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Barcelona or Lisbon from Madrid???

Old Oct 24th, 2004, 11:45 AM
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Barcelona or Lisbon from Madrid???

Planning a trip to Madrid to visit my daughter but our question is this: We are planning a weekend trip to either Barcelona or Lisbon. We are thinking of renting a car for the trip (good idea???). I was wondering if the travel times are comparable to either place (from Madrid). The weather seems to be comparable. Just can't decide which destination would suit us. We'll be pleased wherever we go, no particular expectations. We like what both places have to offer and understand that they are different. What are border customs like when traveling from Spain to Portugal? I'm understanding that travel by rail to either place would take a few hours more than by car. We would love the scenery along the way, so we are thinking car would be a great way to go. What's the word out there? By the way, we've been to Spain before (Seville) so it's not like we're seeing it for the first time. We'd like to venture further this time, that's all. Thank you!
jaybee84 is offline  
Old Oct 24th, 2004, 04:04 PM
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My vote would go to Barcelona, but I haven't been to Lisbon. But I LOVE Barcelona. For such a short trip, you might be better off flying as I doubt you'd want a car in either city and you can get some good deals on flights.
artlover is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2004, 12:44 AM
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No border control from Spain to Portugal and vice versa. The distance between Madrid and Barcelona or Lisbon is equivalent, around 600 km, considering the legal speed limit of 120 km per hour, it means 5 to 6 hours non stop.
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Old Oct 25th, 2004, 02:43 AM
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I am not a big fan of driving, especially in the cities where parking can be very expensive.

SpanAir often has weekend specials on flights to Lisbon. SpanAir, AirEuropa and Iberia all fly Madrid-Barcelona and there are 'specials' to be found on that route.

Barcelona is a great place to spend a Sunday: Parc Guell for Gaudi and the Cathedral where locals dance the Sardana to show off their Catalan pride; and there are a lot of sights to be seen in and around Barcelona.

Lisbon is also a great place to spend a weekend: Belém, Sintra, Almada (site of the dominating statue of Cristo Rei), the port, the Vasco da Gama Bridge, the boulevards and parks etc., etc.

That would be a hard choice for me to make and I would probably wait until the last minute to make it - then go with where the weather looks better.
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Old Oct 25th, 2004, 04:31 PM
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Both Barcelona and Lisbon would be a very long days drive from Madrid as Lobo_mau pointed out. Driving is not recommended because all you would end up doing is driving over, turning around the next day and driving back, thus eating up the entire weekend. In order to see anything along the way, and to enjoy it, you would have to allow a lot more time because there is so much to see. The drive to Barcelona is not quite the same, the terrain being a little different, but there is still a lot to see. And don?t forget about stopping for lunch.

Flying is the best option in this case as Spanair, Air Europa and Iberia all have some excellent specials as Nedsireland noted. If you are thinking of flying, then when you check out either Spanair or Iberia on-line, I recommend that you sign up for their frequent flyer programs. A number of the special rates are only available to their card members and belonging to another frequent flyer program isn't all that bad.

I also suggest that you save the areas in between Madrid and Barcelona and Madrid and Lisbon for another day when you have the time to enjoy the countryside. If you still want to rent a car and take a drive, then there are several great places within a two or three hours drive of Madrid.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 07:25 AM
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Greetings from Madrid. I just spent 7 days in Portugal starting in Porto and was planning to spend 3 more nights in Lisbon, but after a day in Sintra and a day in Lisbon decided to leave Portugal for Madrid. I found Lisbon so-so as a destination and would definitley recommend Barcelona over Lisbon anytime, esp if you love good food. Was disappointed in my trip to Portugal, altho my husband and myself consoled ourselves that we had to visit Portugal since we've done most of Europe (he's a pilot for a commercail airline and we fly cheaply). I don't mean to step on anyone's toes, but IMHO I think there are more beautiful regions to visit in Europe before Portugal, and Portugal isn't a bargain either, very similar to the countryside of France and Spain in terms of cost of food and accommodations.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 07:45 AM
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Don't dismiss going by overnight train to either destination, as the night trains to these two destinations, about equal in length, are quite wonderful.

For me, I'd pick Barcelona over Lisbon for a couple of reasons. While Lisbon has great architecture (and plenty of tiled buildings that are quite incredible), I found it to be a little grittier than Barcelona, and people were trying quite persistently to sell us drugs. I was also not terribly fond of the food, and this is from someone who will eat any kind of fish morning, noon, and night. The language barrier wasn't much help to me either; after como vai, I was sort of stuck. Fortunately, knowing Spanish and French helped. On the up side, the people we met, even briefly in shops, were very nice and friendly.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 09:12 AM
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Go to the Iberia or the Spanair websites for very competitive prices on airfares to Barcelona..it is a 1 hr 5 min trip flying vs. a MINIMUM of six hours on the fastest rail route and probably even longer driving.

I'd pick Barcelona over Lisbon for your "weekend" trip. Yes, the weather is comparable in both cities but it is NOT the same as it is in Madrid, i.e., both of your possible cities are much, MUCH more humid that Madrid.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 10:48 AM
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We were in Madrid for a couple of days then Barcelona, and Lisbon on a 15 day trip, and I felt I wasted our days to go to Lisbon, whereas I felt I left Barcelona too soon. I loved the museums, the food, and the people watching. Lisbon was not pretty to me, and has limited art and history compared to Barcelona.
As to the person that had people trying to sell them drugs, maybe it's how you look or your age, for I've never heard that from anyone among our travelling friends. Much depends on you.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 11:35 AM
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Easy...Barcelona....my favorite European city.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 06:48 PM
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Aleta,
Late 40's, husband and wife lawyers -- we do look unseasonably young, so I'll take that as a compliment!
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