Exploring Alhambra on a family journey across Spain

Spain Together.
3 generations travel across Spain.

Day 1. April 11, 2013. Our multi-generation family trip to Spain starts at Logan Airport in Boston (Here are my Tips for Multi-Generation Family Travel).  The group consists of my parents,  myself, my husband Vit and our two kids: 13-year-old Dennis and 3-year-olds Vivi. While there is over sixty-year age difference between the youngest and the oldest group members  we are determined to make the most of the trip!

Dennis is an experienced European traveler by now (Denmark, Italy, Russia, Greece, Germany, England and Spain all behind him), but this is a first air plane flight for Vivi and she is the most excited.

Here is the map of our itinerary:

3 Generations Travel accross Spain

Day 2. Arrival in Madrid.

From the airport, we take a taxi to our “old world charm” (and very centrally located) Hotel Tryp Ambassador where Olga, my old college friend from Russia,  is already waiting.  After a quick coffee break in a neighborhood café, we begin exploring the city. We walk a couple of blocks to Plaza del Sol (very busy and unimpressive) which we for a short “jetleg moment” confuse with Plaza Mayor, but then find our way to a “real” (and very impressive) Plaza Mayor- Madrid’s very central and very historical Plaza.


3 Generations Travel Across Spain: a day by day family itinerary
Kids playing in Plaza Mayor

Another coffee/beer brake, quite a bit more walking, and we have made it to Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art, housing Picasso’s Guernica. It is starting to get dark when we leave the Museum, but this is the (first and most exciting) Day that Never Ends , so as we walk back to our hotel we find an almost charming (cheap, for sure!) dinner place. We are intrigued by Spanish-only menu (I get to practice my Spanish- fresh out of Sharon adult ed) – yet, suspiciously, we are the only ones there. All in all, exhaustion takes over and our (don’t forget!) multi-generational crowd finally reaches the designated hotel beds.

Day 2. More of Madrid.

After missing an entire night of sleep the day before, we almost did not make it to breakfast today. We walked into the dining room at 10:50am to realize that Spanish do mean it when they say “breakfast until 11”.  That gets us eating and moving fast and at 12, at Plaza Mayor, we are joining an English speaking group for an official walking tour of the city (tour of Royal Palace included).

The Royal Palace, Madrid

We finish the day trying out innovative tapas and admiring the trendy crowd at the vibrant Cava Bajas.

Some of us are then ready to end the day while others (including a three-year-old Vivi who must have inherited a hunger for celebrations from her mom) head out for some nighttime churros and chocolate at the old chocolateria San Gines right next to Plaza Mayor.

Day 3. Barcelona and Toledo.

Today the group splits in two: grandparents take Dennis on a side trip to their favorite Barcelona (speed trains make a day journey possible) and the rest of the group plans to sightsee in a nearby Toledo. After a busy day in Toledo (Cathedral, Sinagoga del Transito, Museo el Grego, Plaza Zacodover and multiple photo sessions at the Toledo’s panoramic bridges and viewpoints), Toledo group arrives at Madrid’s Plaza Santa Ana in the evening, in search of Spain’s literary heroes (Servantes and Vega), but instead, opts for some beer and tapas (and a playground play!). We just have to leave some things to come back to Madrid for!

One of El Greco’s famous viewpoints. Toledo.

Barcelona group had as busy a day with a 6-hr tour of the city and all the Gaudi sights and arrived back in Madrid Hotel (not without an adventure!), with enough energy only to make it to a hotel dining room and order some Russian salad (a “sure” thing on every Spanish menu).


Day 4. Cordoba.traintocordoba

Today we are leaving Madrid for our journey to the south of Spain (after some tearful good-buys with our friend Olga who heads back to Russia). Thanks to new Renfe speed trains it takes less than two hours to reach Cordoba from Madrid and another 40 minutes bring you from Cordoba to Seville. We board a Sevilla-bound train, and make a first stop in Cordoba to tour the old city with our own private tour guide Isabel (you may find contact information for all our tour guides at the end of this post).

We meet with Isabel at the entrance to the old Jewish Quarter (Juderia), and although not Jewish (“But who really knows, in Spain?”, she says), she tells us the Jewish story of Cordoba. We stop at the Monument of Maimonides and tour Museo del Jews Sephardica. The culmination of the tour is multi-religious Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba (“the Mesquita”).  You can see more on Mesquita under the pictures below.

Cordoba is the birthplace of the famous Jewish scholar and Middle Ages medicine man Maimonides
Cordoba is the birthplace of the famous Jewish scholar and Middle Ages medicine man Maimonides


At the Museum of Sephardic Jews
At the Museum of Sephardic Jews we hear the sad stories of Cordoba’s Jews who were expelled from the city (and, later, from the entire Spain) following the long periods of prosperity and influence in the middle ages.  There is also a tale of some happy returns of those who preserved the symbolic “keys” to the family homes their families once left.
Mezquita is a fascinating building that symbolizes the many religious changes Cordoba has undergone over the centuries. Today it is the cathedral of Cordoba, but the vast majority of its art and architecture is the work of Islamic architects, who built it as a mosque in the 8th century


Parents-Daughter happy trip moment: the sights have been seen (for the day) and the coffee is served at just the right time, at the right place.
Parents-Daughter happy trip moment: the sights have been seen (for the day) and the coffee is served at just the right time, at the right place.


Day 6. Seville.

ladiesdressedupAt 100F degrees, Seville made our hard work as tourists even more difficult- but she generously rewarded us with beautiful sights, delicious food and celebratory ambiance of the annual April Feria. We started our introduction to the city at Plaza de Triumfo, with our private guide Louis, who walked us through Seville’s Cathedral and Royal Alcazar (both Unesco’s World Heritage Sites).

Too exhausted to move on our own after the tour, we take a horse carriage ride to Plaza Espana. We are then back at Plaza del Triumfo for a gourmet lunch prepared by chiefs in training at restaurant Bulo nearby.kareta

After a brief rest in our hotel, some of us come back to the city for the “traditional” evening Paseo: Calle Sierpes, Calle Tetuan, Plaza Salvador, Plaza San Francisco. (While others- following an “ultimatum” to never come back to Europe again – are “allowed” to enjoy the kids balloon park adjacent to a hotel).

While waiting in line to the Cathedral, the kids start getting into festive spirit of Feria.
While waiting in line to the Cathedral, the kids start getting into festive spirit of Feria.


Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in the word and the largest Gothic Cathedral. It is the burial site of Christopher Columbus.
Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in the word and the largest Gothic Cathedral. It is the burial site of Christopher Columbus.
While the rest of us take a break in the leafy courtyard Climbing Cathedral's Bell Tower (with dad) has become a tradition in our European trips.
While the rest of us take a break in the leafy courtyard, Dennis is climbing Cathedral’s Bell Tower (with dad) which has become a tradition in our European trips.
View From Bell Tower
View From Bell Tower
 Inside of the Alkazar - straight from the Moorish fairy tales.

Inside of the Alkazar – straight from the Moorish fairy tales.   Spanish royals still use the palace during their annual visits to the city.


Resting before the next STEP (literally)
Resting before the next STEP (literally)
Traditional Evening Paseo (for those who still could)
Traditional Evening Paseo (for those who still could and those who simply could NOT say NO to Mom)

Day 7. More of the Seville.

torresWe start the day with the tour of the Bullfight Museum (grandparents in the Fine Arts Museum) and buy the tickets for the bullfight in the evening.

This being a Feria week, the city is overwhelmed with the groups of Sevillianos dressed for the occasion in special “Feria” dresses and suits. We decide to follow them to the Triana neighborhood to check out the Feria scene. We cross the Guadalquivir river by foot via pedestrian bridge near famous Torre del Oro (a starting point for Christopher Columbus’America trip).

ry=400Feria…happens to be nothing but a collection of party tents and horse carriages parading around them, so it was only appropriate to hire a horse to take us back to the city. The day was still “young”. The girls spent the afternoon at the Flamenco show and (some of the) boys went to the Bullfight.

flamencoshowRejuvenated by the show, the girls walked all the way from the Flamenco Museum to meet the boys near the Maestranza Bullring. By then it was the perfect time for the (midnight) Arabic baths for Vit and myself.


Delicious lunch at Casablanca restaurant, popular with the bullfighters and very busy. We are given one hour for our meal. Mapping the rest of the day while waiting for our food.
Delicious lunch at Casablanca restaurant, popular with the bullfighters and very busy. We are given one hour for our meal. Mapping the rest of the day while waiting for our food.

Day 7. Granada.

We rented two cars and started a self-driving part of our journey – to Granada -early in the morning.

Our tour guide Margarita waited for us at the Alhambra entrance in Granada. The rest of our Alhambra story is better told in pictures.


Generalife Gardens


In the gardens of Alhambra. Sierra Leone Mountains in the background.
In the gardens of Alhambra. City of Grenada and Sierra Leone Mountains in the background.

In the afternoon we saw Europe’s famous sunset over Sierra Nevada mountains in the Albayzin Arabic district and enjoyed a local dinner. In the evening we strolled the Paseo del Triste for more of the magnificent Alhambra views followed by the tea in the Moorish tea room. We laughed late into the night remembering the details of the day.

St. Nicholas Viewpoint. Albayzin
St. Nicholas Viewpoint. Albayzin

Day 8. Nerja. Torremolinos.

Our road trip continues along the hilly coastal road to beautiful Nerja and Balcon Europa. The heat finally subsides to allow for a pleasant coastal stroll and outside lunch overlooking the Mediterranean.

BalconEurop;aWe then head  to our next overnight destination, Torremolinos, where the SEA theme continues with a thermal SEAwater spa in our SEAside hotel. We end the day with a SEA walk and a SEAfood dinner. For us, there could never be too much SEA!!!

Day 9. Gibraltar. Marbella.

telephone boothIn the morning, the group of  four younger travelers drive to la Linea to cross the Spanish boarder (by foot!) into the Gibraltar- a geo-politically unique UK territory at the tip of Iberian peninsula. We show our passports at the check point, then find ourselves in the middle of the airfield. It turns out that the passway to town also serves as this tiny country’s only airfield. Needless to say, everything stalls when the plane arrives. We proceed to see the famous St. Michael’s limestone (stalactites and stalagmites) caves inside the Rock of Gibraltar, WWII tunnels and, of course, the monkeys.


monkeysIn the aftrenoon we meet up with the senior group members back in Spain, at the posh resort town of Marbella. Despite its crowded popularity we find the town and the boardwalk not without charm. We take pictures in the background of Dali sculptures  and have ice-cream at the leafy Plaza de Narranjos (Oranges in English).

Dali sculptures at Marbells boardwalk
Dali sculptures at Marbella’s boardwalk

Turns out, the Plaza is quite popular with local pigeons- however, our mellowed out group meets this seemingly misfortunate encounter with nature with loads of good humor and bowls of laughter- as we head out to buy the new hats for the kids.

Marbella's Plaza Naranjos
Marbella’s Plaza Naranjos

Day 9 and final. Torremolinos Beach.

This is our last vacation day and we take it easy at the beach. After the beach massages, sangria and calmares (which in Spain are served each way how), we take the train back to Madrid to spend the night at airport’s Hilton before catching our flight to Boston.beacjdau

Until new travels, asta luego, amigos!

Going to Spain with the family? Look for some  helpful multi generation travel tips in my post Spain 2.

Planning info:

European train tickets: www.raileurope.com (For the train tickets we used rail Europe, a US based European train tickets sellers and found the web site and phone help very helpful (much more helpful than spain’s based www.renfe.es).  They also sell famous euro passes and are very knowledgeable about savings (we ended up buying three passes for the group members who went to Barcelona).

Small group and private tours in Seville www.reallydiscover.com

Private tours in Cordoba: Isabel isabmr@gmail.com

Private tours of Alhambra and Granada: www.alhambratours.com

Bus Tours in Spain www.barcelonadaytours.com  (although we prefer to hire smaller company or solo guides, for a side (6-hour) trip to Barcelona we simply had no choice. They did the job)


14 thoughts on “Spain Together. <br> 3 generations travel across Spain.”

  1. What a wonderful trip, and lovely to share across the generations! We haven’t taken the children to Spain, which is terrible as it’s not that far, but there is just so much to do in Europe! However, you make it all sound very tempting….

    1. Victoria@celebratetheweekend

      Sarah, you should definitely take the kids to Spain! It is SO distinct from the rest of Europe. It has the SPIRIT and you can’t help it but feel happy. I will definitely be back!

  2. Your lovely post reminds me that it’s been far too long – and I saw far too little! – since I’ve visited Spain. Time to plan a return trip.

  3. What a fabulous trip! Victoria (the other half of globetotting) has spent a lot of time in Spain (as her husband is Spanish!) but I have never been. Your itinerary sounds great and I love that you sometimes split up to do your own thing, a great tip for multi-generational travel!

  4. We absolutely love Spain! This is a great country to travel as a multigenerational family because the culture is very inclusive of all ages, This is such a great itinerary and would love to do the same with my parents and our daughter! Thanks for all the great info!

  5. We had such a multigenerational family trip to Spain as well, but it was 30 of us, ranging from age 2(my daughter then) to Grandma who turned 80, hence the big family get together 🙂 Was loads of fun, something to do for everyone in Graus, Spain! Your trip looks wonderful, I need to get back to Spain and see more of this beautiful country!

  6. Victoria@celebratetheweekend

    Samiya, your family (and friends!) from around the world sound like a lot of fun:) I would love to go back and explore some of the Costas I have not seen!

  7. Itinerary sounds amazing! Was it really 100 degrees F in April in Seville?? Wow. We are going to Spain in June; maybe we will try northern Spain, instead. So glad to have found this website!!

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