My family and I are planning a trip to Spain for March of 2017. We will be doing a two week long road trip, flying into Barcelona and possibly out of Lisbon. We have young children but they are great travelers. I would love some recommendations on what you recommend as the must see areas of southern Spain and southwest Portugal. I know traditionally, Barcelona is considered northern Spain but we have found great flights into Barcelona and out of Portugal and I have always wanted to see Barcelona. I'll refer to "southern Spain" going forward but understand this also includes Barcelona and possibly Madrid.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
1) We are pretty avid road trippers, as are our kids. We have road tripped through Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Central America, Canada and have seen 48 US States by car. We have done this with our children and we love it. Suggestions like, "Why are you taking your kids?" won't be particularly helpful because we love to take our kids everywhere we go and we have a blast doing it.
2) Also, we are aware of the drop fee when picking up a car in one country and dropping it in another. It's not particularly high, compared to what we've encountered in other countries, between Spain and Portugal. We love road trips and it actually is most economical and logistical for our family, when all things are considered. So suggestions such as, "You'd be better flying between cities" won't help too much either.
3) We understand that we are going to be slightly rushed. We want to see a LOT in 2 weeks. Two week road trips, covering a few countries at a time, is enjoyable for us. In doing this, we have covered a lot of land, have seen some amazing things, have enjoyed ALL of it!
I have used online forums many times in the past for European road trips. While it's been so helpful and I've been grateful for the perspective, I have been surprised at how many people have discouraged our method of travel (with kids, by car and covering multiple countries in 2 weeks) .. I'm hoping this time around any posters will take those things into consideration and will help more with other specifics, as that will be most helpful to our family.
We are a young family with young children, and perhaps my mom and aunt will be there too. They're in their upper 50's and are pretty much up for anything - they have lots of energy and are super easy going about everything.
As a group, I would say our main interests are:
-Making it a bit of a food tour - trying local foods wherever we go
- Checking out the Spanish Coast
- Seeing some of the architecture and historical sights.. We are not big museum people but if there was a MUST (like seeing the Louvre if you're in Paris) we're game.
- Enjoying the small towns, the shops (not strip malls), small restaurants on the side of the road. After an extensive road trip in Italy, we all concluded how much we loved the small towns of Italy and may have not missed much had we not gone to Rome.
- We love the mountains, the outdoors, lakes, the coast and basically any beautiful scenery we can find.
- My Grandma was a painter and used to paint beautiful paintings of Flamenco dancers, I would love to see some live Flamenco dancing if possible.
Where we need the most help - Where to go and how long to stay.. Mainly, where are our landing locations. After reading dozens and dozens of travel blogs and forums, I have concluded that it is totally doable to do a road trip with a loose itinerary to include the following:
Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Seville, Faro and Lisbon.
Some cities we'll stay longer than others. Each place we'll have day trips to include other cities if we need to. Also, we don't need to stay in every place, necessarily. For example, it's reasonable to get from Seville to Lisbon in one day, maybe Faro isn't a place we need to stay overnight, but rather spend a long afternoon there.
Knowing all of this, how would YOU do a road trip from Barcelona to Lisbon?
Is Valencia worth a few days? Or just one?
Where would you say you could not miss?
Where will we find the most authentic culture, trying to avoid anything completely touristy (though we know we'll see a lot of that)?
Would you scratch my whole itinerary and do it differently to include Madrid?
If we're not big museum people, will we regret not going to Madrid?
Is there a place known for amazing food? Flamenco?
After I narrow down an itinerary, planning our hotels and how long to stay in each city, I'd love more input on what the must sees are within each location. Thanks in advance!! Hopefully I've provided enough information for you all.
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