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Spain and Portugal trip planning help

My husband and I will be traveling to Spain and Portugal for 10 days after Christmas (including New Years). This is our first time to either place and are trying to decide how to divide our time. We must start and end in Barcelona. My tentative plan is to spend Fri-Sun in Barcelona, travel by train to Madrid on Monday (since most things are closed), spend Monday and Tuesday (New Year's Eve) in Madrid, then fly out early to Lisbon and stay there until Saturday night (4th) and return by plane to Barcelona that night to be able to fly out early the next morning.

Is this too much/too little time in any one place? Does it make sense to hit up the big cities are our first visit? We are really not into art, so even though Barcelona and Madrid have big art museums as major attractions, we will probably not visit them.

The other things that I am not sure of are the best place to spend New Year's eve/day and what things to do on Monday when museums and other attractions might be closed.

Any suggestions or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Posted by
6898 posts

For my suggestions, I would leave out Lisbon for these 10 days and concentrate on Barcelona and Madrid. You'll easily lose a total day by traveling to and from airports as well as the extra time you need to be there for security and check-in.

Secondly, if you are over 60 years old, you can get the Renfe Tarjeta Dorado (Gold Card) at any train station for just over 5Euros. 40% discount on all train tickets Mon-Thurs. 25% discount on all train tickets Fri-Sun.

Posted by
4125 posts

I agree with Larry. If you could fly home from Lisbon it might work, but you can't.

Granada was the highlight of our 10-day trip to Spain and Portugal.

Posted by
1260 posts

Toss out Portugal. Ample to do in Barcelona and Madrid, toss in Toledo and Monsterat as day trips.

Posted by
5 posts

I was really kind of set on going to Lisbon. I speak Portuguese and have been to Brazil several times so for me the history is of more interest than some of the other things in Spain. Would've like to travel out of Lisbon, but the ticket cost was just too much. As always, there is never enough time to do/see all we want so were trying to concentrate on the big things.

Posted by
1260 posts

Ok, understand the strong desire. To meet this need recommend focus on barcelona and lisbon only. Barca has ample menu to spend 5 days visiting (or more). Dont know about lisbon. Travel would be by air.

Posted by
5617 posts

We just returned 2 weeks ago from visiting Madrid, the Spanish Basque Country, and Barcelona. Worst jet-lag ever, and the trash collector strike in Madrid made for disgusting streets and sidewalks, but there was a lot to do and see in 2 too-short weeks. Much of our Madrid time was in art museums (Prado had some key rooms closed off for some TV production, which was really disappointing, however the Thyssen-Bornemisza was a treat) and making some side trips, and while there's much to do and see in the Madrid region (and New Year's Eve in Puerta del Sol is famously festive), with your interests and fluency in Portugues, your time might be best served by a focus on Portugal. Since Barca is your required entry and exit point, obviously enjoy some time there (Girona is a quick 1.25 hours away by train and we enjoyed our visit there, too), but on our Spain/Portugal trip in 2002, we really enjoyed Lisboa, Evora and the cork trees and paleolithic sites to the east, and the towns up the coast to the north, including Obidos. Fly discount airline Vueling from Barca to Lisboa, rent a car, and explore Brasil's mother country. Not sure where and how to best observe New Year's, or what might be closed, but Portugal might be a better bet for you most of this trip. Madrid was cool in November, but Barcelona was cold. Dress accordingly in December!

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks so much for all the advice. We have decided to split our time between Barcelona and Lisbon, with a flight with Vueling in between. We will spend one night in Sintra while in Lisbon. Looking forward to the trip!