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Anything to cut out of intinerary

Here is our itinerary for Spain and Portugal, we have never been to either. We especially love smaller towns, visiting unique places/sites, sitting in cafes, walks, eating local foods/wine. Love to see the authentic places, not too touristy if possible.

Is there anything we need to cut out? Are there any two places that are similar that we could miss?

Fly from Amsterdam or Edinburgh to Madrid
Night 1 Spain  Madrid - day trip to Segovia
N2 Spain Madrid – day trip to toledo
N3 Spain Madrid

Fly from Madrid to Porto

N4 Portugal Porto – day trip to douro Valley
N5 Portugal Porto
N6 Porugal Porto

Train from Porto to Lisbon
N7 Portugal Lisbon day trip to sintra
N8 Portugal Lisbon
N9 Portugal Lisbon

Bus from Lisbon to Seville
N10Spain Seville – flamenco casa de la memoria
N11 Spain Seville – visit Alcazar
N12 Spain Seville

Bus from Seville too Ronda
N13 Spain Ronda /
N14 Spain Ronda

Train Ronda to Cordoba
N15 Spain Cordoba
N16 Spain Cordoba

train from Cordoba to Granada
N17 Spain Granada
N18 Spain Granada – visit Alhambra (book early)
N19 Spain Granada

fly from Granada to Barcelona
N20 Spain Barcelona - day trip to monserrat
N21 Spain Barcelona- vsit La Sagrada Familia
N22 Spain Barcelona
N23 Spain Barcelona

Fly home to Australia

Posted by
19160 posts

What time of year?

I'm confused about the way you've listed your itinerary. I hope your flight into Madrid is on Day 0, flight to Porto is on Day 3, train to Lisbon is on Day 6, bus to Seville is on Day 9, bus to Ronda is on Day 12, train to Cordoba is on Day 14, train to Granada is on Day 16, and flight to Barcelona is on Day 1. However, I doubt that you are flying home on Day 23, so I may well be wrong. Please confirm or correct. If my assumptions are not correct, I don't see how you'll be able to accomplish things like the day trips to Segovia and Sintra if you plan to take those trips on the same days you travel to the new city.

As I believe you probably realize, the ground-transportation links between Spain and Portugal are not great. Although you have a generous (by US standards) 23 days to work with, it is not a huge amount of time if you want to cover the bulk of Spain--from Barcelona to Granada--and also see a bit of Portugal. I do like Portugal, but there's more to see there than Lisbon and Porto, and you don't have as much time at the Spanish stop as the inventory list implies--for example, not 3 full days in Seville.

The bus from Lisbon to Seville looks like a real slog of at least 6 hours, plus you lose an hour due to the change in time zones. And of course you are subjecting yourselves to a couple of airports just 3 or 4 days after arriving on the Iberian Peninsula in order to reach Porto.

Time in Lisbon looks a bit short.

There are day-trips possible from many of your stops that would allow you to see some smaller places, but I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you added more nights to those bases.

Posted by
11 posts

Hello Acraven

We are wanting to travel in September 2020. Yes we are flying into Madrid is Day 0, we are planning to fly out on Day 24, though our days are still flexible at this stage. My day trips are just suggestions for myself at the moment, so not necessary on the day I had listed whups.

I can add another day in Seville if needed - and when I look at my itinerary, Lisbon to Seville does look like a real slog, I may need to look at more options.

Thanks for you opinion about Lisbon.

Posted by
19160 posts

OK; I was worried about the timing of those day-trips but totally understand just dropping them in there as placeholders.

I've been to Portugal twice but both trips were a very long time ago. My memory is that Lisbon (very hilly, which tends to slow one down) has a nice combination of sights to see and opportunities for strolling around picturesque neighborhoods. I'd want more than 2.5 (or so) days with one full day being spent in Sintra--and I've seen people recommend more than one day in Sintra.

I think others have mentioned flights from Lisbon to Seville. would be the place to check. I, personally, hate having to fly mid-trip. I had to do it twice in 2018, but that was a summer-long trip. And still I hated the trips to and from the airports and padding my schedule every step of the way to be absolutely sure I didn't miss the flights. But I'd be tempted to fly to Seville, given the length of the bus ride. Mind you, I haven't done that route and cannot comment on how scenic the bus ride would or would not be.

it could still be quite hot in Andalucía in September, so I congratulate you on pushing that part of the trip toward the end.

Posted by
1273 posts

Looks like a good plan. I've a couple or so of minor comments/suggestions

  • there is a sleeper service between Madrid and Lisboa which is worth considering as an alternative to flying to Porto. Then after Lisbon, you could go to Porto and then fly from Porto to Sevilla (Ryanair currently do the route, though not every day and, of course, routes may have changed by next September). I doubt this saves much time and you'd still have to fly one leg, but we like sleepers and would do it this way just for the experience. But I know others are less keen on night trains for whatever reason.

  • I'd add a night to Sevilla given the many sights & intriguing neighbourhoods it has; even if you run out of sights (unlikely, I'd think), there are several worthwhile day-trip options such as Jerez, Carmona or, a bit further, the wonderful Cadiz.

  • just outside Sevilla is Italica (which, admittedly I wasn't hugely impressed by, but my expectations may have been off; my wife enjoyed it more than I did), and just outside Cordoba is Medina Azahara (which we both loved). Either of these are easy morning trips worth considering in your planning.

Posted by
3789 posts

Are flights bought? I would have liked to suggest to fly to Lisbon and leave from Barcelona. Lisbon - Porto - Madrid - Seville....and pick up your trip as planned. Alternatively, .....Madrid, Granada, Ronda, Seville and fly to Barcelona from Seville. This would alleviate the overnight train from Lisbon and flipping between countries (and languages).
If you are not aware, the high speed train is now running from Granada to Barcelona, so is now a shorter and practical alternative to the flight.
I also would have liked to see one more day in Madrid to help with jet lag and still allow for your 2 day trips. If you consider staying near Atocha station, you are handy for your day trips, the museums are down the Passeo, and then there are the joys of the Botanical Gardens, Retiro spaces that I think those who don't like Madrid never get to see. I loved Madrid, but I didn't stay near the Plaza. I had a little apartment 3 short blocks from Atocha.
If flights booked, then I don't have much else to offer.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you Nick

We will definitely look at the sleeper service, I have no problems with them. Plus I will add on a extra day in Seville.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you MariaF

None of our flights are booked yet. We are planning to spend time in Amsterdam and Edinburgh visiting family before heading down to Spain/Portugal for our holiday, so we will be well and truly over our jetlag by then.

We will look into the high speed train too, that will be a great alternative. And also thanks for your Madrid advice, much appreciated.

Posted by
11 posts

Hello MariaF

Just checking with the high speed train, is that available on the Renfe site?

Posted by
19160 posts

Yes, the Renfe website will list the high-speed trains in and out of Granada, as well as those between other pairs of Spanish cities.

Posted by
4934 posts

Too many places and not enough time for each.

You need more time in Madrid, Seville (especially Seville) and Lisbon.

Also, consider flying into Seville, spend one night in Cordoba then two nights in Granada, skip Ronda. Fly to Barcelona, then train to Madrid, then Porto and Lisbon.

Posted by
2422 posts

I would skip Ronda to add a few days here and there - Lisbon and Barcelona probably.

Posted by
1273 posts

There's currently only one direct train per day between Granada and Barcelona (perhaps there'll be more by next September?), and it takes over six hours. There are a few more options if you change, for example in Madrid, but they will be even longer journeys. Personally, I'd fly this route unless you want to take the train just for the journey/experience (but it's hardly The Ghan!). Railway travel is often better than going by aeroplane, but in this case flying would be preferable, I think.

Posted by
11 posts

I am loving these suggestions, its making me think of what I really want to do.

Geovagriffith - Thank you for your suggestions, I had been thinking of skipping Ronda and now have received your recommendation plus others.

Balso - thank you about Ronda - I know when I travel I cant see everything... so your suggestion is welcome.

Nick - thanks for your comments, for some reason I thought the high speed train would be about 2 hours, so will definitely look at flying.

Posted by
3789 posts

My understanding was that the high speed was running and about 4 hours, but it isn't showing those options on Renfe at the moment. Even at 4 hours, thought similar timing as a flight (considering airport times), it puts you downtown so a slight advantage for convenience.
Some people love Ronda and the road trip.

Posted by
11 posts

I am also looking at this itinerary which may also work:

Fly to Lisbon from Amsterdam
Train to Porto 2hr 44m
Fly to Seville 1hr 15m
Bus to Granada 3hrs ?
Train to Cordoba 1hr 19m
Train to Madrid 1hr 48m
Train to Barcelona 2hr30m

Fly home to Australia

Posted by
19160 posts

That looks like a logical path, assuming there's a suitable flight from Porto to Seville.

Posted by
14399 posts

First, is there any possibility to postpone your trip to October? Andalucia is hot in September. While you're probably used to the heat, there's a difference between being a local (indoors mostly) and a tourist (outside all day, little shade, lots of physical activity). Just sayin . . .

Consider skipping Madrid. Of all the places on your itinerary, it's the least interesting city, unless you want to spend a couple of days at the wonderful art museums.

And as acraven says, check the flights between Portugal and Spain. Go to the wiki pages for Porto and Lisbon airports, and see the airlines and destinations for each. I've found the info to be about 95% accurate

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you Chani for your comments.

As our dates are still flexible, we will look at either September/October, as I do like to do a few walks, I'm thinking October may be better as slightly cooler, I may need to be a bit patience.

One of my good friends has just returned from Madrid and knows me well, has also suggested I leave out Madrid, so we shall see.

Thanks once again, bring on next year!

Posted by
11 posts

I have gone onto TAP Air Portugal official website and it looks like they have regular flights throughout the day from Porto to Lisbon for 35 Euro which is pretty good.

Posted by
2575 posts

My Portuguese friends in Lisbon always complain that flights from almost anywhere in Europe to Lisbon tend to be expensive or 'far more expensive' than travelling similar distances but to other destinations -which I agree.

So it's a good idea to simulate different scenarios for the flights (ie. Amsterdam-Madrid instead) and see how the overall cost fluctuates and then consider train itineraries instead for the shorter legs of your journey. Sometimes might be worth reconsidering, others won't.

Also, as a general rule of thumb, flights between second-tier airports tend to be more expensive than between second-tier and first-tier airports. Saying so because I see a Porto-Seville suggestion above...

Posted by
14399 posts

Porto-Lisbon is easy by high-speed train and may not be worth the hassles of air travel.

Posted by
4620 posts

Do consider visiting Spain or Portugal on this trip. Both of these countries have much to offer besides the cities you’ve chosen.

If you’re completely set on visiting both countries, I think your second itinerary looks better than the first one you posted.

Regarding your comment here, did you mean to write, Porto to Seville?

I have gone onto TAP Air Portugal official website and it looks like they have regular flights throughout the day from Porto to Lisbon for 35 Euro which is pretty good.

As Chani has mentioned, there are frequent high-speed trains traveling from Porto to Lisbon, and vice versa.

You can also save money by booking your train tickets in advance.

Enjoy your trip planning!

Posted by
19160 posts

Those extreme-bargain airfares are typically available only if the tickets are bought very early. If you wait quite some time before purchasing, you may find the fare has doubled or even tripled, plus there may be luggage fees no matter when you buy the tickets.

Posted by
509 posts

Going to Córdoba and then back down to Granada seems like backtracking. From Ronda go to Granada then from there to Barcelona, taking a flight

Tack on another day or two to Madrid or Seville and go to Córdoba for the day via train.

There is much to do in Madrid, especially if you like museums and good food.