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Spain and Portugal

Hi all,

Thanks in advance for any help! I am arriving with my wife and her three teenagers in Lisbon. We will have about 13 days to spend in Portugal and Spain (based in Madrid). How long should we spend in Portugal? Where else besides Lisbon should we visit?

We are also open to any tips for places to stay.

The same with Madrid. How long should we spend and where else should we go? My wife and I have already been to Andaluca. We do plan on a day trip to Toledo.

Thanks again for any help!

Posted by
11154 posts

In order to get meaningful answers, you need to give a LOT more information.

What made you choose Spain and Portugal in the first place, i.e., what draws you there?

Do you already have airline tickets purchased? Or can you fly into and out of any airports?

Will you want a rental car, NOT want a rental car, or can you go either way?

Are you aware of the generally poor connections between Portugal and Spain? How were you planning to connect the two counties (again, just because they're "next to each other" doesn't mean there's good transit options between them)?

What are your interests? It does no good to recommend wine regions or art museums or historic churches or [fill in the blank] if these things bore you.

What time of year are you going?

Do you speak any Spanish and/or Portuguese?

Were you wanting just a few home bases (like Madrid and Lisbon) with day trips, or do you want to move around more?

Etc, etc. Help us help you!

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the reply and questions. I didn't want to make a huge long post that would bore people. But I will try to clarify.

We chose Spain and Portugal for a variety of reasons. We are, at this point, pretty well locked in. We are traveling in July. We fly into Portugal, but have no set plans beyond our arrival. We need to have the kids back to Toulouse, France 13 days later. They will be with their dad in France then.

We would prefer not to rent a car, but we can. We like the train. We know we will probably have to fly from Spain to Toulouse.

We know we will be visiting some museums and some churches. We want to see the culture as much as we can. The kids and my wife speak some Spanish. (I speak French, no help here).

We have tried the 'must see everything' approach. Not sure that will work. I think base camping in a couple of cities makes the most sense so you can start to get a feel for the city as well.

We are very much open to anything at this point. We will probably rent apartments for housing. Though, we are open to other ideas as well.

Thanks for any help.

Posted by
13967 posts

Don't know anything about Portugal. From Madrid you can day-trip to Segovia, Toledo, Escorial, Avila. . . that's from Rick Steves' Madrid & Toledo How long you spend in either place depends a lot on the interests of your group. Why not get the 3 teenagers involved in the planning?

Again, how are you planning to get from Lisbon to Madrid? Can we assume your departure from Madrid is also "pretty well locked in?"

Posted by
198 posts

Taking a bus or train between Spain and Portugal is time consuming. Consider flying between Madrid and Lisbon then returning to Seville, Spain or back to Madrid on TAP - Air Portugal. It is more reasonably priced than you may think, especially with a strong dollar against the euro right now. You can fly one way reasonably on Iberia between Seville and Madrid, or take the train, which takes an hour longer, but is cheaper.

As you mentioned, a day trip from Madrid to Toledo is lovely, with so much history. Don't bother with the Hop On/Hop Off bus in Toledo. Hire a taxi at the train station in Toledo and have it take you around the walls of the old city, and then drop you off in the city square by the McDonalds (yes, sadly, it is in this ancient city, but it is a good stop for a potty break). We wasted so much time adhering to the schedule of the red bus, which does not leave or return frequently, and was not well coordinated with the train schedule. We waited in the train station for well over an hour after the bus returned us to the train station. We would have preferred to spend the time doing more sight-seeing. A cab ride will give you more flexibility.

Posted by
6 posts

A HUGE thank you to everyone for you tips and suggestions. We are set for six nights in Lisbon with day trips across the region. We will fly to Madrid and stay for a few nights. We'll take an overnight in Toledo and Ronda and end in Sevillle. Should be a great trip!