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Driving from Madrid to Lisbon and back to Madrid in 12 days

Driving from Madrid to Lisbon and back to Madrid in 12 days

Jun 2nd, 2011, 09:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 6
Driving from Madrid to Lisbon and back to Madrid in 12 days

My spouse and I are flying into Madrid on June 21, arriving early morning, and will fly out of Madrid on in the late morning on July 3. The only constraint that we have is that I must attend a conference in Lisbon June 26-27. Our objective is to rent a car at the Madrid airport to take a scenic drive to Lisbon and return to Madrid via another scenic route. We want to take our time, have great food, and enjoy the trip as much as two people who don't speak either Spanish or Portuguese can. Our preliminary thinking was to take three days from Madrid to the coast around Lisbon, staying there the nights of 24 and 25. What are must see towns for overnights on the way? We would stay in Lisbon at the conference hotel June 26 - 28 and then have 4 full days to get back to Madrid before leaving late morning on July 3.

Can you help us with suggested itineraries?

We also have these questions: American Express has a car rental insurance plan for around $30. Would this be adequate? Do I need an international drivers license?
jameslmorrison is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Madrid-Toledo-Oropesa-Cáceres-Mérida-Badajoz-Evora-Lisbon-Cascais-Sintra-( ???)- Salamanca- Ávila-(segovia??) -Madrid

the Amex insurance sounds like a great deal. Read the fine print. Always best to have Int'l license.
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
I forgot to link the wonderful parador ( National hotel system) webpage. I especially like the Oropesa Parador. It is in a very small town and quite magnificent, as you can see from its photos


the hotel itself

lincasanova is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 02:04 PM
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Try hard to include Marvao going or coming.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 06:40 AM
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Monsaraz going and Marvao coming.
lobo_mau is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 07:32 AM
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good to have input from lobo and bob.. experts in the area!
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 08:51 AM
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Great suggestions. Thanks!

My spouse is concerned about such reports as "There have been reports of thieves posing as plainclothes police officers, beckoning to pedestrians from cars and sometimes confronting them on the street asking for documents, or to inspect their cash for counterfeit bills, which they ultimately confiscate as “evidence.” The U.S. Embassy in Madrid has received reports of cars on limited access motorways being pulled over by supposed unmarked police cars." Both the UK and US governments have warnings about pickpockets and petty thieves in Portugal and Spain, and about muggings in Madrid. We are leaning to just staying in Lisbon and Madrid and taking city and near city tours, which would, of course, preclude us from seeing the countries. (These warnings are both on the web and in the guidebooks that we are reading.) What do you think?
jameslmorrison is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 10:26 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 8

We also are traveling to Lisbon later this month, and have had some of the same concerns that you have expressed. We don't plan to rent a car, but to use the bus system (which I'm told is excellent) to go to some of the smaller cities, such as Evora, Nazare and Tomar. The bus system travels to futher points in the countryside as well. I've also been told that the petty thieves are more prevalent in Lisbon than elsewhere, so we just are taking plenty of precautions, many of which we take in large US cities, too, such as money belts, no jewelry, using taxis frequently, learning what areas to avoid and when, and mastering saying "No thank you" very firmly in Portuguese. We've also purchased a kind of mesh wire contraption that fits over bags to thwart any pickpockets. (The PacSafe Security Web from REI--it comes in several sizes to fit everything from small backpacks to larger suitcases.)

Hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip!
Kaba is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2011, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Of course there are petty thieves in spain. And one is wise to be careful of any good samaritan on the highway helping you change a flat ( slashed) tire.

However, in no way would this keep me from trying to see this country. I drive in the country ( by myself even) all the time. It is really lovely to be able to roam around on secondary roads and see the small villages which , in my opinion, are what in this era can make a trip tp Spain or Portugal so unique.

Be smart and do not leave jackets/bags and cameras in the car.when you stop to eat or take a stroll.

Plan your trip , know where you are going, have a good map, and enjoy it. I think you will feel much safer in the small towns if you are concerned about safety. Everyone knows everyone, and the atmosphere is much more relaxed than your large cities.

If it makes you feel any better, I haven't even heard of the unmarked police car scam in Spain and I have lived here for 40 yrs. I am sure it must have happened somewhere but they are not even warning about it on TV. I have heard of some mafia groups that rob cars at rest areas when you stop for a coffee ( on the tollroads). But those groups seem to have been apprehended by the police more than once in the past few years, and stories now are not being mentioned.

Since I do travel alone often, I think if someone stopped me .. I would not open my locked door, get out my cell phone and call 112, ( emergency number for europe) and tell them an unmarked police car was stopping me and let them figure it out.
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 07:54 PM
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My spouse has declined to accompany me on this trip. I have purchased a ticket to arrive in Lisbon on 21 June, departing on 29 June for Madrid and then on 4 July for home.

Option 1 is to go to a hotel and begin taking guided tours of the city and nearby areas (e.g., Lisbon city tours, Aquarium, hop on hop off).

Option 2 is to rent a car for four days (at $188 I think, but there may be taxes and fees) and take off for Sintra on June 21 and check into a hotel (18 miles). Visit Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais that day and the next morning. Check out and drive to Obideos and check into a hotel (June 22; 60 miles). See Obideos and Pniche and leave on June 23 for Nazare for the next hotel checkin (60 miles). See Nazare, the two world heritage monasteries, and Penich. Leave on the 24th to Figueira da Foz, check in a hotel, see the city and the mountain-top castle of Montemor-o-Velho (57 miles). Check out on June 25 for Coimbra, check into hotel (33 miles). Leave on June 26 for the drive back to the Lisbon airport to turn in the car (123 miles). Attend the meeting on the 27th, and take a day tour of the city on the 28th, a Flamingo dinner/show that night, and leave Lisbon on the 29th.

I will have to search for hotels in these cities.

jameslmorrison is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 08:08 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 26,710
I hope your spouse did not refuse to go because of the crime rpeorts.

Yes, there is petty crime in the cities, but there is little elsewhere and violent crime is rare.

If you have an AMEX card, check to see if they will cover the CDW waver. It is not available on all cards. And call your insurance company to find out what is covered abroard inlcuding under your homeownwers and umbrella.

You do not need an International Driver's license to rent a car but if you are stopped by the Spanish police, they could be sticklers.

It is very difficult to park in Sintra. You can take the train from Lisbon and then rent a car when you leave the town.

It is a shame that she would miss a trip like this becuase of her fear of crime.
Aduchamp1 is offline  

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