I am organizing a trip for my parents (aged 70 & 71). They want to spend 3 weeks in Spain and will be flying into Barcelona on 3 May.
I would greatly appreciate any advice on an affordable area anywhere in Spain (the warmer the better) where they can stay for 3 weeks. I plan to book an apartment for them and am most concerned about public transportation as they do not drive. They will be taking 1-3 day trips from their central location to Madrid and Torremalinos.
They have been saving for this trip for several years and I want to help them make their money stretch as far as possible. A once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
Spain experts, I need your help!
Having just returned from Spain I have to ask the question...why Torremolinos? Its a ghastly place full of tacky cafes and bars. Much nicer would be Malaga just down the road, there are some lovely areas there and the transportation system is really good. From Malaga you can also get a train to Madrid. The weather in that area is hotting up nicely now and should be pretty hot indeed come May.
Barcelona too is a fabulous city with much to see and do and again, a good transportation system.
I can't help you much with apartments I am afraid, but in Malaga for instance they are really feeling the credit crunch with the euro being so strong against the pound, so you may well be able to bargain a little.
Good luck with your plans, your parents am sure will love it out there, it is a lot more beautiful than I ever imagined.
I would spend half the time in Barcelona (as they are flying into there) as it is a great city and then head to somewhere in the North, either Santander (easily reachable to Bilbao) or Santiago De Compostela (beautiful walled city). It won't be really hot at this time of year but it wont be cold either and you wont have all the tourist tack that you have in Torremolinos and Malaga. But it really depends on what they like. If they just want a place where there are a lot of old ex-pats who speak English then head down to Malaga etc. If they are more adventurous then stay away from the tourists and go North (although obviously there will be tourists in Barcelona, but not in the tacky "Costas" way of the South). Not all of the south is tacky, you just need to do a lot of research to find the nice places. The south of Spain is full of Brits though I'm afraid (I am a Brit before you ask)!!
Thank you so much for your advice - very helpful!
where to spend their vacation, depends on your parents' interests and habits.
barcelona is a great city, of course, and as they will be flying into there, a stay there makes sense. however i would recommend to spend more centrally, e.g. in madrid. madrid is packed with attractions and museums, has an excellent subway network and english is - more or less - spoken or at least understood. Madrid info: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/portal.do
as you are saying "the warmer the better", a stay in the nations's south could make sense. one of my favorite cities in spain is cordoba. with 320,000 inhabitants it is medium-sized and not too expensive, the climate in may is warm to hot. and in may the city is full of events, including the famous patio festival. these links (in english) might be helpful: http://www.cordoba24.info/english/html/events.html, http://english.turismodecordoba.org/index2.cfm?codigo=0540
other pluses of cordoba are its central location with highspeed train connections to madrid (less than 2hrs), seville (45 mins), malaga (1hr), the moderate size (major attractions such as the legendary great mosque can be reached by walking), and less expensive accommodation compared to larger cities.
granada is another famous city in southern spain, widely known for its remarkable alhambra fortress.
the southern coast may be hot in may, but may be pretty cool due to a fresh breeze from the sea. malaga has several good museums, but that is it (my opinion). ronda is a picturesque town your parents should not mis if they opt for the state of andalusia.
though it's gonna be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, your parents will have to come back for more.... anyway, good luck with vacation planning.
Just one little thing...
Barcelona is a LONG way from Santiago de Compestela. Its an eighty minute flight from Barcelona so as a day trip venue I wouldn't recommend it.
Madrid isn't much closer. If I was you I'd take a good look at the maps of the area and try gauge distances.
If you want them to see a 'different' Spain, I'd strongly recommend Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria and of course the Basque country, but they're not day-trip material from Barcelona.
As Baluba has also said... 'Torremolinos!!!!!' Why for God's sake would you wish that on them. Spain is many things to many people but the tacky side of the country with chip shops and 'Full English Breakfasts' is not for me...
There are lots of places closer to Barcelona where they can experience real Spain.
Sorry I can't be any more specific but if you ask the question again 'Day Trips from Barcelona?' I'm sure there's lot of TP members who'd be delighted to help.
I have taken Torremolinos off the itinerary! My husband visited there when he was in the US Navy about 10 years ago and he said it was great. Keeping in mind that he was a drunken sailor at the time... maybe that should have given me pause in the first place.
Thank you to everyone for offering such great ideas and advice!
I also don't have Malaga that high on my list, but you have to give them credits that they are trying to make their city more attractive for tourist. Betting a lot on the Piccaso connection.
As far as the daytrips from Barcelona are concerned, I think that Girona is often overlooked, a lot of people land at Girona airport (as some cheap airlines use it, instead of Barcelona - El Prat). But is has a nice center. An other popular daytrip is the one to the Dali Museum in Figueres. (if your parents like Dali, it might be something to consider.)
May is also still perfect for a visit to Madrid, and if they want to some of the surrounding towns, like Toledo (30 minutes by train from Atocha) and Segovia. (by AVE also 30 minutes from Chamartin.)
Quite a late reply (mine) , but anyway.
If your parents interest is to travel and see art, legacy, monuments, I will strongly recommend Castilla y León. No region has more catalogued monuments all over Spain. It is close to Madrid, you can take a fast train and be in Valladolid, (the region capital) only in 50 minutes after . In Valladolid you have several palaces, (Palace of Santa Cruz one of the first Renaissance buildings in Spain) ; the cathedral; the San Pablo church (splendorous portrait, sculpted in stone) , the Pimentel Palace (born site of the king Philippe 2nd..) ; San Benito church, with enormous and massive columns (not to mention it had another store on the top, but fell) and much more. From there, if you take a bus (1, 25 h) , or a normal train , you can reach Avila, you should spend one day at least, strolling by the city walls (2, 5 km long) and visiting San Vicente church (amazing romanesque church, with San Vicente collosal tomb inside) and San Pedro Apostol Church (great sculptures in alabaster, amazing cupola) and of course Segovia ( reachable by bus , 1,5 h or by fast train, 25 minutes) town which worths a visit and another couple of days, with its impressive roman acueduct, not the longuest but the best preserved and in the very core of the city. 1900 "only" 1900 years old" ! and increasing....
you also should surround and contemplate the Alcázar of Segovia, with fortified towers and steep roofs, all kind of defense elements.
two final warnings: Castilla & Leon has a continental climate , so unless they go in July and August, a jacket is recommended. In December – Jan- February is quite cold, coat needed.
To taste local food, is the wisest ; you may experience real happiness tasting Ribera wine, which comes from the Duero banks (bank= ribera in Spanish) .