Trip to Southern Spain???

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PoultryMan
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Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by PoultryMan »

Has anyone vacationed in southern Spain? Due to some documentaries Ive seen lately, it looks beautiful. Specifically the Andalusia area.

I am curious if anyone has been there, where they suggest we stay, time of year and give me an idea how it compares to other international travel cost wise.

Thanks!
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Watty
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by Watty »

We did about a three week trip to Spain before the pandemic and had a great trip. I suspect it will be a while before going to Europe would be a good idea if you are even allowed to.

I would highly suggest reading the Rick Steeves books on Spain to plan your trip. The book will identify some things that you should make reservations for months ahead of time like the Sagrada Familia and the Alhambra, be sure to do that. He also has a web site with forums where you can ask about the current situation.

The summers can be very hot so you would likely want to go in the spring and fall, the book will explain when you should go. The hotels that Rick Steeves recommends generally cost more than we like to pay so take that with a grain of salt if you are on a tighter budget. He usually gives a few budget hotel options too.

We flew into Barcelona, took a train to Madrid, took a train to Seville, rented a car and drove around and dropped off the car at the Malaga airport and returned from their.

We found the roads in that part of Spain to be excellent but you would want to have a GPS, or cell phone app, and to be sure to avoid trying to take a car into the old town parts of a city if it is even allowed.
PoultryMan wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 7:25 am ...and give me an idea how it compares to other international travel cost wise.
It has been a few years but in general I recall it being comparable to traveling in the US cost wise but generally affordable especially outside the big cities. Barcelona and Madrid are big cities but we found reasonable hotels so they were a lot less expensive than some place like New York city or San Francisco.

Pickpockets can be a problem in all of Europe and especially in Barcelona but we have never had a problem(knock on wood) but if you are alert and wear a money belt you will likely be fine too. No one is totally safe but generally they hit clueless tourists who make basic mistakes so when you read about problems with pickpockets keep that in mind.

In general I feel safer walking around in any large European city than I would in a similar US city so do not get overly concerned about that if you are not an experienced traveler.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by adamthesmythe »

Like they say, it will be HOT in the summer.

The Alhambra is not to be missed. Advance planning is essential to get tickets. Barcelona is hot and humid. If you are at all interested in architecture be sure to see some of the Gaudi buildings. I would put Sagrada Familia behind Gaudi.
neilpilot
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by neilpilot »

We've travelled to Costa del Sol a dozen times, always spending 1-2 weeks in a Marriott timeshare trade just outside either Marbella or Estepona. We would never go in summer due to the heat and crowds. All our trips have been December thru April, and we typically fly into Malaga after a 2-3 day stay in either Barcelona or Madrid. We always rent a car at the Malaga airport, except once when we flew into Seville and spent our first week in Portugal and the 2nd in Marbella. We found flights within Spain relatively cheap, and have never considered the train as an alternative. Use public transport in Barcelona & Madrid, but consider a car rental essential in the south.

Off season the weather is typically mild, the crowds are gone but most attractions and restaurants remain open. Many interesting day trips, the furthest being the Alhambra in Granada. Rhonda is a must, but the mountain road is fine but still somewhat challenging.

Two of the best trips:

[1] Stayed in Marbella for the first week, then flew to Majorca for week 2.
[2] Scheduled a week in Marbella to coincide with the Semana Santa and took several day trips into Malaga and a few other smaller towns for the daily festivities. There are crowds, mostly locals. In 2022 this runs April 10-16. Google "Semata Santa parades Malaga" to sample a few videos.
scophreak
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by scophreak »

adamthesmythe wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:23 am Like they say, it will be HOT in the summer.

The Alhambra is not to be missed. Advance planning is essential to get tickets. Barcelona is hot and humid. If you are at all interested in architecture be sure to see some of the Gaudi buildings. I would put Sagrada Familia behind Gaudi.
To clarify, Sagrada Familia IS a Gaudi building. Some would say THE Gaudi building.
informal guide
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by informal guide »

We've rented cars and traveled extensively in southern Spain, from Cadiz through much of Andalucia, to Barcelona and the French border. If you drive, the interior countryside is beautiful and the food and wine is very good and inexpensive, but be prepared to speak some Spanish; in many of the more rural areas, there is not much English spoken.
PoppyA
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by PoppyA »

Ah….my favorite country! The tapas, siestas, fresh seafood! It has been too long since I’ve been there to give recommendations for sleeping & eating, but I can also highly recommend the Southern coast of Portugal!
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chickadee
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by chickadee »

We went in late February and the weather was perfect, plus crowds were fewer. I second the Rick Steves guidebook. We spent 3 nights Madrid, 1 in Cordoba, 2 in Grenada, 5 in Seville. Seville was our favorite town, but the entire trip was lovely. Used trains and buses to get from place to place.
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Watty
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by Watty »

I thought of some other things about the reservations;

On the printout you get be sure to understand that in Europe they generally write a date as day/month/year instead of month/date/year which can be confusing if you are not aware of that and careful.

Also at Sagrada Familia you need to make a separate reservation to go up one of the elevators and that was very worthwhile since you can walk down some long spiral staircases and see it from a different perspective.
informal guide wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:05 am but be prepared to speak some Spanish; in many of the more rural areas, there is not much English spoken.
That will not be a big problem at anyplace that you might see in a guide book.

In any tourist related business someone with at least limited English will likely be available since even with someone from Germany or China English is likely the language they have in common.

Even if people do not really speak English they will know enough to point you to the bathroom or sell you a train ticket. Arm waving and pantomimes can also get you through most situations.

It is courteous to know a few basic words but even if you knew high school Spanish once you say a few word you will often find that someone that says they do not speak English will decide that their very limited high school English is better than your more limited Spanish.

You will read about it when you are researching your trip but one thing to realize is that in the area around Barcelona the local language is Catalonian and not Spanish. While they likely also speak Spanish being able to say things like Hello, please, and thank you in Catalonian will really be really appreciated. There is a lot of political history on that which would be good to understand and by saying a few words in Catalonian that will be very well received.
UpperNwGuy
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by UpperNwGuy »

Southern Spain is delightful except during the hot summer months. Good hotels are cheaper than the rest of Europe, and cheaper than Madrid and Barcelona. You don't need a car, and you don't need to fly within Spain. Spain's high speed train network is one of the best in the world. Using the train you can visit the cities of Cordoba, Seville, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Malaga, and Granada. All of these cities are full of castles, cathedrals, museums, great restaurants and bars, etc. Jerez de la Frontera has the sherry bodegas. If you feel the need to explore white villages, rent a car just for the day.

I don't understand all the discussion about Barcelona and Gaudi. Barcelona is not in southern Spain. It's in northeastern Spain.
FrodoKenobi
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by FrodoKenobi »

When my partner and I went in 2018--in Autumn, which was fantastic weather--we landed in Madrid, spent a day there, then took a bus to Granada (there may be a high speed train to there now). Stayed there three nights; bus to Sevilla for four nights; then train to Cordoba for three nights; then to Barcelona for about five nights). I found Sevilla overrated, and if I could do it over again, I would have taken away one night from it and added it to Granada or Cordoba. But I write that as someone who mostly enjoys just walking around and talking with people. Sevilla is a bigger place than Granada and Cordoba, and when I say it is overrated, I only mean that in the sense that I would give it 4.5 stars instead of 5.

People have mentioned the Alhambra, and it is worth your time. Something you also can do there is take a tour of the woods around the Alhambra at night. We could not do it, but it is supposedly fantastic.

People are talking about Barcelona, which is not in Andalucia, but if going, in Barcelona, one of the lesser known Gaudi sites is Tour Bellevue. It's a little out of the way, but nothing major, and it lies in a non-touristy area of Sarria. When we went, we had the place to ourselves. It's a bit rundown as it is not official, so to speak, and so upkeep and so on is, or at least was, in private hands. Still, it is a neat place. The roof of the tower looks like a dragon, and the views are sweet. As people have noted, for all his sites, make early reservations. Oh, Casa Vicens is really cool.

The hospital of San Pau is also worth your time. It is a Moderniste item, although not designed by Gaudi. It's fantastic.

And if music is a thing for you, there is a small church off one of the Ramblas that has shows in a small chapel. The church is from around the 12th or 13th century, and the acoustics are fine...okay it is the Santa Ana Church. We saw a flamenco concert and a fandango one. Both guys were fantastic guitarists, and both were worth every euro.

In Granada, we stayed in the Arab quarter. That place is great, and at sunset you can climb a bit to, I think, Mirador de San Nicolas with its gorgeous views of the Alhambra.

There are a series of travel books titled Secret (Name of City). I did not get much from the Granada one, but the Barcelona one was useful. Also, if you can find any used copies of Cadogan Guides (now mostly out of print), they are fantastic.
sandan
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by sandan »

UpperNwGuy wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 1:46 pm Southern Spain is delightful except during the hot summer months. Good hotels are cheaper than the rest of Europe, and cheaper than Madrid and Barcelona. You don't need a car, and you don't need to fly within Spain. Spain's high speed train network is one of the best in the world. Using the train you can visit the cities of Cordoba, Seville, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Malaga, and Granada. All of these cities are full of castles, cathedrals, museums, great restaurants and bars, etc. Jerez de la Frontera has the sherry bodegas. If you feel the need to explore white villages, rent a car just for the day.

I don't understand all the discussion about Barcelona and Gaudi. Barcelona is not in southern Spain. It's in northeastern Spain.
Fully agree with this. The bus and train experiences were fun as well.

Summer was fine for me since I was taking it easy for the full experience of morning espressos at the cafes, naps, late afternoon beach sessions (Malaga), and late night dinning.
theplayer11
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by theplayer11 »

went Feb 2020, visited Grenada, Ronda, Cardoba, Seville. Train to/from all locations. Loved the trip.
vveat
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by vveat »

We usually go to Alicante every couple of years - always in the last days of June to catch the festival Las Fogueres de Sant Joan (Alicante is the best place for it, over 4-5 days don't miss the beach bonfires or the last night when they fire the statues all over town).
We always stay in AirBNB close to the beach - we actually prefer El Campello just next to the north, the beach is less crowded and the center of Alicante is just half an hour by tram.

Alhambra/Granada and Cordoba are worth seeing, we've actually done a day trip from Alicante to Alhambra and back, but it's too much driving in one day, do not recommend.

You said Southern Spain, otherwise I would have recommended San Sebastian heartily, it's beautiful and the Basque pinchos are the best food in Spain.
HawkeyePierce
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by HawkeyePierce »

Cordoba is certainly worth a night. Be sure to visit the Alhambra in Granada twice—during the day and again at night. IMO the night visit is even better.

There are some great opportunities for walking holidays in the Alpujarras outside Granada.

Bring a copy of Washington Irving's Tales of the Alhambra with you.
ronno2018
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by ronno2018 »

We flew to Sevilla via Lisbon from USA west coast, then bussed to Granada, then the high speed train to Madrid in 2019.

Amazing area. We rented a car for a day in Sevilla and drove to some of the hill cities (some of them are Zahara, Arcos, Ronda).

Goya black paintings incredible in Madrid -- https://www.britannica.com/list/20-pain ... -in-madrid

I would return anytime! It was hot in August but we then went to Tel Aviv from Madrid and Israel was really hot!

Enjoy!
2marshmallow
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by 2marshmallow »

PoultryMan wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 7:25 am Has anyone vacationed in southern Spain? Due to some documentaries Ive seen lately, it looks beautiful. Specifically the Andalusia area.

I am curious if anyone has been there, where they suggest we stay, time of year and give me an idea how it compares to other international travel cost wise.

Thanks!
I lived in Spain for nearly a year, but that was several decades ago. More recently, DW and I spent several weeks there. You are right to concentrate on one area of Spain like Andalucia. There are three main cities there - Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla. Granada is my favorite city in all of Spain. It's combination of Moorish and Spanish influences make it one of the most atmospheric cities I've ever visited. Sevilla is tradiional Spain - flamenco, bullfights, etc. Ronda is also worth a visit, and probably Jerez de la Frontera and the whole coastline, though I can't comment on those, never having been.

Spain has a system of hotels or inns called, "Paradores". I highly recommend that you look into staying in one or more of them. They are often in or attached to monasteries and castles. The most popular Parador in Spain is the one in Granada because it is part of the Alhambra Palace. Spending a night there and wandering the Alhambra at night was an unforgettable experience.

Good luck,
2marshmallow
neilpilot
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by neilpilot »

2marshmallow wrote: Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:02 pm
I lived in Spain for nearly a year, but that was several decades ago. More recently, DW and I spent several weeks there. You are right to concentrate on one area of Spain like Andalucia. There are three main cities there - Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla.
I consider Malaga to be a "main city" as well. A lot to see & do, and likely the second largest city in Andalusia. Certainly more populous than either Granada or Cordoba.
oragne lovre
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by oragne lovre »

I also planned a trip to Southern Spain, then the COVID pandemic has put everything on hold. I'm still fine-tuning my Spanish for this trip when the pandemic is improved. Anybody with experience of renting an apartment?
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gamboolman
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by gamboolman »

We visited friends who have place right on the ocean front in Majorca.
Gorgeous and do recommend if you can take time to fly to the island.
The Olives and Bread and Wine in the Cafe's was great !
tomsense76
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by tomsense76 »

oragne lovre wrote: Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:54 pm I also planned a trip to Southern Spain, then the COVID pandemic has put everything on hold. I'm still fine-tuning my Spanish for this trip when the pandemic is improved. Anybody with experience of renting an apartment?
Maybe try an AirBnB to start. A former partner of mine traveled a lot. She went to Italy once (and traveled there frequently). Her host suggested she reach out if she was ever in town and they could arrange to rent the place out to her. Have found similar opportunities arise when staying at AirBnBs before.
"Anyone who claims to understand quantum theory is either lying or crazy" -- Richard Feynman
david99
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by david99 »

I wouldn't go to southern Spain during the summer months because it's too hot. Also places like Torremolinos gets very crowded during the summer.
SpookyEng
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by SpookyEng »

I love southern Spain. Spent a lot of time there in the USAF. Ronda and the hill cities are overlooked gems. One interesting side trip is to visit Gibraltar. A fun day trip with lots of history and amazing views. Also a ferry trip to Morocco for the day is an interesting diversion.
rooms222
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by rooms222 »

SpookyEng wrote: Fri Jul 23, 2021 7:48 am I love southern Spain. Spent a lot of time there in the USAF. Ronda and the hill cities are overlooked gems. One interesting side trip is to visit Gibraltar. A fun day trip with lots of history and amazing views. Also a ferry trip to Morocco for the day is an interesting diversion.
I agree with both of those suggestions. I would also like to mention that I loved staying in the small town of Tarifa, which is the southernmost town in Spain. Staying inside the old part of the town, was wonderful. Tarifa also has the shortest ferry to Morocco, and is sometimes overlooked.
neilpilot
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Re: Trip to Southern Spain???

Post by neilpilot »

rooms222 wrote: Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:08 am
I agree with both of those suggestions. I would also like to mention that I loved staying in the small town of Tarifa, which is the southernmost town in Spain. Staying inside the old part of the town, was wonderful. Tarifa also has the shortest ferry to Morocco, and is sometimes overlooked.
I'm not certain if La Restinga or Maspalomas is the southernmost town in Spain, but the Canary Islands are certainly further south than Tarifa.
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