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Best breakdown of 8 days between Madrid and Barcelona in Sep

Tokyo
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Best breakdown of 8 days between Madrid and Barcelona in Sep

Greetings & A Happy Traveling Year!

I need help deciding how to breakdown 10 daysbetween Madrid and Barcelona (8 full days + 2 traveling…or maybe shorten by one day as yen vs euro exchange rate is not helping!). We are flying from Japan to Spain in mid-September, and can start in either city (Madrid might be slightly easier to fly in).

Every year I organise a trip for myself and my students (all aged 60 and up!). This year, we set out sights on Spain (Madrid and Barcelona). A typical Japanese tour package might in 8 days (6 full days + 2 traveling days) cover: Madrid, Cordoba, Carmona, Sevilla, Mijas, Malaga, Barcelona. Even though I am in love with photos of South Spain, I realise that it might be too much to try and add it to the trip. So, I am thinking of Madrid and Barcelona (plus, day trips to Toledo, Segovia (not sure), Montserrat/ Cava vineyards). But once I compare it to how much ground usually Japanese travellers cover, I wonder if I am putting too many days into only two areas (I hope I am not offending anyone). Just for reference, in 2013, we visited Prague (3 days) , Cesky Krumlov (1 day overnight), Salzburg (2 days and Vienna (3 days) and this itinerary was perfect. It was a lot of variety but not too fast paced. THat's what I'd like from the trip to Spain if possible.

For now (very general idea).

Day 1. Arrive in Madrid at 23.00 (can fly into Barcelona if it's better to start there).

Day 2. Madird City Tour

Day 3. Madrid Art (Prado Museum) and Retino Park

Day 3. Segovia (not sure)

Day 4. Toledo (perhaps overnight if that makes sense)

Day 5. Madrid (or Toledo) to Barcelona by AVE high speed train

Day 6. Gaudi Barcelona

Day 7. Montseratt and Cava

Day 8. Barcelona City Tour (la Boqueria market)

Day 9. Fly out of Barcelona at 12.30.

Day 10. Arrive in Tokyo

Does this make any sense? Is it a fair breakdown of days? Is adding a night at Toledo a good idea (Toledo sounds lovely especially in the evenings and after tour buses leave ;) ? Considering the jet-leg and age, should we start with Madrid?

We'll be hiring minibus transfers for city tours and day trips. THe only time we'll use public transportation is AVE to Barcelona. Which city is more walkable --Barcelona or Madrid? I am looking at hotels central areas (which would allow us to cover more ground on foot and also to give a chance to step outside of the hotel and find some nice shops, cafes, just beautiful areas to wander through) in the areas Madrid -- between the Prado museum, Royal Palace and Gran Via area. Barcelona -- Barri Gotic or of Rambla. Am I on the right track in choosing location?

The group is elderly and mostly ladies. So, shopping for souvenirs and earlier dinning options would be a bit plus!

I would greatly appreciate any comments or advice!

gracias!

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1. Re: Best breakdown of 8 days between Madrid and Barcelona in Sep

Anna:

Your schedule looks good. You can do a day trip to Toledo and another to Segovia. Read about these day trips in the top questions of the Madrid forum.

For train travel:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187514-c80518/Madrid…

In Madrid you can choose a hotel at the Gran Via, which is downtown. Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona is downtown. Do not choose the rambla because it may not be safe. Has many pickpockets.

Book the Sagrada Familia Church to avoid long queues. Read about this in the top question of the Barcelona forum.

Edited: 07 January 2014, 04:57
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2. Re: Best breakdown of 8 days between Madrid and Barcelona in Sep

There is a city between Madrid and Barcelona most visitors overlook ( maybe for the best!)

www.zaragoza.es/turismo

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3. Re: Best breakdown of 8 days between Madrid and Barcelona in Sep

The itinerary looks fine to me, and I agree with Nurioopta about stopping in Zaragoza mid-way too. In general terms I would say it does not matter where you start.... But, WHEN in September you're travelling? There are some events in that month in Barcelona that may affect your travel plans:

- September 11: Catalonia's National Day. This year commemorates the 300 anniversary of the defeat of Barcelona's siege in 1714. This is a very significant date for us Catalans and there will be special events and probably huge political demonstrations pro-independence. This is a date you may be willing to include on your plans (it may be interesting to witness) o to avoid, as regular sightseeing will be affected and shops closed.

- Around September 24: La Merce festival, the biggest festival in town, a few days with hundreds of events for all tastes, and most of them free. In my opinion, not to be missed if you can fit it on your travel plans, but in this case I would add one day in Barcelona.

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Tokyo
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4. Re: Best breakdown of 8 days between Madrid and Barcelona in Sep

Thank you all so much for your answers!

BennyMalaga, thank you for the link regarding train info. I didn't realise it was explained in so much detailed! I am almost sure that we'll be taking the Highspeed train from Madrid to Barcelona since the drive is really long.

But that said, Nurioopta, Zaragoza does look really beautiful. I actually came across some phtoso before and thought it would be a nice place to see. So, if for some reason instead of taking the train, we decide to charter a minibus transfer, that would be a good place to break the journey.

belsaita, our tentative dates were indeed around the 24th. Actually arriving in Madrid on the 17th and leaving Barcleona on the 26th. I googled whether we were coming on any public holidays (or god forbid big congresses!) , but I guess I didn't do a proper search as I didn't come across La Merce Festival. Now, I am torn. I saw photos and read posts that say it's a great time to visit. And it looks wonderful, especially the castellers. But as I'll be traveling with a group of elderly people, I wonder if it might be harder to get around and more crowded during this time. I mean we need to move mostly as a group (about 15people aged 60-80).

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5. Re: Best breakdown of 8 days between Madrid and Barcelona in Sep

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