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12 Days in Spain & Portugal; Recommendations

We have made a plan to visit Spain & Portugal in early first week of October for a period of 12 days.

We are a family of three Mom, Dad and a Son (18)

We fly-in & out from Barcelona felt a little bit dumb to book the flights back & forth from the same place.
We thought that it would be be a great idea to do a road trip, hire a car and drive to places but not too sure about it.

Spain & Portugal seems a lot and I don't think 12 days is enough to indulge in their beauty.
Which places/cities & attractions would you recommend us to visit? There are quiet a bit of overwhelming places for us to visit but we are not so sure.

Hope fellow travelers could help us.

Posted by
2549 posts

You have to realize that Spain is a large country. Personally, I would not attempt visiting Portugal when you have only 12 days. If that includes travel days, realize you only have 10 days of touring. Starting in Barcelona, I'd take the train to Madrid. I would than rent a car and visit Toledo, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, the White Towns, Arcos de la Frontera and wind up in Seville. Drop the car in Seville and either fly or take the train back to Barcelona.

Each of those places has unique and worthwhile sights to see. Check them out in a guidebook and determine what interests you and family. As far as natural beauty goes, the drive through the mountains from Ronda through the White Towns to Arcos is spectacular.

Posted by
14211 posts

Trains are faster and more comfortable than driving in Spain, unless you want to visit small towns. For instance, google says 6 hours to drive from Barcelona to Madrid (probably underestimated, doesn't include stops and delays, traffic, etc). The train ride is half that.

If you want to include Portugal, you need to fly there and back or take a car from, say Sevilla and do a small loop maybe through the Algarve to Lisbon and back to Spain. Drop-off charges from country to country are usually hundreds of euros. Honestly, I think adding Portugal will take too big a chunk out of your 12 days.

I believe Oct 12, Columbus Day is a big deal in some parts of Spain. I'd try to find out what's going on around then and plan around that. For general sightseeing there are lots and lots of possibilities. What kind of things do you like? Have you been to Europe before? What did you like then. And what attracted you to Spain?

Posted by
7124 posts

Yes, you will spend less time 'in transit' if you choose trains over driving. With 12 nights to see the 'best' of what Spain has to offer ...

Day
1. Arrive Barcelona (3)
2. Barcelona
3. Barcelona
4. Fly to Granada (2)
5. Alhambra
6. Train (am) to Cordoba (1)
7. Train (pm) to Sevilla (2)
8. Sevilla
9. Train (pm) to Madrid (3)
10. Madrid
11. Day to Toledo
12. Train (pm) to Barcelona (1)
13. Depart Barcelona

Posted by
2 posts

Hello,

Thank you for the travel advice. After a little bit of googling and reading reviews driving through Spain and Portugal would definitely take a big chunk out of our 12 days trip. So, as you guys advised I would be taking the train.

We have been to France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany and mostly what we liked was the architecture and the scenic views of landscapes.

Still trying to piece an itinerary together.

Thanks.

Posted by
14211 posts

Hi Yoga, I'd narrow it down to just Spain, since you have are locked into Barcelona, as David's itinerary proposes. The 3 of you should look at a guidebook to figure out which places most interest you. Barcelona has tons of Modernisme buildings (similar to Art Deco), Andalucia is filled with stunning examples of Moorish and subsequent Mudejar. Madrid is more a combination of Renaissance and modern. Scenic landscapes . . . not so much, except for bits of the Costa Brava (Barcelona) and the hills in part of Andalucia (but you'd want a car to do that justice).

Posted by
7124 posts

Somewhat simpler, if you have 12 nights.

Day
1. Arrive Barcelona (3 nights)
2. Barcelona
3. Barcelona
4. Fly to Granada (2 nights)
5. Visit the Alhambra (BOOK)
6. Afternoon train to Sevilla (3 nights)
7. Sevilla
8. Sevilla
9/am. Morning train to Córdoba. Store luggage & visit the Mezquita
9/pm. Evening train on to Madrid (3 nights)
10. Madrid
11. Day to Toledo
12. Afternoon/evening train to Barcelona (1 night)
13. Depart Barcelona

Posted by
249 posts

Stay 100% in España.
I love Portugal and really enjoyed our 22 days there last Fall.
But, you will waste way too much time traveling if you attempt to do both countries.

Posted by
4696 posts

Flights between Spain and Portugal are incredibly cheap. Just fly if you really want to see both countries (with 12 days, I'd probably be tempted to stick to one or the other). Flying in to Barcelona, just fly right back out to Lisbon or Porto to start though if you want. Fly back to Madrid, work your way back to Barcelona by train and fly home.