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Spain/Portugal 15 day Trip

Hello Everyone,

Please provide your feed for the following trip from east cost USA to Spain and Portugal. It is about 15 or 16 days and travelling with family of four with college bound kids who loves history and science. Arriving on Jun, 16, 2019 to July, 4, 2019.

Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Faro, Lisbon, and Porto

Spain - Barcelona - 2.5 days

- Arriving BCN @ Noon time to do late afternoon or evening tour
- Nick Lloyd's Tour tour through historic Barcelona, tells the story of the role of Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War
- Pedraforca mountain outside the city
- La Rambla historic pedestrian street
- Placa de Cataluyna center of downtown, lots of streets meet here
- Basilica of the Sagrada Familia historic cathedral
- Barri Gotic old historic quarter, dates to Roman times
- Placa de Rius i Taulet scenic location downtown
- Font Magica large famous fountain, does a show every 30 min
- Jardins de Llucmajor large outdoor gardens
From Barcelona To Madrid Need suggestion on how/when to depart from via Train/Bus/Plane

Spain - Madrid - 2 days

- Retiro Park urban park surrounding a lake
- Prado National Museum art museum, one of the largest in the world
- Royal Palace of Madrid Spanish monarch's historic palace
- Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza art museum, more modern
- Gran Via shopping district
- Palacio de Cibeles famous building, home of the city council
- Puerta del Sol downtown plaza
- Plaza Mayor plaza full of shops and restaurants
Spain - Toledo - 1 Day

- Trip to Toledo

Spain - Segovia 1 Day

- Trip to Segovia
- old city outside Madrid, castle of Isabella I
From Madrid/Toledo to Seville - Need suggestion on how/when to depart from via Train/Bus/Plane

Spain - Seville - 2 Days

- Real Alcazar Moorish palace/fort
- Torre Giralda observation deck
- Plaza de Espana historic park and square with lots of shops and fountains
- Barrio Santa Cruz old Jewish quarter of the city, lots of shops, pedestrian streets
From Seville To Cordoba - Need suggestion on how/when to depart from via Train/Bus/Plane

Spain - Cordoba 1 Day

- Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba Church that was once a mosque, largest in city
- Juderia old Jewish quarter, shops, restaurants
- Peunte Romano Roman bridge that connects the Mezquita and Juderia
From Cordoba To Granada Need suggestion on how/when to depart from via Train/Bus/Plane

Spain - Granada 1 Day

- The Alhambra largest Islamic fort in the world, palace-city of Moorish design
- Albayzin Old Moorish quarter, World Heritage Site
- Generalife Massive gardens, outside of the Alhambra
From Granada To Ronda Need suggestion on how/when to depart from via Train/Bus/Plane

Spain - Ronda 1 One Day Visit Or Arcros

From Ronda To Faro - Need suggestion on how/when to depart from via Train/Bus/Plane

Portugal - Faro 1 Day
- Need to know what can be done ?

From Faro To Lisbon - Need suggestion on how/when to depart from via Train/Bus/Plane

Portugal - Lisbon 2 Days

- Alfama Historical district, home to castle of Sao Jorge, Lisbon Cathedral
- Jerminos Monastery historical monastery, Vasco de Gama's tomb
- Calouste Gulbenkian Museum art museum, outdoor gardens
- Bairro Alto Literally "Upper District", historic district with shops and restaurants
- Miradouro da Senhora do Monte scenic viewpoint, can see whole city from here
- Praca do Comercio (Terreiro do Paco) downtown square
- Chiado shopping district
- Torre de Belem historic tower, monument to Age of Discovery
Portugal - Porto 0.5 Days

- Porto Famous for port wine

Total Days 15 Days

Again, thank you very much in advance for helping us out.

Posted by
5385 posts

Barcelona to Madrid is a train.
Buy those asap for the best price usually they open for sale 3 months in advance:
Madrid to Toledo and Segovia are day trips on the train from Madrid.
Madrid to Cordoba to Seville to Granada all by train.
There is only bus service from Seville to Faro.
You can take a train to Lisbon from Faro.

You have too many destinations for 15 days for this to be an enjoyable trip

Posted by
4150 posts

You have too many destinations for 15 days for this to be an enjoyable trip

Yep, what Jazz said.

Here's a sign that you are trying to squeeze in too many places: when you start slicing days up, allocating less than a day here and there - that's usually an indication that you need to step back and dial it down at least a bit.

You are also making the Number One mistake: failing to account for the time it takes to get up, check out of where you slept last night, get to someplace new, and get settled there. Even on the most efficiently-connected pair of cities, even for experienced travelers, this eats up half your day (sometimes more). Ad to that the basic, mundane life tasks you need to do every day, and there goes almost the whole day. That's why one-night-stands kill your trip, and you have too many of them.

Also: it's a common mistake to look at a map, and assume that Portugal and Spain are easily and quickly connected, like say Belgium and the Netherlands. Nope. It's much more time-consuming to connect between these two countries than most first-time visitors expect.

Finally...I believe you have failed to account for something rather important: flying home. Where are you departing from, and how/when are you getting there?

Bottom line: I think you need to cut more than a few locations.

Posted by
2770 posts

In Andalusia, you will spend more time in transit than you will be sightseeing. And this from a person that travels at a pretty fast clip. If you rank all those wonderful cities in order of historical interest, in my opinion, Madrid is last. That might be a first place to cut unless you are super, super interested in the Prado. Portugal is on my bucket list, so I can't contribute much, there, but you are not spending enough time to merit going there, when you seem to be short of time in Barcelona, Cordoba, Granada , Sevilla and the white villages, or at least that would be my opinion. You will want to prepurchase many of the tickets. Almost everything in Barcelona, the Alhambra in Granada and the Alcazar in Sevilla. The Toledo trains seem to sell out at the beginning and the end of the day. The tickets are cheap, but I would purchase at least a few days in advance.

Posted by
2770 posts

Also, it will be relatively hot and people will move slower

Posted by
45 posts

Agree with others who say this is too much for time allowed. If you were taking a land tour by bus with everything included you might be able to make this itinerary. I couldn't do it. I would recommend two trips, one to Portugal and one to Spain. Or cut your trip to Spain into two trips.

You might also go from Madrid to Toledo to Cordoba to Granada to Ronda to Seville. Drop Faro if you still want to go to Lisbon.

Portugal is a wonderful two week trip. You would be missing a beautiful country. Just Google UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal.

Posted by
1896 posts

You can’t do justice to all of these places in the time you have. Forget about combining Spain and Portugal. They look close on the map but you’ll spend a precious day flying from one to another. Even sticking to Spain alone your itinerary is quite ambitious. Take a look at the Rick Steves Best of Spain tour. Consider it. Yes, it’s pricey but it is a fabulous tour that incorporates much of what you want to see in two weeks. You can try to mirror this but you’ll find the transportation challenging. Otherwise narrow your trip: Barcelona (deserves more time), Madrid (if you love art the Prado alone is worth it), Toledo (stay overnight if you can), Granada, Sevilla, day trip to Cordoba. Fly into Barcelona, home from Sevilla.

Posted by
16 posts

Hello Jazz+Travels, David, Jules M, Steve,
Thank you all for your suggestions. I completely agree on travel time was not consider in this first try. I looked at the train schedules and it takes about 8 hours to go from Barcelona to Madrid so basically one day will be used in that.
We are thinking to dropping off 2 Days off Seville and thinking to add to one day each to Cordoba and Granada.
Also be removing one day from Ronda and will consider to add a travel time some where in trip.
Once again, thank you all.

Posted by
10741 posts

"I looked at the train schedules and it takes about 8 hours to go from Barcelona to Madrid"

Trains from Barcelona Sants station to Madrid Atocha station take 3 hours or less on the AVE high speed trains. The only time these trains are not available is at night. Remember that train websites default to local time, at the time you're looking. So, if it's 7 PM in New York and I go to the Renfe (Spanish rail) website, I get trains for 1 AM the next morning. Be careful to reset the date and time before looking.

However, Madrid to Barcelona is the least of your problems. All of your other transfers are much more time-consuming. I agree with everyone else - you need to cut a bunch of destinations, and unless you've already bought plane tickets, limit your trip to either Spain or Portugal but not both. Don't feel bad - this Spain/Portugal combo issue comes up here at least once a week.

A great way to get a start on finding out how to get between places is Rome2Rio: You should never take it as authoritative on prices or exact times, but it's good for identifying which bus company, train line, etc, services a particular route. You should then go directly to that company's website to get accurate information. You may need Google Translate for some of the bus companies. It's built into the Chrome browser, or you can access it here:

Posted by
13275 posts

I'm unclear about what changes you're thinking about making. The others are right, you really need to completely forget about Portugal. Otherwise, you're going to end up with a great deal of travel time and almost no sightseeing time there, and you really need those days in Spain.

It's best to think of the trip in terms of nights, understanding that you have to spend 2 nights in a city in order to have one full day there.

Barcelona to Madrid by train can take as little as 2 hr. 45 min. (though that doesn't include any of the other activities associated with changing hotels, as already noted). Whatever source is telling you 8 hours is not reliable. For schedules (not fares), I find the Deutsche Bahn website easiest to use. When you're ready to look at fares you'll need Renfe or one of the private companies selling tickets at the standard price. Do not use RailEurope; it could cost you a great deal of extra money to no benefit whatsoever.

I have taken the Civil War tour in Barcelona, and it is excellent. However, as far as I know it is not offered every day. The tour I took departed around 10 AM, I think, and ended at about 2 PM. You'll need to email ahead of time and see when it is available. Although the price is more than fair (I think I paid about 25 euros in 2016), I would never prepay for an activity like that on my arrival day, because I am a virtual zombie after a sleepless night on the plane. Unless you've experienced an overnight transatlantic flight, I suggest that you plan nothing but casual outdoor sightseeing on your arrival day.

Again in Barcelona, I thought the Barri Gotic tour offered by the tourist office was excellent, but I'm not sure how often if is offered.

Posted by
12635 posts

Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda I have eliminated Portugal. If you land on the 16th and depart on the 4th, you have 18 nights and 17 full days - I don't count the day you land since you only have a few hours that day and will spend it mostly just trying to stay awake and get a feel for the city. You have less time if the dates you provided are when you leave and arrive home.

Assuming you flight open-jaw into Barcelona and out of Madrid, the route would be:
Arrive Barcelona
Fly to Granada
Bus to Ronda
Train to Sevilla.
Train to Cordoba
Train to Madrid - day trip to Toledo and Segovia.
Or you could rent a car from Granada to Sevilla, stopping for one or more nights to see the pueblos blancos. You could also reverse the order. You can also day trip to Cordoba from Sevilla.

As others have said, you need to allow about 1/2 day for each transfer. Bear in mind that your family will only move as fast as the slowest person, whoever that may be at any given time, whether somebody doesn't want to get out of bed, or takes a really long morning shower, or dawdles over breakfast, or stops to look at all the enticing souvenirs, or needs a toilet break . . . or just a discussion over where to stop for a cold drink and a snack.

This sounds like a really busy schedule. If you've done similar trips together before, it could work out. Most of us like to build in down time, both by not overscheduling each day and by having one or two unscheduled days. You will probably need to spend some time doing laundry and shopping for toiletries. This is especially true on a longer trip when "travel overload" can set in. If you're cramming in too much and changing locations frequently, sights and experiences can "kaleidoscope" into a blur. It's also more of a factor in summer. Temperatures are likely to be high, not as much in Barcelona but it'll be humid there. High temps in Sevilla in the second half of June last year were 90s to 100. Many sights do not have AC. There's not much shade when you're walking from place to place.

Posted by
776 posts

I would suggest to cut Barcelona and Porto from 15 days trip or else you will be exhausted traveling plus too many 1 overnight stays. You might need another vacation after this one to catch your breath.

Do :

Madrid 4 days (Day Trips to Toledo and Segovia) no need to check in for one night in each city.

Seville 4 Days (Day Trips Arcos De La Frontera and Cordoba)

Ronda 2 Days (Day Trip Granada)

Faro 2 Days (Beach Town)

Lisbon 3 Days (Day Trip to Sintra)

This should make your 15 days manageable

Posted by
13275 posts

I don't consider Granada a reasonable day-trip from Ronda. It's just too far. The 7:53 AM train (not something I would enjoy) takes 3 hours and gets to Granada at 10:55 AM. The 5 PM train back to Ronda also takes 3 hours. That just barely leaves enough time in the middle of the day (when the temperature may well be in the 90s) for the Alhambra and a not-too-leisurely lunch (which would probably fall in the middle of the Alhambra visit, and I don't know what the food options are like at the site). It's important to consider the time it takes to get from the train station to the first sightseeing target and the time required to return to the station far enough ahead of the scheduled departure time to be sure you don't miss your train. There would be no time to see other parts of Granada.

Posted by
7112 posts

Portugal is a mere afterthought in your plan and really not worth the considerable effort for limited time. Forget it this trip.

Best Of Spain Itinerary
With 14/16/18/20 nights

1. ARRIVE Barcelona (4N)
2. Barcelona
3. Barcelona
4. Barcelona
5. Fly to Granada (2N)
6. Visit the Alhambra
7. Train to Seville (4N)
8. Seville
9. Day to Cordoba for the Mezquita
10. Seville
11. Train to Madrid (4N)
12. Madrid
13. Day to Toledo
14. Madrid / Day to Segovia
15. DEPART Madrid

With 16 nights - Add Ronda (2N)
With 18 nights - Add extra nights to Barcelona (1N) & Madrid (1N)
With 20 nights - Add Cordoba (2N) & day trip to Jerez instead from Sevilla

Posted by
128 posts

David's itinerary is great, as usual.

I agree with the others about dropping Portugal. There's more than enough to do in Spain that will easily fill 15 days (or longer).

Granada is definitely not a day-trip option. There's plenty to do there besides visit the Alhambra.

The Albayzin is worth wandering through for several hours. The cathedral and royal chapel are both worth a visit. It's also a great city to catch a glimpse of modern, everyday Spain. In the evening, Granada comes to life in its many wonderful bars and restaurants.

Granada is also quite far and somewhat isolated from many other destinations. It's better to stay at least one night in Granada, if not two nights. It was my favorite city in Spain (though I haven't been to Madrid).