2 wks portugal and spain

We will fly in and out of Lisbon. Would you help me plan our trip. We have 13 days to tour Portugal and Spain. We are open to renting a car in Lisbon and doing entire trip by car. What cities north of Lisbon should we see and can we take a bus from Lisbon to see them? Should we drive from Lisbon to Seville or take bus and rent a car in Seville? What cities should we see in southern spain and how many nights in each city before we drive to Madrid? Should we drop off car in Madrid or should we drive back to Lisbon from Madrid? Sorry for so many ? but we are at a loss as to how to plan this trip.
Thank you for your assistance. 4 senior women from NJ

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3505 posts

Start by deciding how big a car you need. For lengthy drives you don't want to be cramped and you absolutely do not want to leave luggage visible in the car when it's parked. If you think you need a large vehicle, are you going to be comfortable driving it on steep hills and in narrow streets and parking in tight spots? Are you locked into a round-trip to Lisbon? Is there any way you can change it to open-jaw into Lisbon and home from Madrid? If you must return to Lisbon, then is Madrid a must-see? I spent 3 weeks in Andalucia in February and didn't see it all. Much of it is easily accessible by public transportation. What are your interests? What time of year are you going?

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1002 posts

With no information about your interests, I'll confine myself to the transportation parts of your queries. (Later, you can come back with more specific questions pertaining to sightseeing.) First of all, it's very common for car rental companies to charge ruinous fees ($400 - $600) for dropping a car in a different country from where you pick it up, so you need to get a price before deciding to do that. However, split four ways, you may decide it's worth doing. Second, the connections between Portugal and southern Spain are not easy, so a bus between Lisbon and Seville may be the best option. With 13 days, I'd skip Madrid, unless you do open-jaw flights, with Madrid at one end. The drive between southern Spain and Madrid is long and boring. You can easily fill your 13 days in Portugal and Andalucia. Take heart, I find the initial planning part is always the most difficult. Once you've got an itinerary that makes sense, the rest is fun and easy to work out. Also a senior woman,
Rosalyn

Posted by Cyn
Wheat Ridge, CO, USA
97 posts

It's been 10 years but we did a similar trip just as the dollar was switching from exchange rate dominance vs. the Euro to the other way round. After checking several rental companies including Sixt, Avis, and Europcar, Hertz had the best deal for picking up a car in Lisbon and dropping it off in Spain (Malaga)for our return flight. We still had to pay a $600 one-way drop off fee but it was cheaper at that time and more convenient than having to take the car back to Portugal. From Lisbon, we drove to Sintra, then Obidos for a night. We didn't have time to visit Porto, but that's another destination north of Lisbon. We loved Evora, but park your car and walk once you're in town. As for Sevilla, we dodged motor scooters and navigated the old town to a parking garage and left the car there for 3 days. Do not even attempt to drive within Sevilla (or any other big European city for that matter) unless you have time to kill, enjoy traffic, and are willing to risk having an accident in a rental car. We didn't drive to Madrid that trip, but in the last 10 years fast "AVE" trains offer an alternative to long drives within Spain, but not in or to Portugal. We were doing "open jaw" flight connections so a one way car rental worked for us, but if you're flying in and out of the same city you could avoid the one way fees. The train from Madrid to Lisbon is long and slow so driving back to Lisbon might be your best bet. I trust you'll have more than one driver on the rental agreement to share the driving load.

Posted by Jeanne
Bridgeville, DE, United States
4 posts

Our trip is planned for October. We would like to tour lisbon and north of lisbon by bus for 3 days. Rent car in Lisbon, drive south to Seville. We will stay 2 days in Seville, one day to tour Seville and one day to drive and tour Ronda. Next day drive from Seville to Marbella (one night in Marbella). Next day drive from Marbella to Granada or Cordova (can't decide where to spend the night and what to see from here. We are thinking we would like to see Toledo, Madrid and either Segovia or Avila. Which cities would you suggest based on those that I identified. We will drive back to Lisbon via Madrid to drop off rental car and fly home. We already have booked our flights so there is no changing flights (using frequent flier miles). Thanks again Jeanne

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3505 posts

Our trip is planned for October. We would like to tour lisbon and north of lisbon by bus for 3 days. Rent car in Lisbon, drive south to Seville. We will stay 2 days in Seville, one day to tour Seville and one day to drive and tour Ronda. Next day drive from Seville to Marbella (one night in Marbella). Next day drive from Marbella to Granada or Cordova (can't decide where to spend the night and what to see from here. We are thinking we would like to see Toledo, Madrid and either Segovia or Avila. Here's what it looks like to me: Day 1 - arrival Day 2-4 Lisbon Day 5 - drive to Seville Day 6-7 - Seville (day trip to Cordoba) Day 8 - leave early, drive to Ronda for the day, end in Marbella Day 9 - 3/4 day in Marbella, drive to Granada Day 10 - Granada Day 11 - drive to Madrid - 1/2 day in Madrid Day 12 - Madrid Day 13 - drive to Lisbon
Day 14 - fly home It looks like you are underestimating driving times. It can take a few minutes to get in or out of cities, there are traffic jams, you may want to stop along the way once or twice to stretch your legs, have a drink, use the aseos (most important word in southern Spain), and you might get lost. It will also take time to pack suitcases, then pack the car, and when you arrive you have to find your hotel, check in, etc. These are often scenic drives and you may want to stop for a photo, or you may just see something along the way that strikes your fancy. It's a vacation trip, after all. Depending on your flight times, you can probably squeeze in 1 or maybe 2 more days of sightseeing. Unless you are really good at all these one-nighters, you should just add a day to Seville, or Granada or Madrid. You can see Toledo or Segovia as a day trip from Madrid.