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One city in Spain 4 nights.

I am putting together a trip and need to choose one location in Spain to stay and enjoy for four nights in the Fall on 2013. We will fly in from another part of Europe and need to fly out of this spanish location to Chicago. Looking for the general variety of activites and fun. What would you suggest? Madrid, Barcelona? Seville?

Posted by
9363 posts

I would suggest Madrid, for its central location. From Madrid, it's easy to visit Toledo, Segovia, and Granada, or points further north, like Leon and Burgos. And you will find plenty to do in Madrid itself.

Posted by
16938 posts

Granada is not a daytrip from Madrid. Sevilla could be, although it is 2.5 hours each way. Toledo and Segovia are great daytrips from madrid, although we preferred spending the night in Toledo. Sevilla is beautiful and interesting, but flight connections from there are not as good. Madrid would be a good choice if you are an art lover and wish to see one of the world's great museums, the Prado. But for diversity of activities, interesting architecture, great food, and general fun, I would choose Barcelona hands down. Visit the nearby historic city of Girona if you run out of things to do in the city itself (we certainly did not). Just be aware there is a huge and popular music festival, Le Merce, in Barcelona in late September, around third week, each year. It is suppposed to be fantastic, but if you are not going to enjoy that, you may find lodging overpriced at that time.

Posted by
3209 posts

Another vote for Barcelona. Although to be accurate, many would say it is not "Spain" but Catalunya.

Posted by
1014 posts

Barcelona is nice. We enjoyed it. But, we really liked Valencia too. The beach is wonderful. The old town is nice to walk about in and there are several good museums, if you like. We flew from Valencia to PGV in NC. 5 airports in 1 day, but it was easier than getting to Madrid to fly home. We did Madrid two years ago. It was nice, but you it is a large city and getting around is not as easy as Barcelona or Valencia.

Posted by
4535 posts

Madrid or Barcelona will probably have the best flight options, though Sevilla is possible by connecting through Madrid. All three options provide different character and culture. As noted above, Madrid will give you great daytrip options and 4 nights is a good amount to spend there. The art is amazing if that interests you. Good options for food too. Barcelona has less daytrip options, but it's one of the best cities in Europe. Amazing architecture and beach opportunities. Great food and nightlife. More of a French cultural vibe than Spanish. 4 nights can easily fill the city if the above interests you. Sevilla is great for daytrips to the hill towns or Cordoba and has great architecture, food and at least one evening of flamenco. The Alcazar doesn't have the Moorish history of la Alhambra (in Grenada), but it will give the feeling of what Alhambra is and is chock full of Spanish history. 4 nights is a minimum here if you do daytrips.

Posted by
56 posts

Tough question. We just returned from 16 day RS tour of Spain which included these 3 cities. If you love art, then go to Madrid. If you love architecture, then choose Barcelona. If you really don't like big cities then go to Seville. No matter what your choice you can't go wrong. Each of these three is unique. Barcelona is really Catalan, as pointed out above, while Seville is Andalucia and Madrid is in Castille. All different and unique.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you all for your perspective since you have been there. It really helps.

Posted by
1178 posts

Madrid -- a day trip to Segovia or Toledo if you wish...I echo the thoughts of Nancy, your first reponse.

Posted by
527 posts

I agree with David. Madrid is a big city with wonderful museums and Barcelona is more intimate. Seville is harder to get to. You haven't mentioned where else you are going but if it is big and busy I would find Barcelona more relaxing. If you are wandering the countryside first then I would opt for Madrid. I like to balance my trips and sights.

Posted by
3209 posts

Madrid left me cold. No magic there at all. A big city,relatively recent, no long history or medieval winding streets. Great art museums, but not the diversity and fun that Barcelona offered, or the charm of Sevilla either. JMHO.

Posted by
2532 posts

If it's Madrid v. Barcelona, my opinion is Barcelona is superior. And yes, I've been to both.

Posted by
516 posts

Been to all three and would never go back to Madrid. Barcelona will give you easier flights to get home with and is a great city to visit. Ahhhh Seville. Perfect blend of everything. If you don't mind the extra flying time to get home my vote would be for Seville.

Posted by
112 posts

Someone once told me that either you love Barcelona and hate Madrid, or vice versa - the two cities are very different. I agree that they just have a different vibe and, contrary to what seems a popular opinion, I far preferred Madrid. Barcelona was kinda interesting and colourful, but seemed to be mostly style over substance, whereas Madrid had heart and beauty (all my opinion of course, YMMV). Maybe if I'd been a bigger Gaudi fan or into long dinner parties at clubby restaurants, but that's not my style. I found Madrid interesting (not just art and architecture, though that was wonderful) in a way that Barcelona wasn't. I'd be happy to go back to Madrid, but don't care if I ever get back to Barcelona. Madrid has wonderful art museums, some lovely religious sites, interesting neighbourhoods to wander through, good food, and an unthreatening late-night crowd on the street (I was happy and felt safe wandering around the Gran Via and Plaza del Sol after midnight as a solo female tourist, which is nice). It is also a great place from which to take some day trips by train - they're not the most common destinations, but I highly recommend Cordoba and the old city in Cuenca. Both are frequently serviced by Spain's excellent train service.

Posted by
16938 posts

I don't think that preferring one over the other means you love one and hate the other. I think it is even possible to like both cities equally, but for different reasons. Madrid has the amazing Prado, but Barcelona has some great art connections as well, like the Picasso museum. What we liked is that there is so much variety; it is not just all about Gaudi. Other than Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia, we did not even visit any Gaudi sites. We walked all over, down to the beach and along to the Gehri sculpture, and up Montjuec to see the Olympic pool and stadium. Also through the old winding streets of the Bari Gotic, which even has some Roman ruins, and then along the broad tree-lined boulevards of the Eixemple, which feels more like Paris. We are " older" and don't do the clubbing scene, but we were out late walking back from dinner and never felt unsafe. The food was excellent, especially the seafood since it is right on the coast. The people were kind and welcoming, and everyone was in a great mood since Barca beat Real Madrid in an important match the first night we were there. Madrid is indeed more centrally located for doing daytrips, but with four nights Todd won't have a lot of extra time for daytrips. And Toledo is so much better as an overnight than a daytrip. The charm of the city can be lost amid the hordes of day trippers, but really comes out at night. Our favorite place in Spain was actually Granada, but Barcelona, Toledo, and Sevilla would all tie for second. I would happily return to anyone of them. But I've been in Madrid on two different trips, and don't need to return.

Posted by
12199 posts

If I picked one city, it would be Barcelona. Barcelona has a lot of options that can easily fill a four night stay. Madrid is a young city and not historic. I wouldn't advise staying in Madrid simply to take day-trips to nearby places that are historic. Having visited in April, Seville was certainly one of our favorites. Outside of April fair and Semana Santa (also in April), however, I'm not sure it warrants four nights. The Cathedral, Palace and surrounding area are great to visit. Seeing a Flamenco performance is worthwhile. Without the April festivities, four nights may be too much. It's connected by high speed rail to Cordoba and Granada. Cordoba is a very doable day trip from Seville. Granada is another great city. The Alhambra may be the single best sight in Spain. You need two nights so you can spend an entire day at the Alhambra. Another night lets you visit the Cathedral and other sights, and catch Sambra dancing one evening.

Posted by
15497 posts

First of all if you are looking for a city with a non stop air link to Chicago, then Madrid is your only choice in Spain. I don't particularly care for Madrid (I prefer Barcelona or Sevilla), but if you have never been, you could do Madrid and Toledo in 4 days and fly back without need for a stop over.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks for all your input. Since we will be spending the first week in Paris we felt Barcelona would be the best choice. If anyone knows of a great one bedroom apartment we could rent in Barcelona please let me know. Also any advice on what area to stay in would be appreciated. Thanks for all the help. You have all been very helpful.

Posted by
68 posts

Todd, there are a plethora of websites that you can look to find a one bedroom apartment. Lots of websites also provide feedback on the apartment so you can see others peoples perspective before choosing to rent it. Also if you do choose Barcelona you can get a night train from Paris to Barcelona and its not that expensive.

Posted by
3209 posts

If you want a nice modern apartment with trendy decor, great location, without all the uncertainties of renting from a private party, consider apartments SixtyFour, on Passeig de Gracia just off Placa Catalunya, in the Eixemple: http://www.sixtyfourapartments.com/ Go to the website for photos but it looks like Booking.com has way the best price for a one-bedroom apartment. I looked at dates in early September and it was $225/nt. for two people. Other agents like Venere.com and expedia wanted much more. these apartments get great reviews on Tripadvisor and I think the location is great. We stayed a few blocks from there at a hotel but I wish I'd known about this apartment!

Posted by
112 posts

If you're going to Barcelona, I highly recommend you make a day trip to Figueres (with or without Girona) - the Dali Theatre-Museum is definitely worth the trip. I wasn't a huge Dali fan before I went, but it was wonderful! (Don't forget to see the Dali jewels exhibit while you're there - included in the ticket price to the art museum, but housed in a different building). If you're in Figueres for lunch, I can recommend the prix fix lunch at Onix, which was both good food and good value.

Posted by
12199 posts

We stayed at Hostal Campi. It's only a couple blocks off the Ramblas and maybe three blocks from Placa Catalunya. It was a good budget option and well located. Only half the rooms have ensuites. If that's important to you, make sure you're getting one. I've never been concerned with a shower down the hall but I'm in the minority for American tourists.

Posted by
46 posts

Todd Since you are going from Paris to Barcelona, have you given it any thought of taking the TGV all the way to Barcelona? We have been thinking of trying the fast train, we love European trains!! We are hoping to make a trip to Valencia, Spain in March for the Fallas. We can get a none stop to Paris from Seattle, then maybe TGV to Barcelona. Valencia is nice, on the coast, not too big, lots of neat museums.
Jana