I'll be staying in Portugal this July for 1 week and then Spain for another week. Thinking about in what city I should have my "home base" in Spain. Madrid comes to mind first. We're not serious art lovers, our tastes are more towards architecture, history and scenery.
Brian - Seville Spain will be your best bet. That city has architecture, history and scenery which fit what you are looking for. From Lisbon Portugal , you can hop on a bus and within 2 hrs, you are in Seville.
If you truly want to be base in Madrid, then take the train from Lisbon to Salamanca Spain. From there, take a connecting train from Salamanca to Madrid.
Spain is a big country so having a “home base”, which I guess means day trips is pretty difficult. From Madrid you could visit Segovia and Toledo, but Madrid itself may not fit your likes. It’s a modern capital with some architecture, history and great art museums. If art is not your thing, i’d skip it. The Andalusia area would be great except that time of year it can get really hot. If that does not bother you spread out your week between Granada, Sevilla and Córdoba. Other than that, for a slightly cooler climate in a city filled with architecture pick Barcelona.
I stayed in Madrid as a home base for a 10 day trip and loved it. The city itself is a pleasure to walk around and has so many different neighborhoods to explore. The train station is easy to navigate, making day trips a breeze. We even did a day trip to Cordoba which was 100% worth it. If you are interested in architecture, the Mezquita of Cordoba cannot be missed! If you get a direct train without the transfers, the trip is between 2 and 3 hours each way.
I found the Spanish to be really friendly - have a great time :)
Now you are in luck because "architecture, history and scenery" is about 95% of Spain lol! July will be very hot anywhere south of Madrid, even Madrid itself could suffer from a heatwave or two during any given week during the high summer months. So I'd recommend somewhere north of Madrid.
Have you considered Northern Spain aka "Green Spain"? I'd recommend maybe staying a week in Bilbao and branching out from there exploring the Basque Country, maybe some hiking in the spectacular Pyrenees mountains. Or spend a week in Santiago de Compostela and explore the lush countryside of the Galicia region, steeped in Celtic culture and myth.
From Lisbon Portugal , you can hop on a bus and within 2 hrs, you are in Seville.
Rjean, I think you'll find the bus travel times from Lisboa to Sevilla are closer to 5 hours, under 2 hrs seems very generous considering it takes 1 hr to fly between the two lol!
Where in Portugal are you spending your week? That'll make a difference to where in Spain is convenient. Also where do you need to be to fly home?
I'll be staying in the Cascais/Estoril area in Portugal. I'll be flying into Lisbon. I live in the U.S.