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Planning a trip to Portugal, Spain and Italy

Old Jun 15th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Planning a trip to Portugal, Spain and Italy

Me and my husband are planning a trip to Europe in the month of Nov and have selected Portugal, Spain and Italy as our destinations to visit. We have never visited Europe before and hence need some suggestions on hotel bookings, transportation within cities, best deals..etc..

We have 17 days and are looking to make the maximum out of the time that we have. We are planing to visit the below mentioned cities on our trip.

In Portugal - Lisbon
In Spain - Madrid, Seville, Granada, Barcelona,(If possible Larioja and Valencia)
In Italy - Venice, Florence, Rome (If possible Amalfi coast or Naples.

Is it possible to do all the places listed above in the span of 17 days??

If not, which are the absolute must see??

How many days would one require in each city to cover the most popular attractions??

Any suggestions of help in planning our trip will be a great help and truly appreciated..
Piya is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Palnning a first trip is indeed dauntning. We would love to help you.

Let's think backward and not even think about what you can do or see in any of these places. Let's just consider how much time it will take to get to each of these different cities, especially since most can not be visited from one or the other on a day trip. You will have to change cities and hotels for each choice (except perhaps Rome and Florence).

Each time you change hotels, it takes at least half a day to check out of your hotel take transport (whtehr train or air) from one city to another and then check into another hotel. Chaniging countries can take more time.

Your short list of Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Venice, Florence, and Rome are 6 cities. That's at least 3 of your vacation days devoted to travel.

Does your 17 days include your travel days to and from Europe? If coming from the US, do you depart on Day 1, fly overnight, and arrive on Day 2? Therefore you lose 1 day. Is your flight home on Day 17? Usually that day is all about departing, nothing more. If this is true, then you've just lost 2 more days to arriving and departing Europe.

For a trip of 17 days, you would need at least 5 days to travel to your choices, leaving 12 days or less to visit them. With 6 destinations, is 2 days enough in each city for you? For some people, it would be enough, but you must decide for yourself.

You must also decide what is 'must-see' based on your own interests. It doesn't matter is the Vatican Museums are popular if you care nothing about Catholicism or art. Tell us what you like to do, what you hope to experience, and we can help you choose YOUR must-sees.
ellenem is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2007, 12:27 PM
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Planning a first trip is indeed daunting.

For me, typing is even a bigger problem.
ellenem is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2007, 03:37 PM
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Do yourself a favor and pick 5 destinations in either Spain/Portugal or Italy---not both. In November, I would fly into Lisbon and home from Madrid and include Seville and Granada. You pick the 5th.
Italy takes 6 weeks to see. Start to plan 3 future trips now.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2007, 04:38 PM
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absolutely agree with bob--don't try 3 countries in such a short amount of time
artlover is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2007, 04:40 PM
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I don;t wish to be rude but in 17 days (and is that 17 days in the ground - or does it include the days you arrive and depart?) you should do no more than 4 cities.

Assuming you're limited on day 1 due to jet lag and need to allow 3 days to travel from one to another, doing 4 cities would allow you 3 1/4 days per city - certainly not to much for any of them - and not enough for some (Rome).

It is simply not possible to do Portugal/Spain and Italy in so few days. (We did Portugal/Spain - but only south of Madrid in 22 days - and still missed tons of things.) Similarly you could do several cities in Italy.

You're trying to do 11 cities in 17 days. When you take away the 10 travel days, that leaves you 2/3 of a day per city. This plan you have will result in your seeing little but airports and train stations - and simply isn;t even close to being realistic.

I think you need to get a map, check on distances and travel times and then lay out a day by day itinerary. And do realize that traveling between any 2 cities will take most of a day (packing, checking out of hotel, getting to train station or airport, traveling, getting out of train station to airport, finding hotel and checking in).

When experienced european travelers were polled on this site they listed tryig to do way too much as the major mistake of their first trip.

I uderstand the desire to see everything - but this trip will result in your seeinng nothing (you haven;t even allowed for the fact that many major sights in europe are completely closed one day per week - what if that's the only day in that city?)

Also - November will be chilly, probably rainy and you will have limited hours of daylight in which to see anything - compared to spring/summer travelers.

Pleae, do some reading, figure out what you want to see most and pick 4 cities - so you don't spend all your time in transit.

nytraveler is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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Skip Portugal altogether. Lisbon is nothing comparing to the rest of the cities you have chosen. And if you still want to do it then start with Lisbon otherwise you will be very disappointed if you end with it. My advise is either to stick with one country or do Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Rome, Florence and Venice and that is it. To get from Barcelona to Madrid or other way around you have to fly, it is too far drive. Seville is about 2 or 3 hours south of Madrid. Don't count the day of arrival in Europe as full day. By the time you get to the hotel and check in, and most check in time is 3 pm, you will be exausted and sightseeing will not be a pleasure.
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 12:02 AM
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I'm spending three weeks in Portugal this September (having previously spent three weeks in Northern Italy and Rome in 2003, three weeks in Madrid and Southern Spain in 2005 and an amazing 3 weeks in Barcelona, the Loire Valley, the Dordogne and Burgundy in 2004), and really looking forward to it, but I agree, if this is a first trip, given the amount of time you have, it would be better to focus on Italy and/or Spain. I find it really hard to feel I've been any more than a day tripper unless I spend at least 3 nights somewhere, because 3 nights translates to only 2 full days. It's frustrating to spend a perfect day somewhere, only to have to check out the next day, no matter how nice the next place may turn out to be.

Italy: I really have a soft spot for Venice: it's unlike any city in the world. We stayed at a modest 6-room place (private bathrooms, however) largely staffed by charming students from the nearby university called Locanda Gaffaro. Choosing between Florence and Rome: that's tough. I'm inclined to say go to Rome, because it would be tragic to go to Florence and not go out into the Tuscan countryside while you're there.

Spain: For the Alhambra, Granada; we stayed at the delightfully ramshackle Hotel America right in the grounds of the Alhambra. Sevilla is a wonderful place too; we stayed at the elegant and excellent Taberna del Alabardero. With those locations, it makes sense to include Madrid, and leave Barcelona for another trip.

If you could detail your preferences (art? antiquity? gourment food/wine?) it might elicit more focused comments.

I hope someone joining this discussion can advise your on the frequently important issue of which places are good or less good to visit in the off-season.
littlemountain is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2007, 12:24 AM
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Skip Lisbon only because it's out of the way. Personally, I liked Lisbon much better than Barcelona and Madrid but it doesn't seem to fit in your schedule.

Actually, I would do Italy only but do it right: include Venice, Florence, Pisa, Siena, Rome, Naples and the Amalfi coast. That's about 17 days right there.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Piya-I agree with what everyone has said. Travel days are lost days & exhausting. For 17 days I would just do Italy-Or just Portugal or Spain. Enjoy the flavor of the country-visit another country on another trip. After you've taken your first trip you are hooked. My husband & I will be in Thailand & Bali for a month this October-September 08 I am working on a trip to Portugal including Maderia-thats why I jumped to this site-I'll be taking more notes after I get back in October. This site has a wealth of information-Chris
BeniciaChris is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2007, 04:42 AM
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IMHO. Too much, too little time.

As a personal choice, we usually pick no more than two countries for a trip of that length.

Good luck.
Sher is offline  
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