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Help Needed Deciding on Itinerary in Spain for Sept. 2014

My wife and I are planning an anniversary trip to Spain in September 2014. At this time we are allotting two weeks and think we would like to visit Madrid, Barcelona and possibly Seville. I'm not quite sure how much time to allocate to each city nor am I sure if we need two weeks. If it turns out we do not need two full weeks maybe we can go home via Lisbon. Also, is it easier to travel between cities by train or plane? Once we nail down the locations then I can work on the sights to see in each. All comments, suggestions and help will be appreciated.

Posted by
354 posts

I don't think two weeks is too long to see all three cities/areas at all. I've spent time in all three and with the exception of Sevilla, didn't feel I had enough time. You could fly into Barcelona and out of Madrid (or the opposite). I think you could also do all transport by train. The high speed trains in Spain are great and since we don't have good train service in the States, I try to take the trains in Europe when possible.
5 days in both Barcelona and Madrid are definitely not too long. That would leave you 3-4 days (didn't know if you were counting travel in the two weeks) in Sevilla. A day trip from Sevilla to Cordoba is also a great and easy thing to do if you have the time.
I will admit I haven't been to Lisbon, but I so much enjoyed the larger cities in Spain, I think they deserve as much time as you can devote to really enjoying them.

Posted by
1259 posts

First time trip to spain?

14 days - 2 days travel (usa to spain and back) = 12 days for fun
If you fly into barcelona recommend renfe ave to madrid and then renfe ave to seville.
Each train ride is approx 2 1/2 hours long. Very comfortable method to travel w little hassle of airports.
Then fly out of seville.
Time allotment could be:
4 days in barcelona
3 days in madrid
4 days in seville
Leaving one day to take as a day trip from any of the three cities (all offer interesting day trip opportunities)
I am a fan of renting apartments due to access to kitchens, sometimes washer/dryer, more space, sense of greater involvement, often have a terrace and a better financial deal. We have rented for as little as a two night stay.
There are a lot of great contributors on spain who monitor this forum and can offer excellent travel logistic alternatives. One common theme: you have chosen wisely for destinations offering ample opportunities for great enjoyment.
Biggest challenge? Allow ample time to relax and absorb your surroundings (sangria can assist with this task)!
Safe travels

Posted by
521 posts

Yes two weeks is more than enough for three cities. I would fly into Barcelona, spend 3 nights and take the high speed train to Seville, spend three or more nights (if you plan to daytrip), throw in Granada for two nights (see the Alhambra) and then train to Madrid.

In Barcelona, I highly recommend you get tickets for The Sagrada Familia ahead of time online. I didn't because I wasn't sure when we would want to go - and I regretted it. Longest line I have ever seen. At least 2+ hours. And the worst part is you KNOW people are budging! It's a national sport in Spain.

And if you go to Granada - absolutely get your tickets online months before you go or you won't get in. One woman made the hike up to see it and was fuming mad on the way down yelling at everyone "you can't get in, there's no tickets!" (You don't have to hike, there is a bus). The audio tour was so boring and dry. I do not recommend.

In Madrid, the royal palace was interesting but the armory was not. Maybe that's because I am a girl though. My husband liked it. The line looks long, but it goes pretty quick. And the Prado is not to be missed if you enjoy art at all. The audio tour was excellent. I would get there when it opens (10am - even though my book said 9am).

We stayed at Hotel Casa 1800 in Seville and loved it. Great hotel and it's location was fabulous.

I specially mention Barcelona to Seville and then Granada because there is no fast train from Barcelona to Granada. It take 11-12 hrs on a train versus the 5-6 it took to go Barcelona to Seville.

Eat some Iberico Jamon! Soooo good.

Posted by
1178 posts

The suggestions of the others are right on point. The number of days in each city may vary by one or two, depending on your likes.

Barcelona -- The Sagrada Familia...check on its web site and become a member of the Sagrada Familia. For only 25 or so euros you get admission at the front of the line for as many times as you might want to go, admission to the tower, and a discount on the other items, headphones, gifts, etc. Well worth the price. I was there in September and highly recommend the membership. The building is absolutely amazing in every detail. Plan to spend a good bit of time there...and maybe return even.

Las Ramblas -- Walk from the top, down to the sea at the Christopher Columbus statue. The large market, one block off the Ramblas, about 1/2 way down is one to see. Large, full of items and people as well. Grab a bite thee if you want.

There are countless tours of the city...Check them out on the Barcelona web site.

I recommend El Barcon de Bron for a good hostal, great location, not far from the Picasso Museum. Different, and may not appeal to all, but it is well worth the visit.

Bernies Grill and Diner...near the Maria ..Del Mar cathedral...eat there for lunch one day.

Restaurante El Raco De Lo Vila... Not on the tourist scene, but one of the best meals I have had in Spain, anywhere!!!

The AVE highspeed train from Barcelona to Madrid is less than three hours. You leave at the Sants station in Barcelona and arrive at the Atocha Station in Madrid. The trip to Sevilla from Madrid is from the Atocha Station and also about 2 1/2 hours. Check its site, and also look on Trip Advisor for the best way to get tickets...large discount about 60 days in advance. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187514-c80518/Madrid:Spain:Buying.Renfe.Tickets.Online.html

Overnight if possible to Toledo from Madrid 1/2 hour via the train from Atocha..If not overnight, at least a day trip... La Posada de Manolo if you can stay overnight.

Sevilla -- Really Discover Sevilla tours...small and well organized.

Posted by
44 posts

I want to thank everyone who has commented. Great suggestions. Gives me a starting point on trip planning. Thanks again.

Posted by
14881 posts

Consider staying one night in Cordoba between Seville and Madrid. I thought Cordoba after dark had lots of atmosphere that I didn't find in Seville (or other Andalusian towns), and the Mezquita there is not to be missed. You could also spend a day on the way between Seville and Madrid.

From Seville, it's an hour by train to Jerez, 45 minutes to Cordoba.

I haven't been yet, but I would dearly have loved to visit Toledo (a day trip . . . or overnight) from Madrid.

Leave Lisbon for another time. 2 weeks will fly by in Spain and leave you wanting to return next year and the year after that.

Posted by
44 posts

Hello again

We have made our travel arrangements for the Spain trip. We will be flying in and out of Madrid on October 1, 2014 and returning October 15. As I stated before we plan on going to Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, with day trips. Since we are flying in and out of Madrid, I could use some itinerary travel help. My thought was to arrive in Madrid and fly to Barcelona the same day. Take trains to Seville and back to Madrid. Any other suggestions are always appreciated.

Posted by
9363 posts

If I were you, I would take the AVE high speed train between Madrid and Barcelona. If you buy your tickets ahead you can get great prices (I got ticket for 38 euro last August - bought about two months ahead).

Posted by
1178 posts

When you arrive in Madrid, if you want to go directly to Barcelona, I would suggest the following: Take the Airport Express Bus to the Atocha train station. The bus is well marked, and makes the trip in about 25 or so minutes, with two other stops. The cost is five euros per person. There is ample space on the bus for your luggage. Allow 1 1/2 hours o exit the airport, passport, etc. You may be lucky and make it faster, but be on the safe side. I would not purchase tickets for Atocha in advance for earlier than three hours from the time of your arrival at Barajas airport. You will need to get a bite to eat, etc. You can do this in the train station. You can not take a later train on that ticket if you miss it. The AVE train to Barcelona takes about 2 1/2 hours, with three five or ten minutes stop along the way. Check this site on the purchase of the train tickets:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187514-c80518/Madrid:Spain:Buying.Renfe.Tickets.Online.html

To get to Sevilla from Barcelona, take the AVE back to Madrid, and then take it on to Sevilla...2 1/2 hours to Madrid and 2 1/2 hours on to Sevilla. The trains both use the same Atocha station. Sevilla tours -- A great tour is offered by Really Discover Sevilla...check it out.

I am sure you will enjoy Spain as much as I do....and as much as Nancy from Ill does also!! She is the expert!!!

Posted by
3680 posts

You might check taking the high speed AVE train from Madrid to Barcelona. Compare the cost and the time. This is the link to go directly to Renfe: http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/.

Someone named Sandy is also getting good info on Spain, especially on transportation, in the Transportation section of the Helpline.

Posted by
920 posts

The train information that others have posted is very good. You might consider flying from MAD - BCN upon arrival. I just checked Skyscanner.net and you can buy one-way tickets from MAD-BCN for $49-$83 per person (October 2) on Veuling with almost hourly departures (price depends on which flight). Make sure you check for extras such as early boarding, luggage, seat selection, etc. The cost could escalate quickly. You can also fly direct from BCN - Seville for less than $100 per person in 1 1/2 hours but you have to account for a couple of extra hours for arrival/check-in at the airport. I would definitely recommend the train from Seville to Madrid. The upside to the bus/train ride - no baggage fees!