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Where to visit after Madrid

Hi everyone,

I'm about to graduate college in the UK and am planning an after-grad trip with a friend to Madrid. We already have our flights booked and will be in Spain from the 15th to the 25th of May. My plan so far is to spend from the 15th to the 20th in Madrid and then spend the 21st to the 23rd in another city in Spain, before returning for a day or two in Madrid. The two places I've narrowed down are either Toledo or Granada. From what I've read, Toledo looks easier on the budget both in travel and hotels. But I'm from Canada and I would be leaving for North America soon after our trip. I really want to see the Alhambra and don't know when I'd get a chance to visit Spain again. But spending $200 just in train tickets, never mind all the other expenses, makes me a bit apprehensive. I was wondering if you thought everything to do and see in Toledo would more than make up for missing the Alhambra, or if we should bite the bullet and go to Granada. Thanks!

Posted by
8516 posts

I think that if there is a place you have always wanted to see, then you should go see it.

Posted by
4574 posts

Are flights or Alsa bus any cheaper? But if you go and spend the time worrying about the cost, it is hardly an enjoyment. On the other hand, if you compromise on Toledo and then compare everything to Alhambra, thrn you won't be happy either.
Decide they are 2 different places and both worth visiting. Remember you are young and have plenty of time to return. I suggest Toledo and then plan a future Spain visit in Andalucia which allows for Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba and the other fabulous cities and history of that region.
Around Madrid, can you add another day trip to Segovia?

Posted by
7816 posts

Toledo is a must see, and it is a day trip from Madrid. Also, Segovia, north of Madrid is a great day trip.
Granada is far from Madrid and you would need to fly. Also, Seville is a wonderful city and closer than Granada.

Better to save Granada for another trip when you do Andalusia.

Posted by
1989 posts

I love Granada but if it's too expensive for you, Salamanca is a great college town. Toledo is okay but Salamanca has that young vibe and probably more young people as well as being beautiful town.

Posted by
2354 posts

Granada is a 3.5 hour train ride from Madrid. No need to fly. It is a beautiful, unique city. The Alhambra is stunning. If you really want to see it, I wouldn’t miss the chance while you are there.

Posted by
7567 posts

There’s only one Alhambra. It’s been some time since I was in Granada, so I haven’t needed to do any transportation pricing, but if you can get there, and it sounds like you’ve got options that would be cheaper than $200, this is your big chance.

I’ve done daytrips from Madrid to Toledo (nice) and Segovia (very nice), but spent more time in Granada (very, very nice). Besides transport to Granada, have you identified a hostel or other lodging there? Congratulations on graduating, and enjoy the trip.

Posted by
250 posts

First, I would put all your time in Madrid instead of splitting up. Second, I’m seeing cheaper fares that what your $200 suggests. I, personally, think you would enjoy Granada. But book your Alhambra tix soon.

Posted by
4290 posts

Agreed that there isn’t a wrong answer. Both cities are amazing. But you are the only one who knows your budget and how much Granada and the Alhambra mean to you.

That being said, if it were me, and if you choose Granada, I would actually steal a day from Madrid (since you have days on both ends) and give yourself 4 days for Granada since much of two of them would be spent in transport. That would give you 2 full days. Also, perhaps depending on your flight schedule, you might consider heading straight for Granada when you land and then return to Madrid for the rest of your days there. Saves packing and moving one additional time.

If you choose Toledo, your 3 nights are probably sufficient.

Posted by
993 posts

How many nights total do you have?

Are there flights to Granada (with or without changing planes in Madrid or somewhere)?

If you fly to Madrid, you could: take the bus or train to Granada the same day your plane arrives. Give yourself at least 2 nights in Granada. Then take the bus or train back to Madrid. If you want you could spend a night in Toledo before Madrid, or do Toledo as a day trip from Madrid. If you are going to see the army museum in Toledo, arrive at least 3 hours before they close.

Posted by
6723 posts

While Granada is worth visiting, with the limited time you have after Madrid it may be better to stay closer in to Madrid. By doing that you could use the time you would have spent traveling to/from Granada visiting another closer in town; Toledo, Segovia, Cuenca, Alcalá de Henares, Salamanca, etc. However, if the Alhambra is on your must see list and you don’t think you’ll return to Spain, by all means, go.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks! As big as the Alhambra is on my bucket list, I think we'll just extend our stay in Madrid for the full time and visit some of the closer sites, like El Escorial.

While we're at it, from the digging I've done, it looks like there are quite a few nice wine regions nearby. I was wondering which anybody would recommend that can be done as a doable daytrip from Madrid. Thanks!

Posted by
3958 posts

While we're at it, from the digging I've done, it looks like there are quite a few nice wine regions nearby.

The wine regions immediately close by to Madrid are mainly lower quality higher output type places. The wine regions of any note closest to Madrid would be Ribera del Duero (DOP) or Calatayud (DO). You would probably need a car to explore on your own or you can always go for a group tour. The easiest to travel to I think would be Calatayud, who is about halfway on the AVE high speed line from Madrid to Barcelona.