Spain in Two Weeks

We have recently had the opportunity to travel for two weeks to Spain – in August. I have to admit, our first Europe trip and it was hard to keep our expectations low…. Nonetheless Spain did not disappoint! I did all research and planning myself, booking most everything in advance of the trip and it was worth the effort (and doable even for the less adventurous traveler).

I wanted to gather some tips and the route we took as I think this can be helpful to others thinking about going to Spain and maybe having some of the same questions I had….for example:

  • Should we rent a car?
  • Is 12 days enough to see Andalusia + Madrid + Barcelona?
  • Should I book things ahead?
  • How much are we really going to spend?

Our flight route was Miami – Madrid and same return, but we really wanted to see Barcelona and south part – Andalusia, mainly Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada. But we only had 10 days for all of this!

Here’s a quick summary of our trip map:

How did we decide on this route?

Well we wanted to spend two weekends, one in Barcelona, other in Madrid. Then the middle of the week we decided to see the south for the picturesque scenery and of course, there seems to be many other interesting cities besides these three that we picked, but due to time constraints I picked the three most popular.

So in short:

  1. Arrive in Madrid late Thursday night
  2. Take overnight looooooong bus route to Barcelona ($35/pp) save on hotel night
  3. Check in early at our AirBnB in Barcelona
  4. Go out exploring Barcelona Fri, Sat & Sun
  5. Fly to Seville Monday AM
  6. Explore Seville Monday + Tuesday
  7. Train to Cordoba Wed AM, Spend day Cordoba, Bus to Granada Wed night
  8. Granada Thursday + Fri
  9. Friday Night Bus to Madrid
  10. Madrid Sat + Sun
  11. Toledo Sunday afternoon
  12. Monday >> Fly back to reality

Why the mix of flights, bus and trains??? Trains were amazing but most times 3, 4 times the cost of buses, which were also amazing!! I did book everything ahead of time and had no idea of how things were actually going to be but I did pick the most convenient / cheapest route I could find.

This awesome site lets you compare timetables with prices and hours and I booked everything before leaving here: https://www.goeuro.com/ 

Bus, Train or Airplane? (Or taxi, or walk or subway?)

We have always rented cars in all our vacations – Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Canada, US – but we heard that public transportation is great – not the case here in the US – and that it would be unnecessary. It was the best decision we made!

  • There’s really nothing to see between one city to the other;
  • Inside the cities there’s buses, trains, taxis and amazing subway lines
  • I think we saved money and enjoyed each other without the stress of trying to drive everywere

Google maps is completely in sync with bus and metro routes with timetables so it calculates everything for you! Gives you combined walking, bus and metro route, whatever fits your destination (with quickest time in mind). I had never used this before as I mentioned we are always with rental cars, so I thought this was wonderful.

I do have Sprint and was able to use “roaming” to use Google maps even when I did not have wifi. I think my bill came about $15 bucks higher than usual but was totally worth it.

What We Loved

Barcelona we both thought was amazing! It’s hip and young and fun…. There’s tons of cute eclectic bars to choose from, the entire Gothic Quarter, everything Gaudi, was just completely impressive.

Catedral La Sagrada Familia - Gaudi

Catedral La Sagrada Familia – Gaudi

The south of Spain is worth it, but a completely different vibe. All the “alhambras” of the south are so breathless beautiful but it was a different pace, I think very romantic, very chic and very special <3

at Los Bellota, Barcelona

We loved the tapas!! And the “cana” which is a tiny cup of beer that costs $1!!! We had a ton of beer. Great cheap, delicious, local beer. And tapas were a great way to try a bunch of different plates even in expensive restaurants where we normally would not have eaten.

I did use foursquare for EVERYTHING!!! And it was great. In case you have not used it, it’s a phone app that gives you a map of good restaurants but based on your locations. And the top restaurants never fail to amaze!!

What We Did Regret

August is very, very hot. I am from Brazil and Florida, which is also very hot. This is beyond that. Was 42 degrees celsius in Seville!! Entire commerce closes from about 1,2 pm to around 6pm because nobody can stand being outside! Which is great when you live there, not so great when you only have one day to spend in each city :{ So in all – maybe we could have picked a different time to visit or ahamm gotten out of bed a bit earlier….

We also purchased one of those hateful bus tours at Seville! We did use it to go around the city twice because it was too hot to do anything else anyways BUT you end up seeing stuff you didnt even want to see anyways… so was a waste of money and time.

What We Spent

So this is a bit disappointing… I thought we could do the whole thing (with tickets) for under 3K but I think we ended up spending more then that:

  • Tickets Miami – Madrid $600 pp
  • Hotels $950
  • Transport > Bus + Train + Inland flights $230 pp
  • Meals $400 pp ** we kinda went crazy here 
  • Attractions $220 pp

Toledo – day trip from Madrid

So all in all $3500/two, about $1750pp for two weeks travel time in Europe. Most of our hotels cost around $80 – 180 and we really did not save on food. We just ate what we felt like it everywhere. Attractions include museum tickets, audio tours etc. This would be around $12-20 per day. Some days we didn’t actually visit any paid things (a lot of attractions were free).

Was it worth it? Yes!! We are dying to visit Europe again!! It’s breathtaking and we are so grateful for the opportunity to go. If you have the chance – don’t think twice – go!!

 

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