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Spain and Portugal in 2 weeks

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1. Posted by Deschan79 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hi,

I'm planning for a holiday with my wife in Spain and Portugal in late Mar for about 2 weeks in total.
We are planning to hit a few cities, probably 2-3 days each, in the order below (but open to changes if it doesn't make sense).
Barcelona-Valencia-Madrid-Granada-Seville-Lisbon-Porto-Barcelona======.

The last leg back to Barcelona we might consider taking a plane and it's just for taking the flight back to our home country from Barcelona.
I know that the Eurorail does not go to some of the cities, thus like to ask around what is the best mode of transport for each of the leg?

Which is the most reliable train within Spain? Have looked through some of the train provider sites but it's seems a bit confusing !
Is it worthwhile at all to get the rail pass at all?
What's the price for intercity train actually?

Appreciate any advice I can get!

2. Posted by hasbeen (Travel Guru 1260 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

HI,

Did you have a look at the man in seat 61?

Steve

3. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3908 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I travelled Madrid - Valencia - Barcelona - Girona - Barcelona by train recently and I booked everything online on renfe. Once you've booked, you can print your ticket at one of the machines in the stations - all the stations I passed through had them so it's really convenient. I would recommend booking online as far in advance as possible to ensure you get the cheapest tickets.

With regard to time spent in each place, I would allow maximum 2 days in Valencia as that's enough to cover the main sights, and give yourself more time in Barcelona as there's so much to see there.

[ Edit: Edited on 16-Dec-2016, at 02:14 by bex76 ]

4. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

The two commonest mistakes that tourists make are packing too much and trying to see/do too much in too little time. "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium" was a movie title that summed up the 'too much in too little time' issue quite well. You'll know if you have done this if after you have been home a couple of months, you find yourself asking, 'was that in X or in Y, I can't remember.'

Whenever I read of someone planning a day here and 2 days there etc. and particularly when it only includes cities, I am reminded of an acquaintance who after spending one night in Lausanne, said to me, 'we didn't think much of Switzerland.' Never mind that Lausanne wouldn't even make my personal top 50 list of places to visit in Switzerland, the sheer arrogance and stupidity of presuming to pass judgement on an entire country based on one overnight visit to one place, beggars belief.

You list 7 places in 14 days and say 2-3 days in each. That is simply not physically possible to do in 14 days. Your arrival day is basically a write off as is your departure day. Then each time you move, you lose most of a day. That means that you will in fact spend no more than FIVE full days IN places. You will spend more time just moving from place to place than you will spend IN places. Does that sound like a good idea to you?

If you must plan a tour, I suggest you start by removing your arrival and departure days and then also removing your 'moving' days. On a move day, you have to pack up, have breakfast, check-out, go to the station, take the train, find your next hotel, check-in, go for a meal and finally, you are ready to spend time IN that new place. It may only take you half a day to do all that or it may take you most of a day depending on distances and train schedules but it NEVER takes you NO time. So you have to count 'moving' as LOST time.

As for how much time a place needs, that depends entirely on the individual and no one else. Nor can anyone tell ahead of time how much time a place will hold THEIR interest for. That's why a tour always results in spending too much time in some places and too little time in some places. A fixed itinerary cannot allow for anything else. The best you can do is hope for some kind of balance but it will never be optimum as winging it would be.

Again, if you must plan a tour, then I suggest using the 'Rule of 3s' for planning. That says, 'never spend less than 3 full days/4 nights in a place unless it is just an overnight stop between A and B.' Note the 'less than'. It is a minimum, most people would agree that many places like Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, etc. need more than that to really do them any kind of justice. Also note the '3/4'. That allows for a 'moving day' between places. To spend 3 full days in a place, you must spend 4 nights in that place. You can't count a moving day as also being a day IN a place.

If you used that rule, you would see that your 14 days becomes 12 days (remove arrival/departure days) and so would only allow enough time to visit 3 places for even the minimum suggested time. Your list has 7.

In travel as in many things, 'less is more.' The less you move, the more you see and do. When people say as they often do, 'we want to see as much as possible', they actually mean as MANY as possible. Much and many are not synonymous. Much is about wanting quality while many is about wanting quantity. The way to see/do as much as possible is to spend your time IN places, not in BETWEEN places.

As a traveller, I am far more interested in talking to someone who tells me 'we spent 2 weeks in Madrid' than I am someone who tells me we spent 2 weeks in 7 different places. In fact, I'm not interested in talking to the second one at all.

5. Posted by Deschan79 (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Thats definitely good advice.
I'll likely shave it down to 4 places. I'm actually more concern with the transport within cities. Less places might be good idea since i dont have to waste too much time moving around.

6. Posted by iliasomikros (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I suggest Zaragoza (best tapas), Valencia, Barcelona and Sevilla. Maybe Burgos with its AMAZING cathedral. Stay a little longer in Lisbon (magic city), go to Sintra and Cabo da Roca and leave Porto for your next visit.

7. Posted by CherylGypsyRose (Full Member 14 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I have just returned from 3 weeks on Iberian Penninsula - flew into Barcelona and home from Lisbon.
Suggested itinerary:
Barcelona 3 days
Madrid 2 days
Granada 2 days
Seville 2 days
Evora Portugal 1 day
Lisbon 3 days
On one of the Lisbon days go to Cabo de Roca
Book online with Renfe to Madrid. The rest are all short journeys and the bus system is also good - so you could check online for both bus and train and take whichever suits/fits your schedule.
I have added Evora as it has an amazing old town and is close to a standing stone cromlech that is older than Stonehenge - so if you are interested in that well worth it. Please look at my blog The Iberian Penninsula in December.
Once you have seen the Alahambra in Granada you won't need to tour another castle. Be aware you will be assigned a time for the palace and make sure you are in the line up for that time.
Madrid has a wonderful Art Museum - the Prada. I was there in 2012 and it is my best memory of Madrid.
I would not get a rail pass.

8. Posted by Tabithag (Full Member 114 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

If you plan to visit the Alhambra - which in my view is one of those rare places that is even better than its hype - then even in March, you may need to book ahead to get the date and time to suit you. We did a night tour as well, which although it doesn't cover as much as the day route, is less crowded and offers a different perspective.