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3 weeks to travel from Lisbon to Paris-Itinerary Ideas?

Fellow Travelers:
My wife, 9 and 10 year old daughters are planning an adventurous trip from Lisbon to Paris in August, '22. Any ideas for travel schedule, trip route, towns, sites etc? - Should we spend the most time in Portugal, France or Spain; more specifically where? We have Eurorail pass.
Thanks in advance!!!

A really excited husband and dad

Posted by
30293 posts

good morning - what do you mean by "an adventurous trip"?

Posted by
1117 posts

Crossing the Pyrenees on foot or doing the bull run in Pamplona might add an element of adventure...

Posted by
567 posts

Because she is travelling with 9 & 10 year old it might be a good idea to not move to often. Ideally, it she chooses one city in each country as a base it might make it easier to manage the trip. You will loose at least 1/2 day every time you change locations. Lisbon, Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, Paris all seem like logical destinations but I'm looking at it from the eyes of an adult. Not sure what a 9/10 year old would be interested in doing. Enjoy

Posted by
5644 posts

Did you already buy your Eurail passes?
If not, I urge you to reconsider. They are very inconvenient to use in Spain and France because you need reservations anyway, which cost extra and are a hassle to secure... Cheap advance tickets (bought when reservations open, so typically 3-4 months before the trip) will come out cheaper and be easier to manage overall! Plus there are no convenient train connections between Portugal and Spain these days, so that's a mandatory bus or flight.
And even if you did buy the passes, they are refundable for a 15% cancellation fee... Might be worth it.
As for the route, I would spend about 9 nights in Portugal, splitting those between Lisbon, a coastal location (I suggest Ericeira, near Lisbon), and Porto. Then fly from Porto to Bilbao and spend about 5-6 nights in the Spanish Basque country.
And take the train from San Sebastián to Paris where you can spend the remaining 6 nights or so.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the help and insight!!! I realize there are thousands of routes to follow to get us from Lisbon to Paris. That being said, my family is adventurous in as much as lots of walking/hiking and "off the beaten" path sight seeing and experiences. Unfortunately, we bought the Eurorail pass (actually 2 years ago and need to use it). Obviously we are not going to have the Eurorail dictate our travels but we hope it helps move us between larger cities quicker.

Again thank you-we want to get it mostly right!!

Posted by
4656 posts

That sounds like a great opportunity to explore Spain's Atlantic coast, a part of Spain that is too often overlooked.

And there is one convenient train connection between Portugal and Spain left, the Porto-Vigo train. So if it was me I'd simply follow the coast north, making stops along the way, and end in Bordeaux, where I'd just take the TGV to Paris. And I think the trains along the Spanish coast is considered regional trains and no seat reservations are required.

Posted by
2482 posts

Buy Rick Steves Portugal guidebook 11th edition and take his self-guided walking tours: Alfama Stroll and the Castle District, Baixa Stroll, and Bairro Alto and Chiado Stroll in Lisbon’s old town.
You can also take a direct train from the Lisboa – Rossio station to Sintra (45-minutes) and tour the castles. Another day trip option is to take a direct train from Lisboa Sete Rios station to Évora’s (Central de Camionagem de Évora) station (1h 45m). Sleep in Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood for six nights if taking both day trips.
I took an overnight direct train from Madrid to Lisbon once so hopefully in Aug you’ll have the option to rent a sleeper car for four going in the opposite direction. Since you have a Eurail pass which I did too at the time it’ll be cheaper; this way you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
In Madrid see the Royal Palace, Prado Museum, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia to see Picasso’s Guernica and don’t miss the pieces that lead up to his masterpiece. It’s interesting to see how Picasso pieced it together. Another thing you want to do in the early evening hour in Madrid is take an evening stroll. You would not believe how loud this city gets.
Good day trip options from Madrid are Toledo (45-minutes by direct train). Other good day trip options are: Segovia (30-minutes) and Ávila (1h 30m). If you do all this sleep in Madrid for five nights.
From Madrid take a direct train to Barcelona (2h 45m) you’ll need reservations for this journey. Buy tickets before leaving home for the Sagrada Familia and you also want to visit the Picasso Museum.
Good day trip options include Monserrat and Figueres. The latter is where the Dali Theatre-Museum is and is a 1h train ride from Barcelona Sants station to Figueres-Vilafant station. When you get off the train follow the people. You want to sleep in the Barri Gotic neighborhood (old town) for four nights if taking both day trips.
There are direct trains from Barcelona to Paris taking 6h 45m but at this time I don’t see any overnight trains. Don’t know how many train journeys you are allowed on your rail pass but when you travel overnight meaning when you depart on one day and arrive on the next that counts as two days. You can fly nonstop between Barcelona and Paris for less than $100 on a budget carrier which means you need to pack light and do laundry often. If you need to check baggage at the airport that’s when low-cost carriers aren’t so cheap. Staying in Airbnb’s might be best so you can request a washer and dryer.