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Portugal & Andalucia 21 day itinerary - Request for Feedback

My boyfriend and I are planning to spend 21 days in Portugal, and we are considering doing Rick's 14 day itinerary https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/portugal/itinerary with an additional week for Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada.
We would either fly or rideshare to Sevilla after visiting Lisbon, and then rideshare or train from Sevilla or Cordoba to Faro, where we pick up the rental car to resume the journey.

Perhaps it would be better to take it slower, and not see so much. Although we are both avid hikers in our late 50's/early 60's, we like to take things at a more-leisurely pace. We would enjoy a mix of historic, cultural and natural sites, with a few days of down time. We'd also prefer to stay in one place.

Rideshare would be done with BlaBlaCar, I'd like to hear feedback on that as well.

Posted by
21071 posts

In my view Rick's itineraries are not right for people who want to travel at a leisurely pace. I'd be a lot happier stretching one of his 14-day itineraries over three weeks than dropping a week in Spain into the middle of it. Travel between Portugal and Spain is a bit awkward. By the time you subtract the travel time, that extra week will be no more than six days. That's not a leisurely pace for Seville, Cordoba and Granada. A go-go-go pace that is barely manageable for two weeks would be considerably more of challenge to maintain for three weeks.

I seriously wouldn't do this. What time of year are you planning to travel? If in the summer, Andalucia is likely to be blisteringly hot.

I haven't seen a single comment on this forum by someone who has used BlaBlaCar. While I certainly do not read every thread, I do skim a very, very large percentage of them, so I don't think you're going to get many (any) reports based on personal experience here. You might have more luck on TripAdvisor. However, BlaBlaCar is just a platform for connecting with people (read: non-professional drivers) offering rides in their cars. I wouldn't count on a driver to leave at the indicated departure time, to have a car in great mechanical order, etc. Nor would I assume the car would be air conditioned.

There are no trains from Seville/Cordoba to Faro. Part of the challenge of combining Portugal and Spain on a single trip is that there are very few ground-transportation links. There are buses between Seville and Faro. I haven't traced the info back to the source websites (which you should do), but it appears there are three companies running buses along that route: ALSA, Rede Expressos and FlixBus. In general, western European inter-city buses are quite comfortable.

Posted by
14917 posts

I agree with acraven. Rick's itineraries are fine for a group tour, where everything is organized in advance, including door-to-door transportation and parking. On your own, everything takes longer. Driving in Porto and Lisbon is a huge challenge. That itinerary gives you 2 days in Lisbon and 1 day in Porto. You can easily add 2 days to each and still not manage to see all the highlights.

I see you live in Mountainview. You have amazing coastal scenery at home. You may find a lot of the Portuguese coast not as dramatic as, say, a Midwesterner would. I spent 23 nights in Portugal 3 years ago, including 10 days with a car, mostly to explore the eastern side of the country, which RS completely ignores. I encourage you to do something similar. I used the Lonely Planet guide book as well as RS, and based a good bit of my eastern segment on this trip report, which mentions Julie Dawn Fox's website. Several other forum folks have recommended it.

While I love Spain, especially Andalucia, it really needs 2-3 weeks by itself. Some of my very best memories are from my week in the east of Portugal.

I'd be happy to share my itinerary with you if you PM me.

Posted by
5550 posts

A 14 day RS trip needs at least 21 days as independent travellers. Seville can easily fill 3 full days, Granada another 2-3 plus a travel day.

Spain and Portugal aren’t as easy to combine as you may imagine unless you have a car.