Hello, I am planing my first trip to Spain for 10 days May. (Really my first trip to Europe!) I have Rick's guide to Spain and Portugal and it has been very helpful but I am still having a hard time deciding where to spend my time. I've seen Rick's suggestions on what cities to cover in 10 days, but I feel like I would prefer to spend a bit more time in fewer cities rather than make it to all on his list. I am most interested in art and historical sites/museums, and experiencing the older charm of less modern towns. If you were to condense Ricks 10 day suggestion which includes Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Granada, Andalusia how would you do it? Thank you!
"Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Granada, Andalusia" That's 5 cities and a region. You CAN'T see this in 10 days, even with your own private helicopter. You can pick two of the three areas (Barcelona, Madrid/Toledo, or Andalusia which includes Seville and Granada), and see these two in 10 days. Even then you will be on the go, but this can be a fine trip. So, start over, and prioritize. Which two of these three should you see? Everyone who has been to Spain will have their own answer. You just have to read about these destinations (a search on this Helpline will give you lots of opinions), and see which ones are most compelling to you. PS: I like many things about Rick's books, but his suggested itineraries are not one of them. Far too much moving around and not enough resting time, as well as not enough time to soak up the "Europe" as opposed to the "sights."
Meagan, congratulations on planning your first trip to Europe. First, if your 10 days includes travel time to and from the US, then you really have 8 days in Spain. Whether you have 8 or 10 days, I agree with your preference to spend more time in fewer cities. Spain is a relatively large country and even with high speed trains or flights between some of the cities, you'll lose time traveling. If you have 8 days in Spain, you might fly into Madrid and then travel directly by train or plane to Sevilla. I would do this because if you fly direct from the US to Spain, you'll arrive too early in the morning to sight see or check into your hotel, so use that time to make the trip to southern Spain. After 3 nights in Seville, then travel to Granada for 2 nights, and then end in Madrid for 3 nights so you can visit the art museums there. With 10 days in Spain, I'd add 2 days in Cordoba between Sevilla and Granada.
Seville, ronda, Granada. Not as hectic as Madrid or Barcelona.
We have done Madrid for a week and Valencia for a week. we liked Valencia better. You could do both in 10 days.
There are endless possibilities, but for 10 days on the ground and your stated interests, I'd definitely spend a few nights in Madrid. The art musuems are amazing - some of the best in Europe. But it is a more modern city compared to others on the list. Toledo is perhaps the most culturally and historically important city in Spain with lots of art from El Greco. It's an easy daytrip from Madrid or an overnight if you have the time. Barcelona might be the odd city out, both geographically and culturally. It has amazing architecture and culture, but little of it is Spanish. It needs 2-3 nights to do it justice. For a more "old world" Spanish flavor, Sevilla is the best on the list and worth 3 nights. Granada has the Alhambra and more Moorish culture, which is well worth the visit and requires two nights. Rural Andalucia is picturesque and should have an overnight but can be done as a daytrip. Sevilla, Granada and the hill towns of Andalucia are all relatively in proximity to each other. There are of course other Spanish cities that have rich art and culture. But the above listed are the most popular amongst first time tourists.
I would see the following: Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla. With a base of Madrid, you can experience the Prado, Thysen, and Sofia museums, some of the best in the world. One day at the Prado, go early in the morning, and then 1/2 day in the Thysen and Sofia. If you get tired of the museums, you have the Royal Botanic Gardens, and Park Retrio in the same area of town, along with some lesser museums as well. The Royal Palace, with the Armory located on the grunds is a must. The largest in Eurpoe. Next to it is the Cathederal Alumedna with the cathederal museum. By entering the museum you gain access to the top of the cathederal with fantastic views of the city. Walk from there to Plaza Mayor, today a touristy gift shop center, but filled with history as well. Read up on it. Adjacent to it is the Market San Miguel - a great place to get a bite to eat, whether it be fruit, or oysters on the half shell or shushi. Puerta del Sol is/was the beginning of all roads in Spain and history abounds in the area as well. Overnight (1 or 2) visit to Toledo 25 minutes by AVE train from the Atocha Station. Great Hostal, with breakfast, is Posada de Manolo. The building is over 1000 years of age, with modern conveniences of course. The Cathederal is the crown jewel of Spain. Also the various museums, Santa Clara, Military, etc. House of El Greco, are worth seeing. At night the town takes on a different feel with the disappearance of the tourist on the train back to Madrid.
Continued from prior response: Sevilla One or two nights. The Alcazar, Cathederal, Old Town, Jewish Quarter. Again many sites, historical and museum type. If you wish you can stop by Cordoba, about 1/2 hour on the train as you go back to Madrid, and spend a night there. The train to Sevilla also leaves from Atocha, is 2 1/2 hours, has a snack bar as well. On all trains your ticket will have the coach (car) number and the reserved seat number as well. I would not try to see all the cities you ahve isted in 10 days!!! Highly recommend The Moon Guide To Spain...very informative re history, etc.
We had a wonderful trip a few years ago. Spent several days in Seville and then rented a car and drove around the white villages. Had a delightful stay at Molino del Santo in Benoajain (spelling?) and took the train into to Rondo. It was great fun seeing the white villages. On a later trip we stayed in Priego de Cordoba which is just charming and explored the nearby towns. The tourist center arranged for us to have a tasting at the local olive oil company. Terrific experience!
When I went to Spain a few years ago I had 11 nights and I spent 3 in Madrid, 2 in Granada, 3 in Ronda and 3 in Sevilla and I enjoyed it all very much and felt that I had divided the time well. If you only have 10 you could spend one less in Ronda. I also flew open jaw, into Madrid and out of Sevilla. Bien Viajes!
I would by far recommend Andalucia for your first time. Granada and Sevilla are two top places that can be seen reasonably well in three nights each. Add a night in Ronda, Jerez and/or Cordoba (maybe two of the three) between the two and you have a great visit. Barcelona is nice and completely different than other parts of Spain. Madrid has lots of places around it to see, although Madrid itself isn't older than New York - so you need to go elsewhere to see the great history of Spain. I love the area northwest of Madrid for castles, walled cities, cathedrals - but I don't love Madrid itself (except the Prado).