Western Spain road trip: Madrid to Seville

The Extremadura region offers rolling countryside and Roman, Jewish and Arab history to explore. Plus, cool plazas and great food – when you stop

Extremadura takes a little bit more effort to get to than many other parts of Spain. And because there is no beach, few of the 82.8 million people who visited Spain last year went to the region. Yet it is home to some of the country’s finest medieval towns and Roman architecture – and all the people who created Spain (Romans, Goths, Jews, Arabs) have made their mark here.

Visitors should pick up their hire car in Madrid and set the GPS for Navalmoral de la Mata. Pay attention getting out of town as the ring road is a nightmare. Once on the A5 head to Talavera de la Reina for a first encounter with classic Extremeño landscape: dehesa, rolling acres of holm oaks. This is what much of Spain looked like long ago before the trees were chopped down for firewood and shipbuilding, but here the oaks have been preserved so that blackfoot pigs can feed on their acorns and produce Spain’s treasured jamón de bellota (acorn-fed ham).

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Travel | The Guardian

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Spain by train: from Barcelona to Seville via Madrid

As well as taking in these fantastic Spanish cities, this two-week itinerary also explores the ancient towns and dramatic landscape of Andalucía

In this compulsively fly-drive, time-crunched era it may seem implausible to travel by rail to the southern extremity of Europe – but the craziest trips are sometimes the best. You can forget about ferries, car-hire rip-offs, driver fatigue, traffic jams and parking problems; and enjoy instead a variety of scenery and serendipitous conversations on platforms.

This trip uses fast trains to reach Andalucía and slow(er) ones to get around once there. The minimum length for this trip is 10 days (four getting to Andalucía and back) but it is better spread over two or three weeks, especially if you also want to visit Barcelona and Madrid.

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Travel | The Guardian

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A local’s guide to Seville, Spain: 10 top tips

Cobbled alleys, ancient bars, flamenco and the world’s biggest gothic cathedral are just a few of the Andalucían capital’s attractions

Some of the best places in Seville are found by taking a wrong turn. Like when you stumble into a time-worn taverna peddling crisp local sherry or come across the rickety home of Seville-born painter Diego Velázquez. Which makes it all the more of a shame that many visitors to Spain’s fourth biggest city don’t venture much beyond the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. Although the cobbled streets and alleyways that surround it are worthy of close inspection, this enchanting city has much more to offer a little further afield.

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Travel | The Guardian

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