The Best Spain and Portugal Itinerary to Take Now!

a quick guide to sintra including can't miss attractions, must do's and where to stay


Spain and Portugal

Planning a trip always takes the longest.

Where to go, how long to stay, should I do this city or that one. We decided to do a Spain getaway at the last minute and then added on Portugal at even later minute and found it helpful to read Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, forums and blogs to ultimately decide which cities to linger in and which to skip altogether.

We’re now back from our trip to Spain and Portugal so we thought we’d share a summary of our itinerary. We had 2 weeks and visited Spain’s 2 main cities, Madrid and Barcelona, then headed south to see the Andalusian cities before heading west for a taste of Portugal.

Below is my day by day itinerary featuring Instagram photos from the trip! You can check out the whole photo series by exploring the hashtag #shershegoes_spain





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spain and portugal itinerary






Spain and Portugal Itinerary

Here’s a summary of the Spain and Portugal itinerary that we did. We would recommend at least 2 weeks if you want to visit both Spain and Portugal. If you have less time, say 10 days, then concentrate on Madrid and Barcelona in Spain!


2 Weeks in Spain

Keep reading below for a day by day city itinerary of must-see sights, things to eat and where to stay! I’ve also included day trip suggestions below.





Days 1-2: Madrid


We arrived first in Madrid, Spain’s capital city.

The streets are narrow, the apartments all have beautiful shuttered balconies and the charm is everywhere. We settled in for a couple days of sightseeing, healthy doses of tapas, rioja wine and laid back nights that ended with churros con chocolate.






The Best Things to Do in Madrid

Main Attractions: Royal Palace, Museo del Prado, Retiro Park

Don’t Miss: a night hopping from bar to bar sampling tapas and pinchos. Recommended dishes:

  • gambas al ajillo (shrimp in hot garlic and oil)
  • jamon iberico bellota (fancy coldcuts of iberico pigs fed on acorns)
  • calamares a la romana (fried squid rings)
  • my special favorite, patatas bravas (fried potato wedges served with a mayo aioli)!






Where to Stay in Madrid

I recommend 2 days, 3 nights. Perhaps the best neighborhood to stay in Madrid would be the Centro district, to stay centrally located near the main sights and attractions. Other solid neighborhoods: La Latina, Chueca and Barrio de las Letras.

We recommend Catalonia Plaza Mayor, a comfortable hotel that's centrally located in the heart of old Madrid.

Check rates: Booking.comHotels.comExpedia 

Read reviews: TripAdvisor





Best Day Trips from Madrid

We stayed in Madrid an extra couple nights in order to do some day trips in Castille La Mancha. I couldn’t decide on one, so we visited a couple (images above from left to right).

Here are the best day trips from Madrid that I’d recommend!

  • Segovia an ancient town famous for its Roman aqueduct ruins
  • Toledo a medieval city
  • El Escorial a monastery and entombment for ancient Spanish kings

You can browse more fun day trips from Madrid here.




Day 4: Cordoba


After thoroughly explored Spain’s capital, we headed south for a loop through Andalusia. First up, Cordoba!

The small town was once a regional capital for the Roman and Moorish empires so today, it bears characteristics of each. The historic sights are all located within the compact Old Town and easily walk able.

We got lucky and timed our visit for their spring festival, the Patio Festival! Patio means inner courtyard in Spanish, and it’s a really pretty time to visit because the entire town comes alive, locals are happy to show off their homes and everywhere you look there are stunning flowers are in bloom. 

 Read more:  How to Spend a Blissful Visit to Cordoba, Spain






Best Things to Do in Cordoba

Main Attractions: Mezquita-Cathedral, Palacio de los Reyes Cristianos, Roman Bridge

Don’t Miss: a visit in Spring, when this beautiful town comes alive with flowers. The Patio Festival is an opportunity for proud locals to exhibit their version of ‘Best Lawn’ and visitors can see traditional Moorish style patios decorated with a profusion of beautiful pink, red and green blooms.

 Read more:  The Cordoba Patio Festival, Spain’s Prettiest Celebration!






Where to Stay in Cordoba

The city deserves 1 full day – unless you're in town for the Cordoba Patio Festival when you won't be able to get enough with even two or three days!

For a beautiful hotel, stay at Eurostars Palace Hotel which has a gorgeous inner courtyard and gives a true feel for Cordoba's patios. Inner courtyards are usually hidden to outsiders so this hotel is a treat!

Check rates:, Expedia 

Read reviews: TripAdvisor





Days 5-6: Seville


From Cordoba, we hopped back on the high speed train for Seville.

Flamboyant Seville is home to the fiery flamenco, stadium roaring bull fights and the most delicious tapas bars of my entire trip! We did a bit more sightseeing, although by this point I was thoroughly wow’ed by the cathedrals and had pretty much reached my limit.

 Read more:  How to See the Best of Seville in 2 Days






Best Things to Do in Seville

Main Attractions: Cathedral, Alcázar, Barrio Santa Cruz

Don’t Miss: the gardens in the Alcázar are breathtaking – you might recognize them as ‘Dorne’ from Game of Thrones!

Seville is a fantastic town for foodies. In Madrid, you have lots of old, historic bars, while in Barcelona you’ll find trendy, beautifully decorated restaurants with fantastic fusion food. But in Seville? Expect small, authentic and delicious, with a bit of flair. Essentially, it felt like it offered the best of everything in one compact town. 

 Read more:  3 Seville Restaurants You Should Try






Where to stay in Seville

The city is worth at least 2 days & 2 nights – so you can eat all the affordable and tasty tapas you can find! Book a room at Hotel Alfonso XIII, a luxurious property featuring gorgeous Moorish architecture and every comfort imaginable. Hotel Alfonso is located in a prime spot next to Seville's Real Alcazar.

Check rates,, Expedia 

Read reviews TripAdvisor





Days 7-8: Granada


After thoroughly exploring Seville, we hopped on a (10 euro!) bus to explore Granada, once the Moorish stronghold of the west. Today the city retains much of its North African flavor and is an absolute must see on any southern trip through Spain.

The main attraction in Granada is the breathtaking Alhambra, an old fortress and palace with extensive gardens. Tickets sell out quite fast so you’ll need to book this in advance. You can read about everything you need to know regarding Alhambra tickets in this post here.

Or, skip the mess entirely and take a guided tour that bypasses the queue altogether here.

I ended up extending our Granada stay for an extra half day so that I could grab the only ticket option remaining during my trip.

 Read more:  Read This Before Visiting the Alhambra






Best Things to Do in Granada

Main Attractions: the Alhambra!

Don’t Miss: a relaxing retreat at the Arabian baths, or Hammam Al Andalus. The current baths are built over the ancient bath site and gorgeously decorated.

There are a number of different pools at different temperatures as well as some fun massage options. We loved how relaxing this experience was! Budget around 3 hours to fully enjoy the experience.

 Read more:  Quick Guide to Visiting Granada, Spain






Where to stay in Granada:

Budget 2 full days in order to fully explore the city, with a full 1/2 day devoted to the Alhambra. We stayed at Anacapri Granada, an affordable, clean hotel within walking distance from the Alhambra.

The Anacapri Granada is located in the heart of Old Town and also conveniently near the local bus stop, should you wish to explore Granada's farther sights.

Check rates:,, Expedia 

Read reviews: TripAdvisor





Days 9-12: Barcelona


From Granada, there are a couple ways to get to Barcelona including via car, high speed rail or plane. We decided to fly after hearing unimpressed reviews of the overnight train service.

Barcelona was by far one of the highlights of my trip – I enjoyed it a lot more than Madrid! The city is cosmopolitan, proudly Catalan and lively with some of the most impressive and unique sights in Spain.

After almost two weeks of sightseeing, lots of churches and an abundance of small town charm, the genius works of architect Antoni Gaudí were so distinctive and colossal that I couldn’t help but be awed.






Best Things to Do in Barcelona

Main Attractions: La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà (aka La Pedrera), Park Güell

Don’t Miss: a full day dedicated to Gaudi’s works: the modernist mansion Casa Batlló and the still under construction Sagrada Familia church.

Day Trips: Barcelona had some of the most innovative tapas bars that I tried in Spain – don’t miss a good evening out trying various Spanish small plates or try a cooking class. Die hard soccer / football fans will want to see FC Barcelona’s stadium and see a match or two.






Where to stay in Barcelona:

Royal Ramblas is a great hotel to stay in, as it's located right on the main shopping and pedestrian road, Las Ramblas. There's so much to see in Barcelona (and the city makes a great base for nearby day trips in Catalonia) so budget at least 3 full days!

Check rates:, Expedia 

Read reviews: TripAdvisor






Best Day Trips from Barcelona

Near Barcelona are a couple cities worth visiting. Montserrat is a religious pilgrimage site for many Catalans and a breathtaking change of scenery for tourists – the monastery is actually high up in the mountains!

Also within an easy day trip from the city are Girona, a walkable old city famous for its historic Jewish quarter of narrow cobblestone streets, and Figueres, where Salvador Dali built his museum and personal shrine.

Trains connect all three towns within easy access of Barcelona Sants rail station. We decided to do the first two and left Figueres for another trip simply because the train schedules weren’t as convenient.

  • Montserrata dramatic mountaintop monastery where the Black Madonna was discovered
  • Girona: a quaint medieval town very similar to Dubrovnik and currently the set of King’s Landing for the Game of Thrones series





Days 13-14: Lisbon


Portugal’s capital Lisbon feels a lot like San Francisco.

Both have rolling hills, quaint trolleys and well worn cobblestone streets. Lisbon has some amazing seafood spots and charm, but also a sad air of neglect to the magnificent tiled apartment buildings.

I first visited Lisbon on a fun long weekend trip in college, where we spent the days sipping on Sangria and the nights partying in Chiado and Bairro Alto.. with nightly stops at McDonalds in Rossio Square for CBO sandwiches and McFlurrys. 

This time, I focused a bit more on sightseeing and managed to fit in a wonderful day trip to nearby Sintra.






Best Things to Do in Lisbon

Main Attractions: São Jorge Castle, Alfama walk (medieval district) and Baixa walk (downtown with major squares)

Don’t Miss: dinner at Cervejaria Ramiro, a local favorite of Anthony Bourdain that completely lived up to my seafood heavy anticipation. Get the garlic shrimp in olive oil and large grilled prawns and wash it all down with beer and buttery garlic bread.






Where to stay in Lisbon:

Hotel Santa Justa is an affordable luxury hotel with an amazing location right by the famous lift. We opted for 2 nights in Lisbon, with an extra day to check out the wacky, beautiful mansions at nearby Sintra!

Check rates: Hotels.comBooking.comExpedia 

Read reviews: TripAdvisor






Day Trip from Lisbon to Sintra

A couple friends recommended Sintra as a must do while in Lisbon. After a major earthquake and tsunami hit Lisbon in 1755, Portuguese royalty permanently left the city in favor of this mountain retreat.

On a day trip, you can explore the national palace, Pena palace and a number of extravagant private mansions. It’s a unique town and ended up being my favorite day trip of the entire trip!






Best Things to Do in Sintra

Main Attractions: National Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, Palace of Queluz, Arab Walls

Don’t Miss: the Pena Palace, which is said to have inspired Walt Disney’s vision of Cinderella Castle!

Stay: 1 days, 1 night to see the highlights, a 2nd day if you want to see the exotic mansions like Montserrate Mansion that are farther from the town square.





Getting Around Spain

We took a combination of transportation to get around Spain, including


Spain by Train

Mostly, we used the high speed train service, as it was the most convenient.

To book tickets, use Omio. It’s the largest distributor for European train tickets and accepts international credit cards. Spain does have its own train website, but its in Spanish and meant for local Spanish citizens to book.

The Omio site is much more user friendly – you can both browse train schedules and keep track of all your purchased tickets by making an account. They charge a nominal booking fee for the process, I believe around 1-3 euro per transaction, so try to organize your route first then buy all the tickets in one go.

Train routes typically are published 3-6 months out so if you can’t find the schedule for your dates, you might be looking to early. Just check back in a couple weeks or so. Ticket prices will get more expensive with time, so book in advance to save.

Check train schedules for Spain here.





Our Route

I got a lot of questions about how we got around. If following my itinerary, here’s the breakdown:

  1. We flew into Madrid, and spent a couple days exploring the area. From Madrid, we took the high speed train down to Cordoba and again from Cordoba to Seville.
  2. From Seville, you can take either the train or bus. We found a steal bus fare (~10 euro per person), so we tried the bus. If you can’t find a bus deal, just use the train as it’s much easier to navigate!
  3. From Granada, we chose to fly up northeast to Barcelona. You can take the train, but it’s historically been offered as an overnight train option, and friends who took it said it was very uncomfortable. Granada has been doing construction on its train station, so double check whether a train is available for your dates. Personally, we recommend flying. 
  4. In Barcelona, we booked day trips to nearby Montserrat and Girona using the train. After fully exploring the Catalonia region, we flew to neighboring Portugal to visit Lisbon and Sintra.





Best Time to Visit

Spring (April – May) and Fall (September – October) are the best times to visit Spain and Portugal. There’ll be less crowds and more comfortable temperatures!


What Not to Miss

Here are some highlights you absolutely shouldn’t miss in Spain and Portugal!

Exploring Southern Spain’s Moorish history

  • the Cathedral Mosque in Cordoba, the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Alcazar in Seville, where scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed

Visiting Spain’s political and cultural capitals

  • Madrid: home to 
  • Barcelona: home to Gaudi’s masterpieces: the unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral, the UNESCO World Heritage Casa Battlo site and colorful Park Guell

Portugal’s Legendary Food & Culture


And there you go! My trip report after visiting Spain and Portugal for the first time. 

I hope my 2 week itinerary was helpful! If you have less time, say 10 days or 1 week, I would cut out Southern Spain. You could save Andalusia for a separate trip entirely as there’s lots to see!





Are you planning a trip to Spain, Portugal or both? Let me know any questions in the comments below!


Visiting Spain – Travel Checklist

To make the most of our time, we booked open jar flights, flying from NY to Madrid and departing from Lisbon. Check flight deals for your dates here.

For getting around within Spain, we recommend the local train system. Both fast and slow options are available, so Spain train travel is easy and effective! The only catch? It's difficult for non Spanish users to book. Instead, book your tickets on Omio, which is much more convenient for English speakers and accepts international credit card holders. Check train schedules for Spain here.

We mixed up our accommodation throughout the trip, alternating between Airbnb and hotels. You can browse last minute Spain hotel deals here

Lastly, be sure to visit Spain with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most. Get a quote for your trip here.


 You Might Also Enjoy: 


Spain Vacation Planning Articles

Spain and Portugal: A Perfect Itinerary to Explore Both Countries!

Headed to Andalusia? Check out this 7 day Southern Spain travel guide



How We Spent 3 Incredible Days in Granada

Insider Tips for Visiting the Alhambra Palace



The Best Things to Do in Seville

A Spain Food Guide: Important Tapas + Food Names in Spanish!



Spain's Hidden Gem: The Quaint Town of Cordoba

Don't Miss Cordoba's Patio Festival! Here's Why


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  1. Joyce
    June 1, 2016 / 12:33 pm

    Cordoba and Grenada look gorgeous. I love all the flower shots in Cordoba, what a great time to go! I love all your pictures & travel style too! I might be planning a Spain trip for this summer, I’ll bookmark this and avidly follow all your recommendations haha

  2. Amanda
    June 1, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    Gah you’re making me so jealous, girl!!!! I studied abroad in Salamanca in high school and spent a lot of time in Barcelona and Madrid, but I haven’t been back since. I desperately want to go back and go down to Granada to see the Alhambra!

  3. Adaleta Avdic
    June 1, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    Wow, so much information & this is so detailed! I may be going to Lisbon in November, so this is cool to know it’s like San Fran. I have my list of must-sees made after reading this post!

  4. She Joh
    June 1, 2016 / 10:55 pm

    Wow, what an incredible trip and your pictures are absolutely stunning! I want to go now!

  5. Cory
    June 1, 2016 / 11:34 pm

    Nice tips! I will going to Spain later in the summer, so this will help a lot.

  6. Elise
    June 1, 2016 / 11:42 pm

    Your photos are stunning! Now I want to visit :)

  7. Colby
    June 2, 2016 / 12:12 am

    Your photos are absolutely stunning! I’ll be moving to Spain in the fall and will definitely refer back to this.

    • Sher
      June 2, 2016 / 12:24 am

      Aw, thanks for the kind words Colby!

      • May
        January 12, 2018 / 8:41 am

        Hey there thanks for the awesome guide! Can you share approx how much you spent for the two weeks. I’m trying to plan a budget and I have no clue how much to plan for

        • Sher
          January 12, 2018 / 11:07 am

          Hi May – glad it was helpful! Since it’s not a packaged tour, the trip cost will depend on what you want to do! Hotels, restaurants, flights, sights etc – it just depends how luxury or budget you go :) You can get an idea upfront by booking your flights and hotels first. Some of the more famous sites in Spain can be booked online in advance too.

  8. Melissa
    June 2, 2016 / 12:37 am

    Your vacation looks AH-Mazing!!! And the photos!!! Makes me want to book a trip asap!

    • Sher
      June 2, 2016 / 2:34 pm

      Thanks Melissa! It was an amazing trip, I hope you have a great summer!

  9. aicha robertson
    June 2, 2016 / 1:43 am

    Wow I can’t wait to visit Spain someday, what a great post! Thanks for sharing x

    • Sher
      June 2, 2016 / 2:35 pm

      Yes, Spain is amazing! Hope you visit soon. xoxo

  10. Trang Do
    June 2, 2016 / 1:49 am

    Great pictures!! Amazing photos!!!

    • Sher
      June 2, 2016 / 2:34 pm

      Thank you Trang!

  11. Julian
    June 2, 2016 / 8:50 am

    Excellent review and nicely planned trip. Pictures of Granada and Cordoba look very nice. Too bad you didnt see Porto, such a nice city as well. Many thanks for the inspiration.

    • Sher
      June 2, 2016 / 2:33 pm

      Thanks Julian! Yea – I keep seeing Porto all over now. Wish I had gone but it was nearing 3 weeks at that point and I had to get back to work! If only haha.

  12. Amy
    June 2, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    Fantastic and comprehensive post! I always appreciate a post catering to first timers, as that is quite often what I am, myself! Beautiful photos, thanks for the insight into such spectacular places!

  13. Maggie
    June 2, 2016 / 5:17 pm

    Your photos are simply stunning!! Awesome trip!

  14. Leslie Rossi
    June 2, 2016 / 10:40 pm

    i did portugal a couple of years ago! i loved it, sintra was unreal.

  15. Alexandra A.
    June 4, 2016 / 3:52 pm

    All these places are amazing,I definitely have to visit them someday!

  16. Carmen
    June 25, 2016 / 2:11 am

    I am absolutely in love with Spain and Portugal but haven’t visited all of these places you’ve listed. This is a beautiful and helpful guide. Thanks so much for sharing and happy travels :)

  17. Andra
    June 25, 2016 / 11:53 am

    Love your list! And what amazing photos. I just googled the Patio Festival in Cordoba and it looks so nice! The houses look amazing then. Nice tip

    • Sher
      June 25, 2016 / 7:02 pm

      Hey Andra! Yes the patio festival is amazing. I recently posted about it with tons of photos, have a look! :)

  18. Long Nguyen
    June 25, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    A very well arranged guide for the travel you have experienced. I found this clear and easy to understand with structure of information and pictures coming along with. I have printed it for the trip to Spain in next two years. Thanks.

  19. Natasha
    June 25, 2016 / 6:56 pm

    First of all I have to say I LOVE your photos and the way they are set up in this post. Haven’t been to all these places in Spain but definitely have to get back so I can visit more.

    • Sher
      June 25, 2016 / 7:03 pm

      Hi Natasha! Thanks so much for the kind words. xx Sher

  20. Joanna
    June 26, 2016 / 2:20 pm

    I will be going to Granada in autumn for 5 night and I am very looking forward to it. Thank you for the tickets tip, I will keep it in mind and book them at least 2 months in advance. :)

  21. Renne Simpson
    June 30, 2016 / 2:11 am

    Wowwww I’m just in love with Sintra because of your photos <3 I have a thing for colorful cities. Beautiful….

    • Sher
      June 30, 2016 / 2:13 am

      Thank you Renne! Yes I’m so glad I took a detour to Sintra on this Portugal trip, it was a really fun day trip and actually 2 days would have been better!

  22. Shobha
    June 30, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    Love the itinerary and the photos! I’ve been to all these cities and I can say that you pretty much covered everything for a first time trip.

  23. Stephanie Langlet
    July 1, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    I’m also more a fan of Barcelona than Madrid. In the highlights there, I would add the palace of the Catalan Music – one of my favourite places with the Sagrada Familia – and la Boqueria, the market on the Ramblas.
    Great guide!

    • Sher
      July 2, 2016 / 4:10 pm

      Yes! I loved La Boqueria too – had a great seafood brunch there. Can’t believe I forgot to add that, thanks for the note Stephanie!

  24. Lia
    July 4, 2016 / 12:28 am

    I love this :) I did this trip exactly back in 2012 with the addition of Porto. Your photos are beautiful!

  25. Ami
    July 5, 2016 / 10:18 am

    That is a concise and well planned itinerary. Very useful and am bookmarking it for my future trip.

  26. Rob Taylor
    July 6, 2016 / 12:56 am

    All of these places are must-visits, especially Sintra… and Grenada… and Madrid… I think adding the day trip to Segovia is brilliant.

  27. FabioRosado
    July 12, 2016 / 6:08 am

    I really enjoyed your post and the pictures look amazing.
    Lisbon has a lot to do and see, 2 days might not be enough if you want to visit Sintra as well, but that’s my opinion :)

    Did you enjoy Belem as well? I can see that you went there because of the picture of the famous Pasteis de Belem :D

    • Sher
      July 12, 2016 / 6:23 pm

      Yes! I wish I had spent an extra day in Sintra – there was a lot more to see than I had realized!

  28. Tara
    January 1, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    Hi! I am planning an 8 day trip to Europe in April and am torn between two different itineraries:
    1. Fly into Barcelona, explore Barcelona, and do monterassat, and then take a flight to Lisbon and explore Porto and sintra


    2. Fly into Madrid, do Sevilla and Granada with day trips to Córdoba and Sevilla

    Any insight you have would be wonderful!!

    • Sher
      January 1, 2017 / 10:30 pm

      Hi Tara – either itinerary would be amazing, it really depends on what you’re looking to do on your trip? Between Madrid & Barcelona, I liked Barcelona a lot more (personally) as it’s a larger, vibrant city with amazing restaurants, lots of sights (mostly of Gaudi’s works) and Montserrat was very different.

      Madrid is more historic and I really loved South Spain. Andalusia has Moorish history so there’s lots of beautiful arabic-influenced sights like the Alhambra. Tapas are really good in Sevilla! Cordoba really comes alive in early May for the flower festival.. Either way there’s lots to see in both options you outlined! Maybe you can extend your trip for 2 weeks?? :)

  29. sheena
    January 27, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    Hi Sher! Im in love with your photos! Im also planning a same trip for July. I just want to ask a few questions , I hope you don’t mind. your first stop was Madrid right? then from barcelona did you fly to lisbon? And was it easy to travel via trains also? I don’t drive so I’ll probably be commuting my entire trip. Im already thinking of flying to Madrid from Singapore(where i come from) and do the same itinerary as yours then go back to Singapore either from Barcelona or Lisbon( I cant decide yet). Thanks for reading my comment . Any advice is a great help thanks;)

    • Sher
      January 27, 2017 / 10:32 pm

      Hi Sheena, aw thank you! Happy to help. Yes I flew in to Madrid and yes also flew from Barcelona to Lisbon. In between I took trains from Madrid down south to Seville/Cordoba/Granada. All of those train rides are very doable and you can find the train schedule on The site doesn’t fully translate from Spanish to English but the time schedules are easy enough to read. To actually book the tickets I used rail europe (i have a link to that in the post) because it’s easier to pay – with renfe you pretty much need a spanish credit card or it won’t work.

      I didn’t rent a car so to get from city to city I took the train or flew. I felt like walking in any of the Spanish cities was very doable and walked pretty much everywhere! Even 30 minutes in some cases but I also don’t mind to walk. There are local buses and taxis to get around too so no need for a car!

      I definitely really liked Lisbon but I went with family and they were kind of tired after 10 days in spain, so if you decide to go home after Barcelona that could be fine too. Lisbon is very hilly (kind of like San Francisco if you have been there?) and you mostly have to walk around for sights and such but there’s also the trolley to take which is fun. If you do go to Lisbon, I highly recommend Sintra! There are some colorful palaces and mansions there which are really unique.

      Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for reading :)

  30. Jeanne
    March 6, 2017 / 3:02 am

    We’re planning to go visiting Spain and Portugal departing from the UK for 13 days, wondering what would be the best itinerary be for our first time visit on these both countries and we need to head back to Hong Kong after, need your suggestion to see if we’re able to fly direct either from those countries or get back to the UK first. FYI, we don’t drive.

    Many thanks for your help in advance.

  31. Tanya Gomez
    March 17, 2017 / 5:42 am

    Wow! your itinerary is perfect! ;) Great choice of places and I also loved your pictures.

  32. Sara Bunch
    March 18, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    Love this itinerary! I’m planning a trip now hoping to hit most of these places, but I only have about 14 days. How many days total was your trip?

    • Sher
      March 19, 2017 / 2:59 am

      Hey Sara! Glad you like it :) I took about 2 weeks so it sounds like you have plenty of time. With shorter time the day trips from Madrid are probably easy to cut and maybe less time in Cordoba if the patio festival isnt going on

  33. Angie
    March 31, 2017 / 6:12 am

    Hi Sher,
    I love everything you posted here, especially the itinerary and the photos. its so easy to understand and the photos are all amazing. I’ll be doing Spain and Portugal trip for 16 days this May, adding few days to spend in Porto and Barcelona. Im planning to do the whole exact thing as yours, I can’t wait to visit Cordoba for the flower festival and Sintra! Thank you so much for your itineraries :)

  34. Namrata
    April 8, 2017 / 10:04 pm

    Hi Sher your blog was really insightful! I have a question. I’m planning to buy train tickets in advance (traveling to Spain and Portugal) but since my itenerary is not finalized so how do I go about making reservations? Is it hard to make same day /2dayreservations in advance for train seat reservation? Thanks for your help!

    • Sher
      April 8, 2017 / 10:10 pm

      Hi Namrata, glad my posts were helpful! Hm, it depends. When are you planning to go?

      If spring/summer I would recommend you finalize your itinerary and buy the tickets online before you go. Spain gets quite crowded as early as May and certain popular places will sell out. For example, the Madrid day trip to Toledo is strangely very popular!

      I booked all of my trains ahead of time, except my Portugal day trip to Sintra. the line at the train station was very, very long the day of. In hindsight I would have bought it ahead of time to save time.

      If you are visiting in the fall/winter its probably less important to book ahead.

      For the Alhambra you absolutely need to buy a ticket ahead of time (I have a whole post on that). In general the high speed train runs pretty frequently, you just might not the time or seat you want if you buy the day of. Hope that helps!

  35. Monica
    May 29, 2017 / 7:37 pm

    Hi Sher
    Your website is so informative and I;m glad that you’re doing well because of it. We are planning a 11 day trip, flying into Barcelona on Aug 10 and flying out of Lisbon on Aug 21st. We are currently scheduled to fly out of Barcelona on Aug 16th and spend 1 night in Seville, and the remaining time in Lisbon. We are a relaxed family (2 adults, 2 teens 13-15) who like to soak it all in and enjoy nights out exploring the town etc. Would you recommend that we cut 1 day short in Barcelona and spend 2 nights in Seville ?

    Thank you..

    • Sher
      May 29, 2017 / 8:25 pm

      Hi Monica, thanks for the sweet words! Hm it sounds like you have 6 days planned for Barcelona and 1 for Seville. In that case because you have so much time in Barcelona, I would recommend an extra day in Seville, just to get an extra taste for south spain (which is quite different from the two big cities up north)

      There’s lots to see, do and eat in Barcelona. You mentioned your family likes to go out and explore at night, I think you’ll really love Barcelona for that.

      Seville is much quieter and smaller, but there’s enough to fill 2 days. The tapas bars were my favorite – they have some very authentic “stand at the bar and order” type of tapas bars and more modern, fancier tapas restaurants so you could easily spend the full 2 days eating! If you get bored (which i dont think you would, but just if, Cordoba is a very cute small town only a quick day trip train ride away) that I really loved. Hope that helps and have a fantastic trip!

  36. Regina
    July 15, 2017 / 3:38 am

    Hi! Sher,
    I’m so glad I spotted your travel blog. It has been very helpful so far, very detailed and organized. I was wondering if you could help me plan a better itinerary for a trip my husband and I are planning. It will cover Southern Spain (Andalusia: Seville, Córdoba, Granada, Malaga) to Tangier, Morocco then to Portugal (Lisbon, Fatima, Sintra, maybe Porto) then back to California. This will be for Sept 25-Oct 18.
    My plan is to fly into Seville first (4 nights) then take the train to Córdoba (2 nights), Granada (3 nights), Malaga (2 nights), ferry to Tangier (2 nights), back to Seville to fly to Lisbon. We have no specific itinerary for Portugal yet except to be in Fatima by Oct 11-14 for the Fatima Centennial events.
    We plan to take the train between cities in Spain. Do you have a better suggestion in which order should we visit the 4 cities in Andalusia? I’m stuck with the train routes. There’s no direct train route to Granada from the other 3 cities, so we’ll have to keep on backtracking to Córdoba or Seville to get to Granada and Malaga which will be a waste of time. any thoughts? Thank you.

    • Sher
      July 15, 2017 / 10:09 am

      Hi Regina – thanks for the kind words! Hm.. I see what you mean. Granada has an airport as well, which might be convenient if you haven’t already booked your flights.

      The train routes in Spain are set, so like you said you sometimes have to backtrack. There is a very affordable and comfortable bus between Seville + Granada. Book through the company Alsa and if you book enough in advance, it’s only 10-15 euro per person.

      Perhaps you might split up your time in Seville into 2 night, then Cordoba for 2 nights, then back to Seville for 2 nights so that it’s a more comfortable journey. Sometimes I do that and pick a different neighborhood / hotel to stay at and find that I get a completely different experience! Or you might want to visit Cordoba on a day trip when you’re in Seville. Some people feel Cordoba is small and that the highlights can be seen in a day trip.

  37. KJB
    July 31, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    I am currently researching and planning a trip to both Portugal and Spain and found your information helpful. Thank you!

  38. Sarah
    August 23, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    Hi Sher,

    Thanks for this incredible detail – it’s amazing. I’m planning a 11-day trip to Spain and, possibly, Portugal. I’d love your input on a planning dilemma I’m having.

    We are SUPER adventurous and active, but really want to take in each city.

    Ideally, I’d do 4-5 days in Barcelona, then 2 days in each of Granada, Seville, and Lisbon (with the Sintra day trip). It feels like too much. If you had to choose between Granada, Seville, and Lisbon – which would you choose? What about between just Granada and Seville? There’s not enough time for all the things!! :-)

    Thanks in advance for your input.

    • Sher
      August 23, 2017 / 1:40 pm

      Hi Sarah – I know what you mean! It’s always a challenge between seeing as much as possible and soaking it in. I would recommend cutting out lisbon. I’m not sure of the route you’re taking but flying to Portugal from Spain usually involves flights out of Barcelona, so you would go Barca > Andalusia > back to Barca just to get to Lisbon, which adds extra time.

      I liked the small town feel of Seville more and the excellent local tapas scene, but Granada has more sights so usually people do at least 2 days in seville and 3 in Granada. Out of them all, I loved Barcelona – I’m definitely a city person – so I would do 5 days in Barcelona if you have time. There’s lots of sights and then fun nearby day trips to take advantage of. Hope that helps!

  39. Sarah
    August 23, 2017 / 2:06 pm

    That’s extremely helpful. Thank you – I think you just helped make my decision!

  40. Jana
    December 26, 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Hi Sher – In the Sintra section of this post, where was your 1st and 4th photo posted above taken? Is this a specific palace in Sintra? Thanks! :) (P.s. super helpful blog post!!!)

  41. Marcie
    December 28, 2017 / 1:02 pm

    I love your blog! I am planning at trip to Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon) for my birthday in April. I’m a bit overwhelmed with the planning. How long did it take you to plan this trip?

    • Sher
      December 28, 2017 / 1:06 pm

      Hi Marcie! So glad you like it :) What a great birthday trip!! You’ll love Spain.

      I know what you mean, it takes a loooong time to plan because I like to customize my itinerary to things I like to do, plan the transportation myself and also keep things within budget! What I find helpful is to get a guidebook first, like Rick Steves or Fodors for europe, scan it through to get a general outline and then read blogs and forums for the details.

      In the beginning it was really hard and there wasn’t much info out there so I started writing these posts to help other people who like to plan their own trips too!

  42. Jessica M Olexa
    January 2, 2018 / 9:47 pm

    This is wonderful. Curious for your trip, what was your budget? In planning stages so trying to get a sense. Also are you able to “beach” it anywhere along these stops?

    • Sher
      January 3, 2018 / 5:51 pm

      Hi Jessica, Hm I don’t remember exactly what we spent but what I usually do is book the flights, hotels & transportation first – those are usually the bulk of the trip cost. If you’re booking in advance things are much much cheaper, especially flights and trains. In the larger cities hotels are more expensive so you can look into AirBnB for a more budget friendly option.

      For sights – Barcelona has some really great sights but the tickets can be expensive if you see them all. The nice thing is you can buy them online in advance and get a sense of budget. I booked those last minute the day of and I think if you book earlier, it is cheaper.

      Food in Spain is average priced (compared to New York). Lisbon is budget friendly but again, just depends how you travel. I spent all my time/money at the bars when I was younger but re-visiting Lisbon this time, I spent more on sights and food. So, it really depends!

      There are beaches in Barcelona! I’ve heard great things about Portugal’s beaches but haven’t personally been.

  43. Dina
    January 5, 2018 / 4:38 am

    Hey Sher, loved your pics and your details so useful. I need an advice. i am planning for a trip on the end of January(16 days).First i will be with prepaid guided tour France-Switzerland-Italy(6 days) and back to Paris, but instead of going back to Paris i was thinking of traveling from Avignon to Barcelona. I was this close to cancel Barcelona and go straight to Madrid then Andalusia then Portugal than after reading your post , i think i can do it. what do you suggest?! What is the best way to manage my time and to see all these cities!

    • Sher
      January 5, 2018 / 9:31 am

      Sounds like an amazing European tour! Not sure how much time you have but if you can fit it all in then great!

  44. Sejal
    January 19, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    Hi Sher! Great pics!! I am planning to do Spain/Portugal in May for 7 days. We were thinking of staying in Barcelona for 4 nights and then heading out to Libson. I also wanted to check out Sintra(day trip). Do you think three nights will be enough in Libson? Unfortunately, I already booked my tickets from/to Barcelona.


  45. Ann Ong
    January 27, 2018 / 11:19 pm

    Hello Sher!
    Thank you for a very detailed post- very useful for our Spain Portugal trip in late May!

    I might follow your itinerary too :)

    I was planning to make Cordoba only a day trip from Madrid (or Seville?) so we wont be dragging our luggage behind. What can you suggest?

    I noticed that you don’t have separate posts for Madrid and Barcelona unlike the 3 Andalusia cities which you discussed very thoroughly (you even included day to day itineraries!).

    Can you suggest links For Madrid and Barcelona very similar to your Andalusia posts?

    Can we travel Madrid-Cordoba-Seville-Granada-Lisbon-Barcelona?

    What routes are better traveled by train and those by plane?

    Thank you for your help.

    With best regards,

    • Sher
      January 28, 2018 / 2:58 pm

      Hi Ann – glad you found the posts helpful! I covered transportation in my posts but for specific detailed advice, I highly recommend Rick Steves’ Spain book – relied on it heavily to plan my own trip – or a travel agent to plan all the little details!

  46. Naomi
    January 31, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    This is an amazing itinerary! I’m doing one similar to it when I go to Portugal and Spain in October. I’m doing Spain for five days, Madrid for four days and Seville for three…then an extra day in Lisbon on my way home. Did you fly to a majority of the places? Like Madrid to Cordoba? I’m worried about feeling rushed lol

    • Sher
      January 31, 2018 / 6:48 pm

      Thanks! We did a mix of flights and trains – you can see the specific breakdown in my individual spain posts! In general train is easier :)

  47. Tim
    February 17, 2018 / 2:30 am

    A couple of points. Citing $300 a night hotels as ‘affordable’ is not something most people would consider a reasonable statement. Only other point is with your assertion that the Pena Palace inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle. That is incorrect. The inspiration was Neuschwanstein castle in Germany.

    • Sher
      February 17, 2018 / 10:19 am

      Hi Tim – The hotels I mentioned are recommendations based on my trip. Keep in mind that rates fluctuate dramatically depending on the time of year that you’re searching for.

      Pena Palace is widely believed to have inspired Disney – in addition to Neuschwanstein.

  48. Pia
    February 19, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    I am so glad that I encounter your website, your photos are all beautiful, your itinerary is very detailed and very helpful that I will consider following some of it and add 2 things:
    1st, From Barcelona – I will avail the “Three Countries in One Day: France, Andorra and Spain”
    2nd, I am also keen to include “Morocco Day Trip” either from Seville or from Granada going to Malaga or Costa del Sol as there are 2 options
    a) Morocco Day Trip from Malaga to Tangier
    b) Morocco Day Trip from Costa del Sol to Tangier
    what do you think about the possibility of this?

    My other question are:
    1.How did you travel from Madrid to Cordoba? By bus, I guess?
    2.How about BUS from Cordoba to Seville?
    3.How did you travel from Barcelona to Lisbon? By plane, I guess?

    Awaiting for your replies…
    Thank you in advance.

    • Sher
      February 19, 2018 / 1:58 pm

      Hi Pia – glad you found the post helpful! The 3 countries in one day tour sounds incredible as does the Morocco day trip. It’s up to you, whichever tour best fits your schedule (malaga or costa del sol)

      From Madrid, I took the high speed train down to Cordoba and then again the train from Cordoba to Seville. I didn’t take the bus but you can check the Spain bus website if you prefer to take the bus. It will be much slower.

      Yes I took a flight from Barcelona to Lisbon. I think that is the easiest way. Even though Spain and Portugal are neighbors, it’s not the easiest to get from one to the other. I heard once that it’s because of mountains.. but I’m not sure. Flight is easiest.

  49. ZD
    February 22, 2018 / 7:56 pm

    Sher, your post is very helpful and sounds like a wonderful trip. I wish we had time to follow your itinerary. We will be traveling to Spain for 5 days before heading to Portugal for a group trip. We’d love to see as much as possible, where would you recommend we go if we only have 5 days? We prefer exploring the cities over spending lots of time in museums. Would it be doable to fly into Barcelona and spend 2 nights there, flying out to Madrid and exploring Madrid for a couple of days (3 nights) including a day trip before heading to Portugal? Or are we better off going to just Barcelona and doing day trips or Madrid and doing day trips? Thanks!

    • Sher
      February 23, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Hi ZD! If you have a short time, Madrid and Barcelona are definitely the 2 cities you want to visit! Regarding where to spend your 5 days, it depends on how you prefer to travel.

      I spent 5 days in just Barcelona, since its a big city and there are lots of sights to see. I also took day trips to Montserrat and Girona which I really liked. For Madrid, I felt like there was a bit less to see, and that the city had a older / historic vibe. I guess you could compare Barcelona to NYC and Madrid to Washington DC? So it just depends on the kind of atmosphere you like.

      I think for me, if it was my first time, I would visit both cities just so I could see them both. Now that I’m looking back and can compare them, I enjoyed Barcelona more (but am still glad I went to both!)

  50. Nidhi
    March 3, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    Hi Sher
    Your post is just amazing!! It felt like you wrote this for me…we also are going for exact 14 days and intend to cover Spain and Portugal, have taken a note of all your recommendations:)

    I have one question- do you suggest any particular operator for Baixa and Alfama walk in Lisbon? I am travelling with a 4 year old so looking to cover both separately on two dates…

    Thanks again

    • Sher
      March 7, 2018 / 12:27 pm

      Hi Nidhi – so glad it’s been helpful for you! hm what do you mean by a particular operator? like a tour guide? i usually book guided tours through viator and they connect to a local company. hope that helps!

  51. Rahul Ghosh
    March 18, 2018 / 5:10 am

    Hi Sher, We are planning to visit Granada from Seville and loved your itinerary. Can you please share which bus company you used for the journey?

    • Sher
      March 18, 2018 / 12:28 pm

      Alsa :)

  52. March 25, 2018 / 4:02 am

    Hey Sher! The pictures looks absolutely fantastic!!!. Thanks for the detailed itinerary. I guess for anyone travelling for the first time, the usual dilemmas are always the same – Which places to consider and their relevance, though it might vary from person to person but your post gives a good comparative view of the places to visit.

    Just yesterday while talking to a friend, who cover Spain and Portugal starting from Portugal and then moving on the Spain. She found Portugal better than Spain with the exclamation most the places look the same in Spain. She even advised me considering either of Barcelona or Madrid as they both are very similar.

    I would be travelling from Bombay and would like to ask which place should be the starting point – Portugal or Spain and am considering around May. Which month did you visit and as per you which would be the ideal time to travel to these places?



    • Sher
      March 26, 2018 / 8:22 pm

      Hi Romesh – thanks for the kind words! Hm, I had a different opinion. I found Portugal and Spain to be quite different. I did like Portugal better, I think the food and the people really stand out there. It’s up to you for Madrid vs Barcelona. Personally I think they are very different cities (similar to Washington DC vs NYC). If you have the time I would do both, but if you only have time for 1, it depends what you think you’d like more.

      Barcelona has great food, lots of nightlife, impressive architecture, shopping, a cosmopolitan feel. Madrid is older, more historic, government buildings and classic museums. For example, if you want trendy Spanish tapas = Barcelona. If you want old school tapas bars = Madrid. That’s a generalization, of course, but that was my experience.

      We went in Spring and loved it. Good weather, less crowds. For starting point, go with whatever transportation is easiest from Bombay and is cheaper!

  53. Kate
    April 18, 2018 / 10:19 am

    This itinerary is awesome! My friend and I want to spend 14 days in Spain and Portugal end of the year. What was the cost for your trip? I know prices change, but a ball park estimate will help with our planning. Thank you so much!!

    • Sher
      April 18, 2018 / 10:30 am

      Hi Kate – so glad you like it! I don’t remember the exact cost but for you can do the trip as budget or as luxury as you want. What I usually do is price out the cost of flights + hotels and that’s usually the two most expensive things. And then I know if I can splurge day to day or if I need to set a limit for how much to spend when I’m there. Hope that helps!

  54. Faye
    April 21, 2018 / 2:30 am

    Hi Sher. I am from Singapore and am looking to holiday in Spain In June. As this is my first time I was wondering how to go About it. Your itinerary is so detailed. I think I am going to follow it to the tee. Including staying at the same hotels. I want to do some shopping as well. Heard that Zara is all over. I plan to leave on 10 June and return on 24 June. Are there any tips you can give me. Thank you. Faye.

    • Sher
      April 21, 2018 / 8:59 am

      Hi Faye – You’ll have a great time! Thanks for the kind words about my itinerary :) Zara is AMAZING in Spain (at least compared to the US), plus they have Zara Home stores that I love because we don’t get them in New York! June will be pretty hot in Spain, especially in the South, so try planning your day to get up early and sight see, take a siesta at your hotel in the afternoon, and then go out again after. Have a fantastic trip!

  55. Faye
    April 22, 2018 / 12:27 am

    Hi Sher. As we do not want to be too stressed on the trip. Please let me know which areas I can skip. And can u please help me to customize an itinerary including how I get from one place to another. I am not a frequent traveler and this is the first time I am venturing so far out in my own. And if there are cheaper hotel options. I will fly into Barcelona and out of Seville. Is that ok? Thank you. I appreciate your help.

    • Sher
      April 22, 2018 / 2:05 am

      Hi Faye – I’ve shared my itinerary and included lots of options for how to customize it to fit your trip length and interests. Feel free to include or exclude whatever you like :) I think if you read through all my posts on Spain, pick up the Rick Steves guidebook and read through a couple other Spain blogs, you can easily find all the answers to your questions and create your perfect Spain & Portugal vacation.

      I love trip planning and planned the entire trip listed in my post but I understand not everyone likes to do the same. If you would like me to review your itinerary, answer questions in depth or plan your trip I offer travel consultations where you can hire me for a one hour call.

      I don’t make the bookings though – If you want a completely hands off experience, I have friends who are travel agents who you can hire to create a completely custom itinerary.

  56. Faye
    April 22, 2018 / 3:28 am

    Pls send me a contact of a travel agent who can help me with the train and other bookings. Do let me know the charges as well. Tks.

  57. Darryl
    May 2, 2018 / 11:41 am

    This is WONDERFUL! Thank you so much, I was worried I wouldn’t get the most out of my stay in Barcelona until now!

  58. Milli
    June 17, 2018 / 12:26 am

    Hi! I love this post and am largely basing my trip to Spain off it, so thanks for a great article!

    Just wondering if you could please clarify how many days you spent in Barcelona and Madrid with day trips.

    Did you spend two days in Madrid and then 1 day trip visiting Segovia, Toledo and El Escorial all in one day?

    Likewis, did you spend 3 days in Barcelona and then 1 day trip visiting Montserrat and Girona in the same day?

    Thanks for your help!


  59. Sher
    June 17, 2018 / 3:48 pm

    Hi Milli – glad the post is helpful! The itinerary above is just an example and I structured it so that if you have more/less time you can consider the day trips – essentially you can spend however many days you wish in each city!

    For Madrid I’d recommend 2 days, longer if you’re interested in the day trip options. For Barcelona, I’d recommend 3 full days, with extra time if you want to add the day trips. Each day trip option would take 1 full day though, it’d be very tight to squeeze 3 different cities in a day trip :)

    Personally, I enjoyed Barcelona more and think you could even spend a week just there!

  60. Jackie Guerra
    June 25, 2018 / 11:54 am

    Hello, I am planning a trip to Spain and Portugal in Spring of 2019. I will be traveling for 10 days. I will be visiting Barcelona and Madrid. Would it be better to start at Madrid to the little towns in the south then over to Portugal and then head up to barcelona? Or would it better to start Barcelona, then over to Portugal and then to Mardrid and fly home from there?

    • Sher
      June 25, 2018 / 12:05 pm

      Hi Jackie – It depends! What I suggest is checking out the transportation options for your trip dates.

      First go to Google Flights here and see if flights are available and how much they cost. Then go to Rail Europe here and see how much train rides cost for each long leg. That’s how I plan my trips!

      Even though Spain + Portugal are right next to each other, I found for my trip dates that surprisingly flight connections were not that convenient. So, we did Madrid, train south, flight to Barcelona, flight to Lisbon. Hope that helps!

  61. Anna Ragazzo
    July 4, 2018 / 3:56 pm

    I’m planning a trip for 4 people (active “seniors”) to Spain and Portugal for Fall 2019. We were thinking of driving. I see you used train, and planes.Why did you choose planes versus trains? Would you not recommend driving? I see you only visited Lisbon with day trip to Sintra, where else in Portugal do you recommend?
    My thoughts are Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Seville, possible beach stop in Costa del Sol, then onto Portugal, Lisbon and ….How long do you recommend for this itinerary?
    Thank you.

    • Sher
      July 4, 2018 / 5:04 pm

      Hi Anna – If there are trains available, I prefer trains. They’re MUCH more convenient and often cheaper. Train stations are usually in or near the town center so I can just hop on, get off and go sight see. Whereas airports are outside the city so they require additional transportation to & from, plus I need to factor in at least an hour to go through security and if I have carry on suitcases, domestic airlines will often charge extra per piece.

      Spain has a pretty great train network so it’s fast, convenient and affordable. Head to Rail Europe and plug in the cities you want to visit and check the times/ rates.

      Driving in Spain is tough, but I think you can see even more if you drive! I’ve heard great things about Cascais in Portugal – check that out.

  62. Milli Salvemini
    July 6, 2018 / 5:30 am


    Thanks for a great article. I was wondering if you could please break down your visit to Madrid and Barcelona into days spent in the cities themselves vs day trips (and what/ how many places you visited for each day trip)?



    • Sher
      July 6, 2018 / 5:11 pm

      Hi Milli – I’d recommend at least 2 days in Madrid and at least 3 full days in Barcelona. If you want to do the day trips, add on an extra day for each, or a 1/2 day if you want to go from the day trip on to another city. Hope that helps!

  63. Kavita
    August 10, 2018 / 1:29 pm

    Hi..your trip looks amazing. Do you recommend driving in Spain and Portugal to do similar trips?


    • Sher
      August 10, 2018 / 5:26 pm

      Hi Kavita – if you’re comfortable driving then it could be a great idea to see some smaller towns! For me, I had limited time (2 weeks) and the main cities are easily connected via train/flights so that’s what we did.

  64. MT
    September 10, 2018 / 1:54 am

    Hi there,

    I am traveling to Barcelona solo for nine days in mid October. I am looking for a week of being in one spot to unwind and be near a beach. I have been looking non stop and can’t seem to find anything great that is priced right. Either what I have found it extremely expensive or seemingly too inexpensive for what is being offered. I will have completed Ironman Barcelona (hard endurance triathlon race) and I am normally very curious yet I know that I will want a beach and relaxation with some culture and fun. That said, I am more interested in unwinding rather than exploring…. Do you have any ideas? Thank you!

  65. Sumaiya
    September 12, 2018 / 3:38 pm


    Love reading your post before planning my travels. I wanted to know, would you recommend doing Barcelona first and the Southern Spain or the way you did it. We are flying in and out of Madrid so i cant decide what would make more sense. Any input would be grateful.


    • Sher
      September 17, 2018 / 12:00 am

      Hi Sumaiya – check the flight + train schedules for your dates! I usually decide the order of our route based on the times tables + fares.

  66. Sanjiv Sood
    January 4, 2019 / 7:20 am

    We are two couples from India who are planning to visit Spain and Portugal during September. However we would like to see more of country side, small towns and beaches . We would not like to spend too much time in Madrid/ Barcelona. We are planning 12 to 14 days tour. Could you recommend some places

  67. Charmaine
    January 10, 2019 / 10:45 am

    Dear Sher,

    Thank you for your informative post! I’m sooooo happy to chance upon it! Your photos are so nicely taken as well!

    I’m planning a trip for 4 adults in February. Have you heard of Barcelona carnival before? Do you think it is worth going?

    Also, we are there for 11 days 10 nights, flying in and out from Barcelona. Do you think it’s possible to do Barc-> Madrid -> Cordoba -> Grananda -> Seville -> drive to Lisbon -> drive back to Spain -> take train back to Barc?
    Or is it too ambitious?

    Thank you so much for your time and help!!

    • Sher
      January 10, 2019 / 1:40 pm

      Hi Charmaine – No problem! So glad you found it helpful.

      I’ve never been to Barcelona for carnival but it sounds like a lot of fun! I haven’t driven in Spain or Portugal, so unfortunately wouldn’t have any advice on that.

  68. Bobby Singh
    January 11, 2019 / 8:55 pm

    Thanks so much for an amazing summary. You helped me a lot. I hope you continue to do and that you get to travel the world.

    • Sher
      January 11, 2019 / 9:01 pm

      Ah, thank you for the nice comment! Have a great trip to Spain / Portugal!

  69. Jennifer Hawthorn
    January 23, 2019 / 9:55 pm

    Hi Sher, I am so pleased to have found your blog! Your photos and descriptions of each city and places of interest are absolutely inspiring!
    Our itinerary goes something like this at this stage:
    1 – fly into Madrid from Australia. Explore the city and visit Segovia and Toledo on day trips
    2 – trying to decide whether to train to Cordoba, Malaga or Grenada. I’m not sure how we can make this work. Is it possible to stay in one of these as a base and visit each of these places in day trips from one of these? Say 5 days spent between these three cities?
    3 – Train to Seville for a few days
    4 – Fly [?] from Seville to Lisbon. From Lisbon we will go to Sintra then Porto [by train?]
    5 – We will then travel to Vigo [train or fly?] to join one of the Camino routes finishing at Santiago de Compestela.
    6 – From here we will go to Barcelona for a few days before flying home.
    I would really appreciate any thoughts you might have Sher.
    Thank you so much,

    • Sher
      January 25, 2019 / 4:17 pm

      Hi Jennifer – thanks for the kind words! your proposed itinerary sounds great. yes, it is possible to choose a city as a base and then take day trips from the train.

      i haven’t been to malaga, but cordoba + seville are quite close together. granada is a bit farther. so, you could either go from madrid down to cordoba and explore the city, then continue onwards to seville, or you can go from madrid to granada and double back on a day trip to cordoba.

      check flight schedules for your dates here. for my trip and dates, i found that flying to lisbon was easier from Barcelona, as it was a larger hub.

      walking the camino route sounds incredible, i’ve heard great things! have a great trip!!

  70. Stephanie
    February 20, 2019 / 3:23 pm

    Hi Sher!
    I’ve been wanting to visit Spain and Portugal together for years so this guide was fantastic! My only on concern is that other blogs mentioned that doing too much can be overwhelming and rushed. Did you feel you got adequate time everywhere or were you just concerned with the planning and packing process to get to the next place? I definitely want to do them all but don’t want anything to feel rushed or missed because I’m on a strict itinerary. Thanks!!

    • Sher
      February 20, 2019 / 3:33 pm

      Hi Stephanie – glad you found my article helpful! It depends how much time you have – we spent 2 weeks and felt like it was all very comfortable. But, we also are the kind of people that like to do a lot on vacation :) You can use our itinerary above as a starting point and adjust depending on your time frame!

  71. Elizabeth Carter
    February 27, 2019 / 5:33 pm

    Hi! So how is it taking so many flights within a trip? I’ve never actually flown from one European city to another and am curious about the pain of checking in/out of airports and going through security multiple times. I am going to Lisbon later this year but it’s WAY cheaper to fly into Barcelona so I’m thinking of adding it into the itinerary. I just know the boyfriend isn’t going to be thrilled about “schlepping” luggage to and from airports within a day or so of each other. But we’re talking a $1000 price difference here! :O

    • Sher
      February 27, 2019 / 10:00 pm

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I feel your pain – I hate to fly and it is definitely annoying to schlep bags. We had a long enough trip to Spain / Portugal that we wanted to see as much as possible, and so for us, a mix of trains, flights + bus were good. We didn’t do fly back to back though. I think it depends on where you want to go and how much time you have! as i get older, i find I care more about convenience then price, ha

  72. George
    March 21, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    Haven’t been to San Fransisco but I heard a lot of people comparing Lisbon to SF. I traveled almost two years ago around Portugal and Lisbon reminded me a lot of some neighborhoods of downtown Athens. Lisbon is such a wonderful and vintage city -and the food is terrific. Thanks for sharing your itinerary :)

  73. sue
    April 2, 2019 / 6:04 pm

    I am thinking about Spain and/or Portugal for a family vacation this summer (my sons are in their early 20’s). I’ve been to Madrid and Toledo already, so I am OK missing these. We are certified scuba divers and not sure if we can fit in a day of diving to break up the city experience. I also wonder if we should consider taking a ferry over to Moracco/Gibraltor. I’d appreciate any/all suggestions – thanks!

  74. Felicia
    April 17, 2019 / 11:19 am

    Hi Sher,
    Are there any good beaches in Portugal? We want to relax more rather than sightseeing from point A to B. Any suggestions?

    • Sher
      April 18, 2019 / 12:22 am

      Hi Felicia, I haven’t personally been to any beaches in Portugal, so can’t say!

  75. James
    July 15, 2019 / 9:13 pm

    Thanks so much for putting this together, very helpful! We were thinking of a very similar itinerary but were thinking of not going to Barcelona instead possibly visiting Valencia and islands and also a couple additional days in Portugal. Any thoughts or recommendations if we did that? Thanks in advance!

    • Sher
      July 15, 2019 / 9:21 pm

      You could definitely do that! I haven’t been to Valencia but heard good things. And Barcelona is a big city, so it’s definitely easy to catch a flight back and explore in the future

  76. July 26, 2019 / 4:42 pm

    Please could you give more information on this tour

    We can travel around march 29 2020

    for two people from LA to madrid

    Thank you

    • Sher
      July 27, 2019 / 11:58 am

      Hi Lorna – this is just the itinerary we took, not a tour. Sorry!

  77. Pinky
    July 27, 2019 / 12:07 am

    Hi Sher,

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful itinerary. Me and my daughter with 2 other friends are planning to go to Portugal and Spain this coming November for 2 weeks. We would like to include Fatima. When do you think is best to insert Fatima for a day or a day and a half? Your recommendation is highly appreciated. Thank you so much.


    • Sher
      July 27, 2019 / 11:59 am

      Hi Pinky – sounds like a great trip! I haven’t been to Fatima unfortunately, so don’t have any advice.

  78. Holly Robison
    September 8, 2019 / 9:13 pm

    Hoping you would be kind enough to recommend an agency to help us with logistics and reservations for Portugal and Spain trip I am planning for four people.
    Very much enjoyed your posts and experiences…but I desire to chat with someone and help me set up.

    • Sher
      September 11, 2019 / 12:56 pm

      Hi Holly,

      Sure – happy to refer you to my travel adviser. Shoot me an email with some more details about what you’re looking for specifically!

  79. Mona
    September 9, 2019 / 6:13 pm

    Sher than you for sharing your wonderful itenerary. Me and my friend are planning to go Portugal and spain in November. Where to include Marrakesh in the 14 days itnerary.

    • Sher
      September 11, 2019 / 12:57 pm

      Hi Mona – Not sure what your specific plans are but you could fit it in before or after!

  80. Abimelec Rivera
    November 28, 2019 / 11:37 am

    Hi and thanks for this post. I’m planning on landing in Barcelona in March and plan on spending a month, so it would be nice to get your advice on how the wife and I should break up our time in Spain and Portugal. Looking forward to your advice.

  81. Jennifer
    December 9, 2019 / 11:54 pm

    wow! A very comprehensive itinerary. I am totally impressed. I’m planning a trip there for my 25th wedding anniversary. My husband loves soccer so we might stay longer in Barcelona.
    Thanks for sharing your trip.


  82. Sonal
    January 9, 2020 / 10:39 am

    Your Itinerary and comments are very helpful. We are planning a 2 weeks trip to Spain and Portugal in early July 2020. My questions, I have many.

    1. what is the easiest way to get to your airbnb from airport? i am overwhelmed by the choices, Aerobus, Barcelona train, taxi, Uber?

    2. Is Uber and Cabify the same concept?

    3. Did you buy the Barcelona City pass? It seems really over the top in terms of cost.

    4. Do you recommend doing the tower at the Sagrada Familia?

    Thank you so very much,

  83. Gila
    January 14, 2020 / 10:10 am

    Thanks Sher, great itinerary. What was your rough cost of the trip.
    We traveling in end of March, 16 days, similar itinerary..Did you visit the San Sebastián and region, I would like to know if it a mast see as we can add days.


  84. MJ
    October 19, 2020 / 5:59 pm

    Definitely pre-book your tickets to the Alhambra in Granada. Tickets sell out fast! This was a costly lesson for us. Cordoba and Seville are very much worth seeing.

  85. Ranm
    December 3, 2020 / 8:17 am

    What a very well written article. So full of all the relevant details and informational. So helpful. Thank you.

    • Sher
      December 5, 2020 / 3:33 pm

      Oh thank you!

  86. Fer
    November 21, 2022 / 5:43 pm

    Do u recommend we rent a car? We are 4 friends wanting to tour Spain, Portugal and Morocco for 14 days. We are fine with just 2-3 days spent in Morocco

    • Sher
      November 22, 2022 / 11:48 am

      Hm, depends where you’re going! Spain and Portugal are pretty big, probably inconvenient to drive.

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