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Help! First time spain and portugal itinerary for 3 weeks

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May 31st, 2015, 05:38 PM
  #1
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Help! First time spain and portugal itinerary for 3 weeks

Hi,
I have posted before when doing research and now that we have booked tickets I thought its time to finalise this. so in short, husband and I, architects, first timers in spain and love to see everything. we got return melbourne-madrid as the price was better. I realise this is a tight itinerary but we do like it that way i think. However I would like a bit more time in portugal and was wondering if anyone can advise me on which place to cut from the list. maybe SS, maybe valencia or maybe one less day in barcelona?

3 days- Madrid
1 day - Bilbao
2 days - San Sebastian
4 days- Barcelona
1/2 day - Valencia (in between travelling from barcelona to granada)
2 days - Granada
3 days - Seville
3 days - Lisbon
1 day - Porto
1 day - Madrid
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May 31st, 2015, 05:57 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
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Can I ask how you are travelling between places?
I don't always agree with posters on this website who tell people they will be rushing around, but I think you are wasting way too much time rushing from one place to the next.
We have travelled to Spain many times, and used public transport, rental cars and internal flights. If this was me I'd either do the south OR the north and leave Portugal for another time. There are too many variables that you can't control, and you are trying to cover to much ground.
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May 31st, 2015, 06:05 PM
  #3
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Well we are planning on taking the train and bus mostly and fly from porto to madrid. Night train from seville to lisbon and valencia to granada. Atleast thats the plan for now.
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May 31st, 2015, 06:50 PM
  #4
 
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Doesn't allow for time to stop and relax and do something just normal...like laundry. I would cut out like 3 days from somewhere to account for travel, delays, unexpected rest, emergencies, laundry etc. I hear Bilbao and San Sebastian are fantastic but maybe cut them out since they are a little bit out of the way of the general areas of the trip. If those are must-sees than by all means go! I think the key is cutting down on the total distance to maximize pleasure and time to really get a feel for a place. Also perhaps cutting out the Portugal segment of the trip and making it another trip on its own might be advisable.
I'm not super experienced but have backpacked in over a dozen countries in Western Europe including a decent bit of Spain. I don't think my words should be taken too seriously but that's just what I would share based on my experiences and I am a young, outdoors type male who likes to do a lot of walking and itinerary-packed sightseeing.
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May 31st, 2015, 07:11 PM
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There is a significant variety of architecture in Spain, to keep you occupied let alone museums, restaurants, and other attractions.

Architectural highlights
Barcelona-Moderisme of Gaudi and Puig, Gothic, and there is a somewhat cheesy attraction called Poble Espanyol where there are replicas of structures from all over Spain. Good for an overview.

San Sebastian/Donostia-There is some exquisite Belle Epoque architecture plus a mesmerizing inlet from the sea. And the best food in Spain. An hour away is Bilbao with the Guggenheim designed by that megalomaniac Frank Gehry.

Madrid-This is an excellent hub for many nearby towns including Segovia, where they used a Roman aqueduct until about 25 years ago. One of the most beautiful plazas in Salamanca. And you can take the AVE to Cuenca for buildings that hang off the sides of a gorge.

The south had many striking examples of Mudejar architecture and the Alhamba has an extraordinary history along with the garden called The Generalife.

Don't get me wrong I like Portugal, the people, and the food, but it is not diverse and interesting as Spain.
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May 31st, 2015, 07:28 PM
  #6
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Thanks branderson925 and IMDonehere. So much valuable info. Bilbao is a must because of the guggenheim but might take out SS. Even though we will miss the best food in spain. then we can put those 2 days to porto or madrid to slow down.
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May 31st, 2015, 07:43 PM
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If I had my choice of Bilbao and San Sebastian, I would chose San Sebastian. The collection at the Guggenheim is not that great, it is all about the skin of the building.
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May 31st, 2015, 10:31 PM
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You say your trip is three weeks. I assume that means 21 days on the ground, since you have already booked flights and you have proposed 20&1/2 days in different places. I do not think the time you are giving as days in each place is possible because of travel time. You need to actually figure travel time if you want to grasp how much time you will have in each place.

Coming from Melbourne, you will probably be jet-laged, so on arrival day, not much sight seeing, a bit of walking, etc. Don't know if you arrive morning or evening, or if you are counting arrival day, but major sight seeing on arrival day would be a blur.
Day 1 Madrid getting settled into hotel, bit of walking
Day 2 Madrid
Day 3 Madrid
Day 4 travel to Bilbao, train time just under 5 hours, plus time getting to the train station in Madrid and getting to your hotel in Bilbao, add a minimum of an hour, so six hours. Even getting up early, you can't get to Bilbao until early afternoon, so
Day 4 (after travel) 1/2 day in Bilbao
Day 5 travel to San Sebastian, 2&1/2 hours plus one getting to and from hotels, etc.
Day 5 (after travel) 3/4 day in San Sebastian
Day 6 San Sebastian
Day 7 travel to Barcelona, just under 6 hours plus getting to and from hotel. Can't possibly get to hotel until mid afternoon. So
Day 7 (with travel) 1/4 day in Barcelona
Day 8 Barcelona
Day 9 Barcelona
Day 10 Barcelona

What you have
2 full days, Madrid
1/2 day, Bilbao
1 & 3/4 days, San Sebastian
3 & 1/4 days Barcelona

You can see that you do not have 1 day in Balboa. You have only 1/2 day. Will that be enough for you in Bilbao?

You do not have 4 days in Barcelona. You have 3 & 1/4 days.

This is all fine as long as you are aware and not counting on more time than you actually have.
Do you plan on visiting Toledo while in Madrid, even just for the Cathedral?
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Jun 1st, 2015, 12:04 AM
  #9
 
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I saw this question on TA too. I thought yet again there is more time devoted to travelling then enjoying the places they want to think they can see.
One night stands do not work, especially if you are going to use public transport.
My advise is to slow down and see more.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 12:43 AM
  #10
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Thanks everyone. I have already taken SS off the list. And I do realise the travel times and distances are a lot and that its great to be able to stay in one city for atleast a week. But we do not have that kind of time and as first timers would like to do as much as we are comfortable doing. It's all new so where ever we go it will still be exciting.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 02:00 AM
  #11
 
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A good tip is to think in terms of nights as opposed to days. Work out where you will be sleeping and how long it will take to get from the place you slept the night before - this then gives you a better of idea of the actual time you have in each place.

Although I've not been yet San Sebastian looks wonderful - the Kursaal Culture centre at night, the Club Nautico, the Basque Culinary Centre, the Gipuzkoa Council building, the Aquarium.

It's a tough call but I would have stuck to your original plan.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 05:40 AM
  #12
 
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No matter how much time you have on this trip and seeing you are first time travellers then you will have more time to travel as you get older.
I give the advice about one nighters due to the ones that choose to stay at my Casa Rural and then find there is a load to see in the region.
I have also found that the vacationers who choose to move around are tried at the end of the trip and in need of another vacation. They also underestimate the time it takes to cover distances.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 08:23 AM
  #13
 
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There's a bunch of contemporary architecture in Barcelona as well as the wonderful Moderisme stuff. Here's some links: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.c...hitecture.html and http://www.localnomad.com/en/blog/20...-in-barcelona/.

We had 5 nights/4 days in Barcelona and just touched the surface. But we're slow travelers.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 02:29 PM
  #14
 
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I was not advocating a week in each city, and I know you want to see as much as possible.

The problem was, you listed every day as days in places. If you calculate travel time, including getting to the train station, etc. and accept the fact that you have much less time in some places than you had on your itinerary, and still want to run with it, at least you are aware.

I was simply pointing out that you were listing whole days in cities, and some of those days were actually travel days, not days in the city. Like, listing 1 day in Bilbao, when it could not be more than 1/2 day.

Good that you are considering dropping one or two places. Choose carefully, and it will be much more enjoyable.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 03:12 PM
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Well we are planning on taking the train and bus mostly and fly from porto to madrid. Night train from seville to lisbon and valencia to granada>

Night train from Seville to Lisbon - don't think so - TMK there is none unless you go back to Madrid and hop the Madrid-Lisbon night train. Seville to Lisbon cannot even be done directly by rail - the best way is a bus Seville to Faro and then train to Lisbon - several hours in the daytime.

If doing all that by train look at the Spain-Portugal Railpass (if still around - was last I knew and you can chose which trains to take once there not book discounted tickets in stone (unchangeable non-refundable I believe) weeks in advance (as they are sold in limited numbers on each train).

For lots of good info on Iberian trains: www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

There is a night train possibility Porto to Madrid - you can easily connect from Porto with the Lisbon-Madrid hotel train.
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Jun 1st, 2015, 05:51 PM
  #16
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Thank you everyone for taking the time to help me out. You are right Sassafrass we did have half a day in bilbao and that was all we wanted as the point was to see the guggenheim. but now that we have taken out SS we have couple more days left to add to any place.
PalenQ when i said night train i meant night bus. you are right there are no trains but there is a bus that runs at night direct.
Good thing is I have a bit more time to think about everything and finalise. Super excited!
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Jun 2nd, 2015, 06:47 AM
  #17
 
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I can also see no night train anymore between Granada and Valencia - you mean night bus there too?
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