My husband and I are planning to visit Spain and Morocco. We will fly to Madrid and arrive December 26th at 8AM local time and depart January 6th at 12 noon. We would like to fit in many experiences during this short time but not rush it and enjoy it. We are planning to rent a car so we can visit some small towns in Andalusia. These are the places we are thinking about but we know we cannot do them all. We would definitely like to visit Morocco.We would like some ideas on visiting these places: Granada, maybe Malaga, Ronda, Tarifa to Tangier ferry (we would park the car in Tarifa and use bus or train in Morocco depending on what is available), Fez, Chefchauouen, Seville, Arcos de la Frontera or Grazalema and back to Madrid on the 5th of January . We think that a few hours and the evening in Madrid is enough since we visited Madrid and Toledo before. Does anyone know if the ferry service to Tangier operates on New Year’s Eve and Day and schedule? How about parking? And are any attractions and museums closed during these days and holidays? Any ideas were to spend New Year’s Eve? I am thinking Morocco might not be the best place on New Year's Eve. Thanks!
You might consider taking the train to Sevilla before renting your car. The road between Madrid and Sevilla is not very exciting and the train is so fast and easy. You could spend a few days in Sevilla before picking up the car and driving to other areas of Andalusia. We drove all over Andalusia a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Cordoba, Granada, Arcos de la Frontera, Ronda, Grazalema, and a number of other 'white villages' are very worthwhile. You could then turn in the car back in Sevilla and train back to Madrid.
We didn't make the trip to Tangier so I have no experience with that - but the Andalusia area is a lovely way to spend a couple of weeks.
Hmmm, need others to guide you on the value of a visit to Morocco. Also should seek guidance if one venue is preferable for a better New Years celebration over others. Since you have been to Madrid suggest you go directly from airport to catch AVE to malaga where you can rent a car (be sure and get your IDP from AAA). Spend a night in malaga then head to granada for a couple of nights (must purchase alhambra tickets on line) before heading west and commencing your visits to other wish list locals. Consider staying last couple of nights in seville so you can catch AVE from there back to Madrid. Ditch the car when you enter seville as no need for it in city. With ten days to visit recomend selecting only three destinations to maximize absorption of where you are and minimize travel stress.
You will be flying out of Madrid on the day Spain celebrates the Epiphany - the equivalent of Christmas day for us. Make sure you double check transportation options to the airport that morning.
I agree with steve that you have too many destinations, some of which (like Granada and Ronda) are quite rich in experiences. We enjoyed three nights in Granada, after dropping off the car! Many people (I mean, not necessarily Rick Steves readers!) spend 10 days in Morocco alone. And I've enjoyed each of three stops in Madrid, with no repeats except maybe one of the big-three museums or the Academia des Bellas Artes.
I remember just the drive from Ronda to Gibraltar being on a superb highway but excruciatingly slowed down by many large tractor-trailers. And I remember each White Village being a significant detour off the highway. I wonder if you are making plans based on US Interstate Highway experiences?
Thank you all very much for your valued information and help. I do agree that less places visited in a short period of time makes for a better traveling experience. I am also thinking of taking the train to Seville and renting the car there as it was suggested.
I would drop Morocco from the itinerary. You don't have much time and just getting there and back will take too long, not to mention that Tangier (from all I learned when researching my trip to Spain) is about the least attractive or interesting place there.
I'd also consider not renting a car at all. The trains are great, and you may still find discounts on tickets if you buy in advance. Madrid-Cordoba-Seville-Ronda-Granada-Madrid is doable by train (though you'll have to backtrack from Seville to Cordoba (less than an hour) to get to Ronda. Or Madrid-Cordoba-Seville by train, then Ronda and Granada by car, then train or bus back to Madrid. There's no point to having a car in Granada.