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Help Needed Spain Itinerary Questions


10+ Posts
I just booked a semi last minute trip (mostly Spain and a little bit France). I arrive in Bordeaux on Tuesday October 1, 2019 and I depart from Madrid on Saturday October 19. This will be my first trip to Spain (and only my second time to France). Most of my personal travel in southern Europe has been to Italy. I will be traveling solo for this trip. My interests are food, wine, culture, architecture and atmosphere. I don't mind an occasional museum but I prefer art/sculpture in churches, squares and buildings.

I'm seeking recommendations on an itinerary for a first-timer looking to experience Southwest France/Spain using public transport. And I've decided to forgo Barcelona/Catalonia this time (leaving it for another trip). Should I spend more days in Bordeaux (my France experience is entirely Paris)? Should I concentrate on northern and central Spain or should I include Andalusia?

I appreciate all your suggestions as this feels very outside my comfort zone (booking so late without having done all the research I did for previous trips to Italy). Here are my initial itinerary ideas for the 18 nights I will have:

North / Central
Bordeaux: 5 nights (day trips to Saint Emilion, ?)
San Sebastian: 3 nights (day trips to ?)
Bilbao: 4 nights (day trips to ?)
Madrid: 6 nights (day trips to Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca and Cuenca)

North / Central / Andalusia
Bordeaux: 3 nights (day trips to Saint Emilion, ?)
San Sebastian: 3 nights (day trips to ?)
Madrid: 7 nights (day trips to Toledo, Segovia, Avila, Salamanca and Cuenca)
Seville: 5 nights (day trips to Cordoba, Granada and Jerez)

Thank you in advance for all your thoughts and recommendations.


100+ Posts
Either option, it seems a long time in Madrid and not enough time in other places.
I slightly prefer the North/Central itinerary, but would spend less time in Madrid. Maybe 4 nights in Madrid, and more time in the Basque Country, perhaps 2 nights in Ciboure/St Jean de Luz.

The north/center/Andalucia is a lot of runaround. When we plan a trip, we dream. When we actually travel, we can't dream the commute part away. Each time you change city, even if everything goes magically smoothly, the commute checkin-checkout pack-unpack takes most of a day. The more destinations you pack in, the less enjoyment.

Besides, you will love the Basque Country.


100+ Posts
I agree with Parigi. I wouldn't try to fit Andalusia into this trip, and too long in Madrid I think, even with daytrips. I like the idea of Ciboure too. You need to bear in mind that weather in northern Spain in October might be relatively cool and damp (it can also be lovely, but best be prepared; no true Basque leaves the house without an umbrella).


10+ Posts
Thank you very much Parigi and Veronicafrance. As I got a little further with my research, I was starting to come to the same conclusion about leaving Andalusia for another trip. And adding more time in the Basque region makes sense.


500+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!

I like your North Central plan the best also.

If food and wine is a priority of the trip, I think I would delete some days in Madrid.

I would try to get to Gijon where seafood and that lovely white Godello shines
- Day Trip to Leon

To Zamora home Toro Wines or Valladolid in the Ribera del Duero

I would definitely add a 2 days in Salamanca. A beautiful University town. Highly recommend stay in the old section of town.

Very easy train ride into Madrid. We found 2 full days in Madrid was enough. In full disclosure I do not care for large cities

Our trip report and link to blog:
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