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Planning Trip to Spain, Morocco, Portugal in Fall

We like old architecture, nature-hiking, food, museums.
I was thinking to arrive in Madrid, travel to nearby towns, 1 week
Fly to Grenada, see Alhambra and surrounding towns, 3 days (?)
Morocco-5 days
Portugal-7 days
Fly home from Portugal (NY)
How does that sound?
I'm just getting my feet wet here. The airline rewards say wait to book air.

Posted by
2604 posts

Without having much detail, it is fine as long as you are limited in your choices and flights make it efficient. I would save Morocco for a complete trip of its own, but that's a personal preference. You could spend all of the time just in one region of Spain and not be bored. I think you may feel like you are shortchanging Andalucia. There is quite a lot of hiking in that region, but you won't have time for much. I think post it on the Spain forum once you have it fleshed out more.

Posted by
5617 posts

Way back in 2001, we'd originally envisioned a trip in 2002 to Southern Spain, with a side trip by ferry to Morocco for a few days. After 9/11 happened, at a personal appearance in Denver, Rick Steves himself suggested that visiting Morocco might not be advisable for a while, so we addd on a week in Portugal instead.

Granada, plus Seville and other places in Andalucía, kept us busy for 2 weeks, as well as the week in Portugal. We had a car part of the time. We finally made it to Morocco in 2019, for 3 weeks (Marrakech, Fez, desert journey), and haven’t yet made it back to Portugal. If Morocco is any possibility for a future trip, spend more time in just Spain/Portugal on this fall trip.

For architecture, but especially food, consider some time up in the Basque part of Spain up northeast (San Sebastián, Bilbao, etc.), in addition to Madrid area and Granada and other points in Southern Spain.

While there’s a variety of beauty in many parts of all 3 countries, and there were some steep climbs in hill towns and settlements, hiking wasn’t exactly anything we’ve done much in Spain, Portugal, or Morocco. Do you have particular nature experiences in mind?

Posted by
597 posts

Be sure you can actually book with rewards. We are going to Europe in Sept and Dec and we booked as early as we could -- at our 330 day return home date-- and we got a great deal on Business Class - we paid $980-1140 for Business class on MultiCity, in and out of different countries. Now, Coach class is DOUBLE those prices. Airfare prices are all over the place and getting higher.

Posted by
7682 posts

You are shortchanging Andalusia. There are many significant cities in this area besides Granada. Sevilla and Cordoba. Too much to pass by!
Drop Morocco for now. Save it for a trip exclusively to Morocco.
Portugal deserves two weeks. Again, you are
shortchanging a fabulous country.

Posted by
2 posts

This was very helpful. I appreciate your advice!
Since I was planning for 3 weeks, should I do 2 weeks in Spain and 1 week in Portugal, 1/5 in each, or just 3 weeks in Spain?
I do enjoy exploring small towns, but love old architecture, museums (which I realize are usually in bigger cities), and low impact hiking. It sounds like the replies suggest to focus on the country of Spain.
And once I figure out the days, should I book all the lodging?
Start inMadrid?

Posted by
2604 posts

I'd spend some time reading up on Spain and Portugal to flesh out the specifics before booking flights. I don't know much about awards air travel--do you have open-jaw options? You could definitely fill the time in Spain, but no harm in trying to include some Portgual. I'd scope out some of the easiest transport connections between the two countries--you may find some are not as easy as you'd think by looking at the map!

Posted by
2717 posts

I use air miles to get award tickets frequently. If you are flying into Madrid and out of Lisbon, you might need to get one way tickets to and fro. Depending on the airline(s), there’s no additional points for doing so. I have also always made my reward reservations as soon as possible as there are only a certain number of award seats and when they’re gone, they’re gone!

I also tend to agree with the advice of not visiting Morocco and concentrating on Spain and Portugal. It’s faster and less stressful taking the train from Madrid to Granada than flying.