Portugal & Spain itinerary advice

Old Sep 26th, 2022, 09:06 AM
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Portugal & Spain itinerary advice

My husband and I are changing our vacation plans for next summer, travelling to Portugal and Spain instead of central and southern Italy due to their voting in of a regressive, far-right government which we just cannot support - even if this is our small financial way of doing that.

We will now turn our attention to Portugal and Spain. Is three weeks enough to see Lisbon (where we will fly into), Porto, the Douro Valley, the Extremadura region of Spain, and Andalucia, including Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga (where we will be flying home from)? We will be renting a car in Lisbon and do not mind the extra fees to drop it off in Malaga.

Thanks

Last edited by AboveTheClouds; Sep 26th, 2022 at 09:35 AM.
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 09:30 AM
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I would stick to Spain or Portugal. Take the places you have listed and consider that you have three days for each location not counting travel time in between. And how do you plan to travel? Public transportation where you are tied to their schedule which might not be very convenient in some cases, or car rental which would incur high cross-border fees if rented in one country and returned in another.
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 09:38 AM
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Hi,

I edited my post to include the important questions you asked. We will be renting a car in Lisbon and dropping it off in Malaga (we are ok with the drop off fees as this mode of transportation gives us the most flexibility).

We think three weeks in Portugal would be too much so we would have no issues with removing a few of the destinations I mentioned (in Portugal and/or Spain) so we can have an interesting vacation without being on the go every day.

Thanks.
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 09:40 AM
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I agree completely with what Michael has noted. I would choose either Spain or Portugal. Fodorites here have had recent 3 week trips in Portugal covering Lisbon, Sintra, Alentejo, Tomar, Coimbra, Porto, Douro Valley and the southern Minho. You may find progol's recent trip report extremely helpful for planning a wonderful journey to Portugal.

Portugal at last!

And this wonderful photographic report from Russ-
3 Weeks in Portugal: A photographic report of a trip in progress

Last edited by Maribel; Sep 26th, 2022 at 10:19 AM.
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 12:16 PM
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Obviously three weeks is not too much time to spend in either country, but there is nothing wrong with splitting up your vacation if that's your desire.

Three weeks is not enough time for your initial proposed itinerary unless you like to be on the go all the time.

Maybe Lisbon-Sintra, then Extremadura then Andalucia. You will still have time for places in between or around,
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by shelemm View Post
Obviously three weeks is not too much time to spend in either country, but there is nothing wrong with splitting up your vacation if that's your desire.

Three weeks is not enough time for your initial proposed itinerary unless you like to be on the go all the time.

Maybe Lisbon-Sintra, then Extremadura then Andalucia. You will still have time for places in between or around,

Between Lisbon and the Extramadura, there are the hill villages of Portugal such as Monsaraz


and an overnight in Evora will give you the opportunity to see its highlights, and the pre-historic site on the way if you so choose:

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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 03:34 PM
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If you do decide that in your 3 weeks (21 nights?) you want to visit both Spain and Portugal, you could limit your journey to this:

Lisbon and environs, then drive east on the A6 to charming Alentejo, the land of cork trees, rolling hills, black pigs, castles, horse farms, dolmens/megalithic sites, basing in Evora (for side trips to Monsaraz or Marvão for a fortified Moorish castle town), then crossing over to Spain on the A6 at Badajoz to western Extremadura.

In Extremadura you could continue to drive on the A5 to Mérida for a stay at its Parador & for its Roman ruins and excellent Moneo-designed Museum of Roman Art, making a day trip north on the A66 to visit the atmospheric and beautiful Old Quarter of Cáceres (UNESCO World Heritage site).
From Mérida you can easily drive south on the fast A66 to Sevilla, stopping in pretty Zafra (with its Parador).
Using Sevilla as a base you could day trip to Córdoba (although if time allowed, a night or even 2 there would be preferable), then on to Granada then finishing in Málaga. That might fit well within your 3 week time frame.

Just some thoughts...

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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 05:45 AM
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In Extremadura I would focus on Merida and Caceres, and from Caceres you can visit the Parque Nacional de Montfrague.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 07:01 AM
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We just came back from Portugal. 3 nights in Porto and 4 in Lisbon, including 1 day at Sintra and Cascais, was more than enough. Distances in Spain are great and traveling time is a lot. Andalusia is spread out. You could easily spend 10-14 days there, with all the places to visit. sounds like you will be doing a lot of packing and unpacking in different cities. We are going to Andalusia next month for only 6 days. We will use Seville as a base and train to Cordoba and Cadiz each for 1 day.
Thanks to my previous post here on Fodors forum we are NOT renting a car to drive around but taking a short 1.5 hour train. People advised me against driving in central Seville or to those 2 cities
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 01:16 PM
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alane,
I´m glad that you decided not to rent the car to drive to Córdoba or Cádiz. The train is so much easier, speedier and stress free.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 01:36 PM
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From Merida, Medellin is a half hour car ride, Trujillo one hour and Guadelupe an hour and a half.
Merida to Trujillo to Guadalupe and back is a nice day trip.
Again from Merida, if you are a hiker, a climb to Alange castle ruins is fun.

PS. If you have strong feelings about the accomplishments of Pizzaro and Cortez, Medellin and Trujillo are not for you.
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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 05:16 AM
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Cordoba is one of my favorite cities in Europe, so if you can manage more than a day trip than I recommend that.
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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 02:13 PM
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Thank you everyone for your excellent ideas and advice. I think we will forget about Porto and the Douro Valley this trip and focus on Lisbon and the surrounding area, Extremadura and Andalucia, which, in 21 nights, does seem very doable and allows for some downtime as well.

We will ovbiously not be able to see every destination in each region, but we will narrow our choices so that the trip makes sense. Cordoba looks absolutely amazing, as does Granada, and we are so very excited to see Portugal and Southern Spain, which have been on our bucket lists for many years, but Italy kept on calling.

If we were to take into consideration the horrible things people did centuries and millenia ago, we would probably never travel again

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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 02:24 PM
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If you’re going to Andalucia, Seville is a must! One of my favorite cities ever! We enjoyed all the cities, but Seville stole our hearts.
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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 03:11 PM
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abovetheclouds,
Having a car to enjoy leisurely exploring the Alentejo and Extremadura countryside is a definite benefit and the very best way to explore these 2 regions. The drive from Extremadura down south on the A66 to Sevilla with perhaps a stopover in Zafra or Monesterio (the latter if you're an Iberian ham lover) is easy on this route.

But I do suggest that you consider turning in your rental car in Seville before settling in to your lodging there (at the Santa Justa rail station or San Pablo airport) and from there use the excellent fast trains, the AVEs and AVANTs between Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga. But that's assuming you can arrange your rental for pick up departing Lisbon and drop off arriving in Sevilla. (don't know if you plan to arrange a 3-week car lease)

The handicaps of keeping a car in these Andalusian cities:
the often stressful driving through very narrow streets in these "Moorish maze" historic quarters with some tiny streets even inaccessible by car (Sevilla's Barrio de Santa Cruz, Córdoba's Judería, Granada's Albaicín), navigating through these streets crowded with tourists, and strict traffic restrictions in Granada´s city center.

Plus there are hefty, underground parking garage fees (€20-30/day) and garages with very narrow and steep ramps, sharp turns that may scratch your vehicle plus tight parking spaces designed for compact cars.
If hotel reviews on TA or Booking warn about “tight spaces” in these underground garages, we take that seriously, from experience. These are the reasons we train between these cities.

To transfer from Granada to Málaga for your flight home, you can take the comfortable AVANT train (a 1 hr, 38 min. ride). Alternatively, if you do want to take the southern, scenic route down the Puerto del Suspiro del Moro pass, then west along the coast at Motril through Nerja you could pick up another rental upon leaving Granada.

Like progol, I adore Sevilla.

Just a few more thoughts...


Last edited by Maribel; Sep 28th, 2022 at 03:46 PM.
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Old Sep 29th, 2022, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by AboveTheClouds View Post
If we were to take into consideration the horrible things people did centuries and millenia ago, we would probably never travel again
no doubt that is true. But I think the point about Pissaro and Cortez is that, for the towns which celebrate them, that is their claim to fame. So a museum that celebrates their 'accomplishments' and a main square with a statue is going to have a dour effect since it's unavoidable. I was in Gori,Georgia, the birthplace of Stalin and no way was I interested in going to the Stalin museum. Gori has other things to offer and Stain and his immediate story can be completely ignored. Not sure if that is the same for Trujillo and Medellin.
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Old Sep 29th, 2022, 08:46 AM
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if a park says "tight spaces" they really mean it in Spain. I've spent 20 minutes trying to get into one with the car top down to make it easier.
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Old Sep 29th, 2022, 12:42 PM
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Some Trujillo photos:



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Old Sep 30th, 2022, 06:06 AM
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We were just in Extremadura and I'd suggest basing in Caceres. It was really beautiful and had a lot of great restaurants. We did day trips from there to Merida, Trujillo and Plasencia. We also headed back to Portugal to Estremoz to hit their Saturday market from Caceres as our time in Evora didn't correspond. Evora was a nice base in the Alentejo to use for day trips. We visited Elvas, Beja, Serpa, Castelo De Vide, Marvao and Monsaraz.
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Old Sep 30th, 2022, 06:08 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip! And I agree with Progol that Seville is a must. And if you can, please spend a night or two in Cordoba. It's a lovely city with so much to see and do. And the Juderia is a magical place for wandering with its narrow lanes, white-washed buildings, patios and flower pots.

If you have the time, I also recommend spending a night or two in Malaga. We loved Malaga! There is a lot to see and do there. It will be nice to have some coastal ambience and it should be cooler by the water.

I notice that your trip is planned for next summer. Don't know if anyone mentioned this yet, but Andalucia is very, very hot during the summer months. I recommend getting hotels with pools. Plan on sightseeing in the morning and resting and swimming in the afternoon. Then go back out again at night. When I was planning our trip for September 2017, I remember reading trip reports from people who were in Andalucia during the summer and they complained about the heat and being drenched in sweat while sightseeing.
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