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week in spain: Itinerary ideas? and rail vs car?

Husband and I are planning 7-10 days in Spain in June. This will be our first time there, and we would welcome any suggestions on itinerary/must do's. We're not structured tour people, preferring to just wander and chat with locals ( as much as our almost non-existent Spanish will allow). Also, we're very interested in using public transportation as much as possible, vs. driving as we normally do--thoughts on that? We are budget-conscious, but not to the extreme. thanks for ANY ideas and suggestions.

Posted by
13840 posts

What interests you ? Cities, small towns, countryside? Art and culture, history, architecture, scenery, food, or ? You could easily spend the whole time in Madrid, with daytrips to small and historic towns neearby, such as Toledo, Avila, etc. Or you could spend time in 2 or 3 different places, (assuming 10 days). As far as public transport, Spain has a wonderful high-speed rail system, and you can get significant savings on the tickets (60% off) by buying in advance on the Renfe website. It will be very hot in Southern Spain (Andalucia, south coast) in June. Madrid, Barcelona, and/or the Basque/Pyrenees/northwest region might be better choices if that concerns you.

Posted by
4 posts

Good question, just about everything interests us! But we tend to tire of big cities pretty quickly, preferring small towns, history, and scenery. And good point about heat-- we don't love it, but we live in southeast U.S. so we're used to it.
Thanks Lola!

Posted by
22263 posts

You have got refine your question a bit. Spain is a huge country with vastly different regions. Where do you plan to fly into and out of? Using open jaws? Prefer history or museums or art or ????? Is it 7 days or really 10? Or only eight because of travel days? With such limited time two or three cities is about it. I could easily spend those seven days in and around Barcelona or Madrid or Seville and Granada. Get us something to work with.

Posted by
4 posts

I've nailed down more today, and it will unfortunately be just 7 days, in and out of Madrid. Would like to see Madrid highlights, but also explore smaller towns and countryside. I guess I would priortize as follows: 1) immersion in atmosphere of country, 2)history, 3)museums and art.

Posted by
13840 posts

You might look at airfare to vaious places before you get your heart set on a particular area. Flying into Madrid is often the easiest, although the lowcost airlines fly to many places in Spain from various airports in the UK. Still, coming from Texas, you probably want a routing with only one stop in each direction. Flying into Madrid, for example, you could spend a couple of nights there and then expolre the surrounding area (Avila, Segovia, Toledo). Lots and lots of history there. Or take the high-speed train to Barcelona and include Girona, Montserrat, and maybe a beach town or Dali site, and fly home from Barcelona. Or head west to San Sebastian and the Basque region. Or head down to Sevilla and Granada, maybe pick up a car and tour the white towns. It's all good, but you can't do it all in a week.

Posted by
12006 posts

With a week (flying into Madrid, right?), I'd probably do a loop around the Madrid area north: Look at Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Valladolid, Burgos, Najera, Pamplona, Zaragosa, then back to Madrid. I'm not advocating seeing all these in a week. Learn about them and pick the three you like best (or maybe the three you don't think you could live without seeing), spend 2 nights in 2 and an additional night in the third (I'd suggest three nights in Madrid, but after studying you may want to do it differently). Maybe add a couple you can do as a daystop between two destinations (Avila is probably a good daystop example). If it makes sense to you, a one night stop isn't the end of the world and will allow you to see more. Try not to do it too much because you lose a lot of time checking in/out, packing/unpacking, and catching transportation to your next stop. If it's all one night stops, you'll be worn out and won't have seen much. Alternatively, you could blow off the north completely and do Granada, Cordoba and Seville in the South (with maybe some short stops at intermediate towns). If you go South, either connect directly from Madrid or catch an AVE on arrival in Madrid - you really don't have the luxury to cover both areas in a week.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks Brad.
Just curious, from you and others who know the whole country: What are your opinions about using those days to focus more on the north vs. heading south ( vs. east or west, for that matter)? I guess I had been leaning towards Andalusia b/c of friends who'd been there, but I don't want that to be sole reason for decision. I hear you about the one-night stays--- we try to mix it up, with 1 night here, 2 nights there, etc., and we travel light-- backpack each. We're both retired, so we can sleep when we get home! Thank you to you and everyone for assistance, it's helping a lot. p.s. any thoughts about rail vs. car? also leaning towards using rail, particularly AVE, as much as possible.

Posted by
9110 posts

Andalusia and the Segovia-Salamanca-Avila-Toledo loop are the heart of tourist Spain, and maybe rightfully so. If you tell people that you went to Spain and didn't go to any of these places, they're going to look at you kind of funny and you'll worry that you missed something. Brad is the only person I've seen that seems to be going after a whole lot more. I might not agree with all of his picks, but there's nothing at all wrong with them. I know the country fairly well and try to spend a month poking around every couple of years. Way back when, I lived on the north coast as a pre-to-early teen kid. Dad drug us all over the place. I was old enough to bike the Camino de Santiago from south of Bilbao and work my way back along the coast with some other guys. I learned to ski in the Pyrenees before they invented chair lifts. Other than taking a fairly new wife to Andalucia and the obligatory loop a few years back, we tend to poke around other areas. She seems happy with the arrangement. Last fall we concentrated on the central portion of the of the Spain-Portugal border (Extremadura). Another time it was a month mostly in Galicia and Asturias. Another was the Basque provinces (which is not what RS thinks they are). You probably won't find anybody that speaks English in the small towns of these areas, but my wife speaks no Spanish and manages just fine. Seven to ten days is not a long time. I could easily spend twice that in just Castilla-La Mancha - - or any place else for that matter. It's going to be a hard pick. If you go off the tourist track, you're going to need a car. The shrimpy ones run about thirty bucks a day. Gas will stiff you about twenty-five cents a mile. Driving is easy except in Madrid and Seville - - it's not hard in those two places, just congested and slow.

Posted by
1178 posts

Having gone to beautiful Spain several times in the past few years, I would suggest the following: Madrid Stay in the Gran Via area, midway (basically) between the Prado Museum,and the Royal Palace. You can walk to both areas, enjoy the architecture and the people. Arrive in the morning, go to the hotel/hostal, relax and get out. Two nights total there. Hostal Phillipe V or Hostal Montecarlo on Gran Via. Toledo - 25 minutes from Madrid (Atocha Rail Station - beautiful in itself). arrive 10 am or so, spen the night there (Hostal Posada de Manolo, near the cathederal is excellent), over night there, and back to Madrid late the next day. Madrid One night, or get the train at Atocha direct to Sevilla, (2 1/2 hours). If possible, straight to Sevilla, for two nights. Really Discover Sevilla has excellent tours. Also Hostal Patio de Santa Cruz is well located. Back to Madrid and home. All of this is via AVE train, and then taxi to the hotel/hostal. No need to get a car.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Bek; If you want to know something really different from the tipical Spanish items, maybe you shall try Galicia, in the Northwest of Spain. You can take a look at our official web site www.turgalicia.es If you are looking for a great experience, you shall try our packages tour: http://www.vivegalicia.es/index.php?lang=en Or maybe you'll prefer to walk the Camino and discover our rural tourism by: http://www.turgalicia.es/iacobus/iacobus.asp?cidi=I&ctre=iacobus&menu=14&subMenu_1=2 As you will see, the problem for you will be to choose... If you need more information, you can email us at: cir.turgalicia@xunta.es We'll be happy to inform you of everything about the Galician tourism. Thanks and greetings,
Anna Turgalicia

Posted by
204 posts

I like to Basque country suggestion. To the west of there.is Asturias. We took the train in June from Madrid to Oviedo (via Leon) and is was long, but so beautiful. Very hilly and misty. And the northern coast of Spain is beautiful. It's all cider country up there -loads of ciderias and seafood! There aren't a lot of American tourists, but if you stick to the bigger towns you should get by. Also, it's cooler up there in June. I'm sure San Sebastian is similar, only more of it. But if yore looking for the warm, sunny Spain, this isn't it! In that case, Go to Seville-there's so much there to see and do! Also, be aware that the Spanish celebrate Corpus Christi in June. Check Catholic calendars and church schedules. Every where went we were affected, sometimes in a good way. For example, there were street processions in Seville and Granada with banners draped from balconies along the route,which were fun, but the Cathedral was closed (why close a church on a catholic holiday??!!) with many irate tourists outside. So we never got to see Columbus' bones, but it's still lovely all lit up at night.