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White towns in Andalusia, Spain

My husband and I are meeting friends in Madrid and will then be on our own. We are not keen to drive but want to go to Toledo, Granada, Corboba, Ronda, Arcos, Seville. Then on to Barcelona.
1.) what is your recommended way to do this without driving?
2.) would it be best to fly from Seville to Barcelona or is there a fast train?
3.) Is there a tour that we can pick up in Granada? Rick's tours include Andalusia but we want to travel on our own in Madrid and Barcelona.
I guess a private guide would be very expensive.

Posted by
984 posts
  1. You have bus, train or, yes, possibly a flight. All can be easily organised. I cannot recommend one over another as I do not know what matters to you - money, time, comfort, flexibility or something else. Arcos de la Frontera is only accessible by bus.
  2. Sorry, no idea, what you want from 'best' and, yes, there is a fast train, but it will be not less than a five and a half hour journey. Then again, by the time you have schlepped to and from airports, the time spent in airports and depending what time flights it could be a similar amount of a day lost.
  3. Why would you want a tour or guide in Granada when you are confident enough without in Madrid and Barcelona?

You will almost certainly take a train at some stage, even if only the thirty minute journey to Toledo from Madrid - is the national provider. I suggest you read one of the several guides available online on use of the website and advance (greatly) discounted purchase of tickets.

I will add -
Are you quite sure you have time to do justice to all on your wish list when you include travel time?
A great deal of the information you ask for on transport should be available in a good guide. If you have not looked further than Rick Steves and he does not provide, I strongly suggest you look elsewhere.

Posted by
12077 posts

I'd probably use the train to get to Toledo, Cordoba and Seville. You have to go back to Madrid from Toledo to change to a line that goes to Cordoba and Seville.

From there use buses to visit Arcos, Ronda, and Granada. Each bus station has an English speaking information desk that can help you pick the bus and buy your ticket. Buses don't normally sell out and you don't need to purchase in advance to save money like you do with trains. I like to buy my bus tickets the day before, however, just so I can plan my travel day.

Granada to Barcelona is a looong bus ride and not convenient by train. Use a cheap flight (Vueling is the local low-cost airline, but I'm sure there are others). It may be easiest to book with a local travel agent in Spain.

I've left out transportation to and from airports. In Barcelona, we used the Airport Express bus which took us to Placa Catalunya conveniently. In Madrid, we took the metro to the airport. It required some changes (and cost an extra euro) but wasn't hard to do. Anytime you're on public transportation in Madrid or Barcelona you have to watch out for thieves, they're prevalent. Take precautions (moneybelt or neck wallet) and keep a close eye on all your stuff.

I don't think you need a private guide for the whole trip, but you might want to look into guided walks in each location. Rick's guide probably suggests some. I liked the walking tour of the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) in Barcelona given by the tourist information office; it's a great value.

Posted by
15365 posts

How much time do you have?

Use the Renfe website for train schedules. Here is a map of the train lines in Andalusia

At the bottom of this page are PDF maps of train lines from Madrid

The trains to Toledo run only from Madrid, so I'd start there with one night, then on to Cordoba via Madrid, then Seville.

Granada is the most difficult to fit into a train route, but really well worth getting to.