My 18 year old daughter and I are starting in Paris on June 27, followed by Cadaques and 3 days in Barcelona. We then have 5 days before our departure from Madrid. We are deciding between taking a train from Barcelona to Valencia for a couple beach days before ending up in Madrid, or flying Barcelona to Granada and returning to Madrid by train. Granada seems more interesting but I am concerned that it may not be enjoyable, with the extra travel time, the heat away from the coast in early July, and only 2 days to spend there. Should we make the effort to go to Granada? Cut days from Madrid? Or relax near Valencia?
I really enjoyed both cities but it would be hard to pass up a visit to the Alhambra. But I'm not certain about train service between Granada and Madrid. Valencia would definitely be an easier option with much less time spent traveling. All things considered, I would opt for Granada if you can manage the traveling puzzle. The Alhambra is amazing!
Valencia is a lovely city. Granada is my favorite place in Europe. If you can make the transit work, and get Alhambra tickets, then Granada hands down. But if you can't, Valencia will be nice. Granada will give you a reason to return to Spain!
Granada to Madrid by train is maybe 4 hours. There is work on the train line, I haven't been since this work started, but I understand they bus you to Antequera and then train from there. Not 100% sure of this but I'm sure someone on here knows. You could also fly to Madrid.
A - fly from barcelona to Granada and enjoy a wonderful, and in every sense of the word, unique city.
B - stay in Barcelona and day trip to Stiges for a great beach experience. Actually the Barcelona beaches are a great experience.
It may be quite warm in July, so beach time in Valencia isn't a bad choice.
I don't think you would want to miss Granada and there is more to see and do there. The Alhambra is a world-class sight. You can train back to Madrid, but I believe the route is roughly through Seville and Cordoba (we drove). If you fly to Granada, plan at least one full day to see the Alhambra. A Sambra (like Flamenco) performance in a cave home is a great evening activity (I think they start around 9 pm).
It makes me smile when people suggest, because of the extreme heat of mid summer, it might be preferable to spend time on the beach, under a baking sun. Go to Granada and enjoy. The nights are cooler because it is inland and elevated.
Thanks for the great feedback! We have decided to go to Granada, thanks to your advice.
Does anyone know if we need to reserve our train ticket from Granada to Madrid in advance, or is it ok to purchase it when we are there?