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Spain and Portugal Itinerary Suggestions Please

Hi guys,

With my young adult children home, we are in planning mode for our next family trip for Summer 2022. Yes, I am late! 🤦‍♀️

The group wants to go to Spain and Portugal for 10 days. Our thoughts are midsize towns (maybe a village) with historic sights and and cafe life. Love bakeries, bars, squares where we can sit and watch life go by. We love art so the Prado will fill that desire.

We’ve been to Barcelona so are thinking fly into Madrid and out of Lisbon. Alhambra, Sevilla, Sintra all sound interesting, charming, and the right size.

Rick says hop a plane between Sevilla and Lisbon. He also loves the Algarve but it’s not on our list.

Would love 10-day itinerary suggestions!

Thank you!

Posted by
20864 posts

Your wish list is very, very long for just ten days. How many nights do you have? You need eleven nights to have ten real days, because your arrival day will probably find at least some of you sleep-deprived and jetlagged.. Even if all you want to do in Madrid is go to the Prado (which seems unlikely), you need at least two nights there. Although I don't find Madrid as interesting as many other Spanish cities, it has a lot of good museums, the Royal Palace and some lively neighborhoods. It certainly seems worth more than two nights to me. Seville is a good-sized city (population about 700,000) with a lot of sights rather well scattered. I always recommend four nights there.

The Alhambra can fill a huge chunk of a day, so Granada really needs three nights to allow time for other parts of the city. So we are already at nine nights and you haven't crossed the border to Portugal.

Granada (population about 240,000) is considerably smaller than Seville, Madrid and Lisbon, but I wouldn't call any of those "midsize towns"--though perhaps you would.

I haven't been to Portugal recently, but Lisbon and Sintra would need at least four nights if I were traveling there now..

It's a shame to miss top-flight destinations like Toledo and Cordoba (not that I'd try to squeeze more than one of them into a ten-day trip), so I urge you to make this an all-Spain or all-Portugal trip.

Posted by
657 posts

Hi acraven! I was hoping to hear from you!

Yes the Spain trip you describe sounds wonderful! Madrid itself doesn’t sound very interesting to us other than there are good flights from Los Angeles. We don’t feel compelled to stay there at all.

My husband and I will stay another 2-3 weeks and settle somewhere in Portugal-maybe Porto. So it’s 10 crazy days with the kids to see what we can see.

I wish there was an easy interesting route from Madrid to Portugal.

Posted by
3639 posts

You are definitely not late for Summer 2022 planning - to me, you are early, especially with current uncertainties in mind...

Bear in mind that Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, are blazing hot in the summer. To give you a point of comparisons the climate is similar to that of the Central Valley.
They can still be visited, but will be less than ideal. I would skip, personally, even though I tolerate heat quite well.

If Madrid is a must for you, then you can land there, spend 3 nights (arrival+1 day for Madrid, 1 day for Toledo day trip), then fly to Lisbon, spend maybe 5 nights there, and the remaining 3 in Porto.
If Madrid is optional, land in Lisbon and spend time exploring between Lisbon and Porto.

Posted by
5487 posts

As others have said, you need to pick one or other country. Southern Spain is unbearably hot at the height of summer - are you used to heat?

I love Spain, but I don’t like Spanish dining hours - I don’t want lunch at 3pm and dinner at 10pm/ midnight. Portugal eats at my normal eating hours.

Ten days isn’t long to see much of Spain, it being a big country, therefore I would lean towards Portugal. Lisbon, Cascais and Porto can be seen within your timeframe and sound as though they would suit your requirements.

Posted by
1164 posts

I agree with the others that Andalusia is way too hot for me in the summer - even though it’s a great area to visit.

Portugal can be hot but not that like that unless you are in the Alentejo (another good area).

The northern part of Spain would be better regarding heat. San Sebastián, Bilbao and Santiago de Compostelo are all lovely and not huge cities. From there you could go into northern Portugal and visit Porto before heading south to Lisbon. Aveiro, Coimbra, Tomar, etc.

Just another option you might want to research.

Posted by
2523 posts

I agree with others above, best to pick only one country with just 10 days, as Spain and Portugal's connections have been historically limited.

I also agree that I would avoid Andalucía during the scorching Summer time if I can help it, more temperate northern Spain would be my first choice.

I recommend you fly in to Madrid, spend a few days there, then take the (newly opened) high speed train from Madrid to the northern Galicia region (culturally similar to Portugal but with a Celtic flair).

You can spend the rest of your time exploring the beautiful Galicia region of green rolling hills, old monasteries, and dark forests. Towns like Ourense, Santiago de Compostela, and Lugo are all connected by this new high speed train line. Train back to Madrid and fly out.

Posted by
3639 posts

@Carlos, wait, the high-speed train line to Galicia is finally open!? That's a game-changer!
With that in mind, I really like your suggestion, and the OP's husband can easily take a train or a bus to Porto from Galicia if he wishes to stay there after the others have left.

Posted by
2523 posts

Hi balso, yes the new high-speed line opened just last week, after 20 years of work! I agree it's a big gamechanger, as it finally connects Galicia to the AVE network, making it much more accessible for tourists, it now takes just under 3 hours to reach the heart of Galicia from Madrid, wow!

Posted by
1767 posts

I wish there was an easy interesting route from Madrid to Portugal.

I took an overnight train from Madrid to Lisbon and slept in a couchette.

Posted by
3639 posts

That overnight train is sadly no more. I took it from the French border to Lisbon in 2018 and it was a good trip indeed, with great food.
A high-speed railway between Madrid and the Portuguese border is under construction, but that won't have any impact until the second half of the decade...

Posted by
657 posts

Thanks all! I appreciate the thoughtful suggestions and information. We are leaning toward late June after college graduation so not so worried about the heat then.

We stayed for a month in Aix this year and loved the slow pace to sink in but this trip is different. Week one with our kids will be to expose them to a few new places while they can all take a week off from work. These weeks are getting more and more difficult to find as our kids have demanding jobs and other obligations.

We could skip Portugal with them and focus on Spain. We spent a week in the Barcelona area a few years ago with them. But… What about this itinerary:

Madrid: 3 nights
Saturday, Day 1 - Walking Tour upon arrival
Day 2 - Prado
Day 3- Day trip to Toledo

Day 4 - Early Train to Sevilla, enjoy town, walking tour
Day 5 - Alcazar Palace
Day 6- Gothic Cathedral, Late afternoon flight to Lisbon

Lisbon: 3 nights
Day 7 - Sao Jorge Castle or Monastery of Jeronimos
Day 8 - Day trip to Sintra
Sunday, Day 9 - Kids fly home; DH and I stay for another week to go up the coast of Portugal

Posted by
3 posts

Have been travelling many cities around the world and San Sebastian has been always my favorite towns. I wouldn't recommend Madrid, in 10 days it is better to visit smaller towns. It is better to plan less and then over deliver than plan too much and try to achieve all, which in the end causes unnecessary stress.

Posted by
20864 posts

I recommend checking Seville's June weather in 2021, 2020 and 2019 on timeanddate.com. I think you'll probably be surprised. I'm sorry I can't give you a direct link, but the website isn't displaying properly on my tablet. Basically, you need to choose Weather, enter Seville, choose Past or Historical Weather, then use the pull-down box to select the months you're interested in.

Posted by
796 posts

I love, love Seville! However, I agree with the people who caution you about the heat, even in June. I remember reading trip reports from people who were in Seville anytime during the summer months (June, July, August) and they wrote about being drenched in sweat after sightseeing for 10 minutes! If you go to Seville, be sure to find a hotel that has a pool. We were in Seville in 2017 in very late September/early October, and temps were in the low to mid 90's.

Posted by
14792 posts

European painting! The Prado is huge, really huge. You can spend an entire day and miss a great deal. Do homework - use the website and map out the paintings/artists/periods you most want to see. The collections go pretty much through the early 19th century. The Thyssen picks up from there through the impressionists and then the Reina Sofia as the modern stuff. What I'm saying is that everyone knows of the Prado, but some people may enjoy the others more.

In hot weather (or maybe any time) I'd choose a day in Cordoba over a day in Toledo. Toledo is built on hills, so there's lots of up and down walking in the sunshine. You could take an early train to Cordoba and store your bags at the train station for the day, or better yet stay overnight and even spend the better part of 2 days there. The Mesquita is a must-see and the Juderia is one of the best-preserved in Spain.

Posted by
5338 posts

Don't try to do both Spain and Portugal in Ten days.

Start with Spain and include Seville, Madrid (also day trips to Toledo and Segovia) and Cordoba and Granada.

Do Portugal on another trip, don't miss Porto and the amazing Douro Valley (Take the train up the valley or a cruise). Also, do Lisbon, Sintra, and some other great places around Lisbon.

Posted by
657 posts

Just reading Rick's book on Portugal. Yes, leaning toward one or the other, and Spain seems more appealing to most in our party. Will post on that board.

Thanks all! Happy New Year!

Posted by
657 posts

@acraven Thanks for the time and date website. Seems it was hot all over Europe the last two Junes but the Sevilla area was 104. Yikes!

Posted by
18 posts

We just did a ten day Spain-Portugal trip with our three young adult kids (23/20/17) - flew in and out of Madrid. It was a December trip - so weather was very different!

We flew into Madrid, rented a car and drove immediately to Toledo. We loved Toledo - and easy one hour drive from Madrid and nice place to relax after a long flight. We did one night in Toledo, then drove to Lisbon - which was long. An easy drive but long.

We stayed two nights in Lisbon, which we loved (and none of us had been to Portugal). We did lots of walking - and eating.

Then we drove to Seville - which was also an easy but long drive (though we stopped in a lovely town on the coast on the way).

We did two nights in Seville, which was great - and then drove to Madrid (intended to stop in Cordoba on the way but it was just too much to add). And then we did three nights in Madrid. I know many in this forum are negative about Madrid but we loved it - we went to all three museums and the Royal Palace. We also just liked walking around (and we’d all been to other capitals - Rome, Paris, London, plus Barcelona - and still really enjoyed it). And then we flew out of Madrid.

I would have been very happy to skip the Portugal days (and drives) but my spouse and one kid were very eager to see Lisbon … and I really did enjoy it (although again, long drives - and we just didn’t want to risk trains/ planes due to covid).

I’m sure you’ll have a great trip!