the Giralda Bell Tower, consider the Metropol Parasol (sometimes referred to as the Mushroom). It's billed as the largest wooden structure in the world and has an elevator leading to terrific view of Seville that will include the Bell Tower. It is walkable from the Plaza Triunfo past Plaza de San Francisco thru the shopping streets to the Metropol Parasol. The Alcazar building and grounds are beautiful and the Royal Apartment add-on is worth the extra cost. We enjoyed a mid-day meal at Casa Tomate near the Cathedral which is not to be missed even if you've seen other cathedrals in Spain.

Posted by
6741 posts

We stayed right off of Gran Via, excellent area for museums. We also enjoyed the Thyssen- Bornemisza museum, excellent art collection of the Masters from a private collection.

Posted by
14404 posts

My first visit to Madrid was about 8 years ago and I did the HOHO buses. There were 2 routes, one went to the major sights in the center, the other to farther parts of the city. I disliked the first, the audio narration was boring and not synced to where the bus actually was much of the time - I think because of traffic delays which also made it bad for getting to sights because it took so long. For the second route, I listened to the kids' narration - a tip from another tourist - and it was fairly interesting. I enjoyed seeing bits of the city that I would have missed otherwise.

The Prado is huge. If you love European painting, take the time to use their website to work out what most interests you. I found the audio guide was very good. If you aren't that much into the art, a tour guide taking to to the highlights for a couple of hours may suffice. The Thyssen Museum is much smaller and "picks up" where the Prado leaves off around the mid-19th century, so you'll find impressionists there, and often an interesting temporary exhibit. The Reina Sofia picks up where the Thyseen leaves off, early 20th century. Take your pick.

Sevilla is the unofficial tapas capital of the world, I've been told. I'd look for a tapas tour there - or just spend a lot of time eating tapas there. Another Andalusian specialty is flamenco and the Casa del Flamenco is a good place to experience it. My favorite sight in the city is the Alcazar.

Posted by
382 posts

"Madrid was not the most elegant of Europe’s capital cities, Cotelo thought. Not up there with Rome, Prague, Lisbon and Paris in terms of architectural ambience. But, he conceded, it had its charms – it had soul, a big, lusty heart, and a gargantuan appetite for life. He found it always too hot or too cold, too expensive or too cheap, too aristocratic or too plebian. It had the Retiro, and it had the Rastro. And, it had a river it chose to ignore. It had an opera house it would rather forget, and the Prado which it couldn’t live without. It had a huge university of little distinction, and a parliament building too easily mistaken for a post office. But it did have an ancient Egyptian temple, and the only public statue of Satan in Europe. And it had Atocha – a lovingly restored rail terminus, complete with spray-misted indoor tropical jungle." An extract from After Goya.

Posted by
382 posts

"Sevilla is the unofficial tapas capital of the world…" Think Granada might demand a duel over that claim!

Posted by
44 posts

Think Granada might demand a duel over that claim!

Haha Bill, I was thinking the same.

Re: La Casa del Flamenco, I can second. Saw a show there recently and they were very good. I'd also recommend though just walk through the streets and parks of Sevilla and I bet you will come across flamenco in the streets. My most memorable day in Sevilla was when I went to Plaza de España and encountered a full flamenco group performing. It was the first time seeing flamenco for me and I was super impressed. I think they might have been students, but they were really giving it their all and must have performed for well over an hour (I think I ended up watching them for an hour and they were there well before me).

As a Spanish speaker might say, tenían duende.