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Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

Newtown, Connecticut
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Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

I've read the back and forth comparing Madrid with Barcelona, but I am still undecided. I have not been to mainland Spain - only Mallorca. I am taking my daughter to Spain for her 16th birthday in January. The two of us will have three full days, wherever we go. She speaks a little Spanish, loves art, fashion and food. I am looking for a walkable city and Madrid looks too large for such a short time. However, the museums are a huge draw. I don't want to spend a lot of time on public transit or in cabs as we have such a short time. I'm not sure what Barcelona (besides Gaudi) and Seville have to offer in terms of food and museums, but both seem a pleasure to walk. A little more info: we LOVE to eat and art is a must. This is her first introduction to Europe, and I want it to be manageable and not intimidating, so somewhere easy to get around is also a plus. We are not taking any side or day trips. Thanks for any helpful advice!

Northampton, MA
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1. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

If you like art, 3 days is just enough time for Madrid and that is where I would choose to go.

Blackpool, United...
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2. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

I can't comment on Seville - not been yet, but having been to Madrid and Barcelona, my favourite is Madrid. It is a close call though:

Food - most of the places we stopped for a drink in Madrid, gave us good free tapas, not so in Barcelona. We had one of the best meals I've ever had was at La La Tragantua in Madrid - the set menu at 12.50 euros for 3 courses including a soft drink, beer or glass of wine is amazing!

Art - Madrid wins for me. We bought a museum pass which gave us entry to the Prado, Reina Sofia and the Thyssen. The Thyssen was my favourite and has a lovely rooftop cafe. However, the Gaudi architecture is amazing. The Palau de la Musica Catalana is wonderful and they have English-language tours.

Shopping - both had the usual chain shops, nothing to chose between them for me.

However, if your daughter would like a few hours on the beach, then Barcelona wins (of course!)

I find Madrid more friendly, more of a real working city, whereas Barcelona is a bit more of a tourist place.

Having said all that, we are returning to Barcelona next year as my sis-in-law wants to visit for her birthday. And I"m really looking forward to it.

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

If she likes art, Madrid wins. We stayed at a really nice place (Hostal Barrera) very near the three major art museums so it's very walkable for that. The food was very good and there was a nearby non-touristy neighborhood to our hotel with lots of eating options. I found Barcelona a bit more staid where Madrid is a really wonderful, lively city. I know you said you didn't want a side trip - but Segovia from Madrid is a fantastic day trip. If it's your daughter's first trip to Europe, seeing Segovia is something she'll never forget. The castle there is like a fairytale. Enjoy your trip!

Brussels, Belgium
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4. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

3 days is not much for any of those cities. I would choose either Madrid or Seville. I think Seville matches your description. Madrid will be best for art and it has some interesting daytrips to Toledo or Segovia, but it can be a bit of a big city feeling (same with barcelona). Check top questions in each city forum to see what each city has to offer.

Cairns, Australia
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5. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

If it's Food and Art , I strongly recommend Madrid and if at all possible try and fit in a day trip to Toledo.

You won't be disappointed.

I predict that if this is your first visit , you will return and when you do be sure to allow time to visit Seville and Barcelona as they are also truly wonderful cities with lots to offer.

Madison, Wisconsin
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6. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

As far as Madrid being big and unmanageable, that is only on arrival and departure when you have to travel from airport to city center. The historic center is walkable...much more so than NYC with which you probably are rather familiar. You easily walk to most major sites. Taking a subway might help when you're tired but you don't see much underneath, but you will notice that the subway is much cleaner than NYC's.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

On our recent trip to Madrid, we had 6 nights, 5 days and spend 3 of those days in Madrid's 'big three' art museums. We really liked Madrid -- the ambience, the food and the museums.

If art were not important then Barcelona would be my pick for your short stop -- the SAgrada FAmilia and other Gaudi buildings/parks etc are just well worth seeing. We also had great luck with food there.

Seville is wonderful in its way as well -- the Alcazar stacks up well with the Alhambra and the Cathedral is magnificent.

florida,usa
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8. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

Would recommend Madrid. It has everything you are looking for: art, food, museums, food, parks, food, shopping, friendly people, and did i mention food, etc. We have never been won over by Barcelona (though we've been there numerous times) and while Seville is lovely it does not offer everything that Madrid does.

We took our children to Madrid when they were a little older than your daughter and they loved it. It is much more walkable than you think and if not just grab a cab. Safe travels.

Edited: 13 November 2013, 21:50
florida,usa
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9. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

And of course do not forget the tapas bars.

Sorry if my response is broken up.

Edited: 13 November 2013, 22:32
florida,usa
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10. Re: Three days in Madrid, Barcelona or Seville?

You mention that you do not wish the trip to be

unmanageable or intimidating but that will be up to the trip you plan. Do not just run from museum to museum but go to Retiro park (hopefully the weather will not be too cold), have hot chocolate and churros at night, go to flamenco after the tourists are gone ( late at night), sit at plaza Mayor enjoying the Spanish way of life, go to the oldest restaurant in Europe (downstairs in the wine cellar), and of course go to tapas bars and sit leisurely and enjoy as the Spaniards do, etc. That being said, the museums, fountains, architect are all wonderful and can be enjoyed while leisurely strolling.

Sorry if I am rambling but there are so many little things to hopefully get her to love traveling.

Good luck and enjoy.

Edited: 13 November 2013, 22:48