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Honeymoon in Spain

Hi everyone,

My fiancee and I are from Washington DC and we are planning a honeymoon in Spain in June 2008. She wants to spend some time relaxing on the beach, etc. I am more of a cultural sight-seer. We've agreed to compromise and mix in a little of both.

Neither of us have been to Spain, and we've both been to Europe before but only when we were young. We'd like to do a few days in Madrid and a few days on the southern coast. I thought it would be a good idea to outline the plan we came up with and receive feedback and suggestions from the message board community!

Day 1 - Fly into Madrid early morning, spend day/night in Madrid
Day 2 - Spend day, night in Madrid
Day 3 - Travel from Madrid to southern Spain - perhaps stop in Toledo on the way? - spend the night in Marbella (have heard it is very nice, though we're open to other suggestions)
Day 4 - Spend day/night in Marbella
Day 5 - Spend day/night in Marbella - trip to Sevilla maybe? or Grenada to see Alhambra?
Day 6 - Travel to Morocco via ferry for day trip, perhaps spend the night in Morocco if it would be more rewarding to go a little further then Tangier (from what I've read it is)
Day 7 - Back to Marbella, spend night in Marbella
Day 8 - Spend day/night in Marbella
Day 9 - Fly from Malaga back to DC

Thoughts? I'd like to fit in Alhambra, Sevilla, Morocco, Madrid, and the beach. Too ambitious? I don't know.. that's why I'm looking for help.

Also, what is the best way to get around? Should we rent a car? Or could we take a train/bus from Madrid to Marbella and then a bus or taxi to all the day trip destinations? Any ideas for nice hotels in these places that won't break the bank? Or things I may have left off that might be of interest?

I know these are a lot of questions... but ANY information would be a huge help. Thanks to all in advance!

Posted by
683 posts

We spent 2 months in Spain in 2005. There is much to enjoy there. We would suggest that you go fewer places as you have so little time. Plan on doing other places later- there WILL be more trips! Trains and buses have good coverage all over Spain. They are usually very good.Cars, while excellent for reaching out-of-the-way stops, are headaches in cities and gas is expensive (think $6.50/gal or more). We would leave out Morocco on this trip. As to Marbella-- why so much time there?

Posted by
29 posts


Well, since it's a Honeymoon, I'd be careful on travel headaches and spend more small town time. This maximizes sights, culture, and beach time. Spain is great to rent a car because their train schedules can be really messed up and it takes forever. I'd forget about Morrocco, Marbella, and southern Spain on such a short trip. You need two weeks to fit it in properly. I'd cut Madrid as well, it's no great sight(trust me) but the towns nearby are wonderful and best with a car. I know this cuts out This may sound strange but here's a good idea of an itinerary:

1-3 Fly into Bilbao, rental car 1 week, stay in San Sebastian
Great food, great beaches, cultural sights, Guggenheim museum.

Day 4- Segovia(awsome)

Day 5-6 Toledo, stopping first at Avila and/or El Escorial, drop off car day 7 at Madrid airport.

Day 7-8 Fly Barcelona(cheap and quick), 2 days to explore the best cultural city, hit the nearby beaches, and fly out easier and cheaper to DC.

Posted by
4555 posts

You really have a choice between doing northern Spain or southern Spain, not both. Drop the Moroccan've only got 9 days, so leave it for next time (and you WILL go back.) Use the south coast to base yourself for beaches as well as Sevilla (good for an overnight stop), Ronda, and Granada, but pick anywhere but Marbella...too expensive. Spend an extra day in Madrid....lots of great museums, restaurants, niteclubs (and the first day will be all but wiped out by jetlag), and take a daytrip to Segovia. Rent a car and head Toledo on the way, but prepare for a long day, since it's 5 hours Madrid-Malaga, then to whatever town you've chosen for your base. Barcelona's too far out of the way, and only good for beaches and some funny-looking Gaudi buildings (trust me ;))

Posted by
5 posts

Paul n Sara - Thanks for your reply. We don't necessarily need to stay in Marbella all that time, just thought it would be a good base. But since I've posted this I've done a little more research and it seems as though there may be better alternatives. Suggestions?

Jason - Your trip seems to focus on Northern Spain rather than southern. I didn't even really consider that option... I'm going to look into that. Thanks!

Norm - You say forget Barcelona, Jason says forget Madrid... which one is it?! Just kidding. If we do go south, your advise on Marbella is well taken.

I also have friends who have visited both Barcelona and Madrid, and they have differing opinions as well. I'm looking for great food, a museum or two, history and culture, a nice place where you could sit at a sidewalk cafe, and a friendly place to just walk around and sight-see. In everyone's opinion, which of these two cities offers more of this?

Posted by
4555 posts answer to your second post....Madrid, without a doubt. Great sidewalk cafes, the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, tapas and nightclubs around Plaza Santa Ana, Plaza Mayor, The Rastro market....on and on. Barcelona simply can't compare! :)

Posted by
5 posts

Norm - I think we're going with Madrid (Sorry Jason). We both want to get a taste of Andalucia, and I don't think it's possible to fit that in with Barcelona.

Here's a bit of a revision, what does everyone think?

Days 1-3 - Madrid (w/ a day trip to Toledo)
Day 4 - Madrid to Sevilla via AVE, with a stopover in Cordoba
Day 5 - Leave Sevilla in the morning and head to Malaga (via bus? what is the best mode of transportation for this leg?) Pick up a rental car in Malaga and head to Nerja.
Days 6-8 - Nerja, with a day trip to Grenada and the flexibility to explore with a rental car if desired
Day 9 - Return rental car in Malaga and fly back from Malaga to DC

Posted by
68 posts

We did a bit of this in reverse. But you could pick up the rental from AVIS at Santa Justa railway station in Sevilla and drive toward Nerja; stopping in Ronda or other white town.

Posted by
4555 posts

I agree with Darlene...pick up your rental in Sevilla and drive to Ronda...just be prepared for the very windey road down towards the coast from Ronda to Malaga. Check out for rentals, the cheapest I've every found in Spain, and one that includes all CDW coverage in the rates. BTW, book your Alhambra tickets as soon as possible (I think their new booking system only goes three months out, but double check) since it's an extraordinarily popular attraction, and admission is limited. O/W, sounds like a great itinerary!

Posted by
29 posts


Your new plan looks pretty darn good. The AVE is really nice, actually. You'll be very comfortable, and it is FAST! I'll forgive you going to Madrid, ha!!! Have a nice pitcher of sangria at a cafe on the main square at night, very nice!

Nerja is a MUCH better beach experience than Marbella, you'll love it. Take the others' advice and stop in Ronda, it's one of the best small towns in Spain, absolutely beautiful sunsets looking down the canyon. You'll never forget it there! The Alhambra is amazing in Granada, but definatley look into getting a reservation time early.

Congratulations on your wedding. Have a great time in Spain!

All the best!

Posted by
5 posts

Darlene and Norm - That's a good idea. I'll pick up a rental in Seville and then head through Ronda to Nerja. I looked at the prices on carjet and the look really good.

Jason - Thanks, and I feel better now about Nerja than I did about Marbella.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to provide feedback. I really appreciate it. I'm sure I'll be stopping back as the trip gets closer and I think of more questions!

Posted by
5 posts

Hotel Question - we're looking for nice, comfortable, and fairly romantic lodging in good locations. I've been doing a lot of research on this and this is what I've come up with.

Madrid - Hotel Europa
Seville - Hotel Amadeus (Junior Suite)
Nerja - Hotel Carabeo or Hotel Los Arcos?<br?

The prices are all pretty good. In Madrid and Seville, were looking for location as well as clean, comfortable lodging. In Nerja, we'd like a beautiful sea view with balcony. Thoughts?

Posted by
4555 posts

Can't speak to the others, but the Hotel Europa is a great place to choose. A few steps from Puerta del Sol on one of the pedestrian shopping streets, and a good spot for a honeymoon. The cafe next door is one of the best places in Madrid to sit outside and people-watch. You're within walking distance of all the big museums, the Plaza Mayor, and all the restaurants and clubs in the Plaza Santa Ana area. Two things though. If you're there during any sort of holiday or festival, you may get some late-night noise from the crowds on Puerta del Sol. And e-mail them before reserving....they were doing some external renovations when I was in Madrid last month...they should be finished before you get there. And take a taxi or shuttle rather than the's two changes and three lines to get from the airport....not something you want to do after an overnight airplane ride!

Posted by
3101 posts

Here's my two cents--I'd try to plan an overnight or two in Granada rather than making it just a day trip. It's really a great small city!