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Recent Trip to Spain, Portugal, & Morocco

Recent Trip to Spain, Portugal, & Morocco

Dec 31st, 1998, 12:07 PM
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Recent Trip to Spain, Portugal, & Morocco

My family had a great trip traveling through Spain & Portugal over the Thanksgiving holiday. We also took a hydrofoil over the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco & enjoyed a guided bus tour that included a walk through the Kasbah. We stayed at historical paradors & pousadas throughout the trip. Our itinerary was put together from information we gathered while surfing the net. We knew what we wanted to see and where we were going to stay every step of the trip. We flew in and out of Madrid. We didn't have enough time to tour Madrid - that will have to be another trip. We only had 10 days to travel, but we filled those days with many historical sites and breathtaking views. We found the Spanish & Portuguese people to be very friendly and helpful - even if some didn't understand English. The cuisine is another story. If you are planning a trip there & have some questions, ask away.
Dec 31st, 1998, 01:40 PM
Erni Hirsch
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You did a lot in 10 days. Please share you ittinerary. Also, what not to miss and what to skip. We are going in March.
Dec 31st, 1998, 02:42 PM
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Ok, Erni. Here is a short version of our itinerary.

Day 1 - Drove from Madrid to Toledo, Spain - walled medieval city (park somewhere before the walled area and walk the cobbled streets); Merida - must see the Roman Ruins; Trujillo - stayed at the parador (old convent)
Day 2 - Evora, Portugal - must see Temple of Diana and Chapel of the Bones; Montejo - stayed at hotel (this town is just before the bridge to Lisbon).
Day 3 - Lisbon - Took a boat from Montejo to Lisbon. Best advice is not to drive in Lisbon. Take taxi (inexpensive)or buses. Must see Jeronimo Monastery, Belem Tower, Monument to Discoverers and the castle. Went onto San Diego de Cacem where we stayed at a pousada.
Day 4 - Followed western coast of Portugal down to Sagres (must see this area - the rock ends and the ocean begins - just beautiful. Drove to Sevilla, but we couldn't find a parking spot & left disappointed; drove through Cadiz, same problem with traffic. We stopped at a hostel in Tarifa, Spain
Day 5 - Algeciras; boat to Tangier, Morocco. Guided bus tour thru Tangier, Malcolm Forbes home, and a walk through the Kasbah. Stayed again in Tarifa. (We walked along the pier and thru the older part of town - narrow, cobbled streets.)
Day 6 - Gibraltar (British Colony) Must see the Rock, Caves, Tunnel, Hercules Monument and Barbary Apes. They are set up for the taxis to provide the tours. The driver will wait at each stop along the way to the top of the rock. To stay on schedule, we skipped Marbella and that part of the coast. We stopped in Granada & stayed at the Parador within the fortress (once occupied by Queen Isabella).
Day 7 - Granada -Took a 3-hour walking guided tour of the fortress, Alhambra, and Generalife (beautiful gardens). Try to see the Cathedral (we didn't make it there). Onto our last stop, Chinchon.
Day 8- Headed back to Madrid. Stayed at Chinchon - a medieval village in the middle of nowhere. Had dinner in a quaint restaurant that was once an olive oil press.
Day 9 - returned to Madrid to get ready to return to the states.
Day 10 - Departed Madrid.
Jan 1st, 1999, 03:50 AM
Erni Hirsch
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Margaret, Thanks so much for the info. Did you book the Paradors in advance? Were they the same price as hotels? Other than Lisbon, how did you find driving in Spain & Portugal? Thanks again and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Jan 1st, 1999, 05:58 AM
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A bit of practical advice to anyone driving into Gibraltar or the Alhambra.

In La Lina, while your car is in line to enter Gibraltar, there are likely to be a lot (5-15) people in the streets trying to get you to roll car windows down, talk to them, buy something from them, etc. Some of them are even in uniform (not clean ones, however). DO NOT roll down windows or talk with them. There is no charge to get into Gibraltar, you need no extra papers. The only people who have a right to stop or talk with you are Spanish Police who are in clean, sharp uniforms and very unlikely to stop you unless you are doing something obviously wrong.

At the Alhambra, there is a good, big, paved parking lot within site of the main entrance. Before you get to where you can see the "real" parking lot, there will be people trying to get you to park on the side of the road or in their "parking lot." DON'T DO IT. Drive all the way into the main parking lot unless/until you are turned back by clearly "official" indications that the parking lot is full. The price to park in the real lot is equivalent to a couple of dollars. Who knows what the price in the unofficial lots is?
Jan 1st, 1999, 08:02 AM
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You are welcome, Erni. The only parador we booked in advance was for Chinchon while we were at Granada. We were very lucky to get a room at Granada - only because someone didn't show up around 4 p.m. During the winter months, reservations weren't necessary. But, I would make reservations the next time around, especially since they are not that far apart. Most paradors and pousadas were about the same rate as hotels. But, the one in Granada was almost twice as much! It was within the fortress and was a tourist site. It caught us off guard, but we enjoyed it. Later, we found cheaper hotels right outside the fortress area. Hostels are cheaper, but you may be getting a very small room with a shared bathroom. It is a good thing to look at any room before your accept it.

The highways were in good shape. There were some tollways, but we mostly took the coastal routes. And, since it was winter, there was less traffic on the highways. The highway signs are very easy to follow. If you have a current map, you should have little problems navigating through the southern part of either country. I wouldn't recommend driving in Lisbon or Sevilla. I can't say too much about Madrid since we only flew in and out of there. If we are fortunate to go there again someday, we would visit Madrid, then Barcelona. Happy New Year to you too.
Jan 1st, 1999, 08:09 AM
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Happy New Year, Bo. You are so right about the parking in Gibraltar & Alhambra. However, we parked outside Gibraltar for a small fee. (9 a.m. to 3:00 time limit).A uniformed guard told us to pop out the car radio for safety, then he gave us a paper for the windshield. We crossed the street and walked into Gibraltar. After a long walk, crossing the runway, we took a taxi the rest of the way. The taxi driver gave us a tour, then kindly drove us back to the gate.

I saw the parking lot at the Alhambra. Fortunately, we stayed at the Parador and parked there. The walking tour gave us a good view of the Alhambra.

Wintertime is definitely a better time for road travel in the Iberian Peninsula.
Jan 3rd, 1999, 04:14 AM
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Hi. We are planning a 10 day trip in August with our 9 year old son and 6 year old daughter. If we were to choose to do mainly Portugal or Spain which do you think we should choose? What can you tell me about the food and cost of lodgeing? Thanks for your help. Meredith
Jan 5th, 1999, 10:25 AM
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Hi there,

My husband and I plan to go to Portugal and Spain sometime this year. We want to budget budget travel if you know what I mean. Where to you suggest lodging that is the most inexpensive.
Feb 16th, 1999, 02:51 PM
Cheryl Z.
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Margaret - what do you mean by "the cuisine is another story"? We are planning our first trip to Spain/Portugal the end of March for about l2 days (kind of a last minute trip). I'm using alot of info I've found on this forum, and your cuisine comment has me wondering, since I looooooove to eat anywhere in Europe! Or does anyone else have advice or comments about the food in Spain or Portugal? I am a vegetarian and usually have never had a problem finding wonderful food to eat anywhere in Europe. Thanks in advance!
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