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Asistance firming up itinerary to Spain--->Lisbon

We will be traveling to Spain arriving in Madrid in June. We will be flying out of Lisbon to head back to the US.
Would love help narrowing down/cleaning up our itinerary. So far this is what I have. Are there places that I should take off or swap? Is this the best route? Only thing that is locked in so far is that we arrive in Madrid and leaving out of Lisbon. Are there any areas that I could cut done on the # of hotel switching if possible. We are a family of 4 (2 adults/2 kids (17, 12)

Traveling via train. Plan to fly from Barcelona to Lisbon

June

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid Spain-City Tour
Day 2: Madrid: Day trip to Toledo and/or Seqovia
Day 3: Madrid (leave for Cordoba), then to Seville
Day 4: Seville (full day)
Day 5: Seville to Granada (day trip)
Day 6: Seville to Valencia
Day 7: Valencia (full day)
Day 8: Valencia to Barcelona
Day 9: Barcelona (full day)
Day 10: Barcelona (full day)
Day 11: Leave Barcelona and fly to Lisbon
Day 12: Lisbon
Day 13: Lisbon
Day 14: Return to Washington DC

Posted by
578 posts

I’m sorry but I don’t like your itinerary at all. You are visiting 8 places in basically 12 days. You will be jet lagged on your arrival day, and that is your only day in Madrid unless you skip Toledo and Segovia. You have one full day in Seville which is not nearly enough. You need at least 3 full days to properly see Seville. Granada as a day trip from Seville is a very long day. Don’t know anything about Valencia. YOu have only 2 days in Barcelona, which is a large city with lots of important sites that need to be pre-booked in advance.

I would drop Valencia (not as important as other cities) and drop Barcelona (an outlier). It’s too bad you have made your airline reservations. If you hadn’t, I would also drop Lisbon and concentrate on Madrid and Andalusia.

Madrid’s most important sites are its outstanding art museums. If you love art, spend 3 nights in Madrid and one night in Toledo. If you don’t love art, then maybe 2 nights in Madrid and one night in Toledo. Then 4 nights in Seville, 1 or 2 nights in Córdoba, 2 nights in Granada, and 2 nights in Lisbon, which is not enough for Lisbon. Another possibility is to visit Córdoba as a day trip from Seville, and then add those nights to Lisbon.

Posted by
2036 posts

The first impression is that this itinerary is unrealistic. I don't think you have taken to account jet lag, transportation time, and the summer heat, this will all take a toll on a family of four with kids, I'm afraid this will turn into a death march by the end, rather than a fun holiday lol! I would not count on seeing all of Madrid on you arrival day, nor try to day trip to both Toledo and Segovia on only you second day, nor daytriping to Granada etc. I also think that combining Portugal and Spain is not so practical as many people think. Just breaking it down:

(original itinerary)
Madrid (2 nights) - day trip to Segovia and Toledo
AVE Train south, stop a Cordoba
Sevilla (3 nights) - day trip to Granada
Valencia (2 nights)
Barcelona (3 nights)
Lisboa (3 nights)

My first thought is to drop Valencia and Lisboa, that should free up a much need 5 nights add those to Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada:

(new itinerary)
Madrid (3 nights) - day trip to Segovia OR Toledo (pick one)
AVE train south, stop at Cordoba
Sevilla (3 nights)
Granada (2 nights)
fly to
Barcelona (5 nights) - day trip of choice
fly out of Barcelona

Posted by
578 posts

Carlos, they have already made their trans-Atlantic airline reservations so they are locked into flying into Madrid and home from Lisbon. That’s why I suggest they drop Valencia and Barcelona.

Posted by
417 posts

I also think that you have too many places packed in here. I would do Madrid 3 nights- train to Granada 3 nights - train or bus to Seville 4 nights (day trip to Cordoba) - fly to Lisbon 3 nights. Fly home.

Make sure your hotel/apartments have ac, and your kids would probably appreciate a pool. It will be hot!

Posted by
2036 posts

kmkwoo - ah I see thank you for the clarification, one could also drop Andalucia completely, it's going to be hot as hell there anyway in summer, and focus on seeing Madrid (maybe add 2 nights to Toledo), Valencia, and Barcelona properly, then fly to Lisboa, and save Andalucia for a better time ;-)

Posted by
7 posts

Wow, looks like I really missed the mark on this one and was trying to be a little to ambitious. I think I realized it was a bit much while trying to juggle the days. Modifications below. However, I don't like the 9 hour travel from Seville to Barcelona. What other options do I have. Keeping in mind starting in Madrid and leaving from Lisbon. This will be our first trip to Spain and we are all easy travelers.

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid
Day 2: Madrid
Day 3: Madrid
Day 4: Seville
Day 5: Seville
Day 6: Seville
Day 7: Barcelona
Day 8: Barcelona
Day 9: Barcelona
Day 10: Barcelona
Day 11: Leave Barcelona and fly to Lisbon
Day 12: Lisbon
Day 13: Lisbon
Day 14: Return to Washington DC

Posted by
5010 posts

I have bad news. The biggest problem I see is that your route makes no logical sense - you're going (roughly) from the center of Iberia (Madrid) to its extreme eastern edge (Barcelona), then all the way to its western edge (Lisbon).

Geographically speaking, your plan is like visiting the USA by starting in Chicago, then hitting Milwaukee or St. Louis (all in the middle), going next to New York (extreme east coast), then going to Los Angeles (extreme west coast). That's an extremely inefficient use of your time (not to mention crazy).

You have locked yourself into Madrid and Lisbon. OK. Then you know what makes the most sense to salvage a tolerable itinerary? Drop Barcelona. Yep. Despite its pull, Barcelona is a geographic outlier -- it's not anywhere near the rest of your trip, it might as well be in Italy or France. Save Barcelona for another trip (in fact, maybe a trip to France or Italy, as it's close to them). Also skip Valencia, as it's not as interesting to fast-paced tourists as many other stops.

Fly in to Madrid (you say you have to). Pick from Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Granada -- all roughly clustered within regional striking distance of Madrid, and thus more efficient. Then head for Lisbon (you say you have to). Fly home from there.

Posted by
3025 posts

Just to amplify Carlos’s comment on heat in Andalusia in June. Many years ago, a friend and I were in Seville in mid-June. We had checked temperature records and saw that the average highs were mid-90s for that time. We thought, “we can do that,” willfully blinding ourselves to the fact that we knew the actual temps could be much higher. In the event, it reached over 100 every day, 107 one of them. I would never go to Andalusia again June through August.

Posted by
417 posts

I checked train schedules and flight schedules for Seville to Barcelona for (2/22/20 at random):

Train is 5hr 35 min for $97/each
Flight is 1hr 40 min for $43 each

I’d fly from Seville to Barcelona.

Posted by
2560 posts

You have 12 full days. Barcelona and the surrounding area is beautiful with a lot of fantastic sights. I would save that corner of Spain for another trip. Valencia is an ok city but not as special or interesting as others. I would skip it. Start off in Madrid and you’ll have enough time to visit both Toledo and Segovia. Then leave for 2 nights in Cordoba before heading to Seville. Then fly to Lisbon.

Madrid, Seville and Lisbon have so much to see and do that you’d be doing yourself an injustice to speed through them. Savor them. Rick advises that travelers should take a vacation from your vacation. I’d find a resort type hotel in Cordoba and rest and chill for the better part of a day.

Day 1: Arrive in Madrid Spain-City Tour
Day 2: Madrid: Day trip to Toledo and/or Segovia
Day 3: Madrid
Day 4: Madrid
Day 5: Madrid (leave for Cordoba) Sleep in Cordoba
Day 6: Cordoba
Day 7: Leave Cordoba for Seville
Day 8: Seville
Day 9: Seville to Granada
Day 10: Seville to Lisbon
Day 11: Lisbon
Day 12: Lisbon
Day 13: Lisbon
Day 14: Return to Washington DC

Posted by
14222 posts

Have you traveled in Europe before? with the kids? What do you most want to see and do?

Day trips can be an efficient way to see a lot or very tiring. For instance, it's a 1/2 hour on the train to Toledo. But you first have to get everyone up and out, then get to the train station, allow 15 minutes to find the platform, go through security (usually fast) and board the train. Spanish trains close their doors 2 minutes before departure. When you get to Toledo, you still have to get from the station to the center. Figure at least 2 hours travel time for the day. Allow for the heat - last June, high temps in Toledo ranged from 91F on the 1st to 77F on the 15th to 104F on the 28th. Madrid was about the same, Sevilla hotter. That means breaks to rest and cool off, remember: while you're out and about there's little shade.

Barcelona is generally less hot but noticeably more humid.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that Barcelona should be removed and saved for another trip. I was trying to see/do as much as possible. I like what Philip started so I'll work on tweaking that for now. I'll be sure to save some time in Lisbon to relax at the beach.

Posted by
461 posts

CMK308, staying put in one place and doing day trips is better than hoping from town to town due to the time you loose in travel. Think about day trips from Madrid, Lisbon, Seville to expand your experiences. Have fun

Posted by
1220 posts

Since you're in tweaking mode, might I suggest some changes to Philip's itinerary?

Day 1 - don't take a tour, but relax and explore the city on your own. If you want an organised city tour I'd delay it until you're rested.
Day 2 - chose either Toledo "or" Segovia and don't try "and". By public transport you'll be wasting a lot of time travelling between Toledo/Segovia/Madrid. Even with an organised coach tour, I think you'll be short-changing both Toledo and Segovia.

Then on day 5 go from Madrid to Granada by fast train and on day 7 go from Granada to Sevilla. Instead of a day trip to Granada on day 9, take a day-trip to Cordoba, which is much closer and has many more connections so you can stay longer in Cordoba from Sevilla than you can in Granada.

Alternatively, leave Madrid on day 4 and then have two nights in Granada, one in Cordoba and still arrive in Sevilla on day 7. Sevilla is Spain's best city and really needs at least two, ideally three or four, full days plus arrival day.

Posted by
2036 posts

If your terminus in Spain ends up being Sevilla in the new itinerary, rather than Barcelona, then you may not need to fly to Lisboa, although ground connection between Spain and Protugal are limited, there is an ALSA bus that goes from Sevilla to Lisboa in 5.5 hrs, in the event you would not like to navigate more airports.

Posted by
18082 posts

I'm a big fan of day-trips. I take a lot of them so I can justify longer stays at each stop. However, i want to point out that when you visit Andalucia in June, there's an excellent chance you'll need to head to a nicely air conditioned place for a break in the afternoon. Normally that place would be your hotel. If you're on a day-trip, there may not be a convenient place for that needed respite.

I fear that you are not considering as seriously as you should the likelihood that you'll encounter day after day of miserable heat in Madrid and Andalucia.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone for the comments. Please keep them coming. I am still in the planning stages so I'm taking all comments into consideration. If you have recommendations on places to stay while in Madrid & Seville with a nice pool, I would love to hear about them. I understand that June is not an ideal month. However, it's a graduation present to my son before heading off to college in the Fall.