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One Month in Portugal and Spain - Advice Appreciated!

One Month in Portugal and Spain - Advice Appreciated!

Old Nov 16th, 2023, 07:31 AM
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One Month in Portugal and Spain - Advice Appreciated!

I have been avidly reading other, similar requests here on Fodors, and the many informative responses and gorgeous pictures (wow, Progol!). It was good to see your name, Maribel, we have used your suggestions in the past.

We are an active 60-year-old couple who has traveled a lot in Europe. We have visited Spain a number of times, but this will be our first visit to Portugal. We like large and small cities interspersed with the countryside, local cuisine, history, art, and castles! Not into beaches or shopping. We have done several month-long trips since moving into semi-retirement, and try to combine multi-day stays with a variety of locations. Some cities we have really enjoyed spending time in (other than the obvious Rome, Paris, London, etc.) recently are Modena, Bayonne and Vannes (in Brittany). We like towns/cities that are big enough to have choices on restaurants.

Our initial thoughts are to fly into Madrid, train to Seville (we loved Seville on our first trip there), then pick up a rental car on leaving. Skip the Algarve. Head west to Lisbon, then Porto, and eventually all the way east to San Sebastian (we’ve been before and want to return), then train to Bordeaux because we spent one night there last year and loved it, so want to return there too. We haven’t decided length of stay anywhere yet.

It’s other places in Portugal and/or “Green Spain” that we would love advice about. We had been thinking about Galacia, but Progol’s report gave us many new ideas, AND the Alentejo is less out of the way than Santiago de Compostela. I really like what I’ve read about Marvao and Tomar (I already had Evora and Merida, Spain on my list). And I can’t decide about the Douro Valley. Spouse is huge into wine, but visiting wineries gets old for me very quickly.

I'm looking forward to your input!
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 07:52 AM
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Portugal is a perfect place to those who like to intersperse large/small cities with countryside, who like the local cuisine, history, art and lots of castles!

Quick question (I think I know the answer, if you pick up a car in Sevilla you do plan to drop it off inSan Sebastián before taking the topo to Hendaye to pick up the TGV to Bordeaux, correct?

Yes, I would skip the Algarve since you're not into beaches.

How many days will you have? 30? Do those days include Bordeaux?

You could include Alentejo, Marvão and Tomar on the way to Porto so long as it isn't in summer as it's blazing hot in the Alentejo then as it is in Mérida, Extremadura. I'm just not sure of your sequence all the way to San Sebastián/Donostia and when you plan to go.

If this is September and you haven´t already been to Asturias, I would, from Porto, go up to Galicia and from there hug the coast through Asturias and Cantabria to the Basque Country. But that would mean cutting out Alentejo and Extremadura. All of those places on your wish list, starting out in Seville and ending up in S.S. will really be tough to do in 30 days at a leisurely pace. That´s covering a great deal of ground in both countries.

I believe progol had almost that number of days for her all Portugal trip. I've forgotten how many days she allowed for Portugal minus the Algarve (and maitaitom as well), but both itineraries were very well planned. You should also check maitaitom's very entertaining trip report (he did venture into the Douro, but reservations there are hard to snag in the fall when everyone wants to go for the harvest.


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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 08:10 AM
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Just a note about San Sebastián-Donostia if your trip will be in September (I'm not sure but I may have missed this). Your lodging costs will be impacted if you arrive during the very busy September season. The International Film Festival is tentatively set for the 20th to the 28th. And high season extends in SS through all of September. Just a note.

And because lodging is at a premium at the quintas in the Douro that have gorgeous river views, a Douro stay should be booked far in advance pretty much at any time except for winter.
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 08:14 AM
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I forgot to give the time of year - mid-April to mid-May. We have not booked flights yet; it will be somewhere around 30 days.

Yes, we will drop the rental car in San Sebastian, we have no interest in the huge drop fee.

We have been to the Spanish and French Basque country several times, so while spouse would like to spend more time in the Spanish Basque country (other than San Sebastian, which is a must), I'm more interested in spending more days in areas I haven't been to yet.

Maribel, I think you're captured our dilemma. Even with a month, more to see and experience than we have time for!
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Old Nov 16th, 2023, 08:48 AM
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Yes you really need to pick and choose among many wonderful places!

If you were to skip the Alentejo and Extremadura and from Porto go north towards Santiago then hung the Costa Cantábrica through gorgeous Asturias and Cantabria on your way to Donostia, it would be feasible in 30 nights, but....is Sevilla a "must do" on this trip?
Have you been to Asturias and Cantabria? Oviedo was just chosen today as the Gastronomic Capital of Spain for 2024.

Some get around the horrendous drop off, repatriation fees by picking up a vehicle in Lisbon (or another point in Portugal) then dropping it off in Porto or Guimarães further north and. taking a private transfer, bus or the train (the Celta train from Porto) up to Vigo, Galicia to pick up a Spain rental there.

Last edited by Maribel; Nov 16th, 2023 at 09:20 AM.
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Old Nov 18th, 2023, 04:58 PM
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You might want to read my trip report:

Trip Report: Spanish Basque Country, Asturias and Leon, Madrid==July 2018
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