Spain or Portugal or Both?

Mar 4th, 2004, 07:13 PM
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Spain or Portugal or Both?

My boyfriend and I are planning a 10 - 12 day trip to this area of the world at the end of May - beginning of June. I have been to most countries of Europe before but never Spain or Portugal. What are your thoughts on trying to do both countries? Is one far superior to the other? Is it too hard to squeeze both in this short period of time? Are we better off trying to focus on just one of the countries? We want a mix of sightseeing, adventure, but also some beach and relaxation time. I am really excited about Portugal but don't know enough about the country to make a super informed decision.

Any thoughts??? THANX
jodicook is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 07:16 PM
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Even if only Spain, 2 weeks is not enough. Get a guide book to figure out what might really interest you and how you will travel from one destination to another.
Michael is online now  
Mar 5th, 2004, 01:14 AM
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Message: jodicook writes: "... planning a 10 - 12 day trip to ... Spain or Portugal. ... Is it too hard to squeeze both in this short period of time? Are we better off trying to focus on just one of the countries?"

Short answer to your question is: "No Way!"

There's a world of difference between 10-days and 12-days. Which is it going to be??

Rather than focus on one country, for that short a time you should focus on a few places in either or both countries

You say you have been to most countries of Europe. Does that mean you've made a significant visit or were you just there in passing??

A lot depends on your mode of travel in Spain and/or Portugal: If you fly, you can probably do Lisbon, Madrid, Sevilla and Barcelona; but to do them justice I think you need 4-days for Madrid and 3-days for each of the other destinations.

You say: "We want a mix of sightseeing, adventure, but also some beach and relaxation time." That's too much for 10-12 days. You should concentrate on one or the other.

Buy a couple of Fodor's videotapes of Spain & Portugal.

Do some more research! There are some significant things happening during the time frame in which you are planning your visit.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 01:19 AM
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If you have only 10 days or so I recommend that you focus on the southern part of Spain. This gives the opprtunity for great sightseeing (history, art, architecture) that is truly unique in europe as well as a great beach vacation. Include Seville, Granada, Cordoba, a couple of the white towns and spend a couple of days on the beach at Marbella - a perfect intro to Spain. When you have more time you can explore other areas of Spain (IMHO not as interesting as the South) and Portugal.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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Andalusia alone takes 10 days. Spain and Portugal take 2 months to see well.
I have spent 30 days in Portugal and twice that in Spain and still have missed certain regions. Do Andalusia--the best of Spain.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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We are currently planning a trip to Spain, our first. The planning has been amazing - there are so many choices, I don't think you could do Spain justice in twice the amount of time you plan to spend. Because we have only 8 days, we are going to Andalucia only. And we are not able to include everything we want. Based on recent research, I suggest limiting the trip to Spain and choosing the area that interests you most.
mamc is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 07:48 AM
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Click on my name and pull up my trip report on Spain and More.

I also recommend that you read or skim the post about Spain and Portugal on this thread...INVALUABLE information for you to ponder.

Do this to help you with your research.

Whatever time you have you really must learn all of the possibilities.

Finally go to your nearest library or call them to get a copy of the Fodor's, Frommers and other guide books about both of your options...

Happy Planning,

Oaktown Traveler
OaktownTraveler is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 08:23 AM
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First you have to decide what kind of traveler you are for THIS trip. Is it "It's Tuesday, so this must be Belgium." or "Unless I meld with the soil of Provence & become life-long friends with at least 3 indigenous families, I will be unfulfilled." Then you have a jumping off spot.
Whatever-- have fun.
janeg is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 09:34 AM
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Thanks for all the tips. Sadly, I do not have the lifestyle nor the budget that would allow me to spend months upon end in either of these two countries... that would be nice - but that's not my life.

thanks to the people who recommended focusing on the south of spain - i think that's where we might start looking then - Madrid, cordoba, granada, seville, and then a few days on the beach...and yes, i have read guide books ad-nauseum - which is why i am here for some 'live' tips.
jodicook is offline  
Mar 6th, 2004, 12:47 AM
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So you've decided to do Madrid & Andalucia. In my earlier post I wrote: "... There are some significant things happening during the time frame in which you are planning your visit." One of those is the Feria del Campo & Romeria de la Virgen del Rocio that peaks on Pentecost Sunday (30 May). It is a 'pilgrimage' to el Santuario de la Virgen (near Almonte in the Province of Huelva): very colorful!

I believe Pentecost Monday (31 May) is a holiday all over Spain and most of Europe (Whitsun Bank Holiday).

For 'beach time' you might consider the Costa de a Luz rather than the Costa del Sol (too many 'Brits' at the latter). Or you might want to take the bus Sevilla-Faro (Portuguese Algarve). I, for one, would stay in Spain rather than waste my precious time travelling.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Mar 6th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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Girl, be glad not sad for any day that you can spend anywhere!

When you get YOUR South of Spain highlights identified then come back for some of that "live" feedback that we will gladly give you.

Please, never avoid a place in travel because someone says that a certain country of people are there.

The Costa Del Sol is fabulous and for all one knows you or your boyfriend could be British OR like most people you could have NO problem whatsoever with any one person or whole country of British people...

No time travelling is time wasted!

Happy Planning,
Oaktown Traveler
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Mar 7th, 2004, 08:43 PM
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Thanks both Oaktown and NED - appreciate all the advice. So yes, South of Spain/Andalusia has been narrowed down - but still thinking of popping over to the Algarve... heard the beaches are phenominal and I kind of intrigued about the 'end of the earth' ... once I narrow things down I will be back for some of your wonderful and helpful 'live' advice - it's great! Thinking of skipping Madrid and just focusing on the south - sevilla, Grenada, Gibralter, and the beaches... what do you think? Have either of you ever been trekking through the Sierra Nevada? Thanks for the info regarding the festivals. And Oaktown - I'm not British but am Canadian so we do have a kinship with those Brits
Be back with more questions soon!
jodicook is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 05:05 AM
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It's true you do need to be careful where you stay on the Costa del Sol because some parts aer literally mobbed with super budget vacationers on package tours. But there are also lots of places that are very pleasant and more suited for independent travelers - we always stay near Marbella (Puerto Banus).
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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where do you stay near marbella?? i have heard that it's very expensive in marbella? do you have any recommendations on hotels in the area?
jodicook is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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Gran Melia Don Pepe in Marbella is not that expensive. You can use Bancotel Vouchers from Petrabax and stay there for about $175 a night in June.
IgorVodov is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 01:20 PM
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We are going to do Portugal and Spain this year also. I don't care if I don't get to see everything in one trip! That gives more reason to go back. We have been to Costa del Sol many times - fyi....the beaches are not that great. They are rocky and people let their small children pee in the water. We are hoping that the Portugal beaches on the Atlantic will be nicer. Marbella is expensive unless you can find a good deal, but you could always stay in Torromalinos, Benalmadena, Feugarella (that is totally spelled wrong), or Estepona. You will have a great time!
Mar 8th, 2004, 01:23 PM
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Of course it can be done! A couple of years ago, we flew into Madrid, spent a couple of days with family, took an overnight train to Lisbon, with an additional 3 nights visiting Sintra, etc., overnight back to Madrid, and the high speed train (AVE, I think) to Sevilla and Cordoba a couple of nights each. That added up to about 12 days, and you can easily switch in beach time in Portugal instead of visiting the small villages near Lisbon.

We took the overnight train, but there might be cheap flights you can take. We also stuck to Sevilla and Cordoba because the train went directly to them, so no backtracking or wasting time. I have never been to the beaches in Portugal, but I've been to plenty of beaches in Spain in July and August, and they were awfully crowded. I do live in a great beach area, so that probably tints my opinion of beaches. I know that the time you are thinking isn't prime vacation time for Spaniards, can't say for Brits and other Europeans.

Sevilla and Cordoba are fantastic, perfectly sized for a couple of days. Of course it would take much, much more time to get to know a country in depth, but most of us don't generally have the luxury of time that that would require.

I fell in love with Portugal on that trip and can not wait to go on a trip dedicated to it exclusively.
amcc is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 05:19 PM
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hello- I studied abroad in Sevilla and am in love with it- I am actually going back in April. I am going for one week and going to Marbella (puerto Banus) for 2 days. Obviously I agree that it would take months to get to know any city. I would definitely go to Sevilla and Portugal, and thats it. Or, you could even do Sevilla, Marbella, and Portugal in 10 days if you really wanted to. You could start in Marbella (2 days is totally enough- stay in Puerto Banus- center of everything- shopping, restaurants, beach, etc..)then take the bus (3 hr) to Sevilla for 2-3 days and then go to Portugal. When I was in Sevilla, we rented a car and drove to Portugal (Lagos). It takes only about 3 hrs, very easy, we didnt even use a map!
sb5858 is offline  
Mar 8th, 2004, 06:42 PM
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Portugal is wonderful! It's a beautiful country with loads of history, VERY nice helpful happy people, very safe, good food, ....and less tourists than Spain. We lived in Lisbon for 2 years, (20 yrs. ago), so I am partial. Out the coast from Lisbon, along the water, by train are the lovely areas of Estoril, Cascais, Sintra etc. People eating out in Portugal eat at a "reasonable" time of 7 or 8 PM, where I understand in Spain the restaurants don't open until 10PM!!! There truly are a lot of differences between the two countries....but no reason you couldn't do BOTH in 10-12 days....hitting the high spots. OR of course, each country would be fine for the full time. You could easily rent a car in Portugal,....don't know if you would want to drive in Spain, though lots of people do. If you are just hitting the cities there is no need for a car however. There is plenty on the internet about both countries....The southern part of Portugal (the Algarve) has lovely beaches, and a relaxing atmosphere.
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