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First time to Spain looking for suggestions

Central Florida...
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First time to Spain looking for suggestions

We are a couple, 60 years old, and world travelers. We are planning our first trip to Spain in October and are planning 3 weeks total. We are considering the Barcelona and Madrid areas. We would like to stay in apartments, in smaller towns or villages, a week or 10 days in each place. I’m thinking of flying into BCN, spend 4 days in that area, and then travel over to the Toledo area, taking a train into Madrid for sightseeing. After 7-9 days maybe moving up to the Segovia area. We love wandering, eating, a little hiking, probably some museums in the bigger cities. We love checking out old churches, castles, monasteries, and wandering into small villages, stopping for a cup of coffee and people watching. I can see using trains to get into Madrid, but renting a car periodically to wander into small villages and the countryside. Does this sound do-able? Any suggestions? We are considering October, but could move it up a few weeks to start in September. Our goal is to “experience” Spain rather than “conquer” which is what we usually do, thus wanting an apartment in a smaller village type situation. Please advise. I have paged thru numerous travel books and can’t quite decide what the plan should be. Thank you for any suggestions!

Malaga, Spain
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for Malaga, Andalucia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville
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1. Re: First time to Spain looking for suggestions


From Barcelona you can take the AVE to Madrid.


You will still have good weather in October.

I would make Madrid your headquarters because you can make day trips to so many places like Toledo and Segovia. Read about these day trips in the top questions of the Madrid forum. You have to realize that Madrid is the transportation hub for public transportation.

With 3 weeks you have time to visit Andalusia. Here is my suggestion:

2 days in Cordoba. Take the train from Madrid.

2 days in Granada. Take the train. Read Buying Alhambra Tickets Online and BOOK EARLY.

3 days in Seville.

3 days in Malaga.

Here is some info about Malaga:

Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol and has beaches, plenty of sunshine (320 days of sunshine a year), and one of the best climates in Spain. It is also one of the most beautiful and relaxing cities in Spain, and 100% Spanish. Malaga has 14 museums (among them the Glass and Crystal Museum, Carmen Thyssen Museum, Automobile Museum, and the two Picasso Museums), historic churches (four founded by the Catholic Kings), and monuments that include two castles (Alcazaba and Gibralfaro). The sights are mostly downtown and completely walkable. There are very good restaurants, tapas bars, and nightlife. The city is very safe. The Malaga Park is a very large semi-tropical park and beside it is a new park called the Palmeral de las Sorpresas at the port. Muelle Uno is a new shopping/restaurant complex at the port. The Gardens of La Concepcion are the largest tropical plant gardens in Europe. There are about 1000 buildings from the 19th century downtown, one of the largest and best conserved collections in Spain.

The natives have the great charm of Andalucia and are among the most friendly people in Spain. It is easy to do day trips to the white towns of Ronda, Mijas, and Nerja, since Malaga is the transportation hub of its province. Malaga Airport is the third largest airport in Spain and has direct connections with many European cities. One can take the AVE from Madrid to Malaga. Read the top questions in the Malaga forum.

Shopping is wonderful and most stores are walkable from downtown. Downtown has Calle Larios, Calle Nueva, and Calle Granada and surrounding streets, with many boutiques. El Corte Ingles is a large department store near downtown. Two shopping malls near downtown are the Larios Center and Vialia.

Good hotels in good locations:

5-star: Vincci Posada del Patio

4-star: Hotel AC Malaga Palacio – Good location near Calle Larios. The rooftop restaurant is a romantic place during twilight with a great view of the port.

4-star: Hotel Molina Lario – Good location near Calle Larios with parking. The hotel restaurant Café de Bolsa is a very good restaurant.

4-star: Hotel NH Malaga – Good hotel with a large parking space.

3-star: Hotel Don Curro – Good hotel near Calle Larios.

2-star: Ibis Malaga Centro Ciudad

The Restaurant El Pimpi at Calle Granada, 62, has Andalusian decoration and music and one can have tapas and try Malaga’s sweet wine here. This is the restaurant that celebrities are brought to. Movie stars and members of royalty have all been here.

Malaga was named by Trip Advisor as the 7th best destination in the “Traveler’s Choice 2013 – Top 10 Destinations of Spain” list.

Central Florida...
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2. Re: First time to Spain looking for suggestions

BennyMalaga: Thank you for your suggestions, they do sound wonderful! But we really had decided not to go to the southern part of Spain for this, our first visit. I understand that most visitors go there. Maybe that is why we decided against it. We do love to go where the locals are rather than touristy spots. We also are looking to take a slower approach to Spain. From what I’ve read from other forums, to try to see the whole of Spain in one visit, even with 3 weeks time, is just trying to accomplish too much. After all, if we fall in love with half of Spain, won’t we come back for more?!

I’ve also found out that it may be rather cool and wet in the north in October. So, maybe we need to move our time up to September? I know we don’t want to be hopping from city to city, spending 2 nights in each place. We’re looking for more of a “home base” apartment type stay, only moving a few times. I do believe we want to spend 2-3 days in each of the big cities, Madrid and Barcelona, probably flying into one city, and out of the other, starting and ending our Spain trip in those 2 cities, and venturing out from there for the rest of our stay.

We will not be driving in Madrid or Barcelona, but will rent a car when feasible to get around to the areas outside those cities. We would love to use the AVE once to experience it.

If anyone has help or suggestions on smaller cities and or villages northwest of Barcelona, and North of Madrid, we’d love input. I know there’s the coastal area - San Sebastian and Bilbao, also the Rioja area. Segovia really appeals to me. Yet, it can' all be travelled in one visit. Any help is appreciated! Thank you

3. Re: First time to Spain looking for suggestions

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