Five weeks in Spain and Portugal

Jan 1st, 2014, 12:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 18
Five weeks in Spain and Portugal

Hi ya all

I have recently discovered the wonderful Fodors forum, I have been actively reading up on the Spain/Portugal forums in recent times but this is my first posting.

My husband and I have five glorious weeks touring Spain and Portugal from the beginning of May until the first week in June of this year.

We have return flight booked to Barcelona from Melbourne, Australia.

We are thinking of heading South from Barcelona. I have read of plenty great info on Seville (thinking of spending up to a week there?), Ronda, Granada, Cordoba and Malaga, but Valencia hasn't really inspired me yet. Is it worth stopping at or just head straight to Granada? We're not really interested in just seeing a big city - much happier in smaller towns.

From Seville, I thought of heading to Southern Portugal before zigzagging back to Spain to the area of Extremadora (sp?) and Madrid and then back in to Portugal to Lisbon, Evora, Porto etc.

Back in to Spain to do the north ending maybe at San Sebastián and back to Barcelona.

We hope to do this mainly by public transport but will hire a car for part of the trip if necessary.

Five weeks seems like a lot of time but as I'm writing out this rough itinerary, it seems like we're trying to fit in a lot of places!

We don't necessarily like to see all the 'sights', we like to just roam and discover. We enjoy sitting in cafés and parks taking in life as it goes by.

Any suggestions/ideas would be greatly appreciated


kandn is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,762
You're probably trying to do too much - you need to lay this out on a calendar, allowing for travel time.

Although Spain and Portugal are on the same peninsula, travel links are poor - result of very contentious history.... I would not zig-zag between the two. The best connection is the night train between Lisbon and Madrid. I've been to Portugal four times without visiting the Algarve beaches, but if you want to do that I would cross in the south (by bus), head north, at least as far as Porto, and go back to Lisbon for the train to Madrid.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 07:09 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Agree that back and fourth between countries would not work.

You first need a map and pinpoint all the places you want to visit. Spain is a large country and you could easily spend five weeks between the south and north.

But places you mentioned in Portugal are wonderful.

I see you have made flight arrangements. If you were able to change your flight arrangements to open jaw, fly into Barcelona and out of Lisbon, I thing the logistics of your trip would work better.
iris1745 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 07:28 AM
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A car rental may be more efficient for what you want to do, even though the car would be useless in any large city. We spent just three weeks in northern Portugal with a few days going to Santiago (click on my name if you want to read the trip report), so your trip may be overly ambitious. We also spent a little more than two weeks doing this trip: and it excluded Barcelona and Madrid.

If you are starting in Barcelona and wish to include Madrid, it might make sense to take the train between the two and rent the car once you leave Madrid.
Michael is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 07:48 AM
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And we just spent 18 nights in September in Northern Spain, from Madrid north.
iris1745 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 08:28 AM
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You've already gotten some great advice. I'll just add another vote for "too much." The good news is that you will see many wonderful things no matter what you skip! As you plan, keep the weather in mind and if you end up visiting Andalusia, it will probably better to do so early in your trip rather than later. Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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We spent six weeks traveling from Lisbon to Barcelona in a large arc..Visited throughout Portugal, then Galicia, Spain to Leon, then northern coast, San Sebastian, Hondarribia, into France, Pays Basque, across northern edge of Pyreenes to Mediterranean coast, south to Costa Brava, ending in Barcelona. We had two car rentals, one for Portugal and the other for Spain and France. This was one of our favorite trips and we stayed at least a week in three of the locations.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 23
If you do have time to get to Extremadura, Caceres, Merida & Trujillo really are worth the effort - and are relatively free of "foreigners" like us, although there are a lot of tourists, most are Spanish.

Wherever you go, you've chosen a great time to visit although Seville will be pretty hot, even by then...
Iberiophile is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 09:29 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,522
As I tell everyone who plans Portugal and/or Spain..Check out the pousadas and paradors..excellent deals. excellent accom. and excellent experiences.. Drink the Cava, eat the tapas, try the wonderful wines and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!
amer_can is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 02:56 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 18
Thank you so much for these excellent replies! We have much to consider.

The reason we are heading down South first is the weather.

I think after Seville we will head over to the Algarve area (my Aunt lives there) then up as far as Porto, back to Lisbon and then across to Extremadura (the look of that area really appeals to us). From Madrid we may fly to San Sebastián for some down time before heading back to Barcelona and home.

We won't get to discover the North but a kja said - we will see many wonderful things no matter what we skip!

Iberiophile - can you tell me what the public transport is like around the Extremadura region?
kandn is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 03:19 PM
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As a rule, The Rough Guide provides excellent information on transportation options.
kja is offline  
Jan 1st, 2014, 04:42 PM
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In terms of weather you need to understand that it likely will already be hot in the south - upper 80s or 90s in May (we got beach weather in mid April and 99 in Madrid at end of April).

I too think that you are trying to cover too much territory.

You need to lay out your trip day by day, allowing time to get form one place to another (1/2 to a full day depending) and thinking about how much time you will want to see the sights in each place.
nytraveler is offline  

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