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Portugal, Spain, Morocco 3 weeks in summer 2020

Hello Travel Fellows
I am looking for any guidance you may have on our summer family trip - 2 adults, 2 teen girls. We are coming from Chicago, IL and planning to travel to Portugal, Spain, and Morocco over 3 weeks mid-June to July. We like to have "home bases" when possible and not be in a new city every night. My initial thought is to fly to Lisbon and drive southern Portugal, then to Morocco (not any ideas yet) and then back to Southern Spain (definitely Granada and Seville). I am running into challenges trying to figure out how to get to one location from the other -- how to get from Faro, Portugal to Morroco and then figuring out which city in Spain will be easiest, cheapest to fly home. Any thoughts on places in the general area or travel tips getting between countries would be most welcome.

Also -We plan to stay at Airbnb's when possible.

Thank you!

Posted by
1524 posts

oakpark305 - Madrid will be the cheapest city in Spain to fly home. Fly into Lisbon and fly out of Madrid to head home. Are you planning to rent a car in Portugal to explore the smaller cities heading toward Porto? It's easier logistically to head to Morocco from the Spain side then Portugal side unless you plan to fly to Morocco from Portugal. Is Tangiers the city you plan on visiting in Morocco? You can actually start your trip from Porto. Land in Lisbon then take train to Porto next day. From Porto you work your way up back to Lisbon and visit the smaller towns. For 3 weeks, I would set up the itinerary like this. Also, I would skip Morocco and just focus on Portugal and Spain. You don't want to squeeze in too many places in one visit.

Land in Lisbon then train to Porto.


Porto - 3 Days

Coimbra - 2 Days

Tomar - 2 Days

Lisbon - 3 Days


Seville - 4 Days

Granada - 2 Days

Cordoba - 2 Days

Madrid - 3 Days

Posted by
18746 posts

I would agree with RJean--you absolutely don't have time for a good visit to Morocco. Tangier is a very poor introduction to Morocco. You should postpone Morocco until you have time to visit places like Fes and Marrakech, which have flights from major European cities.

Spain is a very large country and has enough attractive destinations to fill more than 3 months, much less three weeks. Splitting your time between Portugal and Spain will require you to be extremely selective in the places you go in each country. Personally, I would choose one or the other.

The limited ground-transportation links between Portugale and Spain are a problem for all travelers who want to visit both countries on the same trip. It will cost a great deal of money if you rent a car in one country and drop it off in the other; the international drop charge is usually many hundreds of euros. The only rail service between Lisbon and Madrid is a night train. There's bus service across the southern part of the border, between Faro and Seville. There's both bus and rail service (but infrequent) across the northern border between Porto and Vigo/Santiago de Compostela.

If you absolutely must tackle both countries this year, I recommend that you skip the Algarve. It's far from the most interesting part of Portugal, and you don't have enough time even for the top Iberian destinations.

Also, be aware that most of Spain and much of Portugal are deathly hot in the summer. Be very sure you know what you're signing up for if you go to Seville/Cordoba/Granada and to a slightly lesser extent if you include Madrid aand surroundings. You can find actual, day-by-day, historical weather statistics for potential destinations on the website

Weather aside, you need to consult guidebooks to see what places you are most interested in. Much depends on your personal interests.

Posted by
1524 posts

I agree completely with Acraven's point of view on Spain and Portugal.

Posted by
582 posts

I agree with RJean and acraven that you don't have the time to visit 3 countries in 3 weeks. So I recommend either spending all 3 weeks in Spain OR split the time between Spain and Portugal. Perhaps 2 weeks in Spain and 1 week in Portugal, or 1.5 weeks in Spain and 1.5 weeks in Portugal, depending on your interests and what you want to see and do.

I also want to repeat what acraven said about the heat in Spain, and especially in Andalusia. I LOVE Andalusia but we went in September 2017. We had 80's in Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, and Granada, and low 90's in Seville. We were in Seville in late September. Please look at weather data sites. It is very common to have temps in the 90's to 100's in Andalusia during the summer. I THINK, but not sure, Barcelona may be a little bit cooler but I hear it's very humid. When I was planning our trip, I read trip reports from people who were in Andalusia during the summer months, and they talked about being drenched in sweat after 10 minutes outside. If you still decide on Andalusia, make sure you have hotels with pools, leave early in the morning for sightseeing, then return in the afternoon for swimming in the pool and to cool off in your air-conditioned hotel/apartment. Then return for sightseeing in the evening.


Lisbon - 4 nights
Sintra - 1 or 2 nights
Cascais - on the water - might be cooler - could spend a day here or stay overnight.
I haven't been anywhere else in Portugal so can't really comment


Seville - 4 nights minimum or 5 nights
Granada - 2 or 3 nights (might be a bit cooler since it's in the mountains)
Cordoba - 2 nights
Malaga - 2 or 3 nights - on the Mediterranean so might be cooler, and you can cool off in the water. Malaga was the coolest place on our trip, in the high 70's (mid to late September). It's an under-rated city; we loved it; there is sightseeing but as I already said, it could be a place to cool off and it's nice to have some coastal ambience.
Madrid - 3 or 4 nights, especially if you like art museums. And the museums will be air-conditioned, so a place to get some respite from the heat.

You can fly from Lisbon to Seville via TAP Airlines.
Use the trains or buses to all destinations in Spain unless you want to see the white hill towns, where a car would be better.
You can fly home from Malaga or Madrid.

Posted by
1524 posts

kmkwoo - I like how you gave a detail overview of Andalusia and the options you suggested to the poster. Good Job!

Posted by
4834 posts

Skip Morocco, you really can't do Spain and Portugal well enough in 3 weeks.

Don't miss Seville, Toledo, Madrid, Segovia, Barcelona and Granada for Spain. For Portugal, Lisbon, Sintra, Evora, Obidos, Bathila Cathedral, Cascais and Porto (take the train up the Douro Valley to Regua for one night.

Posted by
582 posts

RJean, thank you! I appreciate your compliment, especially since you are obviously well traveled!

Posted by
2 posts

Wow -- thanks for the responses! Need some time to digest and then may reach out again!