My wife and I are heading to spain for two weeks in September and want to get a jump on it. We have to spend a week in Madrid, so what are some other things we should definitely hit? We're definitely thinking of Barcelona and probably Salamanca, and we also just want to see as much as we can. Think we'd have enough time to make a trip to Lisbon as well, or maybe Morocco? Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We have six days before she needs to be in Madrid, and we don't even know if we should fly into there or somewhere else. So help with this would be great too.
I'm assuming that you're going for 2 weeks including Madrid - leaving only 1 week left. I don't think it's enough time to include Morocco and you should stick to Spain and/or one place in Portugal.
An itinery that sticks out for me would be to land in Lisbon (3 nights), then go to Seville (2-3 nights), Granada (1-2 nights) and then to Madrid.
Or you could replace Lisbon with Barcelona, but then you might have to go to Madrid twice or somehow get from Barcelona to Seville or Granada in a short time.
With such a short time available I would forget about trips to Lisbon and Madrid.
Your current itinerary seems to miss out Andalucia completely - IMO the best part of Spain.
I would fly into Barcelona - I actually do not rate the city but everyone seems to think it is a must see - for 2 nights then get a flight down to Malaga (cheap flights available from www.vueling.com). Malaga is a fascinating city with wonderful architecture, very welcoming people, more culture than you could possibly cope with in 3 days, wonderful shopping, good beacjes right in the city centre and some of the best restaurants and Tapas bars you will find amywhere. The city has an excellent/cheap public transport sustem and is the ideal base for visiting Seville, Granada and the traditional White Villages of Andalucia. Cheap flights then available up to Madrid.
Six days in Spain (excluding Madrid)! You could spend a whole lifetime and not see everything, so you will have to be very selective. If your plan is to do the undetermined bit first, then go to Madrid, then I would think the best thing would be to fly in to wherever and out of Madrid. That will save you one trip from Madrid to whichever part of the country you're going to first, but of course it all depends on where you are coming from and which airports are available to you.
First, I think you have to decide what interests you about Spain. Do you want to spend your time in cities, viewing historic sites, visiting villages and mountains, seeing coastal scenery, or what?
If cities are your thing, unlike Casaianda, I think Barcelona is one of the best cities to visit anywhere. You could spend two or three days there then move on to the Costa Brava for some pretty villages and a lovely rugged coastline. If time permits, it might be possible to make it up to the Pyrenees too.
Another city choice would be to cruise around Granada, Seville and Cordoba. Fly to one of those airports (or Malaga), hire a car and do the tour. As well as the cities, you would get to see the wonderful mountains and pueblos blancos of Andalucia, though you won't have much time to really get off the beaten track. Just keep away from the motorways though and you can't fail to touch on some great places.
For a really nice trip that would soak up the real character of Andalucia, start at Malaga (for convenience of flights) then drive up into the mountains via Casares and stop in Gaucin. The next day you could move on to Ronda. Walk down into the ravine to gaze up at the amazing bridge. Take time out to to take the narrow-gauge railway trip. After that, make you way up to Granada, to visit the Alhambra of course (be sure to book in advance) and also the Albayzin. Finally, make your way back down to the coast via any route you like (they're all sensationally scenic), visit the caves in Nerja and back to Malaga. Six days is not generous but it's possible.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
Thanks for the suggestions already and are a great help. I know six days isn't enough to see most of Spain, but we'll have to make do. I thin Barcelona is on the list, but my wife's schedule might be amended to include Barcelona. We are probably going to be getting into Spain (still not sure if Madrid or someplace else) on a Monday morning, we have to be in Madrid the following Sunday night (so 6 days), and then be in Madrid until Friday, and leave the next day most likely. As for what type of travelers we are...we're open to anything really. We love the food the most though I have to admit, and really enjoy doing the "local" type events. My wife does love the coast though and the beaches. So if we have to do Barcelona before Madrid, then it seems we should do all Spain, and forget about Lisbon in a sense. Again, any more suggestions would be great, but you've already given me some great places to start looking into already.
As for getting around, the trains are pretty good? or should we be flying? We're coming from San Francisco, and so it seems like Madrid is the easiest to fly into definitely.
Please keep in mind that Spain is a rather large country. Its nearly 700 miles from Barcelona to any of the embarcation points for Morocco. I would look at the map and see if there is a loop that makes sense and includes the must-stops and other interesting destinations without requiring you to be on the road all the time. A good place to start is the Paradores web site ( http://www.parador.es/en/portal.do ) and look at their hotels and suggested routes. Paradors are a government owned lodging chain with approximately 100 properties across Spain. All of them are three star or better (two are five stars) and are often located in a building of historical interest (castles, convents, monasteries, etc.) A loop that we have made in the past is a night in the Parador at Alarcon or the one in Albacete, two nights at the Parador in Saler (with an outing to Valencia to include the Lladro factory in nearby Tavernes Blanques), a long haul to the Parador in Nerja (near Malaga), and then back to Madrid. If you are interested in Portugal, a possible trip would be to leave Madrid for a short stop in Avila, then to Salmanca, followed by Caceres, Badajoz, Lisboa, and return. Good luck with your trip.
I'd stick to either Madrid and Lisbon or Madrid and Barcelona. If you MUST spend one week in Madrid, I wouldn't employ the other one travelling permanently.
I can talk about Barcelona, and I'll say that in 3 days you'll get to know the city quite well and the spare ones you get form that can be invested in a trip to Tarragona tos ee the Roman ruins, Figueres to visit Dali musuem, etc...