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Itinerary for Portugal/Spain

Hi everyone! I would love some feedback on my first draft of my itinerary for Portugal/Spain. I've never been to Europe and I am a new 22 female solo traveller and any (positive) feedback would be much appreciated!

My trip will be starting in June 2017 I will be flying into Lisbon and moving down Portugal from there. I have decided not to do anything north of Lisbon because I would like more time in Spain. I have tried to narrow it down to the places that I really want to see in each country/best suggestions from friends. I am trying to get a good balance of being able to enjoy the culture and the beach. For example, Seville interests me because of the Spanish flair and flamenco dancing and Lagos interest me because of Ponta da Piede. I am not huge fan of museums but I'd obviously love to see some of the sights as I go along (e.g. sintra castle). I'll probably go out a few nights but I am not the type of person to go party every night in Ibiza. I am okay if I only see the key things in each city, but I really don't want to feel rushed travelling between cities. The one caution I keep hearing it trying to fit too many things into a short amount of time. I am okay with spending 21 days or less for the three countries combined. I plan to be staying in hostels and I currently do not have a budget (trying to figure that out) but think budget travel for a student. I am willing to fly between some places (e.g. will likely fly to Morocco, barcelona to menorca/mallorca and possibly from seville/granada to barcelona if required). I am planning to book a 3 day tour from seville to morocco or fly directly into Marrakech or Chefchaun if you have any suggestions of whether to do or tour or on my own please let me know! I'll admit I am a little hesitant to do Morocco on my own but I also don't want to do just a day trip to Tangier (I've heard it is just not worth my time). I am quite okay with only getting a taste of Morocco for 3 days because it is not the sole focus of my trip.

My general plan so far is to go from Lisbon-Lagos-seville-morroco-seville-granada-barcelona-menorca or mallorca-barcelona and continue on to Croatia (Croatia will be after these 21 days). I am planning on flying into lisbon, train from lisbon to lagos, bus from lagos to seville, fly to morroco, bus/train to granada, train/fly to barcelona and fly to menorca/mallorca. If you have any better suggestions for transportation please suggest them!

Lisbon (3-4 days)
-day to recover from flight
-day to explore Lisbon
-daytrip to Sintra
-daytrip to Cascais *Does Cascais need a full day?
Algarve coast/Lagos (3 days) *Open to suggestions of places other than Lagos
Seville (3 days)
Morrocco (fly directly to Marrakech or Chefchauen or do a tour) (3 days)
Granada (2 days) I am okay with cutting out Granada
Barcelona (4 days)
Menorca/Mallorca (2 days) *Suggestions on which is better
Barcelona and fly to Croatia

*This itinerary has not accounted for travel time just the approximate amount of time to spend in each place and after that I will add in travel.

Thank you so much for your help!

Posted by
5036 posts

I assume that what you list is for your "21 days" - that doesn't count Croatia.

Your plan for Lisbon & nearby seems OK. I've never been to Cascais so can't offer an opinion on that.
The Algarve is best done by rental car, IMHO, you may find traveling by train limiting.
Regarding Morocco - agree strongly that the boat trip/day trip is not the way to go. Definitely fly. It's cheap and easy. Do not be afraid, even as a single woman new traveler, you will be fine. Fly directly to Marrakech or Fes (pick one, both are great). You don't need a "tour" in Marrakech or Fes any more than you need a "tour" in Lisbon.
One thing you will need to work out: where to depart from to get to Morocco, and where to return to when you fly back from Morocco. Theer are lots of very cheap flights, but they don't all go every day (typically every 2 or 3 days), and there are multiple routes. This can be both a complication and a great opportunity: be sure you account for the daily schedules in your planning, and you can use Morocco as a "bridge" between two cities in Spain - for example, fly from Madrid to Marrakech, then return from Fes to Barcelona (just one possible routing).
Do not skip Granada - you would miss the Alhambra, one of the most amazing sites in Europe.
For that matter, you seem to be skipping most of the best stuff in Spain: Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Segovia, the White Hill Towns...peek at Rick's Spain tours for inspiration. Personally, I've been to Spain 4 or 5 times and these places are among my favorites - I'd give up Mallorca for them in a heartbeat (then again, I'm an old fart, and the all-night rave scene, dancing in a foam-filled club till dawn sounds like my idea of each their own). Just would urge you to take another look at Madrid and the region to the south (Andalucia) - some of the best of Europe right there.

Posted by
4238 posts

I know that choices are many, but personally, I suggest leaving out the Algarve and Menorca/Mallorca. You can always go to the beach closer to home for less money.

You are missing a lot skipping Northern Portugal. Porto is a Gem. Also, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, etc. is my favorite part of Spain. Don't miss Granada.
You can do Barcelona in three days.

Also, Cascais is a half a day, combine with Sintra on a day trip. Also, consider a day trip to Evora.

Posted by
921 posts

I agree with the other posters about skipping some of your stops. And - you definitely need a car for the Algarve! If you stay in the Algarve, Lagos is your best bet, IMO.
Even though I love Cascais, I would suggest spending your limited time in Lisbon. Slowing down in Lisbon, sitting at a miradouro drinking coffee or wine and enjoying the view - is the essence of Lisbon to me.

Posted by
276 posts

Kelsey I'm going to go out on a limb and say you can enjoy the Algarve without a car. For one thing on a student budget and by yourself it doesn't make sense to rent one. The Lonely planet website has good information on bus connections and train from Lagos. And it is a great launching pad to head over to Sevilla.

My son has actually been looking at doing a similar trip in reverse in May and June, so I hope i'm right!

Posted by
4 posts

Couple of suggestions. You may want to consider 2 days for Sintra. We loved it there and found a day wasn't enough. If you aren't keen on visiting all the cool castles than a day will work, to hit all the high points 2 days. I'd add in Madrid with Segovia as a day trip from your base in Madrid. The subways in the cities and the trains in Spain were very efficient. Just for your comparison we did a 14 day trip starting in Barcelona > Madrid > Seville > Lisbon. It was tight but doable. If you are going to Grenada book the Alhambra well in advance. We couldn't get in and dropped Grenada as a result.