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Itinerary suggestions: Spain


We are planning a 2 week trip to Spain & Portugal next September and I'm starting to work on the itinerary. We've never been to either place. We'll have 15 days to tour (we have 2 additional days to travel back and forth from the US so we can plan for 15 days of site seeing).

Here are my initial thoughts with travel by train in between cities

Barcelona – 4 days

Madrid/Toldeo – 4 days

Granada – 2 days

Cordoba – 1 day

Sevilla – 1 day

Lisbon/Sintra – 3 days

I like to be busy but not crazy when we're on vacation, mixing museums, historical sites and landscapes (a little hiking here and there as well when possible). What flaws do you see in our initial plan?

Posted by
1262 posts

No flaws, just a matter of preferences.
Have you booked airfare? Open jaw w arrival in barcelona and departure from madrid may work.

I have never been to portugal, but am confident other experienced travelers will assist w guidance. A common theme i see about a combination spain portugal trip is logistics w travel.

Barcelona w four days is great. Recommend taking the ave train to madrid.
Madrid toledo w four days also is great. Recommend taking the ave train to seville. This same train stops in cordoba, others can counsel on benefit of how to blend in a stop at cordoba into your trip to seville.

I recommend staying three days in seville, ample things to do.
Then journey to granada for several days. Important you carefully research how to best visit alhambra, advance ticket purchase is a must.

Suggest travel back to madrid for departure.

For stays of three nights we recommend renting an apt. More space, a kitchen, ez way to get closer to a community and we have found to offer much bette financial deals.

Posted by
3681 posts

Unless you fly, getting to/from Lisbon is complicated, takes a lot of time and involves buses. I'd leave it out and spend the extra time in Sevilla or any of the other places you list, but if you must go to Lisbon, consider starting or ending your trip there and flying into or out of Lisbon. I know there are flights from Lisbon to Madrid because I've been on one. I don't know about Barcelona or Sevilla.

This is from the Man in Seat 61 on this "Trains Departing from Lisbon" page ( There is also a section on that page about train travel to/from Madrid, but like I said, I'd fly.

Lisbon to Seville... Note: I assume you can reverse the journey to go from Seville to Lisbon

First take a comfortable modern InterCity train from Lisbon Oriente station to Faro in the Algarve, journey time 3 hours 20 minutes, book online at the Portuguese Railways website

Then travel from Faro to Seville by bus, a 3 hour 40 minute trip. Buses run from Faro to Seville at 08:20 & 15:35 daily and from Seville Plaza de Armas back to Faro twice daily at 07:30 & 16:15. The fare is around €16-€18 each way. The bus service is run jointly by Damas & Eva-Bus, &, and there may be additional buses in July & August.

You can book one-way or return journeys from Seville to Faro online at, or one-way or return journeys starting in Faro at

Another company,, also has two daily buses Seville-Faro, with online booking in either direction.

Posted by
951 posts

I have never been to Portugal so I can't say too much but I wonder if you need to drop your Portugal days, add 2 to Sevilla and add the other to Granada (day tripping to Cordoba) or to Cordoba (staying 2 nights). Everything else looks perfect. Make sure to bring swim suit for arab baths in Granada, our highlight after 5 nights of mountain biking in the Sierra Nevadas.

I suggest Starting In Barcelona, flying into Granada (can be pretty cheap), then off to Sevilla, then COrdoba, then leaving from Madrid.

Posted by
14898 posts

I also think you'd do better to drop Portugal. As others have said, though they look like a good combination on the map, the logistics are pretty difficult.

When you subtract travel time, you will have less time for sightseeing than it sounds like. Barcelona to Madrid and Madrid to Granada are relatively long trips and you still have to get from the hotel to the train station and then from the train station to the hotel.

Posted by
1878 posts

It seems like it would make sense to combine Spain and Portugal, but it really does not because transportation connections are poor. I would take those three days and add two of them to Seville and one to Madrid. Segovia and El Escorial are also very worthy day trips from Madrid, and Toledo is also worth an overnight if you can manage it. You could visit Cordoba on the way between Seville and Madrid, not staying overnight to regain a day. Not sure if it's still possible, but on our 2005 trip you could check backs at the train station. We did a quick Cordoba visit that way. Our itinerary only included two nights in Seville, and it was a big mistake. Definitely worth two full days, meaning three nights.

Posted by
35 posts

here's what we did in 2007: flew to barcelona, spent 4 nights there, flew to seville (cheap!), 3 nights there, train to granada (inexpensive), 3 nights there, train back to seville, then bus to faro for one night (fast and first class and inexpensive), rented a car at the faro airport, drove to near evora for 2 nights (in a castle!), then drove to lisbon and turned the car in at the airport and used public transportation for our 4 nights there before flying home from lisbon. you cannot rent a car in spain and drop it off in portgual w/o paying an exhorbitant fee, and the other travel connections between the two counties are pretty much non-existant.

Posted by
85 posts

Thanks for the guidance. The more I look at Portugal logistics,the more I agree with those who recommend we skip it.

I like the idea of adding another day to Sevilla and 1-2 to Granada. Would day trips to Nerja or Ronda from Granada be worthwhile? I've got Rick's Spain book and see that the train or bus rides are 2 to 2 1/2 hours each way - are either of these spots worth it? Or any recommendations on other day trips from any of our other stops? We are planning day trips to El Escorial,Toledo and Montserrat from Madrid and Barcelona on the agenda already.

You've all been very helpful already. I love the community approach to trip planning, I always end up with great itineraries!

Posted by
1262 posts

From granada to nerja by car is one hour. Nice beach, quaint, could make for a nice day at the beach.
Ronda is closer to seville, just under a two hour drive. We found a lot to do in ronda if you are willing to walk. Great bull fighting museum and the gorge is great to hike down and explore.
You might consider a car rental to go between seville and granada.

Posted by
5460 posts

I don't know that you should put more time into Granada. We enjoyed spending a night or two in Ronda, but we had a car. That breaks up the drive.

I've never been to Nerja, but you should try to collect more information about September. No problem with the big cities, but before we arrived (small cruise ship) in Barcelona in October, the islands were starting to go to sleep for the season. And the Mediterranean was too cold to swim in, even if you've had your Tetanus shot.

Spain is a very rich destination, and you can't exhaust it in two weeks. We spent a different two weeks in Portugal, including a low-cost flight to Madeira (no time for the Azores or the beer-soaked beaches of the South) and a car for one of the weeks. We certainly didn't see all of Portugal in two weeks.

I think you are under-rating the Seville area and over-rating Barcelona. Barcelona regularly rates higher (here on this board) than Madrid, but I don't agree at all. The Search box (top right) might shed some more light on your interests.