Help please with route - Spain

Hello everyone! I need help badly with my route/ itinerary. My husband and me will be in Spain this next December (Nov. 30-Dc 12). We'll have 12 full days, not including the returning day. What I need is help with the best logical route, considering we will arrive at Madrid, return from BCN, and will be travelling in train... Here are the places we will be visiting: Madrid Toledo La Mancha (just for the windmills) Cordoba Seville Arcos (or Rhonda?) Granada
Barcelona Our main concern is how are we going to arrange the order of these places, considering train routes. I've being reading a lot and have already bought our Rick Steve's Spain 2013 (arrive last night!!!), but couldn't finally get the best logical route. All your help will be really appreciated, and suggestions would be more than welcome... ;-)

Posted by Neil
Whittington
583 posts

This is a lot of time expended on travel movement on your wish list if you want to do any justice to major cities, where many spend three or more days. I suggest you recognise the amount of time expended accommodation door to accommodation door, in unfamiliar surroundings, and the leftover available to determine if it suits what you wish to see and your travel style. Work with the national rail company website http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/index.html and imminent dates to see the time taken. Suggested itinerary (I am leaving out time consuming difficulties for 'little' value) and if you genuinely believe you will have the time. Madrid, with day trip by train to Toledo. Madrid to Seville by train. Cordoba as a day trip by train from Seville. Seville to Ronda by bus - http://www.losamarillos.es/index.jsp Ronda to Granada by train.
Granada to Barcelona by train or flight.

Posted by H J
LaGrange, Ga, USA
923 posts

There is also a walk up senior discount available as well if your travel plans are subject to change. All you need is your passport and at least 60 years behind you! Check Ave - Discount fares and see the information...

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
948 posts

Definately look into a flight from Granada to Barcelona. We did. It was not very expensive and saved us many hours of travel. The train takes something like 11 hours; ugh. I feel Madrid with a day trip to Toledo should warrant 4 nights. Sevilla with daytrip to Cordoba, 3 nights. Ronda 2 nights. Granada 2-3 nights. Barcelona 4 nights. Add it up, you get 15-16 nights, a bit more than your alloted time.
If this is your first time to Spain, give time to your biggies: Madrid, Seville, Granada, Barcelona.

Posted by H J
LaGrange, Ga, USA
923 posts

Neil, poster Number One is a great travel guide!!! Follow his suggestions and you will have a good time. I would suggest an overnight stay in Toledo if possible as it is a different place when the tourist leave! Posada de Manolo is my favorite. But, you would need to leave out something else.

Posted by Maggie
Fort Worth, Texas
14 posts

I would like to piggy-back on Veronica's message. I am going to Spain in October and also want to fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona. Only on Lufthansa do I see this option. Could anyone help me figure it out? (We are planning day trip to Toledo, then on to Barcelona.) Will appreciate help.
Maggie in Texas

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Veronica, my husband and I spent 12 wonderful days in Spain last year, traveling all by train (the Spanish train system is great, especially the AVE (high-speed) trains). We avoided the long train ride (or flight) connecting Granada with Barcelona by planning a different route. We started in Barcelona and flew home from Madrid, but if I modify the order to fit your flight plans it would look like this: Madrid to Seville to Granada to Cordoba to Toledo (change trains at Atocha in Madrid) to Barcelona (again change trains at Atocha). Each leg of this journey is 3 hours or less, except for the extra 30 minutes to get to and from Toledo). Each overnight was 2 or 3 nights, except for Cordoba (one) and Madrid (one). We were very happy we spent the night in Toledo rather than visiting as a daytrip (actually we spent two nights there but then had only two nights for Seville). We did not go to the La Mancha area, Arcos or Ronda so I am not sure where they fit. But honestly, with twelve days I don't think you have the time for more than I outlined, and even that is moving pretty fast (we spent only one night in Madrid as I had been there before).

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

You're not missing much if you skip the hill towns. La Mancha's a pretty big region (Toledo's the capital of the autonomous community of Castile–La Mancha) that covers parts of three or four provinces. If you're after the windmills, the clump is about thirty-five miles south of Toledo on the ridge on the south side of Consuegra. I've no idea how you'd get there except by car. It's a one-stop photo op that doesn't measure up to the rest of the stuff on your list unless you're a Cervantes nut.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

I neglected to say that you can save a bundle on the AVE train tickets by buying them in advance (2-3 months ahead) on the Renfe website to get the Promo fares. For example, Madrid to Barcelona, full fare is 106 euro; Promo fare is 32. Madrid to Sevilla, full fare is 75.50 euro; Promo fare is 22.65.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

For the senior discount you must first buy a Tarjeta Dorada for 5,15 euro. The discount on AVE trains varies by day of the week and is never as good as the Promo fare discount: "On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays you will receive a 40% discount. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the discount will be 25% for tickets that have not been bought in advance and with a reserved seat." The Promo fare discount is closer to 70%. However, a Tarjeta Dorada would be useful on the (fairly inexpensive) trip between Sevilla and Granada or Cordoba and Granada. The discount on Media Distance trains is 40% every day, and Renfe does not offer advance-purchase discounts for these trains.

Posted by Veronica
San Juan, PR, US
69 posts

Oh God! Thanks so much for all the information! You ALL have being so helpful!!! And Lola, THANKS! You just gave me a great idea about changing our route. I was then wondering... instead of Madrid-Sevilla-Granada, how about Madrid-Granada-Sevilla and then Toledo back to Madrid- Barcelona? Do you think it would work for us? Of course, including stops in Cordoba AND a night in Toledo and Arcos...

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Yes, you can do it that way too. but one thing to consider is that the Madrid to Granada direct train is not a fast train; it takes almost 5 hours if I recall correctly. You can check the schedules and train times on Renfe.com or use the German train website bahn.de (which has schedules for all of Europe, but won't show you prices).

Posted by Veronica
San Juan, PR, US
69 posts

Thanks Lola! I'll be doing my reseach on train times? Thank you veeeeeery much! ;-)