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Spain & Portugal 5 week holiday with a 2 and 4 yr old

Spain & Portugal 5 week holiday with a 2 and 4 yr old

May 29th, 2012, 10:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 31
Spain & Portugal 5 week holiday with a 2 and 4 yr old

Heading to Spain and Portugal in mid Sept for 5 weeks. This will be the first family trip abroad with two boisterous boys (2 and 4 yrs). We will have the support of my parents as well (they are very young at heart and will have more energy during the trip then my husband and I!). I have a very general plan in mind but already realise we may be over committing and trying to squeeze in too much... so would love some advice.
We fly into Barcelona in mid Sept (17th arrive) and were thinking of staying only a few days and then heading out to Logrono around the 21st for the harvest wine festival. This of course means we will miss the Barcelona festival. Then after a few days in Logrono we would head up to San Sebastian and settle for a good 6 days or so. From this point I was thinking a train trip to Madrid and straight onward to Seville (heading south to chase some nice weather). From Seville we would head into Portugal to Lisbon (we fly home from Lisbon around the 20th Oct). This is a very rough plan.
I would love some travel tips, specifically on the following:
- Are there any other locations in Spain/Portugal that you would recommend we visit? Or locations that we should delete from the current itinerary? My Hb would really like to visist Oporto.
- Logrono: Not sure if we should try and stay in Logrono or perhaps out of town a bit? (perhaps Haro?). We are looking at self-catered accomm. I have heard that Logrono is a bit noisy at night with the festival and is more of a built up area and perhaps a wine town outside of Logrono would be nicer?
- San Sebastian: Can anyone suggest good self-catered accommodation in San Sebastian? Although the food looks amazing we would need to cater for ourselves at least some of the time. Also, any recommendations on length of time to stay? Our timing will coincide with the San Sebastian film festival.

Lastly - we were thinking of hiring a car at Barcelona for our trip to Logrono and up until reaching San Sebastian. Then, to take the train to Madrid and onwards to Seville. With the children we were thinking a car would allow more flexibility to see Logrono & surrounds (rather than buses/taxi that may not have adequate car seats). Has anyone had experience driving in those parts or would you recommend buses?

At this stage I am just trying to firm up the plans for Barcelona, Logrono and San Sebastian. Having said that, any feedback about Seville and Lisbon (and ? Oporto) would be very welcome.
deassube is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 09:12 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
You can comfortably cover a lot of Spain and parts of Portugal in 5 weeks, but since September is still high season and busy at most of your destinations. You'll need to make plans now to set everything up. Some rental properties have a minimum stay required during high season, so you'll have to check around to see which ones allow shorter stays.

Have you considered working with a trip planner? Someone who knows what to do to make it all work smoothly? It might help take the edge off planning this trip in the short amount of time you have left before you leave for Spain.
Robert2533 is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 12:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,475
I liked having a car with kids that age because they can nap while you drive. Can you imagine having them fall asleep on a train or whatever and then having to wake them for the final walk home? We would tour in the morning, have lunch, get in the car at naptime (our kids napped at 3:00 or so) and drive back to the apartment where we were staying.
MonicaRichards is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 11:38 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 506
I have traveled a bit through these areas and am very familiar with the 'challenges' of traveling with small children. These are my recs.
1) Rent a car. The flexibility and car seats trump the hassle factor many times over. If I were you, I wuold just rent a car for the whole time. Driving is fine, absolutely fine. You will end up parking the car while in Seville and Madrid but that is OK.
2) Go self catering when possible. Having a kitchen is helpful with the kidlets. REmember that it is difficult to eat dinner in Spain before 9:00 (unless it is fast food or pizza) so keep snacks with you.
3) In Seville, book a hotel with a pool. We stayed at the Dona Maria right by the cathedral. It has a roof top pool which was a godsend in heat.
4) WE loved the Legrono area but stayed in a tiny little village outside of it. I would have preferred Legrono but we as we were traveling with dogs, it was tough to find accomodation.
5)Head South and visit the Alhambra in Granada. Make reservations now as you do not want to stand in line with the boys.
6)We also visited the Alcazar in Seville and loved it.
7)Consider staying in pousadas when you aren't going self catering. These are renovated buildings of historical interest ie monasteries and castles. The boys will love it. Obidos has a nice one. In Spain, the equivalent is paradores and they are also wonderful.
8) After Seville, head west to the Algarve and rent a villa for 1 week. Take a break from the hustlebustle and wander the beaches in the afternoons and the villages in the morning. Pick up fish at the market and BBQ it at your villa. Drink wine. Relax and swim. Let the boys recharge. Visit Lagos, Sagres, Tavira and Silves while here. If it is hot, go up to Monchique.
9) Wander North, up to Porto, Coimbra, Evora, Marvao.
10) Double back (yes, I hate it too), drop the car and spend the final 3-4 days in Lisbon. See Sintra too.

Have fun!
SloJan2 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 04:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 5,934
I guess you come to Sevilla just in time to catch the final gala performance of the worlds most prestigious flamenco festival on the 30th of September. In the majestic Maestranza theater.

Flamenco is a very important part of Sevilla culture, and the final show is dedicated to the flamenco dance traditions of the city. With some of the world's best flamenco dancers, young and old, all from Sevilla. Tickets are on sale from today, and this is one of the events that will be sold out very fast. http://www.labienal.com/programa/la-...le-de-sevilla/

Video clips of some of the dancers in the gala performance:
Plain fantastic Pastora Galván, voted best female flamenco dancer last year by Spanish critics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2SBUcrJgeQ
Her father, living legend José Galván: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6N3h...eature=related
The protagonist herself, Rafaela Carrasco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktO_m7YXIMw
Powerful Rafael Campallo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ_g1q47QgU
Wonderful Belén Maya has dominated the scene for nearly some 20 years, one of my absolute favourites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0teWd0I8oAo

Could be a night to remember!

Online tickets for the gala performance on the 30th. Search for "La punta y la raíz. Un paseo por el baile de Sevilla". I've used this service tens of times, and it works perfectly:
kimhe is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 11:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 31
Wow. Thanks to all. Great advice.

Based on some of the feedback we are definitely thinking of having the rental car for the entire trip. Will make it so much easier to get from A-B and have everything just ready to go (versus waiting around to buy tickets, pack everything up nearly for the train). Thanks Slojan2 and Monica.

Slojan2 - I am interested in your feedback. Makes sense to spend some time in the Algarve area given we are driving through but I thought we would be too busy to stay there for a week. I had a general rule in my mind of 4 nights accommodation in each location (and a max of about 6 destinations) - but perhaps that isn't quite right - maybe we can fit more in as you suggest? Were you suggesting stays overnight in the places in Portugal (e.g. Coimbra?) or just visit them on the way to Porto?) Can you recommend how long to stay in the following:
- San Sebastian
- Seville (day trips to Granada / Cordoba ??)
- Porto

Also, where would you suggest we stay in the Algarve Region?

Robert - This is probably a silly question but I have not heard of a trip planner in Aust. We have travel agents but they don't really do detailed planning like what I need. There may be some private consultants that do it but I will need to investigate. Would make it easier..... both hb and I work full time so hard to squeeze time in to organise this trip!

Kimhe.... don't think we will reach Seville in time....

Thanks to all for the great advice so far. Was so excited to see your entries.
deassube is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 11:26 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 506
Hi...doing my early morning surfing on Fodors.
I can´t help so much with San Sebastian. Seville, I would allocated 4 days to, with one day being for a daytrip to Granada.

You have 5 weeks. I would suggest allocating 3 weeks to Spain and 2 to PT. If I am reading your plan correctly, 3 days in Barcelona environs, head over to Legrono, spend 2 days or so and then, 6 days up in San Sebastian area. Shoot down to Madrid and spend 1-2 nights and then, on to Seville for 4 days. I would skip Cordoba in this case. From Seville, drive to the Algarve. It is a 2 hour drive to the central Algarve. Rent a villa and stay put for 4 days to 1 week. You can rent a house in Sept for shorter times than a week. The only reason I recommended a week is because you just may be tired by this point and the area if fabulous for children. Rejuvenate yourselves. Drive North with a mid day stop in Evora. It should be about 5 hours to Porto, but doublecheck with googlemaps.com Spend 4 days in the Porto area, head back to Lisbon with a mid day stop in Coimbra. That is about 32 days of travel roughly.

I have noticed that you are looking for villas in San Sebastian. Staying for 1 week may be less expensive than 6 days overall. Some owners have a minimum of 1 week esp. in early Sept which some may consider to be high season. In the Algarve, there usually is a lot of flexibility due to the sheer number of villas available. Unfortunately, ours won´t be available but I will be around the area from July so if you want me to check one out, shoot me an email.
SloJan2 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 11:32 PM
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 31
Hi Slojan2. The Algarve region is large with so many places.... where would you suggest we stay/base ourselves?

Thanks for all your other great advice.
deassube is offline  
Jun 4th, 2012, 06:03 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 506
I would recommend staying either in between Porches and Ferragudo (which is a bit more west than central Algarve) or the Lagos area. Lagos is much farther west, but it is a nice little city. It will be windier and cooler there, but the beaches are 'protected' by cliffs and the sand is coarser. There may be more undertow though, which is a detriment for the kiddies. We've rented places on Funchal Ridge which was lovely.

The area in between Porches and Ferragudo has many villas, still has the cliffs which are gorgeous for walking and has a ton of interesting beaches. It is warmer and a bit less windy, but the towns are not quite as nice. Ferragudo is charming though and still feels authentic. Carvoeiro is touristy. but if you rent a villa here, you can get away from the crowd. If you choose Cvo, rent a place on the west side of it. Porches is known for its pottery. If you like golf, this is the place to be too.

I would recommend renting a place south of the N125 and make sure it has a pool.

Vilamoura area is east of the above areas. Many love it here. It is seen as posher, but I don't like the beaches as much and the natural beauty isn't as great. (IMO) Good golf though and better restaurants.

Do not stay in Albufeira or Portimao.
SloJan2 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 12:14 AM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 16
About renting a car in Spain, I can only recommend it, not only for the reasons mentioned by posters above, but also budget wise. Train travel in Spain is quite expensive, (4 adults).
Writing that you will stay during the festival in San Sebastian, do book well in advance! Busy!
alsacekid is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 12:16 AM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 16
Hi deassube, I fully back the Albufeira/Portimao no-go statement!
Also a great place to stay in Algarve (with most stunning coastline and beaches) is Aljezur, in the west at a national park. Not much tourism, not overrun like Lagos and all the other places at the southern coast of the Algarve.
alsacekid is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,522
San Seb. is awesome.. Great beaches and very nice sand for the tads..Wonderful food also. We stayed at a hostal (2 star) hostal Alameda and it was outstanding, quiet, inex. and the triple would accom. you all if you can't find an apt. car parking will be a problem so perhaps out of the main tourist towns and smaller cities...You might contact SS tourist office for reccommendations of self service places. The Spanish are very family oriented and very, very helpful. Bear in mind it will still be hot in most places. I was there 2011 in the next time slot (Oct.10-Nov.5) and yes it was in the central plains and the north..sun screen and hat weather.
amer_can is offline  

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