Help us plan our trip to Spain!
April 5, 2012 7:39 PM   Subscribe

Help us plan our summer trip to Spain! What are the best places to go, and how long should we spend in each?

This summer my husband and I are going to Paris for a week at the end of June for a conference, and then we have another week after that to spend however we want. I've never been to Spain, and right now, our tentative plan is to spend a few days in Barcelona (getting there from Paris via a sleeper train), a few days in Granada, and a few days in Madrid. But we're also playing around with the idea of skipping Madrid in favor of Seville. Basically, we're looking for advice about which are the can't-miss cities in Spain.

Generally, we like museums, but after a week in Paris we might be a little museum-ed out. (I'm sure we'll be open to going to some, but we won't want to spend all of our time in them.) As far as nightlife, we'd love to go out for a drink and some music or a show in the evenings, but we're not planning to be at the clubs until they close.

All told, we have about eight days before we need to be back in Paris to catch our flight back home.

Thanks for your help and travel expertise!
posted by McPuppington the Third to Travel & Transportation around Spain (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
We absolutely loved our time in Seville. We didn't do anything fancy - walked around the center of town, drank in bars, toured the cathedral (amazing!!!!!!!) and Alcazar, and ate two fabulous tapas meals at Vineria San Telmo. Okay, that was a little fancy in terms of price, but it was a very casual pleasant environment. If you do go to that restaurant, go early and get on the list for a seat, because they don't take reservations and they are very popular.

I was happy just walking around Seville.

Alhambra makes a trip to Granada worth it, but the restaurants/nightlife/culture of Granada didn't impress me as much as Seville's.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:40 PM on April 5, 2012

If I were going to Seville, I'd want to make a little side trip to see the Casa de Retiro Espiritual
posted by spasm at 9:07 PM on April 5, 2012

I would skip Madrid in favor of Seville. It's a nicer city to visit, and geographically closer to Granada than Madrid. If I had eight days, I'd spend three in Barcelona, three in Seville, and two in Granada, although that may feel a bit rushed depending on your style of travel. If you're going to be in Seville consider a day trip to Ronda which is a beautiful small town. Also for travel in the south look to use buses rather than trains; it's more convenient, faster, and cheaper.
posted by btkuhn at 9:17 PM on April 5, 2012

Too many cities in 8 days. Either just do Barcelona and Catalunya, or just Andalucia w/ maybe Madrid?

If you are going to be Museumed out then, yeah maybe skip Madrid - which seems really weird to me to say as Madrid is awesome, unmissable and is so much more than museums, but first time there you'd feel obligated to spend a day at the Prado and another day at the Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemiza.

Make sure to book ahead at the Alhambra. Also it could be very very hot in Andalucia.

Also - unless the timing works our perfectly for you with the sleeper train flying probably is about the same price and will give you an extra night in wherever you decide to go. You'll get plenty of train travel around Spain if you want that.
posted by JPD at 5:45 AM on April 6, 2012

ETA: I literally don't think you go wrong with any of your choices (though Granada ex-the sights is not so great, but the sights are amazing). The only thing you can do wrong is rush and try to do too much in 8 days.
posted by JPD at 5:53 AM on April 6, 2012

I've only been to Madrid and Granada, but if I had to pick one, I'd say definitely go to Granada! As far as big attractions: Granada is home to the Alhambra, and if you go to Madrid you can check out the Prado. Madrid >>> Granada in terms of nightlife. I like art, but don't know a lot about it - I feel like there are big famous art museums in many cities, whereas a historical sight like the Alhambra is unique. Velazquez/Goya/art connoisseurs in general may disagree. Data point for possible trip planning: the bus ride from Madrid to Granada is about 4.5 hours through rolling hills covered with olive trees.
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 8:04 AM on April 6, 2012

There is a sleeper train from Barca to Granada, too. I would suggest that if you are going to Granada for sure, that you skip Madrid, stay in Granada and day trip it to Seville for one day and to Cordoba for another. The Mezquita in Cordoba was great and the bridge next to it was built by the Romans. Madrid was cool, but it was so much more modern and congested than the three southern towns.
posted by soelo at 8:57 PM on April 6, 2012

In Spain, I have only been to Madrid, so I can't speak to other Spanish cities. My trip was kind of a windfall and I didn't know what to expect. Madrid gets a lot of slagging in the Informed Tourist type forums, "oh, yawn Madrid, lame, go to Barcelona."

I'm wary of "touristy" places and don't like things tooooo easy, but I have to say that I found Madrid to be a really charming and lovable city. Interesting neighborhoods, great wandering, not expensive compared to other big European cities.
posted by desuetude at 10:57 PM on April 6, 2012

I'm going to say skip Madrid (I've lived all over Spain, seriously, go to Granada and stay in one of the Gypsy caves) and head back in a round-trip that takes in San Sebastian. The Green Coast is beautiful. For 95 Euros both of you can fly Granada-San Sebastian with Vueling.

A previous answer in AskMe explains why I think this city is awesome. see here, a main point being you can really walk the whole thing in a day or two, or just spend time on the beautiful beach in temperatures that are comfortable.

Luxury Rental apartments that are cheaper than hotels there,
and you're just 30 minutes from the French border at Irun, if you want to go back by train or yet again Vueling goes to Paris from SS for 113 Euros for two people.

Lucky you! memail me for more info, especially if you want off the beaten track type information!
posted by Wilder at 6:21 AM on April 7, 2012

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