Hi - we will be traveling to Spain in April (Holy Week) to visit our daughter in Leon - beginning and ending in Lisbon. Total time is 8 days/9 nights. As noted, Leon is a "must" - while I already have an itinerary, i.e. Lisbon, Sintra, Evora, Toledo, Madrid, Salamanca, Leon and Porto, I am open to making changes; and would love to get everyone's thoughts as to best maximize our time and destinations - especially given our limited time and impact of Holy Week. Thank you.
Are you renting a car?
You itinerary seems a bit rushed, IMO... can I suggest that you drop Toledo and Madrid?
You could drive this loop:
Lisbon (side trip Sintra), Evora, (stop in Merida or Caceres), Salamanca, Leon, the Douro Valley and Porto, (stop in Coimbra), back to Lisbon - or the reverse.
Thank you. Yes, as of now we are driving.
I really don't think that you could do this trip without a car...
If your flight arrives in Lisbon, I would head straight to Sintra for the first night and make sure to keep 2 nights for Lisbon at the end (if you want one full day and evening to enjoy the city). From Sintra, head to (Porto or Evora) for the 2nd night, depending on the direction of your loop.
This takes up a minimum of 4 nights off your total. The remaining 5 nights are then to be allocated to Salamanca, Leon and (Porto or Evora).
Evora has an interesting chapel of skulls, has visible Roman ruins and a very pretty pousada (part of an old convent and worth the splurge IMO). There's also an ancient stone circle just outside the city. This is the land of olive and cork tree groves.
The road from Merida north to Salamanca follows an ancient Roman road. Merida has a an excellent small museum and a very well preserved Roman site to visit. It's well worth a stop on the way. This road runs along the pilgrimage road to Santagio from Southern Spain, the 'Ruta de la Plata'. On your way to Salamanca, there's at least one spot where you can stop and see the original Roman road. This region breeds the famous black bulls of Spain and is also a winter nesting area for storks - you'll be able to spot their big nests.
Salamanca is the site of one of Europe's earliest universities and Zamora's historic center is very worth a making stop for, between Salamanca and Leon.
Between Leon and Porto is some mountainous terrain. Close to Porto lies the Douro Valley - it is a very beautiful drive! The vineyards slope towards the river and you can stop in on your way.
Are you meeting up with your daughter in Lisbon?
Diane - Yes.
I am traveling to Spain that same week( 8 days). I am just now starting the detailed planning. Are there any special considerations given the Holy Week? I know we want to visit Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Grenada and Seville.