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Beach stop in Portugal or Spain?

Hello,

I am planning a trip for the first two weeks of September 2021 (assuming vaccines are fine...) and we want to do 2-3 nights at a nice beach to relax, eat/drink/maybe go out at night. We can't decide between Algarve/Lagos or torremolinos/malaga, cadiz or somewhere else? Getting to Madrid after is kind of important. If you had to choose a Spanish beach or Portuguese beach...which would it. be?

Our stops:
- Porto - 3 nights
Duro for the day
- Lisbon 4/5 nights
Sintra for the day
- Beach stop 3 nights
- Madrid 4 nights

Posted by
1662 posts

What is your transport plan/preference? Check transit times carefully, but if it does not take too much time to get there via Sevilla, I like the area south of Cadiz for beaches.

Posted by
5 posts
  • Porto to Lisbon: we'd take a train
  • Lisbon to beach: probably fly, but depends on where we go...
  • Beach to Madrid: it depends where we are. Algarve to Madrid would take a whole day of travel bc there are no direct flights with inconvenient flight times, but malaga area to madrid is an easy early morning train....If we decide on Algarve, i will prob change the order to Porto -> Algarve -> Lisbon -> Madrid....We don't "lose" a day to travel this way bc flights are convenient & short...but that is a lot of flying, which can be annoying
Posted by
1662 posts

Yeah I hate flying in the middle of a vacation!
Maybe let the flights help you decide--I've flown into Sevilla, Jerez, and Malaga. Perhaps you could rent a car and then drop it before Madrid.

Posted by
325 posts

With your existing plan, I think Portugal's Silver Coast makes the most sense. There is another active thread on this area of Portugal. There is also Cascais, near Lisbon. If you are looking to relax, I think minimizing travel is the way to go.

Posted by
4722 posts

In my experience, even by air, Madrid is kind of "far" from Portugal.

I suppose it won't be as bad Post-Covid or in September, but there are mass-tourism aspects to southern Spain and southern Portugal you might want to avoid. You might investigate air connections to Madeira, but it doesn't have sand beaches or much ocean swimming. It does have significant light hiking options. I haven't been to the Azores, but you might even be able to fly home from there.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks! We are planning on going to Madrid after Portugal as it's easy to get to and easy/cheap to fly home to NYC. We wanted to add another city that wouldn't throw a wrench in our logistics, Madrid does that well. Prices went up yesterday but when I did a multi-city direct on United it was $375 roundtrip. Hoping they go down again this week.

Posted by
4175 posts

Sorry, but your trip seems very rushed once you take into account how long it will take you from door to door each time you change location. Porto to Lisbon will be 5 + hours door to door by train.

Three nights = 2 days.

The advice given about dropping the Algarve and visiting the Silver Coast is sensible given your timeframe. If it must be the Algarve, I would go there after Porto and Lisbon. You will waste far too much time in transit going south to then head north again. There are few direct flights between Porto and Faro so you may have to travel via train. By the time you have got to the airport, waited for your flight, flown, got through the airport then travelled to Lagos, that will have taken about 5 hours door to door. Lagos has poor public transport links. A car is an asset in the Algarve. Tavira/Cabanas are much closer to Faro airport and are less windy than Lagos and the western end of the Algarve.

I prefer the beach resorts in Portugal to Spain - they are generally less built up plus the dining hours are much better in Portugal. I hate eating dinner at 10-11 pm. Torremolinos wouldn’t be my choice of resort. Cadiz is a charming city but it doesn’t have the same quality of beaches as Portugal.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks! The train we are looking at is only 2.5 hours high speed from Porto to Lisbon. We are now thinking of the Silver coast after Lisbon via taxi, which is an hour. After the beach, we'd fly out of lisbon and be on the ground in Madrid before noon. It doesn't feel too rushed to me. Maybe Porto? But I'm not too concerned about that. Overall our stops have minimal time lost for travel.

Posted by
4175 posts

Porto to Lisbon by train. The train journey itself may only be 2hours 50 minutes on the quicker trains, but you have to travel to and from the station to your accommodation plus be at the station in enough time to find your way to the platform, buy a drink etc so depending on where you were staying, it’s likely to be nearer to 5 hours door to door.

Posted by
14131 posts

The point Jennifer is making is that there's a lot of time involved in changing locations, especially if you fly and have to check luggage. It takes time to get to and from train stations, usually even more time to/from airports.

If you can get to Malaga easily, it's under 3 hours on the train to Madrid.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the insight! For all our transitions to new cities, we arrive by 11am, so I don't think much time will be lost. That leaves us with afternoons into evening to explore. Drop our bags and adventure. 4 locations over 15 nights seems perfectly manageable. Sintra & Duoro will be day trips from Lisbon & Porto.

Posted by
4496 posts

I suggest taking a day trip from Porto to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, also spend more than one day on the Douro. We did a river cruise for a week on the Douro and it was wonderful. If you don't do that, take the train which runs along the river to Peso de Regua and spend a night or two.

You can always go to a better beach in Florida or the Caribbean. I have been to the beach in Costa Del Sol, Spain and wasn't impressed.

Also, consider a day trip from Lisbon to Evora.