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Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary

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Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary

My wife and I, early 50’s empty-nesters and active, are just starting the planning of a 17 day trip to Spain in September 2012. I need help with itinerary suggestions, methods of travel between destinations, and hotel recommendations. Here is our bucket list:

• Arrive Madrid (probably 3-4 nights)

• Cordoba (1 night or stop for day along the way?)

Seville (probably 3-4 nights)


Granada (2 nights)

• Ending in Barcelona (definitely 4 nights) Fly out.

Additional stops/possibilities: Valencia, Cadiz, Merida. Perhaps day trips to Toledo & Segovia. Would love to add Lagos and Lisbon in Portugal, but do not think time permits.

As far as interests go, we are not enthusiastic about art galleries, museums, or anything with hordes of tourists (like the Vatican in Rome). Most importantly, we like meeting locals, wining and dining, seeing the sites, taking hikes, seeing castles, etc. We love people watching, and just "soaking up the ambience" by exploring the area on foot or using local busses. We also want to relax at a few beaches along the way.

Here are the questions:

• Are we spending the reasonable amount of time in each place?

• Are we missing any “got-to-see places”?

• What method of travel do you suggest; rental car, train, combination?

• Does that circle route (Madrid counterclockwise to Barcelona) work?

• Is this “doable” in 17 days at a relaxed, not frantic, pace?

• Is September a good time to visit? (We are flexible with time – could do late April into first week of May)

Also, any hotel suggestions, recommended restaurants (reasonably-priced) for views, ambiance, or just romantic, would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!!!

Madrid, Spain
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1. Re: Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary


Your schedule looks reasonable, have you thought about taking a tour?

Hermosa Beach...
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2. Re: Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary

17 nights is doable to adequately visit Madrid, Barcelona and get a taste of Andalucia. I'd err on having more time in a "base" city especially with how you describe soaking up the ambiance type of style you have. This way if you have time for an additional daytrip you can do it, but you can also just stay put and wonder around at a more relaxing pace - you're not stuck with having to physically move around and change hotels.

Definately fly open jaw into Madrid and return from Barcelona. Or even fly into Malaga and return from Barcelona. Or vice versa.

Madrid - if you intend to start the trip in Madrid and do daytrips to Segovia and Toledo I'd budget at least 5 nights. Your first day will likely be jetlagged so you'd really only have 2 days for Madrid and then 2 for the daytrips.

Cordoba - 1 night or daytrip? Well, it depends on your style really. I personally don't like 1-nighters and would prefer to just stop along the way. But others don't mind and Cordoba does have alot more to offer than the average day trip tourist gets to see. In the end if you could squeeze to 2 nights that would be good too.

Sevilla - I'd budget at least 4 nights if you do Cordoba as a daytrip and 3 nights without. However, if you want to visit Cadiz or do any other daytrips from Sevilla I'd add a day for each. There are so many great daytrips you can do from Sevilla within 1-2 hours. This would be a nice place to stay 4-5 nights and soak in the atmosphere. If you're going to be in this area around the 10-18th of September Jerez has a wine harvest festival. It would be a great daytrip (or even wonderful for a couple of nights during the festivities).

Malaga - Malaga is a wonderful city often rushed by as a entry point to the Costa del Sol resorts. A great strolling city, excellent tapas and friendly locals. You could easily spend a couple of days in Malaga itself not even to mention the many daytrip opportunities you have from Malaga (Nerja, Antequera, Ronda, etc...) so a 3-4 days and you would not be bored.

Granada - I'd budget 2 nights minimum in Granada.

*If you decide to do this route I'd fly from Granada to Barcelona OR visit Malaga last and fly from Malaga to Barcelona (based on price and time of flights). If you could possibly fly into Malaga then you could visit Malaga, Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, Madrid and then Barcelona with no need to fly between since you could use the high speed train between Madrid and Barcelona.

Barcelona - I'd budget at least 4 nights for Barcelona and more if you intend on doing any daytrips. There are lots of great places to visit on daytrips from Barcelona (GIrona, Tarragona, Montserrat, etc...). Also, the end of September is the biggest festival of the year in Barcelona, La Merce. It's a wonderful time to visit but it will be more crowded than usual and you'll definately want to book your hotel in advance.

If you stick with these places there's really no need to rent a car as train and bus will be easier and much less of a hassle.

Other places: Alot of people enjoy renting a car for a portion of their trip and explore the white villages between Sevilla and Ronda. If this is appealing to you I'd budget a couple of days. I'd just resist the temptation to add too many locations if you desire a slower paced trip. You mention Cadiz also - it's a good daytrip from Sevilla and my favorite city in Spain. It's also a place where you could spend 2-3 nights and do daytrips (Arcos, Vejer, Sanlucar, Jerez). Merida is an incredible city. But logistically it just doesnt' fit well with the other places you outlined. It would also be a pity to visit Merida and miss Caceres and the other gems of Extremadura (Zafra, Trujillo, etc...). You could easily spend a week exploring Extremadura. Similarly I'd save Portugal for another trip as time just will be too short. Perhaps another trip is in store for Portugal and Extremadura in the future? I did this one year and it worked very well. There are many other places in Andalucia I could mention but I think you did cover what I'd consider the "must sees" for a first trip to the area.

Hope this helps and doesn't further confuse you. I think you have a very good basic itinerary of places to cover in 17 days.

Edited: 17 January 2012, 04:41
Malaga, Spain
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3. Re: Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary

When in Malaga, do a day trip to Ronda. Read about this day trip in the top questions in the Malaga forum. Stay 2 nights in Malaga. Visit our unique Glass and Crystal Museum, which is in an Andalusian palace.

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4. Re: Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary

Thank you all for the information.

Natalie, we usually do not like tours; we prefer independent travel. Any specific reason to take a tour?

Benny, I have added Ronda.

Cathy, you are the best! Using Cathy's advice, we now have this preliminary itinerary (subject to change):

Fly Open Jaw US to Madrid, return from Barcelona.

>Madrid (4 nights) - Day trip to Toledo.

>Seville (4 nights) - Day trips to Cordoba, Cadiz, and Jerez (during Wine Festival)

>Granada – (2 nights)

>Malaga (3 nights)– With day trips to Nerja and Rhonda

>Flight from Malaga to Barcelona (4 nights in Barcelona)

Any thoughts on this itinerary?

Also, I would appreciate any hotel and restaurant recommendations for each destination. We prefer the economical but nice hotels in good locations and restaurants frequented by locals. We were considering staying in some paradors, but so far they seem out of the way.

Finally, we would like to relax for half a day at a nice beach wile we are in Malaga. Any suggestions?

Edited: 19 January 2012, 16:26
Hermosa Beach...
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5. Re: Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary

Your base cities look good.

The part that concerns me is Sevilla. You've only budgeted 4 nights but have planned 3 daytrips. I'd at most only be able to do 2 daytrips and with 3 you wouldn't even have time to visit Sevilla. If you really want to do 3 daytrips from Sevilla I'd probably budget 6 days.

The 4 nights in Barcelona works but won't allow you to do any daytrips.

If it were me I'd probably take the days from Malaga and add 2 to Sevilla and one to Barcelona (allowing for a daytrip) OR 2 to Sevilla and keep 1 in Malaga (your beach day). This is a difficult decision. You'd then give up your daytrips to Nerja and Ronda for the daytrips to Jerez and Cadiz. Or you compromise and do 5 days Sevilla (keeping Cordoba plus Jerez OR Cadiz) and do 2 days Malaga (choose 1 daytrip). I love Malaga but there's just no way the 4 days in Sevilla will work for 3 daytrips if you like to travel at a moderate or slower pace and Seville is the place you can really soak up the atmosphere.

If you had 2 more days (to add to Sevilla) it would be great but probably not possible.

6. Re: Advice on September 17-Day Itinerary

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