I am currently planning a 26 day vacation in Spain. (We are coming from Australia - the entire trip will be about 30 days as we'll include stopovers in Hong Kong.) The plan is to fly in to Madrid, then fly out of Barcelona at the end.
Here is the schedule:
I plan to take trains from place to place.
I have restricted it to a small number places as we really dislike packing and moving, and usually rent apartments (have used Airbnb in France and Italy) where we can settle in for a few nights (usually 4 or 5). We tend to prefer a slower pace with proper meal breaks, rather than rushing from tourist site to tourist site.
I plan to do a day trip to Cordoba (from Seville) to at least visit the Mezquita. We will probably travel by train for this day trip but could also afford an organised tour. I originally had 2 nights in Cordoba but am now leaning to staying longer in Seville and doing Cordoba as a day trip to avoid packing, moving, changing accommodation etc.
We are a late 40s couple and like art galleries, historic sites and architecture. I suspect Madrid is good for all that so I put that first. Everyone seems to like Seville so I put 5 nights there. Valencia is mainly for art and history in the mornings and beaches in the afternoon. Barcelona has 6 nights due to its size and architecture and we might do a day trip to Sitges from there - especially since the Barcelona beaches apparently aren't that great. We also love dining out during our trips so if a place has great restaurants and food we are happy with an extra day here or there, just to sample more food places.
Do people think the time in each place is reasonable? Or too long?
I have read mixed/conflicting reviews of Granada so I have limited it to 3 nights. One commenter suggested that there is not much for the tourist in Granada other than the Albaycin area and the Alhambra. Others seem to love Granada and think it has a wonderful vibe and worthy of a few nights.
Part of the reason I am limiting transfers is that I am not familiar with the trains in Spain (I have caught plenty in Italy and a few in France, however). Is the train system flexible or is pre-booking advised? Am I correct that to go from Granada to Valencia would not be direct and would entail a change in Madrid?
My current draft schedule has the train transfers midweek as we like to have weekends in the major places we stay in. Am I correct in assuming (based on Italy) that it is better to avoid train journeys on weekends? (Saturday being busy, potential reduced services on Sundays.)