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Spain itinerary suggestions

We are heading to Spain for several days in late June. We are starting in Barcelona, and want to see: Madrid, Sevilla, Toledo, and Granada; and one of the white hill towns (Ronda?), and maybe Cordoba. From looking at the map and the train connections, it seems that most efficient route would be Barceclona to Madrid, to Toledo, then to Cordoba. It looks like we'll need to do some backtracking to get back and from Sevilla and then to Ronda and Granada. Then finally have to backtrack to Madrid to catch our flight. One of the questions I have is: does it make any sense to go Barcelona to Granada first (rather than Madrid)? It seems like a long train ride, but then we wouldn't have to backtrack to Madrid: we could go something like Granada, Ronda, Cordoba, Sevilla, Toledo, Madrid. Any other options we're not thinking about? Thanks, Scott

Posted by
56 posts

You will have a wonderful trip. We did almost the same itinerary with the exception on Barcelona. You can do a day trip to Toledo from Madrid. We also day tripped to El Escorial and Segovia, both worth the trip and all by train. We then took the train to Cordoba, picked up a car and drove to Granada, then to Rhonda stopping on the way in Nerja for a day at the beach. From there we drove to Sevilla and dropped off the car. We returned to Madrid by train. It is an awesome itinerary you will love all of the places you are visiting. Have fun!

Posted by
16888 posts

Have you seen this map of the train lines? It is helpful in planning the order of visit to minimize (but not eliminate completely) the backtracking. http://petrabax.com/renfe/spain_map.html If you want to go from Barcelona to Granada, you should fly; the train takes way long and is either a night train, or passes through Madrid. But we preferred to avoid that flight and took a route similar to your first option, starting in Barcelona and ending in Madrid, including all stops except Ronda. To minimize backtracking, and cover it all by train, you could do this: start in Barcelona, then head to Toledo (you will pass through Madrid, but save your stopover there until the end of the trip). I highly recommend spending a night in Toledo rather than making it a daytrip from Madrid. After Toledo, there is a short (30 min.) backtrack to Madrid and then take the fast AVE train to Sevilla. Then Cordoba, then Ronda, then Granada. Return from Granada to Madrid (4.5 hours, not an AVE train) and spend your final days there. You can also take a bus to Ronda from Sevilla, if you want to drop Cordoba from the mix.

Posted by
45 posts

I also vote to start in Barcelona, fly to Granada (limited flights, but not much more expensive, and certainly much more convenient, than the train), and from there visit the Andalusian towns (Granada -> Ronda-> Sevilla -> Cordoba) before going to Madrid (I took the train from Cordoba and it was great!), and see Toledo as a day trip from Madrid.

Posted by
11294 posts

If you haven't booked your flights yet, you can follow your first plan, end your trip in Seville or Granada, and fly back from there (connecting in Madrid, or in the case of Seville, you can also connect in other European counties). Also, you aren't limited to trains; the buses in Spain also work well (reserved seats). I used buses from Cordoba to Granada (about 3 hours) and Granada to Malaga (2 hours), because the train would require a connection and take longer. I went to Malaga because I caught an Iberia Airlines sale which was only valid from certain cities; Seville and Malaga (my entry and exit) were included, but Granada was not. I connected in Madrid in both directions (a very long walk, but otherwise straightforward).

Posted by
11 posts

Don't wait too long to make your train reservations if you are using a rail pass. Already I have had trouble getting some of the times I want. Karen

Posted by
12172 posts

We did most of our trip by car, mainly because it allowed us to make day stops easily, then continue on without waiting for a connection. For your trip, I think you could visit Barcelona, through Madrid, to Toledo (agree with spending a night). From there I'd probably take a bus to Granada, it will be faster (because it's more direct) and cheaper. From Granada, you can either bus or train around (again we used a car to see some sights enroute) Granada, Ronda, Sevilla, and Cordoba then to Madrid (we didn't stop in Madrid until the end of our trip).

Posted by
3203 posts

Some of you are talking about going places Scott didn't mention (Malaga) and traveling by means he didn't mention (car). Also, flying out from Granada has problems, someone mentioned their flight was canceled due to winds and there was not another that would get them back to Madrid for their flight to the US. So I agree with people who said you should put Madrid at the end to make flying from there easier. Brad, what about that bus from Toledo to Granada? From what I have read there are no direct buses, you have to change in Ciudad Real or Madrid. Travel time is 5 hours plus transfer time of one hour or more, so how is that an advantage over the train? Anyway, the routes Scott is considering don't have him going Toledo to Granada. Seems like avoiding that is a good idea. Just because Toledo is south of Madrid doesn't mean it is better to go straight to Granada from there. Scott, for the cities you want to visit, stay with the AVE trains as much as you can. You can get great prices on the tickets with web discounts (60 per cent off).

Posted by
16 posts

I have ridden the train from Madrid to Granada, which took 7-8 hours. A train trip from Barcelona is likely longer, even much longer. Check out air fares. Some time ago I priced both train fares and air fares from Madrid to Barcelona. They were just about the same only the plane would get us to Barcelona in one hour ... as opposed to 7-8 hours on the train. If you still want to take the train from Barcelona to Granada, consider spending in-between time in Valencia and other towns along the route.

Posted by
4535 posts

There is some irrelevant and inaccurate advice being given in this thread. The Barcelona-Madrid train takes no more time than flying when considering the time needed to transit to/from the airports and for security. I'm pretty sure the Madrid/Granada train doesn't take 7-8 hours - it's more like 5 hours. The bus from Madrid-Granada is over 5 hours; I doubt you save any time taking the bus from Toledo to Granada. What is correct is that the Barcelona-Granada train is over 8 hours. Most of us recommend flying to save the time. Your itinerary does seem to require some back-tracking. You can minimaize that by getting an open-jaw plane ticket to/from the US. For example, fly into Barcelona, fly to Granada, then train/bus to Ronda, Sevilla, Cordoba and then the train to Madrid. Toledo can be a daytrip or an overnight depending on your time. Fly home from Madrid. If you must fly in/out of Madrid, then maybe stay in Madrid a few days, then train to Barcelona. Fly to Granada, then bus/train to Ronda, Sevilla and Cordoba. Take the train back to Madrid and squeeze in Toledo before flying home. I always recommend being in your departure city (Toledo counts in this case) the night before your flight home. You don't say how much time you have and imply only "several days." This itinerary needs at least 2 weeks.

Posted by
3203 posts

Jack, that must have been the olden days because the train from Madrid to Granada only takes 4 hours 25 minutes. If you plan ahead and get tickets with a Web discount it only costs 26.85 in euros. I'll take that train over a bus any day, and over a plane ride too. I agree with Douglas that there is a lot of misinformation and irrelevant comments on this thread. Y'all are confusing Scott.

Posted by
3203 posts

"Check out air fares. Some time ago I priced both train fares and air fares from Madrid to Barcelona. They were just about the same only the plane would get us to Barcelona in one hour ... as opposed to 7-8 hours on the train." That is so wrong. The train between Barcelona and Madrid is only 2.5 hours, not 7 to 8. That is faster than flying if you count travel time to and from the airport and security lines and wait time. Price is better if you get the Web fares on Renfe (as low as 47 euros).

Posted by
16 posts

Whoops! Guess my train times (from perhaps faulty memory of train tables) are way too long. No matter. I notice a number of folks recommend flying from one place to another. My bottom line: choose the mode of transportation that will help you see the most of Spain -- and have the most fun!

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Scott in Sammamish, Alison from Redmond here. My husband and I just got back from 16 days in Spain and did the exact trip you're hoping to enjoy just in reverse. We started in Madrid and ended in Barcelona. So....starting from Barcelona I would recommend taking the overnight train to Granada. It's long at 11.5hrs, but it's not too bad. From Granada you can take the train (or drive as we did) to Sevilla or any of the other towns (Ronda, Cordoba etc). From Sevilla it's a very easy 2.5hr train ride to Madrid. I would recommend making Toledo a day trip from Madrid. You could also spend the night in Toledo if you're interested. The history is awesome, don't miss it!! It's only 30mins from Madrid so it would be nice to leave all your bulky luggage in your room and just take a light day pack to Toledo. Hope this helps, enjoy!! Alison

Posted by
1 posts

Great trip Scott. I would also recommend flying from Barcelona to Granada. and I think that it does make sense to go from Barcelona to Granada. It is a long train trip and the flight is quick and easy. We did it last year only starting in Madrid then to Sevilla(AVE) then Granada(train) then flying to Barcelona.

Posted by
16888 posts

I notice Scott has mot been back to comment. I wonder if he really did mean " several days," in which case all our suggestions are moot, as one cannot cover all that in several days. That is not even enough time for Madrid and Barcelona without shortchanging one of them.

Posted by
38 posts

Sorry I have not responded... but I have been watching! Our total trip will be just over 3 weeks... but with an option to make it 4 weeks. We leave the states on June 19th (arrive the 20th). We love Italy, so we were originally planning the 20th - 29th in the Piedmont and Cinque Terre, then work our way along the Med to Barcelona. We are meeting friends in Barcelona and will be there for 5 days (June 29 - July 5th). Then we have two options, depending on how we arrange the flight home: we have a daughter that needs to be back to the US on the 13th, so we're trying to decide whether to send her back on her own early, or have the whole family come back with her. If everyone comes home at the same time we spend only 6 more days in Spain, but if we send the daughter home we'll spend 2 weeks. Now we are seriously considering taking Italy out of the itinerary and spending the entire time in Spain (just over 3 weeks) if we all come home together. Thanks for all of your comments! Scott

Posted by
661 posts

Scott Someone mentioned "car" we arrived from France to Barcelona by train-spent a few days then took a fast train to Madrid. We then picked up a car right at the train station and a few blocks from there hit the main highway to Toledo 2 days, the Seville 2 days you then could do Cordoba 2 (we did not go there) then to the hill towns Rhonda then drive to Granada - we left our car at the airport before going into Granada for a few days (take a taxi in(or you could check buses as the airport is a distance out of town) then we took a fast train to Madrid to catch our flight home. We did other towns as well (we drove after Seville into Portugal(Selema and a few other towns then back to Tarifa then over to Morocco, Gibralter and Acros). What I must say is driving in Spain was a dream. The roads are supberb and with the Michelin Road map, was easy to get in and out of the areas. Give this some consideration and have a great time - Spain is another trip again on our list.

Posted by
661 posts

Scott I forgot to mention we did allow for travel time between the cities and actually spent the 2 days mentioned as a full 2 days. Also we saved 3 days to explore Madrid. You did not mention your timeline so I just inserted ours.