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Old 08-16-2014, 09:00 PM
 
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DW and I are debating going on a trip that would give us ten days in three cities. I'm thinking three days in Lisbon, three days in Madrid, and four days in Barcelona.

I'd appreciate some comments from people who have been to some or all of these cities. Try to answer these questions for me:

1. Is my distribution of days in each city a good distribution?

2. What specific things would you recommend we do in Lisbon (figure two adults on this trip)?

3. Would you recommend any outside trips from these cities?

4. What are "must-see" attractions in each city?

5. Is there anything you would tell us to avoid or not do?

6. Is November too late in the year to travel or would it be a good time? (we aren't going to sun bathe or swim in the ocean)

Last edited by markg91359; 08-16-2014 at 09:26 PM..
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Old 08-16-2014, 11:02 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
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Your distribution of days is good. In Lisbon you can see a very cool aquarium, visit the small seaside town of Cascais which is in Lisbon, go to a restsurant that performs Fado (traditional Portuguese folk song), eat Pasteles de Belem, see Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra (an old Moorish castle on a large hill), walk around the Alfama...

November is a perfect time to, as it will be cheaper, clear of tourists, and airfare will be better while the weather is still quite agreeable. I wouldn't say you should avoid anywhere, really.

My only other recommendation would be to consider scrapping Madrid and Barcelona in favour of getting to know basically all of Portugal. Seems like you have 2 weeks, which would be enough to visit the Northern city of Porto, a smaller town like Coimbra, Lisbon, and then the Algarve for example. Or, one region of Spain like Catalunya (i.e. Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, some other town). This way you get to know an area really well, and balance out the large cities, rather than just zip through a bunch of capitals. Sounds like a nice trip either way, though.

Last edited by Jesse44; 08-16-2014 at 11:19 PM..
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Old 08-16-2014, 11:33 PM
 
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From my experiences in Barcelona and Lisbon:

1. I agree you need more time in Barcelona than Lisbon. Make it 5 days, though, and 4 days in Lisbon.
2. Chiado is great for shopping. I also recommend the Praca da Comercio in downtown Lisbon for art and sculpture. If you're looking for more authentic art, then check out the National Museum of Ancient Art. Don't miss any gardens either: I liked the Edward VII Park the most but there are several others (such as the Estufa Fria) that provide neat experiences too. Even though I know you won't swim, the Lisbon coast offers some amazing beaches to walk on. I've been to Portinho da Arrabida and Troia, and those were fantastic.
3. I haven't been on real excursions outside of either city unless you consider the Lisbon coast an excursion.
4. I pretty much answered it for Lisbon. In Barcelona, take a trip to the Picasso Museum for sure. You need to walk along La Rambla and eat in a traditional Catalan restaurant. Port Vell is amazing along the waterfront, and the beaches around it are great. Visit the Maritime Museum as well. Visit the Casa Mila for some Gaudi. If you so choose, you can check out the La Sagrada Familia, which is about 200 years late on completion (they're still working on it!) and the Parc Guell for outdoors. If you're fortunate enough, you may also see human towers; I swear the kids climbing to the top are no older than 8!
5. Barcelona and Lisbon are fairly safe, so I don't need to tell you to "stay out of the bad areas". In Barcelona, the only place I really felt was overrated was the Military Museum. Can't think of anything in Lisbon for now.
6. I firmly believe Barcelona and Lisbon are all-year-round destinations, so November isn't too late. That being said, it might be nicer to come in May or June when it's warmer.

Sorry about the lack of anything related to Madrid. Haven't been there yet! However, you're in good hands in Barcelona and Lisbon. I'm a much bigger fan of Barcelona, though, although that's in large part due to my craving for Catalan food (I found Portuguese food a bit too greasy for the most part).
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:48 AM
 
Location: Sunrise
10,868 posts, read 14,259,590 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
DW and I are debating going on a trip that would give us ten days in three cities. I'm thinking three days in Lisbon, three days in Madrid, and four days in Barcelona.

I'd appreciate some comments from people who have been to some or all of these cities. Try to answer these questions for me:

1. Is my distribution of days in each city a good distribution?

2. What specific things would you recommend we do in Lisbon (figure two adults on this trip)?

3. Would you recommend any outside trips from these cities?

4. What are "must-see" attractions in each city?

5. Is there anything you would tell us to avoid or not do?

6. Is November too late in the year to travel or would it be a good time? (we aren't going to sun bathe or swim in the ocean)
I can only speak about Barcelona. I haven't spent enough time in Madrid. We spent a week in Barcelona and it wasn't enough. Frankly, a year isn't long enough. I'd spend all 10 in just Barcelona and the surrounding area, particularly the Penedes wine region. You have all of the Gaudi works, the Picasso museum, the Ramblas, the Bouqeria market and similar.

It isn't possible to really see Barcelona in four days. You'll be rushed the whole time. At the VERY least, I'd drop Portugal entirely from the trip and concentrate on just Spain. You'll lose too much time in transit that way.

We actually visited in November. It was grey, cool, and sprinkled often. But it was a pleasant time to be there. Few tourists and we had the city to ourselves, mostly.
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Old 08-17-2014, 01:00 PM
 
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I did a 10 day trip to Portugal and Spain last year. We spent 3 days in Lisbon, 4 in Porto, and 3 in Barcelona. If I had to do it again, I would skip Barcelona altogether and split the time evenly between Lisbon and Porto. Portugal was far less expensive, and less crowded.

In Lisbon, the highlight for us for Castelo de S. Jorge. The castle ruins are on top of one of the three hills in the middle of the city. You can cobble together bus and trolley routes to get reasonably close to the top, but we enjoyed the leisurely stroll up hill, getting a glimpse of every day life in Lisbon. Lisbon is a great city to just wander and explore.

In Porto, I loved the Serra do Pilar Monastery and the Mercado do Bolhão. The hot chocolate at Cafe Majestic is some of the best I've ever had, possibly better than Angelina in Paris, plus cheaper and no wait for a table!

Like I said, I found Barcelona to be uncomfortably crowded. If you do spend time there, I highly recommend the Roman ruins under the City Museum.
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Old 08-17-2014, 04:55 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Stick with Portugal. If you need more things to do... go to San Sebastian / Basque region of Spain. It is spectacular!!!! as is west coast of Spain (and SW France coast)

Barcelona... combine with an eastern Spain trip (10+ days). It needs more time to see nearby countryside, east coast / NE Catalonia.

Madrid... combine with a central / southern Spain trip (5-10+ days).
Regional history is worth the sojourn around Southern Spain.

I really enjoyed the rural places more (I stay in Agritourimos and guest homes, often for several days and help out the locals). I stay for $10/ night worldwide, so lodging and food cost is not a limitation on my LONG travels. Just got home yesterday from a 9 month outing. leave again in 5 days (Hospitality exchange - Wikitravel )

Don't see too many places too fast... big cities / logistics eats up a day inbound and a day outbound. Not worth the EXPENSE.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:32 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
...
I'd appreciate some comments from people who have been to some or all of these cities. ...

6. Is November too late in the year to travel or would it be a good time? (we aren't going to sun bathe or swim in the ocean)
November is great (Oct is better... wine fests, warmer days, less rain)

Help us out.

What are your interests?
1) History
2) Art
3) Entertainment
4) Fine dining
5) Tapas / bars / local
6) Rural ruins / farms vs City scape
7) mingling with locales
8) typical tourist? (Sightseeing vs, mingling)
9) Biking / hiking
10) Tours
11) DIY tours (Rick Steves type)
12) Econo traveler (Lonely Planet)
13) Luxury hotels?
14) 3* local stays
15) Guesthomes / Air B&B
16) Early riser
17) late nighter
18) Beer
19) wine
20) fancy or casual dresser?
21) Enjoy day trips?
22) transportation? will you rent a car or hire a driver or only do public transit?
23) Ocean or Mtns?

Your destination towns are quite different, so you better make your top choice if you won't be back.


Barcelona may offer the proximity to most variety and nearby (day trip) sites. Very artist centric. Madrid is more history / Spain. (Catalonians HATE the Spaniards, they killed their grandfathers!) Basque is even more intense and recent... I could not drive my Madrid tagged rental car in Barcelona.

We lived in Barcelona on a company paid stay. That was terrific, as it is a spendy place to visit, and requires a lot of energy (all night parties). We were only 'home' in Barcelona. 2 weekends out of 6 months. We traveled a lot (France, Italy, Spain, Andorra...),

DO NOT plan to drive back into Barcelona on a Sunday night. It is HOURS of stopped traffic (everyone leaves for the weekend). Better to come back on a Monday.


Portugal is cheap at the moment, they need your $$, and I have plans to go SOON!
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Old 08-18-2014, 07:42 AM
 
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I'm always of the theory that one should explore one country at a time (although I know people sometimes think "but I will never be back to Europe again so I have to see as much as I can"), don't just stick to the big cities, you will miss too much, and you will never be able to fully enjoy or appreciate the culture and/or put it into context.

Thus I advise to pick only one of the three, explore the city for a few days, then get a rental car and explore the countryside (warning - don't use the rental car in the city itself, a rental car becomes a liability). I was in Portugal a few years ago and it makes an excellent 10 day trip with exploring Lisbon first, then over to Evora, up to Porta, etc.

I've been to Barcelona as well but am not that familiar with it. Portugal however is about as close as you will still get to the old Europe, and it's still relatively cheap.
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Toronto, Ottawa Valley & Dunedin FL
1,409 posts, read 2,357,011 times
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I agree that you should consider cutting back to two cities. Even then, I wouldn't try to incorporate day trips outside, with so little time. I don't know Madrid, but both Barcelona and Lisbon are wonderful cities with tons of things to see and do. We were in Barcelona last November. It was chilly at times, and then rainy, so plan accordingly.
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:33 PM
 
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I studied/lived in Spain for almost a year and spent 3 days in Lisbon- absolutely loved it. Definitely want to return to Portugal.

I would suggest the following:

-3 days in Lisbon. Make sure to use one of these days to visit SINTRA. This is a spectacular little place in the mountains full of castles, about 1 hour away from Lisbon. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been too.

-3 days in Madrid, with a day visiting TOLEDO. This is a beautiful town full of art, history and culture- known as the city of the 3 cultures since Jews, Arabs and Catholics used to live there in peace. It is pretty close to Madrid, like 40 minutes away. Totally worth the visit.

-3 days in Barcelona- plenty of time to sight see.

Remember the travel time. It might be best to arrive at one end (Lisbon or Barcelona)and depart from your last location.
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