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Best of Spain in 2020.....plus an extra week.....more Spain or a little Portugal ????

Planning to do the best of Spain starting in mid September 2020. We will probably stay an extra week at the end of the tour. Options include going to Cordoba and then up to Basque country, in other words, more of Spain; or, head into southern Portugal and go as far north as Lisbon. That part will be all on our own.

What do you think? More Spain or a week of Portugal?

Posted by
678 posts

Suggest you head to your library and check out two or three tour books for each county. Then search YouTube.

My folks were stationed in Spain when I was a little kid. I remember distinctly that everywhere we went was wildly different from every other place we had been. Scenery, food, churches, local costumes, dialects, political leanings, farms, industry, rivers, sea ports, town layouts ... all different. So , yeah, you could stay in Spain. Or not.

Posted by
19187 posts

A possibly-useful fact: Ground-transportation links between those two countries are very limited and infrequent. If you decide to spend the extra time in Portugal, you will lose a great deal of time if you have to cross that border twice. It would be far better to fly into Spain and fly home from Portugal--presumably from Lisbon so there's only one border crossing required. Check now on multi-city flights to be sure the cost will be reasonable by comparison to flying into Barcelona and out of Seville/Malaga/Madrid.

There are no trains across the southern part of the border. For making the initial border crossing, you'd be taking the bus from Seville probably to Faro and on from there. Rede Expressos operates at least some of the buses in Portugal. The train north to Merida and Badajoz, then on to Lisbon, takes a lot longer, and I think there's only one train per day between Badajoz and Lisbon, departing at 4:24 PM. Best to check on flights from Seville to Portugal. Your destinations may be limited to Lisbon and Porto.

The convoluted train routing is a shame, but honestly, I consider the Algarve far from Portugal's most interesting area. I'd much rather spend week in other places in Portugal, or in Spain. If heading to Lisbon/Porto, flying would be better.

Seville has a lot of attractions and is, to me, at least a 3-day city. On the tour you'll only about 1.5 days for that city before the tour ends with breakfast on Day 14. I'd want to stay in Seville for at least one extra day.

Then there's the really unfortunate omission of Cordoba, one of Spain's most interesting cities. I'd want to spend a couple of days there.

If you decide to stay in Spain and don't want to include Cordoba on this trip, check flights from Seville to northern Spain to avoid spending all day on a train. From the chart on the Seville airport's Wikipedia page, I see there are flights on various airlines to the Basque Country (Bilbao and Vitoria) and to Galicia (A Coruna and Vigo). Vigo's the least interesting of those options but--like A Coruna--is well-connected to Santiago de Compostela. If I had just 5 or 6 more days (you may need to travel back to Madrid by train before your flight home), I'd probably spend it all in one area, and the Basque Country would be good. There's plenty to see there.

Posted by
4776 posts

Lots of good thinking from acraven above (as usual). I finished the Best of Spain tour three weeks ago and spent another six nights in Spain -- one more in Sevilla, two in Cordoba, and three back in Madrid, easy train connections. I had also arrived in Barcelona a few days before the trip started. The whole plan made sense beforehand, and worked out well for me.

But you may want to see more different places, and/or have more energy than me. In which case one or the other of your choices would be better. I agree that flying open jaw with Lisbon as the departure point makes sense if you choose Portugal, and it probably makes sense to fly there from either Sevilla or Madrid. But don't miss Cordoba if you can help it. Even a day trip from Sevilla is better than missing it altogether. The Mezquita is on my top-ten-in-Europe list.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all the input. We realized a while ago that train connections to Portugal were not a good option so we had planned to rent a car if Portugal was the after tour destination. Driving time was actually very reasonable and flights from Lisbon were ok.

But after reading the feedback, we like the option of spending a little extra time in Seville and then take in Cordoba for a couple of days. After that, it makes sense to head north to Madrid. Train connections are all good and flights home from Madrid are good too.

We have found that once you are accustomed to the language and customs of a country, it takes a bit of effort to shift gears, and for a relatively short stay it's not worth it. That means Portugal is a future destination....................

Posted by
19187 posts

And, for future reference, if you rented a car in Spain and dropped it off in Portugal, you would almost certainly face a seriously painful international drop charge--hundreds of euros. Sorry that I forgot to warn you about that in my original post.

Posted by
7 posts

Hadn't even thought of the added cost for international one-way drop off. I just did a quick check and the one way drop off fee was 365 euro. Thats way more than the rental itself. Renting a car is definitely off the table now. Thanks for the great piece of advice.