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Suggestions for Southern Spain/Portugal itinerary late Dec to early Jan

Our family (2 adults, and boys 7 and 11) would be reaching Madrid on 25th morning, and heading back to US on Jan 8th. Looking for some recommendations about what the best possible itinerary could be.
Please note that both my kids are really not much into museums, and always prefer to spend some time on the beach whenever possible, so we are open to visit Canary Islands as well. We would be flying to most of the cities unless the distance to the visiting cities is really short.

Posted by
1524 posts

Ramanmahal - Why don't you fly into Lisbon and out of Madrid for your trip. Since kids love the beach scene, Do Lisbon and Algarve region first (Stay in Faro) then take bus to Seville Spain from there. Spend a few nights in Seville. You can continue the journey by visiting Córdoba, and Málaga. Málaga has great beaches. Train to Madrid from Málaga, spend a few nights, then fly home. That should cover your 13 days. Granada can also be an option if you choose to substitute one of the cities I mentioned.

No need to go to Canary islands.

https://www.algarve-tourist.com

https://www.travelchannel.com/roam-blog/great-stays/a-guide-to-spain-s-most-underrated-city-malaga-spain

Posted by
2214 posts

No matter where you go, late Dec early Jan will be far from beach weather, I would not recommend spending your vacation time to get to beaches that are cold, windy, and overall unpleasant during this time. Unfortunately the Algarve will be quite cold, windy, and potentially rainy at this time too, with below 50F weather daily. Other than beaches, what else is your family interested in seeing? Roman History? Christmas Markets? Skiing/Nature?

Know that in Spain we mainly celebrate 3 Kings Day on Jan 6th, so the towns and cities will still be in a very festive mood for your vacation. On the night of Jan 5th the major cities of Spain celebrate with a huge 3 Kings Day Parade which may be fun for the kids. Madrid and Barcelona have particularity good parades.

Posted by
2 posts

Other than beaches, nature, culture, roman history, outdoor activities should be good.

Posted by
1524 posts

For nature, culture , roman history and outdoor excursions:

Lisbon - Culture, history and outdoor activities

Algarve - Nature, outdoor activities

Seville - History, culture, activities, Roman History (Roman Ruins of Italica in Seville)

Malaga - History, culture, nature, outdoor activities, Roman History (Roman Theater in Malaga)

Granada - History, Culture, activities, Moorish castle (Alhambra)

Cordoba - Culture, and activities

Posted by
2291 posts

There is NO beach scene in mainland Spain / Portugal in December-January.
So if beach and outdoorsy weather is high on the agenda, the Canary Islands are recommended. I have only been to Tenerife, where the beaches are so-so but the scenery and variety of outdoor stuff are incredible.

Posted by
1524 posts

If you choose to go to Tenerife then Playa de las Americas is the best. It's in the Santa Cruz province of Tenerife with an excellent location. it's quite warm. Its about 26 C in the day .. about 24-26 C. It the evening it gets a little cooler around 17 degrees or so. But its Lovely.

Posted by
4766 posts

Nowhere in mainland Europe will have beach weather until March. The weather will be better in the Canary Islands, but (a) you have left it very late to book flights and accommodation there and (b) there are more flights to the Canaries from the U.K. than from Spain or Portugal! The best island for sandy beaches is Fuerteventura.

Links between Spain and Portugal are not great for public transport. You maybe better limiting your trip to Spain. Madrid will be cold at that time of year. The south of Spain will be milder - Cadiz, Seville and Granada for history, Jerez for horses and sherry and the white villages.

If you also want to see Portugal, I wouldn’t recommend the Algarve in December, which is all about the beaches and golf, but head to Lisbon, where there is more to do if the weather is inclement. Faro wouldn’t be my recommendation to stay at any time of year, as Tavira and Lagos have more to offer.

RJean’s Tenerife temperature predictions are way too optimistic for December - 20 degrees daytime is average.

Posted by
2214 posts

RJean, you may want to double check your info, Santa Cruz de Tenerife averaged between 12-18 celsius in late December last year, quite coolish by my standards ;-)

Personally, with 13 nights available, I would do a bit of grand tour of Andalucia:

Fly in to Madrid
Directly take AVE train to
Cordoba (2 nights)
AVE to
Granada (2 nights)
Rent car and roadtrip through:
Pueblos Blancos (2 nights)
Drive to Sevilla and drop off car
Sevilla (4 nights) - day trip to Cadiz (for the sea) and Italica (for Roman ruins)
AVE back to
Madrid (3 nights) - enjoy 3 Kings Day festivities
Fly out of Madrid

Posted by
1524 posts

Excellent itinerary Carlos. For the last 3 nights in Madrid, a day trip to Toledo can be added. I googled the average weather temp for Santa Cruz during December and that's what it yielded.

Posted by
2214 posts

@RJean maybe it accidentally gave you the temps for Santa Cruz, California lol! :-)

Posted by
1524 posts

Carlos i was just reading about Italica. It's a very well preserved Roman ruin and saw that Game of Throne was filmed there in 2016. I will definitely take a tour there on my next trip to Andalusia in 2020.

Posted by
3227 posts

Today’s trivia; I was last in Italica in 1979 and it wasn’t even an attraction. You just parked on the side of the road and walked in. No parking lots or admission charge. I also drove under the aqueduct in Segovia before it was closed to traffic and when it still carried water into the city. Spain was a lot different back then.