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What city in Spain to fly into (from the US)

Hi,

My wife and I are planning a trip to Spain sometime in the fall (September or October time frame) for about 2 months.

The major cities that we are planning to visit are:
Toulouse, France
San Sebastian
Bilbao
Madrid
Seville
Granada
Cordoba
Barcelona

We are having trouble determining which city we should fly into (from the US) and out of. We will primarily be using public transportation and would prefer not to rent a car.

We could fly into Barcelona and then take the train to Toulouse and fly out from Malaga. Or we could fly into Toulouse and fly out of Barcelona but it would be a long train ride (about 8 hours) from Granada to Barcelona.

Any recommendations?

Thanks

Posted by
249 posts

What home city are you starting from?
Do you have an airline preference?

Posted by
2279 posts

If you can get the flights down accordingly, this is what I would do to maximise travel efficiency:

Fly in to Sevilla (from US via London Heathrow)
Sevilla
AVE Train to Córdoba
Córdoba
ALSA Bus to Granada
Granada
Fly to Barcelona
Barcelona
Ouibus to Toulouse
Toulouse
Ouibus to San Sebastián
San Sebastián
Lurraldebus to Bilbao
Bilbao
Fly out of Bilbao (to the US via London Heathrow)

This way you basically make a "ɔ" shape starting in Sevilla in the south and ending in Bilbao in the north. I used London Heathrow as the nexus to travel from the US to the smaller airports in Spain (Sevilla/Bilbao), but if you can find a flight direct from the US to Sevilla/Bilbao, then that could work too. Hope this helps, it looks like a really fun trip! :)

Posted by
19203 posts

I certainly cannot improve on Carlos's routing. For me, price is an issue, so I'd be looking at fares as well as travel time.

I have my own trip to Spain planned for this year. From my origin, anything other than Madrid or Barcelona was many hundreds of dollars more expensive (and I was flying home from London in any case so was only looking at a cost difference in one direction). As a result, I'm flying into Madrid and taking a train to Andalucía the next day. But my trip is long, and I can afford to trade off a delay in reaching my first destination for a substantial reduction in airfare.

Posted by
2279 posts

Acraven brings up a good point, your potential itinerary would also be dependent on the price you are willing to pay for travel efficiency vs. lower cost but more travel time. Currently, I'm seeing London Heathrow to Sevilla (Iberia) going for €140 and Bilbao to London Heathrow (also Iberia) for €85, of course those prices could be higher (or lower) for the days you plan to fly in/out.

Posted by
19203 posts

And those involve separate tickets, I assume, so you'd need to build in a lengthy delay to minimize the risk of missing the second flight due to a delay on the transatlantic flight. If you hold separate tickets and miss Flight 2, you will have to buy a last-minute replacement ticket.

Also be careful about baggage allowances on separately-purchased intra-European flights. They can be very low. Paying extra for hold baggage or a carry-on over the weight limit (which can be as low as 15.4 lb., I think) can really run up the cost.

Posted by
16 posts

Dave,

We will be flying out from Tucson AZ

We have no airline preference

Thanks everyone for their responses

Posted by
335 posts

I have found that flying to Barcelona is one of the less expensive ports of entry from the USA. We got tickets to BCN from SFO for June for just over 1000 for two. We are flying AA there and BA on the return. We are taking the train from Barcelona to Nîmes and spending 9 nights in the Provence region and return to Barcelona and flying home. Good luck with your planning.

Posted by
2279 posts

@4salenas

Edit to add Madrid:
Fly in to Sevilla (from US via London Heathrow)
Sevilla
AVE Train to Córdoba
Córdoba
ALSA Bus to Granada
Granada
Fly to Barcelona
Barcelona
Ouibus to Toulouse
Toulouse
Ouibus to San Sebastián
San Sebastián
Lurraldebus to Bilbao
Bilbao
Fly to Madrid
Madrid
Fly out of Madrid

Time and value wise, your best mode of transportation from Bilbao to Madrid is flying, it's about 1 hr and currently goes for €65 with Air Europa. Compared to a 5 hr direct train with Renfe at €45.

Posted by
9 posts

Based on my research on flights from US recently, I have noticed that direct flights from US to either Madrid or Barcelona come out to be more cost effective than any other destination in Spain. You can potentially do a domestic flight and keep things flexible.

It all depends on your length of stay and how flexible you need to be with rest of the planning.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck :)

Posted by
4950 posts

I will admit that I haven't transferred at Heathrow in years. But that's because the need to change terminals, and repeated, punishingly long security lines (and I presume immigration to get on the bus!) made us swear never to transit there again. Brexit could make this worse.

I believe it was a mistake, when we were in Santiago de Compostela, to think that part of Spain was physically near the UK. Physically, yes. Logistically, no.

Posted by
2845 posts

We're the opposite of Tim-we almost always connect in Heathrow because there are more options(we love Virgin) and my husband somehow has miles on British to fly to Lisbon, Madrid, Edinburgh, Vienna. Of course, since we fly business class to London, we get to take a shower during the layover and hang out in the nice lounge.

Posted by
4006 posts

I've been to Tucson quite a few times. For us, it was a pretty expensive airport to use and we ended up using Phoenix. If you have transportation, I'd suggest looking at flying out of Phoenix. Out of Phoenix, I believe Delta is usually a good option (or it just could be that my airport is a Delta hub). If you use Delta, you are pretty much stuck to Madrid or Barcelona. Even then, from MSP we could get to Madrid via just one stop in New York or Atlanta. For Barcelona, I believe the best routing was through Paris CDG.

Posted by
3558 posts

Another Tucson person here.

Using Google Flights, there are many options from Tucson to the major hubs in Europe, then on to Barcelona or Toulouse or Malaga and back from Barcelona or Malaga or Toulouse. Most airlines require 2 stops, one in the US and one in Europe before you get to your final destination. I tried some multi-city options.

The cheapest route I tried was to fly into Toulouse on 4 September and back from Barcelona on 6 November. Those are Wednesdays. There were several options around $1025 - $1060, all with 2 stops before getting to your final destination. I think that's cheap, especially to have guaranteed transport the whole way. The price was about $200-$300 more expensive to fly to Barcelona first, whether you returned from Toulouse or Malaga.

Use Google Flights (linked above) to explore your options. You can fool around with the dates, choose among the hubs both here and in Spain and come up with the best choices for you. Having used the airport shuttle up to Phoenix, depending on how many of you there are, you could eat up any flight savings by going to Phoenix on the per-person costs needed to pay for the shuttle.

And remember, a tortilla in Spain is an omelet. And that people eat very late there. This tells you just how late. Google spanish meal times or something similar for many more resources like this.

Posted by
2279 posts

Adding to Lo's last point, another food tip, no one in Spain eats Paella for dinner! :)

Posted by
16 posts

Greetings,

Thank you for your responses. You've given us a few more ideas and websites to help us plan our trip.

Posted by
3548 posts

www.skyscanner.com is good for short-hop flights in Europe. It will let you reverse-engineer your itinerary. Type in Tuscon, and then Spain in the arrival box. It will show you possible cities. Spain and southern France have a number of active airports with international connections. Bilbao has been mentioned; Toulouse is the headquarters of Airbus; Marseille and Nice also serve southern France.

Trainline.com is my choice for Spanish trains.

www.seat61.com is essential for train travel.

Posted by
3789 posts

I know US flight pricing is different to Canada, but I was able to get an add on flight from Madrid to Granada for under $100(cdn) onto my flight from Canada to Madrid....that's because Iberia codeshares with Air Canada (Star Alliance members). As this saved me having to transfer from airport to train station, and a similar price to train, I just booked Ottawa to Granada. Then plotted a C shape ending in Barcelona. It also saved the long distance between Granada and Barcelona. If I had to travel between Granada and Barcelona, I would look at flying.

Otherwise, if it works for you Granada- seville-cordoba-madrid-bilbao-san sebastian- toulouse-Barcelona and fly home.
If Granada doesn't work for an arrival airport, how are flights to Malaga? it is only 100km from Granada so you can pick up that arced route from there and again, end in Barcelona avoiding that long transit.