I know it may sound a little early to begin planning, but this is one of my favorite parts of traveling. This will be a first trip to Spain for my husband and myself. We have two weeks. We do NOT want to do a whirlwind tour of Spain. It looks like Madrid and Barcelona may be our exit or entry points. We are slow travelers. That being said, I am trying to keep the number of our stops to a minimum. We much prefer spending time in a place, exploring, then moving on. As my hubby is crazy about Gaudi, a trip to Barcelona is a must. I am most interested in Granada and Sevilla and the hill towns in the area. Madrid isn't on our radar although if we take a train to or from Barcelona, it appears it will be. I am toying with the notion of renting a car as we leave Barcelona (if we start there) and driving the eastern coast, through Valencia, and on to Granada and then Sevilla and hill towns in the country side, maybe down to the coast. If anyone has done this, please weigh in! Also, please weigh in on the best entry point to the country. We will be flying in from Seattle and jet lag is a B-word for me for several days, with insomnia, fatigue, dazed-ness. What locale would be the kindest for recovery?
Driving from Barcelona to Granada is boring and tedious once past Valencia. It's the worst drive in the country. If you hug the coast, all you'll see is the back-sides of condos. If you don't, all you'll see is dust.
Anything else would be better. I've done it several times and just rush to get it over and done.
Ed, This is very helpful. It looks like a train for us from Barcelona to Granada.
I am virtually planning the same trip as you are for October 2014. My mother, 3 aunts and I will be flying into Madrid and out of Barcelona. And our itinerary includes the long drive from Granada to Barcelona. Its the only way to include Barcelona, a must see city on the East Coast, somewhat out of the way from the other areas of interest. We don't want to backtrack. Plus, Spain is a pretty big country. Valencia has a beautiful Aquarium, we may check this out on the long day of driving.
I have been to Spain twice before. Needless to say, I love Spain. My favorite places in Spain are Toledo, Barcelona, San Sebastian & The Basque country. If you include Madrid, the museums are wonderful and beautiful Toledo is so close(a MUST). Segovia and Avila are nice too. I have not spent time in the South except for Cadiz so this trip we are going to Seville, day trip to Morocco, Granada & White Hill Towns. We are staying at least 2 nights in each location.
Now when I travel, I do food/restaurant research. We have been to many of the restaurant recommendations out of the R.S. guidebooks and loved them. The food is fantastic in Spain! Enjoy!
Open jaw airfare: fly into seville (via madrid), bus/train to Granada, fly to barcelona, fly home from barcelona. First night overnight flight, nights 2, 3, 4, 5 in Seville, nights 6, 7, 8, in Granada and nights 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 in Barcelona. Allows time to recouperate in Seville and time to daytrip from Barcelona.
In March, you want to be south - where it's comfortable. In the north, particularly in the mountains, it can be freezing cold and snowing. The north coast, Bilbao and San Sebastian, will be miserable.
I really like Barcelona so maybe that's a good place to visit. From Barcelona, however, it's not convenient to get south. I'd probably look for a cheap flight on Vueling to Granada and work from there.
You can see Granada in three nights, which gives you one full day for the Alhambra and another full day for everything else. If you like to travel slow, add an extra night or two to really enjoy it.
Sevilla won't have any special activities in March, so two nights will work. Use your one full day for the Alcazar and Cathedral, and maybe take a walk to the Golden tower on the river. Add an evening flamenco performance. The Plaza de Espana is really just an expo sight with no real historical significance. It has nice park areas but is skip-able in cooler weather.
We added a loop to Ronda, Gibraltar, Tarifa, Cadiz and Jerez between Granada and Sevilla. I liked Ronda as a one night stop. It has more sights than most of the towns. I was also glad we saw Gibraltar. Tarifa was a pleasant surprise. Cadiz was a disappointment because it's so run down. We liked Jerez a lot. It's one of the only places in the country you can visit a Bodega without reservations.
If you fly out of Madrid, you can make a day stop in Cordoba off the high speed train - ideally, save the time and money to get to Madrid and fly home out of Seville, make a daytrip to Cordoba if you can make it work.
I second Brad on a stop in Cordoba. The Mezquita is a wow and unlike anything else.