Help planning Spain/Portugal Itinerary

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Jan 24th, 2010, 10:59 AM
  #1
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Help planning Spain/Portugal Itinerary

Fodorites,

My wife and a I are planning a 21 day trip to Spain/Portugal in April 2010. Any opinions or info is appreciated. We will be there April 6 - 28th. Flying in to Madrid and out of Barcelona. Here is our rough outline based on some Fodorite trip reports (thanks Indian Couple samuell) and some tweaking of my own. My wife really wants a day trip to Morocco, I don't, any opinions on this. I know our itinerary seems packed but we are very early risers and like to do a lot in a small amount of time. I have left some relaxation time for Algarves and Mallorca. Otherwise we are ready to do some aggressive traveling and EATING!

Spain/Portugal 2010
April 6 – April 28, 2010

Madrid (daytrip or overnights to Toledo and Segoiva) 3-5 days
Lisbon (daytrips to Sintra & Cascais) 4-5 days
Algarves 2-3 days
Sevilla 2 days
Gibraltar 1 day (daytrip to Morocco)
Cordoba 1 day
Granada 1-2days
Valencia 1-2 days
Mallorca 2-3 days
Barcelona (daytrips to ???) 4-5 days

Thanks in advance.
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Jan 24th, 2010, 11:20 AM
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I would skip Mallorca. And I am a little confused by the Gibraltar/Morocco day.

I would spend some of the that leisure time, leisurely seeing some of the towns an cities you have losted.

One thing people never include is sitting at a cafe and watching someone else's world. It can be instructive and entertaining.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 07:46 AM
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Aggressive is an understatement. I don't think this itinerary factors in the time spent traveling between cities, packing/unpacking hassles, check-in and check-out time, etc.... I assume you'll have a car. For example, 2 days in Sevilla is already 1 day too few in my opinion. But you probably won't arrive until mid-late day on the first day as you'l be driving from the Algarve. Not sure how you expect to drive from Sevilla to Gibralter, visit Gibratler and daytrip to Morocco in 1 day. Then the next day drive 3.5 hours from Gibralter to Cordoba for a 1 day visit.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 07:56 AM
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1) You need to factor in transit time.
2) There are mixed opinions on Gibraltar, but there is a consensus on day trips to Morocco--NO! Not enough time and you don't see anything that would make you want to return. Morocco deserves its own trip.
3) If you like the pace, that's okay, but I feel a trip is better when more rural areas or small towns balance out the cities. I would leave out Mallorca and Valencia and incorporate some relaxation in Andalucia.
Good luck!
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Jan 25th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Thanks for the info guys.
We don't plan to drive with the exception of the Algarves. Bus, train or fly.
I had a chat with my wife and we are going to cut, Morocco/Gibraltar, Mallorca and dedicate more time to the Algarves and Andalucia. Itinerary will look more like this:

Spain/Portugal 2010
April 6 – April 28, 2010

Madrid (daytrip or overnights to Toledo and Segoiva) 5 days
Lisbon (daytrips to Sintra & Cascais) 5 days
Algarves 4 days
Sevilla 3 days
Cordoba 1 day
Granada 2days
Barcelona (daytrips to ???) 5 days

That leaves 6 days unscheduled. Any suggestions? Which coast is more desirable, South or Southeast/East. How different are they? Should we perhaps spend more time in Central Spain? We are like to do it all. We love large metropolitans, love the beach, really want to experience smaller rural town. Other words very open to suggestions. The most important thing to us is food. I am specifiaclly traveling to Spain first and foremost to eat as I have heard/read Spain has the best cuisine in the world.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 10:01 AM
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That sounds wonderful--a perfect itinerary, once you work out those last 6 days. I'll let the Spain experts help you there, but I love the "Pueblos Blancos" areas of Andalucia. You could perhaps rent a car when you leave Sevilla and drop it off in Granada. Maybe the northern Spain lovers would recommend fitting in a jaunt before Portugal? If so, you must read Everything but the Squeal.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 12:31 PM
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Thanks Yorkshire
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Jan 25th, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Like Yorkshire, I would suggest adding some time for the white villages. We stayed in Ronda for 2 days and never ran out of things to do. We also loved Grazalema -- a beautiful little village with lovely scenery. Either would be a nice break from the larger cities.

Glad you expanded your time in Seville, Granada and Cordoba. I would also suggest you spend 2 days in Cordoba -- we saw the main sights of the town one day, then spent several hours the following day at the excellent ruins of Medina Alzahra, outside of town. Many folks suggest daytripping to Cordoba, but I don't see how you can fit it all into a day trip. Have fun!
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Jan 25th, 2010, 02:47 PM
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A couple of ideas. We relly like Portugal north of Lisbon. A few say trip may be nice.

In the alternative add a day for Madrid id you are spending time on day trips. The highlights are the museums and that cna be tiring. There is also the Royal Tapestry Factory.

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/madrid/A1345.html

A trip to Ronda could be included as someone else noted.

Barcelona side trips to Montserrat, Girona, and Cadaques.

http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.c...rat-spain.html
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Jan 25th, 2010, 02:47 PM
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I've outlined soome potential ideas for your 6 additional days also considering you're depending on public transportation (but you can't do them all:

Cadiz as a base with daytrips (Sanlucar de Barrameda, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Vejer de la Frontera, Jerez)

Ubeda and Baeza

Priego de Cordoba

Antequera

Osuna

Ronda - easy to get to from Sevilla by bus. Without a car you won't have the opportunity to explore the Pueblos Blancos area in detail but this is still a good taste of the area.

Malaga (the city versus the Costa del Sol)

Your updated itinerary looks much better than the original. It would have been very difficult to have managed it using public transportation as it would have implied all the schedules fit exactly how you needed (which isn't always the case).

It's not a bad idea to rent a car if you were interested in Ronda and the Pueblos Blancos - not mandatory but would be nice.

You may also want to visit (or not visit depending on your preference) Sevilla during the Feria in April (20-25). If so, you'll need to book hotel reservations (which will be at a premium cost) now. The other smaller villages may also be having their Feria's during your visit - it would certainly be interesting to visit one of the smaller cities/villages during their Feria.

Hope this helps!
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Jan 25th, 2010, 03:32 PM
  #11
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Thanks, lots of usefull info.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 03:33 PM
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You can easily bus to Ronda from Seville via Los Amarillos bus lines, a beautiful 2 hour ride through a lovely landscape.

And, if you don't want to rent a car -- we didn't -- we enjoyed our day trip/tour with Paul McGrath to the white villages. He's an Australian who lives in Seville. His web site is: www.theotherspain.galeon.com.

He's actually changing his tour itineraries a bit this winter/spring and he told me he's including Ronda in one of them, but email him to find out more. He may be traveling in Australia now, but I'm sure he'll get back to you when he can.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 03:48 PM
  #13
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I also miscalculated my itinerary like a true rookie, it appears I already have to cut some time off not add on! I could always extend my trip 4-5 days so that is an option which I will keep open. I am considering cutting 1 day off Madrid and 1 day off Barcelona.
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Jan 25th, 2010, 06:37 PM
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"The most important thing to us is food. I am specifiaclly traveling to Spain first and foremost to eat as I have heard/read Spain has the best cuisine in the world."

Just to make this even more difficult for you - if the most important thing to you is food you really need to head the San Sebastian and the Basque country. This is the area most people are referring to when they write about Spain having the best cuisine in the world.

With 3 weeks I'd focus on 2 and at most 3 geographic regions. You really need to figure out the areas that you are most interested in first then fully develop the itinerary.

If you can extend your itinerary above by 4-5 days and cut a day off Madrid and Barcelona it's still doable but a little rushed. However, I did want to throw out the Basque area as an option due to your expressed interest in the food. Of course you'd have to cut out 4-5 days somewhere else.....
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Jan 25th, 2010, 07:44 PM
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I would agree with the others that you should leave out Gibralter and Morocco. And I would also agree that you should visit Ronda - I found it to be a beautiful charming town, with incredible scenery. If you want to get off the beaten path even more, head out of Andalucia to the Extramadura area, which is an area relatively undiscovered by tourists. I would especially recommend Caceres, which is a wonderful town with one of the most untouched medieval centers I've seen in Europe. The history is amazing and it was voted a World Heritage City by UNESCO.
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Jan 28th, 2010, 11:28 PM
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CathyM you are right. San Sebastian seems to be a hot spot for top restaurants. Any suggestions on what you would cut out on my itinerary?
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Jan 29th, 2010, 05:26 AM
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We also enjoyed the tour with Paul McGrath, seeing four of the 'white villages'. This site has good information for Spain. Richard www.maribelsguides.com
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Jan 29th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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San Sebastián is not only top restaurants, but perhaps first and foremost the great pintxos/tapas bars all around town where you could have gourmet experiences to considerably lower costs. Ferran Adrià (El Bulli) suggests that San Sebastián is the best place to eat in the world "in terms of the average quality of the food, in terms of what you can get at any place you happen to walk into".
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandsty...rink.shopping2

All about going for pintxos in San Sebastián:
http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en

I would especially recommend the places on these two routes, although it is of course great fun finding your own favourites:
http://www.todopintxos.com/ruta/ruta...cha_rutas&id=1
http://www.todopintxos.com/ruta/ruta...cha_rutas&id=2

Add La Cepa (traditional) and the inventive Astelehena and Zeruko, all in the Parte Vieja/Old Town, and you should have plenty of options for unforgettable food experiences.

Besides, I had the meal of my life in the harbour of the close by fishing village Getaria in 1996. This gives you an idea: http://thepauperedchef.com/2007/12/elkano-in-getar.html
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Jan 29th, 2010, 08:34 AM
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All great advice. The best coast is the north coast (a bit cool for swimming in April) and then the south west coast (Cadiz area). Spend at least 3 nights in Sevilla, it may be your favorite part of the trip. I trust you're getting the picture about Morroco. Food is great everywhere in Spain. We all have different opinions. I would choose San Sebastian over Barcelona every time (well maybe not in Jan. or Feb.) I wish I could return there every year but I love Sevilla too much.
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Jan 29th, 2010, 11:37 AM
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You can dream yourself away at this site about tapas bars/restaurants in Sevilla. I suggest you take a closer look at Eslava, Cervecería Giralda and El Rinconcillo, but in general I would say that Sevilla has got one of the richest tapas scenes in all of Spain. Go explore!
http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletapas/tapas-101/

In Barcelona you should line up outside Cal Pep no later than 15 mins before opening time to get a seat; an extraordinary seafood oriented tapas bar that was ranked 66 on the San Peregrino World's best restaurant list of 2007. Had a fantastic meal here in 2006. Barcelona is food heaven!

Among the myriad of great places in Madrid, I can recommend El Mentidero de la Villa: http://www.mentiderodelavilla.es/

You should of course check out maribelsguides.com for recommendations on restaurants/tapas in Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada and San Sebastián.
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