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Well I’ve never been to Spain 🎶

Hi everyone,

We’re flying into Madrid in early September (3adults), and to avoid too much packing & moving, we’d like to spend 6-7 days in Madrid with day trips, then train to Seville for 6-7 days with day trips from there. It’s difficult to omit places, but we’re banking on returning to Spain again soon.

We thought it would be nice to have an apartment/house to spread out and relax in (rather than 2 hotel rooms), so does anyone have apartments they’d recommend in Madrid or Seville?

Day trips from Madrid we’re thinking of are Toledo and Segovia, and perhaps Salamanca. Suggestions?

Day trips from Seville we’re considering are Cadiz, Cordoba, and Granada.

We like to take it easy and drink in the atmosphere, see some highlights, but not be too strictly scheduled, so I’d really appreciate your input. Apartments in Madrid and Seville? Anything you’d recommend we add or drop? Is 6-7 days too much for Madrid or Seville?

Please help.

Posted by
252 posts

I’m not a huge fan of day trips because I think some of these places are magical at night, but most of the places you’ve proposed are doable as day trips. I do not think, however, that Granada is doable as a day trip from Seville. I also feel the same about Salamanca from Madrid.

Posted by
252 posts

I’ve twice rented from the same owner as Geoff in Madrid. I think all of her properties are one bedroom but they offer a futon like couch that might be acceptable for a third person. Her properties are listed under the name At Home in Madrid on both VRBO and Airbnb.

Posted by
6816 posts

You could add Alcalá de Henares to the Madrid day trip list. It’s the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. Salamanca is about 2.5 hours from Madrid’s airport. For Sevilla, if you like Roman ruins, add Itálica (just outside of the city), and Ronda. For me, Granada would be a really long day trip.

I always have a rental car so spend nights in the places you’ve mentioned, not do them as day trips. An issue with day tripping is the amount of time spent getting to and from the different places, so don’t be surprised if you get tired of day tripping fairly quickly.

Posted by
960 posts

I agree with the nights in Madrid and day trips to Segovia and Toledo. Much to see in Madrid and day trips are easy. Check El Escorial also. Also agree with Seville with a day trip to Cordoba (could also be done from Madrid, but transit time is longer.)

However, I would suggest staying in Granada for two nights (or 3 if there are enough places of interest to you), taken out of the Seville schedule. Granada has a lot of unique sites - Alhambra, Albayzín neighborhood, old town. One full day to enjoy the Alhambra, or to enjoy the Alhambra and some of the old town or Albayzin later in the day. An arrival day to see things like the Royal Tombs or San Juan de Dios or whatever else strikes your fancy.

It really comes down to personal interests. I "had" to see Manuel de Falla's "carmen", his home, in Granada. I thought I would be the only one with the interest, but shared a tour with a European for whom it was a "must".

(I learned this in Granada: Carmen is the typical house of the Albaicín and Realejo neighborhoods in Granada. Both the word Carmen and the house with its peculiar architectural characteristics have Arabic roots. ) I'm sure others are aware of the terminology and architecture, but I enjoyed learning the info!)

Posted by
9873 posts

And, more importantly,

Well I've never been to Heaven
But I've been to Oklahoma ...

In fact, the song was written by an Okie, Hoyt Axton.

Posted by
15678 posts

The only place I'd spend that much time is Barcelona which has tons of things to see and do as well as several really good day trips. It's 2.5-3 hours by train from Madrid.

I like Madrid for its great art museums. I have spend a full day at the Prado twice, and 3-4 hour visits to the Thiessen as well. If you aren't great fans of European painting you may find a couple hours at each is plenty. There is enough to keep you busy in any case, but of all the many places I've been in Spain, it's the least interesting. I haven't been to Segovia or Salamanca, but Toledo is short-changed by only a day trip. It's much better as a 1 or 2 night stay, to be able to see some of the city without the many daytrippers.

Seville is a great place to spend several days, but it's only convenient day trip is to Cordoba. Sure, you can see the 2-3 top sights in a day trip, but the city is magical in the evenings and there are a lot of lesser sights that make it very good for at least a 2 night stay. Cadiz is 1.75 hours by train, which would be borderline travel time for me. The good news is that the Cadiz train station is a short easy walk (maybe 10-15 min) to the historic center and about that much farther to the seashore. The simple truth is that Andalucian towns are not close to each other, so day-tripping is impractical.

Posted by
252 posts

Just to give some food for thought. The best trip my husband and I have done included five nights in Sevilla (train from Madrid immediately upon arrival, two nights in Cordoba, three in Granada and four in Madrid. We could have done day trips from Madrid but didn’t feel the needs. We did not feel rushed and Spain’s fantastic train system makes it easy.

I hear you when it comes to packing and moving frequently, but the flip side is that you’re able to relax once you’re settled in rather than having to time your day trip comings and goings by train/bus. And you get to enjoy these cities at night. I personally would maximize your time in Andalucia since it’s easy enough to plan for a future trip to Madrid.

Just a thought…

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you for your thoughtful replies. Lots of food for thought here.
Thanks for apartment suggestions, but we def need 2 bedrooms (we’re past our futon years, lol).
I agree with the comments about the nights being magical in different locations. It’s just a different vibe, right? So we’ll either have to stay in Granada a night (or two), or move it to a future trip. Same for Salamanca.

We’ve seen Roman ruins, so we’ll skip those this time. I’m intrigued by the concept of Carmens, thanks!
Wondering if we should skip Cadiz and go to Malaga or Ronda. We would like to see a white town if they’re accessible by train (or bus), but I realize we may need to adjust our schedule to accommodate a day or two in the south.

So right now I’m thinking 5-6 night in Madrid with day trip to Toledo and perhaps Segovia (thoughts?)
Then down to Seville for 5-6 nights with day trip to Cordoba, then 1-2 nights in Granada.

We want enough time to really enjoy Madrid and Seville, eat some good food (paella), drink some good wine & sangria, and see if we kinda like the music 🎶😉


Posted by
960 posts

I like it! Of course, it isn't my trip, but for me, this would be relaxed without giving up Granada with the Alhambra and unique areas. I didn't specifically mention Granada's gypsy cave area of Sacramonte. May not be to your preference, but I found it quite interesting.

My first trip to Madrid, a dozen or more years ago now, we had about the same amount of time that you are considering. We did both Toledo and Segovia as day trips. I liked both - they are different and not hard to access from Madrid. Check the days of the week that you are traveling. Many museums are closed on Mondays in Madrid and Toledo. Covering your must-sees might influence your day trip plans.

Just a warning as you consider transport options - I thought I was being quite clever a couple months ago when I decided to fly from Granada to Madrid to catch my return flight home. I liked the flight schedules better than train. Well........ It rained and the incoming plane didn't land. We were bussed into Madrid - a five hour road trip that I hadn't counted on! I did see La Mancha country with windmills(!), but next time, given the choice of a short plane ride or almost as short train journey, I will be taking the train.

Posted by
27424 posts

I am a slow traveler, and I like taking day trips. My least favorite part of traveling is changing hotels. What works for me is day-tripping to towns that have just a few hours' worth of sights--places not worth relocating to. Accordingly, I have daytripped to Chinchon from Madrid, Carmona and Arcos de la Frontera (separate days) from Seville, Priego de Cordoba from Granada, Vejer de la Frontera from Cadiz, Grazalema from Ronda, etc. I have spent multiple nights in Toledo, Segovia, Salamanca, Cadiz, Cordoba, Ronda and Granada because my sightseeing target lists for those places were too long to tackle in less than a full day. I miscalculated with Alcala de Henares and found I liked it so much on my day-trip from Madrid that I need to go back and spend a couple of nights just to enjoy walking around.

To the list of viable day trips from Madrid, I would add Cuenca if you're prepared to commit to the trip and buy a low-price train ticket early. Waiting is likely to make the rail fare painful. The slow, cheap trains to Cuenca take way too much time. I'd say a day trip to Cuenca isn't advisable for folks who like modern art, because there are a couple of good, small museums there that would push Cuenca into not-a-day trip territory for me.