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Portugal and Spain

We are travelling to Spain Portugal and Greece, flying into Barcelona Easter 2019.
Our trip is just under six weeks. We fly out of Athens. I don’t think we will hire a car 🚗
Will spend three to four weeks in Spain and Portugal, love villages, small towns, flamingoes, wildlife, art, great food and wine and surf ...
Any great tips on linking Barcelona, San Sebastián, to Portugal and ideas for Portugal itinerary
thanks in anticipation.

Posted by
3000 posts

Barcelona to San Sebastián - the train is the obvious option.

San Sebastián to Portugal - where in Portugal do you want to go? Spain and Portugal are not well linked by public transport and there are no direct flights from San Sebastián. There is a night train to Lisbon, but I don’t care for these, as I can’t sleep on them.

If you want to see villages, small towns, flamingoes etc, you really need to hire a car. The only place I have seen flamingoes in Portugal is the far eastern end of the Algarve, in rural areas around Castro Marim and in the National Park.

Surfing is best west of Lagos on the Algarve and on the west coast around Carrapateira, Peniche or Foz do Arelho. The water is very cold, even in the height of summer.

The towns between Lisbon and Porto such as Tomar, Obidos, Alcobaca, Evora, Fatima and Aveiro can easily occupy you for more than a week plus at least 5 days in Lisbon plus 3 in Porto. How are you allocating your time between the 3 countries? Two weeks per country isn’t actually that long when there is so much to see. You are going to lose a day switching between countries. You can easily spend 3-4 weeks in both Spain and Portugal.

Posted by
12269 posts

I think you're trying to do the impractical, if not the impossible, without a car. You want to see places that may have very limited access by public transportation - small towns and villages and wildlife. You can take the train (5-6 hours) from Barcelona to San Sebastian. Getting from there through Basque country and Galicia to northern Porgual. . . you may have lots of bus rides.

I'd spend a week in Barcelona with day trips. Then either rent a car or train to San Sebastian or Bilbao (maybe fly to Bilbao) and rent a car for 3 weeks and traverse northern Spain and Portugal, ending in Sevilla or Madrid to drop the car and fly to Greece.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all the replies.

We will prob have one week on s Greek Island
Prob about 12 days in Spain
2.5 weeks in Portugal
As they less is more, so I need to reign in my thinking

Posted by
213 posts

Hi Bet Lou,
Is San Sebastian a must for you? Because if not I would suggest the following itinerary, easily done without a car
all the above by high speed train, you would want to book soon
Bus to Faro or Lagos ( most people hear would pick Lagos I think
Lagos train to Lisbon ( can day trip out to many towns)
Train to Coimbra then to Porto- then fly out of there to Greece
You could also pick up a car for only your Portugal part.

Posted by
103 posts

It is easy to fly from Barcelona to Lisbon, I have done so several times on Vueling Airlines, and there are other airlines that fly that route. Rick's website has a listing of budget intra-Europe airlines.
The best surfing will probably be on the west coast of Portugal. Guincho beach, few km west of Cascais is famous, and has hosted international surfing competitions. Cascais is within metro Lisbon, about 40 minutes by commuter train from central Lisbon. The coast north of Guincho is well known for surfing, and is reachable via public transportation. The beach towns are a bit touristy, but as you go inland, there are many small towns and villages that do not get much tourist pressure. The best way to see them is to rent a car, but you can also get by with public transportation. Rick's guide book is good for Lisbon and Porto, but does not have much information on the many small towns. The Lonely Planet guide is better for that.
I believe that you can fly from Porto to San Sebastian, but you will probably have to change planes in Madrid. Most likely, the cost of travel on that route by train will be about the same as flying.
Vueling has a direct flight between Barcelona and Athens.

Posted by
3 posts

Hi Bet,

I would really recommend to rent a car when you stay in Portugal and Spain for 4 weeks. It's super easy to get around and will get you to cool spots especially if you want to do all the amazing things you mentioned. Especially those two countries are SUPER cheap to rent cars. I, for example, rented a car for 2 weeks for around 150 €, Insurance included. Check Kayak for those matters.

Good Idea is to fly to San Sebastian and drive to Lisbon or even further south. If you follow the coast, there is heaps of surf, great food and culture to see. Surfing wise, it's a great time, since it is not so busy but be aware, the ocean is still pretty cold. Here is a good article I found about the surfing areas of Portugal with water temperatures along the coast.

Once you're done there, hop on a plane and fly to Barcelona. Great place to hang out for a couple of days. Especially for culture and food it's great. Amazing Tapas Bars (also everywhere in northern Spain) where can spend lots of nights just eating and drinking :D This Irati Taverna Basca tapas bar is my favourite!

Hope you enjoy your trip!