Planning Madrid-Barcelona trip for Mid-October

  • Midas426

    Posts: 965

    Jan 24, 2011 10:00 PM GMT
    As stated in the title, I'm planning a trip to Madrid and Barcelona in mid-October. I'm anticipating total trip time to be 8 days. Ideally I'm thinking of several possible options I wanted to get opinions on:

    1) Fly to Madrid. Upon arrival take train to Barcelona and spend 3-4 days there. Take train back to Madrid to spend remaining time before heading back to Chicago.

    OR

    2) Fly to Madrid. Upon arrival head to hotel and remain in Madrid for a day or two to get oriented. Then take train to Barcelona and spend 3-4 days there. Take train back to Madrid and spend remaining days before heading back to Chicago.

    OR

    3) Fly to Madrid. Upon arrival head to hotel and remain in Madrid for 3-4 days. Then take train to Barcelona and spend remaining time there and then either...

    a) Fly back to Chicago from Barcelona
    b) Take train back to Madrid and fly back to Chicago.

    Of course I could switch the order of cities and have the same choices.

    I'm thinking options 1 and 2 make the most sense.

    I'm also trying to look at past posts as far as obtaining information on how to get about and things to do. It's likely I'll be going by myself. My biggest concern is being careful not to become a pickpocket victim, which I assume I need to use common sense on.

    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/549655 <- Madrid/Barcelona/Stiges thread

    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/1244708 <- First trip to Madrid

    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/645004 <- Headed to Barcelona

    I will definitely skim through these threads but if anyone had some additional advice as far as things to do and navigating between the two cities (where to get train tickets for example), that would definitely be welcomed.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 27, 2011 12:04 AM GMT
    Hey there.

    Personally, I would do option #3. Both are wonderful cities but I think it would be nice to end the trip in Barcelona because it's such a pretty city and by the water. You could also fly to Barcelona, stay there for a day, take the train to Madrid and spend 3-4 days there, then come back to Barcelona for a few days and then fly back to Chicago.

    With that said, since you are flying out of Chicago, I have a few recommendations for flying to Spain. 1) DO NOT fly Iberia; it is a horrible airline for being the national airline of Spain and their service and unprofessional attitude are unacceptable, 2) If you are a United Airlines frequent flyer, consider taking advantage of the joint venture United Airlines has with Aer Lingus to fly from Chicago to Washington D.C. (on United Airlines) and Washington D.C. to Madrid (on Aer Lingus); the trip is bookable through United Airlines and Aer Lingus, and 3) Consider taking Pakistan International Airlines from Chicago to Barcelona and back; they seem to have a great product and their prices for economy, particularly business class, are fabulous!

    As for safety, Spain is a safe country; just keep your wits about you and try to 'blend in' as much possible.

    Safe travels!

    http://www.united.com/
    http://www.aerlingus.com/home/index.jsp
    http://www.piac.com.pk/
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 27, 2011 4:46 AM GMT
    First of all, you can probably fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona (or vice versa) for the same price you'd pay to go round trip to either city, so I'd suggest doing that rather than bouncing back and forth.

    Second, trains between Barcelona and Madrid aren't as cheap or as fast as you might think. Check into air fares. You might actually be able to fly cheaper than you can ride on the train. Of course you'll miss seeing the countryside in between, but it's really not that spectacular, and it is a long day's trip.

    Finally, if you're going to be spending a few days in Madrid I'd highly recommend taking a day trip to Toledo - a very short train ride away. It's a magnificent old town.

    Oh, and - as far as pickpockets go, keep your wallet in your front pocket, and don't hang out on Las Ramblas when you're drunk and alone at 4 in the morning. Be extra careful if you're on a jampacked subway car. Aside from that, it's no big worry.

  • Feb 10, 2011 2:30 PM GMT
    *waves hola* First post!

    I live in Spain now and have lived in Madrid. I live in Valencia now. Madrid and BCN are both incredible cities, but neither will give you an accurate picture of what Spain is really like (especially since most people from BCN will tell your they're not Spanish and you will only hear Catalan! Lol).

    So I agree to take a day trip to Toledo while in Madrid. It's about 8 Euros ida/vuelta (round trip). However, since you only have 8 days, I don't think you'd have a chance to see Granada in the south of Spain or San Sebastián in País vasco in the north, the two most amazing cities on the planet.

    Segovia and Avila are two other "pueblos" close to Madrid.

    Madrid-Barcelona has the AVE, rapid train, which, if you look at least a month before you go on www.renfe.es, you can find good deals. Problem is, you generally need a Spanish credit card to buy them. It´s about 4 hours. It's at least 60 I want to say without the advance deals. The bus is about 28 Euro one way, 56 round trip.

    Sitges is a small seaside village near BCN that attracts a lot of gay tourists. I haven't been there, but it's more popular in the summer anyway.

    I am hoping to move to Barcelona in the fall so if you need a tour guide or more advice, just let me know. I can also give you some Spanish tips.

    About being pickpocketed...especially in BCN, just be smart. No wallet in the back pocket. My coat has an inner pocket I keep it in in the winter.

    It could be rainy in Madrid in October in the fall.

    Zaragoza is halfway between BCN and MAD, so you could stop and spend a night there. It has some cool bridges and an awesome basilica.

    Edreams.com is the Spanish kayak. You can check out air fairs. And check out RyanAir for deals between Madrid and Barcelona unless you have a lot of carry on luggage. That will be more than the ticket!

    I think that's it for now. Feel free to ask any questions! Me encanta España xD
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 10, 2011 2:37 PM GMT
    Athaleet saidFirst of all, you can probably fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona (or vice versa) for the same price you'd pay to go round trip to either city, so I'd suggest doing that rather than bouncing back and forth.

    Oh, and - as far as pickpockets go, keep your wallet in your front pocket, and don't hang out on Las Ramblas when you're drunk and alone at 4 in the morning. Be extra careful if you're on a jampacked subway car. Aside from that, it's no big worry.


    Excellent advice, and I echo both!

    Both cities are incredible; I've grown fonder of Madrid in the last year. Vibrant, good scene, hot people, and just loads of fun. I've been to Spain about 12 times and have never had a pickpocket / safety issue. Enjoy!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 10, 2011 2:38 PM GMT
    would agree, Madrid is fantastic :-)
    Have a great time
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 10, 2011 4:06 PM GMT
    I have lived in Barcelona and it is a great city. It's really alive and booming.
    As others have suggested, you definitely have to visit Parc Guell. This is a park with architecture from Gaudi. If you are a museumlover, you can buy a 7museum pass for about €22.00. With it you can visit the big 7 musea, like the Picasso, MNAC, MACBA etc. Your pass is valid for 6 months after purchase, so if you're not able to visit all musea, you can return in 6 months to visit the ones you weren't able to.
    Every friday there is an hourly fountain show with lights starting at 9pm at Monjuic

    All the best clubs are located at Ciutadella villa Olympica. This is the former Olympic village. The Olympics were held in Barcelona in 1992. This place was build for that event.
    The best club in my opinion is Opium. Catwalk is good as well. I wouldn't recommend Schoko.
    You can also go to Razzmatazz. It has 5 floors and in every floor a different genre, but is located more upnorth.

    You can also visit champagneria (google it for more info). You can drink champagne really cheap here. Drinks are only €2.00.

    For traveling you can buy a 3day metrocard. It will cost you €16.50. With it you can travel unlimitedly with bus, metro or tram. If you want to see a lot, I would recommend this. You can travel fast and the metro comes everywhere in Barcelona (it even travels directly under Sagrada Familia).

    You can also visit Camp Nou, which is the soccerstadium of FC Barcelona.

    I would suggest flying into Madrid, and out of Barcelona (or vice versa). You don't have to take the train. You can fly from Madrid to Barcelona (or vice versa) with Vueling really cheap (muy barato)

    You definitely have to tour the old city of Barcelona. You can drink really good Çai (Indian/Arabian tea) or just coffee in La Clandestina. It's a secret treasure of the city I found wandering the streets (definitely recommend doing that). They used to serve nargile (sisha/hookah) there, but it is prohibited since 1. January 2011.

    There is the Ramblas obviously as mentioned, but there is also La Ramblas del Raval. El Raval is where most Moroccan people live. It has lots of Arabian shops and restaurants. Bismilla is well known there and really good.
    However this is also the place where a lot of prostitutes work. I wouldn't recommend walking here at night alone.

    You have to be careful with your belongings in Barcelona. Two friends who came to visit me, while I still lived there, were almost robbed. The robbers are real slick and before you know it, you'll get robbed.
  • Midas426

    Posts: 965

    Feb 10, 2011 5:18 PM GMT
    Thank you all so much for the extra info as far as getting around and places/things to do. I did notice the Madrid Metro has a stop at the Aeropuerto...so I was thinking I'd want to stay somewhere near one of the stops....I've heard Sol or Gran Via...and just take the Metro to get to my hotel.

    I do want to take advantage of the rail system and travel between Madrid and Barcelona. The hope to was to start in one city, end in the last and fly back home from the last city. But the issue I'm finding is that I'm unable to completely do so with one airline and trying to use multiple airlines, they treat each trip as if I'm doing a one way and then charging three times the original cost. So what I was thinking instead was to fly into Madrid, use the Metro to somehow get to the AVE station (?), use that to travel to Barcelona....stay there a few days (definitely want to make side trip to Sitges) and then take AVE back to Madrid and ultimately take Metro back to the Aeropuerto.

    At least that's how I'm thinking of it right now. I'll have to see how to get around the potential issue of not being able to purchase tickets on the RENFE site.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 12, 2011 3:21 AM GMT
    Madrid is a MUCH bigger and complicated city than Barcelona is. If you spend a day or two getting oriented in Madrid only to take the train to Barcelona for 4 days and then go back to Madrid for another couple days, my fear is that you'll never actually feel oriented in Madrid. Remember that it is the third most populous city in Europe (practically tied with number two Berlin). It's a vast and sprawling city, unlike Barcelona which feels more compact by comparison. So I'd try to do Madrid all in one 4-day chunk.

    The high-speed rail between Barcelona and Madrid is clean and fast. I don't remember the price I paid because I had a Eurail pass at the time.... Any clue where you are going to stay in Barcelona? I recommend the L'Eixample area. The architecture is out of this world, but it's not too touristy either. I found a great hostel that was more like a private loft for a good price. I'd forward you their information but my trip was years ago sadly and I don't have the information with me.
  • Midas426

    Posts: 965

    Feb 12, 2011 6:18 AM GMT
    No I was hoping to right away as soon as I arrive in Madrid take the RENFE or speed tram to Barcelona and stay there 3-4 days then return to Madrid area for remaining half of trip. So far I'm not sure yet where I'm staying in Barcelona.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 13, 2011 2:26 AM GMT
    A studio Broadway cast recording of "Barcelona" from Company. Just because I think it's wonderful Sondheim, about flying to Barcelona.

  • Midas426

    Posts: 965

    Mar 20, 2011 3:37 PM GMT
    AthaleetFirst of all, you can probably fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona (or vice versa) for the same price you'd pay to go round trip to either city, so I'd suggest doing that rather than bouncing back and forth.


    I was able to figure out how to do the multi-city function correctly when purchasing my plane tickets. So now I'm flying into Barcelona on the 12th and returning to Chicago from Madrid on the 22nd. So happy I don't have to do the whole bouncing back and forth. And I definitely have time to explore other cities close by.

  • Mar 22, 2011 5:26 AM GMT
    Zaragoza is on the way between Madrid and BCN and not very many tourists go there so it has a lot of Spanish flavour...not much to see there, but it has an interesting vibe.

    In Madrid you must go to Toledo for a day. You must. (Okay morning or afternoon, but it is still a must).

    Yay Spain icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Mar 22, 2011 5:38 AM GMT
    Option #3 for sure. Also, check out Spanair. They offer cheap flights between Madrid and Barcelona; often times cheaper than either a bus or train. I love both cities but def don't waste your time hoping between cities more than you have to. If you need any advice on Hostels in BCN I can help you out, just send me a message.

    Good luck and have a great trip!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 20, 2011 6:09 AM GMT
    Hey. I'm actually from Spain (currently living in California now) and your option 3 is definitely the best option in my opinion. When you get there you're going to probably be jetlaged for a day or two, so you want to give yourself at least a day for relaxation in Madrid before setting off to Barcelona. Plus there are so many amazing things to see in Madrid, El Escorial, El Prado, El Retiro, El Cerrillo, La Cruz de los Caidos (outside of Madrid), etc... plus the night life and the food. Once you've taken all that stuff in, THEN go to Barcelona and take all of those sites in.

    I'm so jealous! I want to go too. haha.