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Trip to Spain-Portugal- fine tune my itinerary

I am currently planning a trip for next year - looking to spend 10 days in Spain and 3 days in Portugal.

Spain Part
I am arriving in Barcelona (3 days) and then taking a train to Madrid ( 2 days). Keeping Madrid as the base-
I plan to visit Segovia orAvila ( 1 day), and Toledo ( 1 day),
Then take a train to Granada (1 day) from Madrid and then taking a train to Seville (2 days)from Granada

Portugal
Take a bus from Seville to bordertown and then take train to Lisbon (3 days). Any suggestions for daytrips from Lisbon.
I leave for New York from Lisbon.

What are any feedback with this tentative itinerary? Also, recommedations and thoughts about hotels in Madrid, Barcelona and Lisbon? Thank you.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks David- Thanks for clarifying the Segovia or Avila equation. I am leaning towards Segovia. If I will have time I will do Avila, otherwise some other time in the future.

I am planning to stay 1 night both in Toledo and Segovia. No Faro is not a detination- it is just a passage to Portugal. I saw the map and it seems like half way point from Sevilla . I dont feel like going back to Madrid and then taking the night train. I read some of the posts that suggested taking a bus to Faro and then getting on a Lisbon-Oriente train.
I plan to spend 2 whole days in Sevilla

I will do the advance bookings on Alhambra- it was a blessing when I was in Florence for the Uffizi gallery.

Posted by
4555 posts

Assuming the 13 days are days actually on the ground, you may find you've bitten off a little too much.
The journey from Madrid to Granada will take about 5 hours...then you plan to leave the next day for Sevilla, so that severely reduces your time in a fascinating city.
The trip from Sevilla to Lisbon will also take much of a day, meaning you've really only got 2 days there.
Add to that, you're driving/training right by places like Cordoba and the white villages. Maybe devote the 2-3 days for Portugal to a more detailed visit to Spain.

Posted by
4125 posts

Most obvious day trip from Lisbon is Sintra, well worth a day if you have the time and the weather is good.

As for your itinerary: You have characterized Madrid as your base for trips to Granada and to Seville, which would be impractical. I assume you meant that you would leave Madrid for Granada after four days (including your day trips).

An alternative itinerary would be to travel from Barcelona to Granada to Seville to Madrid (including day trips), then take the night train to Lisbon. The trip from Barcelona to Granada is long, but so is the one you propose from Seville to Lisbon. I don't know which way would be better.

Posted by
1574 posts

Ashish,

Toledo and Avila the same day? Too much. One day each. The train from Madrid to Granada takes 4 hours (eight hours round trip). You need to spend a full day in Granada. The Alhambra alone will consume 4 hours. Seville I would give 2 full days.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks Adam - yes I meant leaving Madrid for Granada
after 4 days including my daytrips.
I will check the 2 suggested options- base it on the cheaper tickets I get flying in to Madrid or Barcelona.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks Mary- I will be doing Toledo ( 1 day) and Segovia-Avila ( 1 other day). Is Segovia- Avila both doable the same day.

I will be spending 4 days in Madrid- that includes the 2 day trips. I plan to take the train to Granada and Seville- sleep at those places and not go back to Madrid.

If have 3 days to divy up between Granada and Seville- which would be your pick and why

Posted by
1574 posts

Segovia and Avila in one day are too much. Each warrants a day.

Posted by
1574 posts

One full day in Granada and 2 full days in Seville.

Posted by
207 posts

Just returned from Portugal and Spain... Sevilla our favorite (3days) though we loved all our stops. We bussed from Madrid to Granada and Granada to Sevilla despite my initial scepticism. Loved both, saved money and perhaps even time doing so. Madrid, we stayed at the Hostal Acapulco, 64 Euros a night, free internet, great staff, perfect location within five minutes of three metro stations, Puerta del Sole and Gran Via. Lisbon, Residencial Florescente on "eating lane"... great area for people watching, short walk to metro (Restadores) Rossi for day trip to Sintra- a must-, tram to Belem. Slept well despite rock concert across the street. feel free to contact me in private message for more. George, Pittsburgh

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks guys- this board is turning out to be as helpful as Rick Steve.

Here is my fined tuned version- still work in progress
Planning to spend 10 days in Spain and 3 days in Portugal.

Spain Part -I arrive in Barcelona (spend 3 days) and then take a train to Madrid (spend 4 days). 2 days for Madrid sights and then do 2 day trips - Segovia or Avila ( 1 day), and Toledo ( 1 day).

Then take a train or bus to Granada (spend 1 day) and then take a bus or train to Seville (spend 2 days.

Then Take a bus from Seville to Faro and then a train to Lisbon and spend 3 days. Do a day trip to Sintra.

Finally, I leave for New York from Lisbon

Posted by
1574 posts

That's much better on the Spain segment although I would give Madrid itself one more day if part of your two day allotment for that city includes travel from Barcelona to Madrid. I can't comment on the Portugal segment as I have not been there. I don't know what your budget is for Madrid but we stayed at the Hotel Europa and it was fantastic - a beautiful hotel right off the Puerta del Sol. It was about $150.00 US per night which I think is inexpensive for a hotel in a major European city. It was really nice. Also if you plan to visit the royal palace in Madrid see that first as it was closed for official business one of the days we were there. We would have missed it if we hadn't seen it first.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks Mary- the 2 day allotment for Madrid is for Madrid sightseeing exclusive. The travel time to Madrid from Barcelona will come out o. If 3 days I alloted for Barcelona. I will try to take the latest train out of Barcelona , to maximize the 3 day stay there. My hotel budgets are usually anywhere from $100 - $180 max. Thanks for the Europa hotel suggestion- is this one of the Rick Steve's picks.

Posted by
5401 posts

Overall I'd say this looks OK, although still a bit hurried and "tight" in many places.

Segovia or Avila is a tough call. If you really like medieval fortifications, Avila is tough to beat, but it doesn't have much else there to recommend it besides the big walls. Segovia has more going for it in terms of sights and a "feel" - and if you like Roman stuff, the aqueduct is one of the best Roman ruins anywhere. I'd probably give the edge to Segovia.

Consider spending one night in Toledo. Yes, you can do Toledo as a day trip. The problem is, most people do exactly that, and during the mid-day it is often quite crowded - which really changes the experience. Mornings and late in the day, the city is nearly deserted and it's really very magical, IMHO a much better experience. Going there and back and being there will consume an entire day anyway, so why not just stay the night - the time you use up will be about the same, but rather then getting back to your Madrid hotel late that day, you'll get a better experience in Toledo.

Is Faro really a destination for you, or is it just a way to connect to Lisbon? Faro is OK, but it's certainly not on a par with the other 5-star locations on your list. Unless you have some reason to go there (coming from Sevilla via bus, how much of a day are you really going to have to spend there?), you might consider skipping Faro entirely and just getting to Lisbon as quickly as you can. There are (apparently) flights from Sevilla to Lisbon (try TAP), or you can certainly fly from Madrid to Lisbon inexpensively. I'm just looking at your itinerary an Faro seems like it doesn't merit the stop.

Finally: get your tickets to the Alhambra NOW (or as soon as you know what day you'll be there).

Lots of really great stuff on your itinerary - you'll have a great trip. Good luck!

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks - you make an excellent point. I dont think I will be make a special trip for Portugal alone. I prefer doing it with Spain - logistics wise

Posted by
3 posts

Spent 2 weeks in Spain and Portugal this August. When in Madrid we stayed at the Hotel Santo Domingo (Best Western) for 60 E a night. Hotel was clean, friendly staff.

Posted by
357 posts

We flew from Lisbon to Sevilla on Tap Air Portugal. I did a quick check in mid-March and they show two flights from Sevilla to Lisbon. Currently their online booking is down so I couldn't give a price. But we paid approximately $205 US for our pair of tickets.
We spent a couple of nights in Porto, one in Sevilla, and two in Granada. We could easily do a longer trip and go back to those three areas.
The Alhambra will take a big chunk of your Granada time since you're at their mercy for when you get to enter. But you can't do everything. Just hope to go back again some day and use this trip to give you an idea of where you want to get back to.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks Steve- Is the overnight train a better option to get to Lisbon from Madrid or the bus-train combination from Seville. Which option saves times?

Posted by
32 posts

Is Alhambra and the moorish architecture worth the hype. How many days do you require to make sense of the sights and the moorish architectural beauty?

Posted by
4555 posts

The Alhambra is one of the great sights of Europe...yes, it's worth the "hype." It's the greatest example of Moorish architecture in Europe, and Spain's most popular tourist site. I suggest 2 days/one night in Granada.
Don't forget....you're travelling there not just to experience "architecture,"....you're going there to experience the atmosphere of a different way of life. And you'll certainly find that across Andalucia, including Granada. You SHOULD book tickets ahead of time, since access is limited. You can purchase tickets here.

Posted by
5401 posts

Norm's right. The Alhambra is worth a stop on any trip to that region of Spain. Don't miss it.

We did 3-4 weeks in Spain/Portugal/Morocco last fall (late Sept/early Oct) and we did 2 days, 1 night in Granada. It was hurried, and I wish we had one more night there, but it was enough (just BARELY) to get in the Alhambra, and a little taste of the rest of the city. In a trip that had many highlights, this was one that I'm very glad we didn't miss. Well worth the time.

Posted by
126 posts

I second the Hotel Europa recommendation. I was there Oct 4-7. H. Acapulco someone mentioned was our first choice, but it was booked. If you're going in October, keep in mind Oct 12 is a holiday in Spain. I missed out on H. Acapulco for that reason, although I tried to reserve 2 weeks in advance. Hotel Europa was booked while I was there. Excellent location, but noisy b/c there's construction going on in the plaza in front of the hotel, Pta. del Sol. (I'm sure it'll be done by next year). The hotel was 98 euros p/night, no breakfast, free internet in the lobby. Remodeled bathroom, very clean.

We took the metro from the airport (change trains 2 times), left us at the hotel door.

Have fun!

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks guys- I will try to add Alhambra on my itinerary. Also I will check out some of the hotel suggestions for Madrid - Hotel Europa and H. Acapulco.

Does anyone have good suggestions for Lisbon, Barcelona and Seville?

Posted by
126 posts

As far as hotels? In Sevilla we stayed at Hotel Maestranza, one of RS recommendations. 87 euros p/night, free wi-fi lobby. We were there just a few days ago. It was packed; the reception guy told me it usually is with 90% RS followers. English spoken.

The rooms were fine, smallish, but v. clean. Same with the bathroom. It was quite noisy at night; we had a street-view room. There are 2 tapas bars, a beers-of-the-world bar, & an excellent(!) tapas/restaurant...all just steps away from the hotel & all very popular w/happy, noisy locals - every day. We didn't care much because we returned late to the hotel and the noise died past 1am... but if you're not a night owl... maybe not so good.

In sum, good value, would stay there again, and everything else was booked.

Good luck.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks Maria !!
Does anyone have good hotel suggestions or RS recommendations for Lisbon or Barcelona?

Posted by
207 posts

Residencial Florescente, Lisbon was excellent for us. 75 Euros including our two breakfasts each day. Perfect location on "eating lane", a paradise for people watching and loaded with restaurants, bars and theaters, very near the metro (Restauradores-Blue Line),tram, streetcar, Rossi train station and bus lines... even the funicular. Airport bus stops at Restauradores also)We were in the front of the building during a rock concert across the street and had no problem sleeping with doors closed and AC on but some might be more sensitive and either want a back room or a different neighborhood. Internet available for a fee. Modern elevator which was nice for we two dinosaurs. Good hunting. George, Pittsburgh

Posted by
32 posts

Does Sintra in Portugal require a night stay or a day trip will suffice?

Posted by
5401 posts

No need to stay overnight in Sintra, in fact, I can't think of any good reason to spend the night there. Sintra is about as perfect a day trip as one could ever dream of: easy/cheap/quick to get there and back by train, enough sights to see to fill one day but not so many that you would have to cut corners, what's there is really a great combination. If you like castles, you're in the right place. Be ready to do some climbing - the Moorish Castle is spectacular, and invites you get get a good thigh burn. Great fun - you'll love it. And you'll be back in Lisbon in time for dinner.

Posted by
8 posts

We are taking a similar trip in April (3 nights Paris, 3 nights Lisbon, 10 nights various cities in Spain).

I settled on flying between Lisbon and Madrid on EasyJet...paid 15 Euros EACH (with tax!). Gives us more time in each city. Check out ALL your options...budget European airlines can be very competitive with the usual bus/train options for some destinations.