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Which countryside is nicer ?

Hello everyone !

I am going to Portugal and looking to expand my trip to Spain and Paris .... I wanted to a train at least once and wondering if anyone knows if it would be a nicer view from Portugal to Madrid or Barcelona to Paris ?

Thanks !!

Posted by
4289 posts

Are you sure you can take a train from Portugal to Madrid?

Posted by
18746 posts

The Deutsche Bahn website shows one daytime train from Lisbon to Madrid, taking 10-1/2 hours. The countryside in the immediate area of Madrid has always seemed unexciting to me, but I assume there's some attractive scenery along at least part of that route.

How much time are you trying to fill, and how does this fit in to the trip as a whole?

Posted by
14267 posts

It's more efficient to fly between Portugal and Spain. From what I've read, there is little to admire between Lisbon and Madrid. You could take the train from Madrid to Barcelona and then another from Barcelona to Paris. Both those routes are at least somewhat scenic and the trains are super-fast. From Barcelona to Paris is 6.5 hours, about the same time it would take to fly when you add the extra airport time and travel time to/from airports.

Posted by
6 posts

Well I'm spending a week in Portugal for a yoga retreat, then thinking of taking another 8-9 days to do Spain and Paris . I know flights are cheaper and faster but I thought taking a train ride might be a nice change, but I can't do both due to time restraints so wondering which would be the nicer train ride.

Posted by
18746 posts

Eight or nine days isn't really enough time to do Spain and Paris. Have you considered spending a few days seeing a different area of Portugal, then flying to Paris? Or you could fly to Barcelona, spend a chunk of your time there, then take the train to Paris. I wouldn't want to uproot myself 3 times by traveling from Portugal to Madrid to Barcelona to Paris within 8 or 9 days, no matter what means of transportation I was using.

Posted by
3173 posts

Well I'm spending a week in Portugal for a yoga retreat, then thinking
of taking another 8-9 days to do Spain and Paris .

8-9 days to visit one country and one city in another country. Ok....

Paris should have at least 1/2 of that time. As for 4 days in Spain, pick a region you want to go and stay in one hotel for 4 nights. I'd pick the Basque country. Or spend 8-9 days in Spain and split the time between Andalusia and Barcelona/Catalan region.

Posted by
11261 posts

1) Portugal and Spain have surprisingly skimpy connections. There are a very few trains, most of which operate largely overnight, so you'll not only not see much of a view, but you'll have a lousy first train experience as you won't get much sleep. That is, unless you spring for the luxury Trenhotel train from Lisbon to Madrid, which is an overnight sleeper (so no view at all). There are also some buses, but the main way of getting from Portugal to Spain is flying - even for some relatively short distances you'd assume would have a good train connection, but don't.

2) Particularly since you're going to Portugal for a yoga retreat, it seems counter-productive to negate that by then running around afterward. Spain is large, and even 8-9 days there will only allow you to see a small bit; to add Paris too means only a few days for Spain.

3) If you spend all of your post-retreat time in Portugal or Spain, on the other hand, there are lots of sensible train rides you not only can take, but would use as the most efficient way between cities. However, even then, don't take them for the views. Spain and Portugal aren't Switzerland or Norway, with particularly scenic trains that lots of people take just for the scenery.

4) Having said that there are lots of train options in Portugal and Spain, I must also mention that the train networks in those countries are not nearly as developed as in some other European countries. Buses fill in the gaps, and for many routes buses work better than trains - or are the only option.

So, first pick where you want to spend your post-retreat time - Spain, Portugal, or Paris. If you actually want to enjoy this part of the trip, instead of making it an endurance test, just pick one (or pick one city in Spain or Portugal, then a few days in Paris). Tell us what you've chosen, and we can help you figure out whether flights, trains, or buses would be the best way to connect the places you are going.

Posted by
16852 posts

The 10.5-hour daytime train route from Lisbon to Madrid also includes three changes of train. It's a relatively new "opportunity," with the direct overnight train having been the only service offered for years. But I think it's only for real train die-hards, not good for your plans.

Posted by
18746 posts

I haven't been to Andalucía recently, but as for the rest of the Spain, the areas where I'd recommend a train ride for scenic beauty would be across the northern part of the country, especially Catalunya, the Basque Country and Galicia. But that doesn't fit very well into Holly's trip unless her Portuguese base is way up north, in which case going up to Galicia would be a possibility if we're talking summertime or perhaps late spring.

Posted by
7532 posts

If you were to take a train, Barcelona to Paris being the only regular direct train route of the places mentioned, the trains go so fast that you can’t really savor the scenery.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks everyone for all your input but it seems like I'll have to take in Paris another time . I have decided I'd like to go to Spain , so if you guys have any pointers there I'll take them :)

Posted by
18746 posts

Where is your yoga retreat, and from where do you depart for your flight home?

Posted by
14267 posts

When are you going? If it's summer, I'd recommend Barcelona and the north or maybe Valencia and Barcelona. Andalucia and even Madrid will be brutally hot. The Costa Brava has a more moderate climate and the Pyrenees are of course cooler.

If you are going in spring or fall, consider flying to Sevilla. You could split your time between Andalucia and Barcelona, though both areas have plenty to fill up 8-9 days each.

Posted by
4125 posts

I think the train ride to Madrid sounds dreadful. Fly to Spain and take a train ride there.

You can have a very worthwhile experience in 9 days.