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Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

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Cincinnati, Ohio
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Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

We have a 14 day/night itinerary into and out of Barcelona, and are looking for the best way of seeing the most we can without "over-traveling". We are not your "typical" tourist travelers, but rather into food, wine, & culture, experiencing the most "local" culture as possible, without spending a lot of time at museums, churches, etc. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Hermosa Beach...
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1. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

Is this your first trip to Spain?

Is you flights already bought so you must return to Barcelona?

What time of year is this trip?

Cincinnati, Ohio
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2. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

Yes, first time, yes, flight is already booked, and early spring time.

Philadelphia...
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3. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

Very difficult question... we enjoyed visits to many different parts of Spain, but typically were in one area at a time. Perhaps consider a drive from Barcelona, slowly working your way across La Rioja all the way to Santiago de Compostella, sampling the various food and wine along the way and back. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy this type of thing. Stretching into southern Spain, unless you fly, might burn too much time covering a large distance and then getting back in the groove again.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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4. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

Have you taken this journey before? If yes, are there any little "must see" villages that you would recommend?

Hermosa Beach...
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5. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

WIth 14 days total and a need to return to Barcelona for the return flight I'd probably do one of 2 things: Barcelona & Andalucia OR Barcelona and the Basque Country/La Rioja.

With only 14 days and the need to return to Barcelona if you spend 4-5 days in Barcelona (which I'd recommend) then this really only leaves you with 8-9 nights.

It would be nice to know when in early spring your trip is as there are several festivals/holidays in Andalucia (Semana Santa, Feria, etc....) that could impact your trip.

For Barcelona & Andalucia I'd spend at least 4-5 days in Barcelona (enough time for a daytrip), then 8 days in Andalucia and return for a final night in Barcelona. I'd spend 4 nights in Sevilla (daytrip to Cordoba) and 2 in Granada. The other 2 nights would be based on your interests: the White Villages, Malaga, Cordoba, Jerez/sherry triangle (particularly if you like wine), Cadiz, etc.... I would fly between Barcelona & Granada (or Malaga if you decide to visit Malaga) and probably not rent a car unless I decided on the white villages option. Returning to Barcelona I'd either fly or take the train via Madrid.

For Barcelona & the Basque Country/La Rioja I'd again spend 4-5 days in Barcelona then fly into Bilbao. I'd probably spend 4 days in San Sebastian using it as a base to visit other nearby villages), 1-2 days in a smaller coastal fishing village for a change of pace, and 2-3 days in La Rioja. I'd fly back to Barcelona from Bilbao avoiding the long drive.

I'd lean towards the Barcelona/Andalucia option. The weather will likely be nicer in early spring. I think a trip to Andalucia for a first visit to Spain is good as it is what many people imagine when they think of Spain. Barcelona/Andalucia would be a big contrast. Barcelona and the Basque Country are very different areas, not typically "Spanish" (or what people perceive as spanish). Just my opinion.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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6. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

Thank you so much. Very nice of you to respond with such deteil.

Malaga, Spain
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for Malaga, Andalucia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville
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7. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

turners:

Andalusia is a must for first time travelers. Andalusia has monuments, is very colorful, the home of flamenco, and the food is wonderful. Hotels here are less expensive than in northern Spain. People in Andalusia are also the friendliest in Spain.

London, England
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8. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

BennyMalaga

I normally agree with your informative postings, but this time beg to differ.

it is very difficult to compare the north and south of Spain as they are so different in almost everything.

If the OP is travelling in Spring time he may have rain in the north, wheras in the south it is more likely to be sunny. The northern part of Spain has some of the prettiest and dramatic scenery in Europe to compensate for the weather.

Basque cooking is considered the best of Spanish cuisines and the Basque country is home to some of the best chefs in Europe, if not the world.

Many people in the north of Spain are extremely friendly, they are just not so flamboyant as in the south.

There are lots of lovely small hotels with character in the north of Spain, many of the type you don't find in the south. prices depend where you are and the kind of establishment. The north can be just as cheap as the south.

If I were the OP I would spend maybe 3 days in Barcelona and then choose between the north or the south as it would be difficult to fit it all in within a two week period. I would also split the north and visit the Basque Country, La Rioja and Cantabria or Asturias and Galicia.

I also love Andalucia and am not knocking it at all. In fact, I visit at least a couple of times a year, but if I was the OP I would do plenty of research. Once I had decided where I wanted to visit would take it from there.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

Hi Guys, I'm new at this so please be kind. We're in Spain at the moment but with much more time so doing it "all" has not been such an issue. Both "ends" of the country have an awful lot to offer but 14 days trying to do both will burn you out. We entered Spain from Perpignan and spent 2 days in Cadaques exploring Salvador Dali's house and later the museum at Figueres. This was wonderful. Cadaques is totally unlike most of the Spanish coastal resorts, not overdeveloped at all. Barcelona is a totally unique city and will take a number of days, plus some potential side trips such as the Monistirol de Montserrat. Easy a week there. We haven't got to the Basque country etc yet so no comment. Save Andalusia for a later trip maybe focussed around Seville or somewhere you can get in and out of easily. And then there's Portugal, Southern France........ Whichever, you can't really lose! Have a great trip.

Qld
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10. Re: Choosing between Northern & Southern Spain

Just returned last week from driving round as far north as Madrid and we have been across the north from France thru Burgos, Leon to Santigago de Compostella. With 14 days you probably are best to just take trains between cities and concentrate on what is to offer in the cities themselves. I suggest for this trip Seville which has so much to offer plus Granada, Cordoba, Toledo. We booked places that were right in the heart of the city. In Seville we stayed at Hotel Inglaterra right on Plaza Neueva. It is more expensive but we have a view across to the Cathedral which was stunning. If you go north a lot of your time will be taken up getting from place to place as the distances are a bit more between places of interest.

We were not impressed with the Costa del Sol at all, maybe because we are from Australia and have lovely beaches but I couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

We focussed this time on not rushing round and trying to see everything just enjoy a few places and staying flexible so we could change our plans if we wanted to. Good luck, Spain is so rich with things to experience. Even if you don't like churches, don't miss out on the Mezquita in Cordoba or the Alhambra in Granada, particularly at night.