While there is much to do in both Spain and Portugal and you could easily spend weeks in each country, they are side by side and can easily be combined into a Spain and Portugal trip. For those looking for a quick trip to visit some of the top spots in each country, we have developed an itinerary that allows the best of each country to be highlighted.
In order to fit both countries into this short amount of time, we will be concentrating on a route from Lisbon to Madrid. The northern parts of both countries, as well as the eastern part of Spain, to include Barcelona and Valencia, will not be part of this itinerary. We will focus on 4 cities to lay our heads at night, but will include day trips to make the most of each stop. Nobody likes to pack more than they have to, so we will try to limit our hotel hopping. However, with only eight days, we will not be taking a leisurely pace.
Since we are starting here and will need time to adjust to new time zones, consider spending more time here than other destinations. After all, Lisbon is one of the best walking cities in the world. Plus, it has so many options for day trips. You could stay your entire trip in Lisbon and never get bored. Lisbon has such a great atmosphere and its size makes it easy to manage.
Consider taking a walking tour on your first day to get acquainted with the city. Lisbon is such a vibrant city so make sure you bring your camera to your walking tour.
The azulejo ceramics are everywhere in Lisbon. They were used to cover the bland exteriors to buildings left over from the Gothic period. When the tiles first began appearing on the building exteriors in the 15th through 18th centuries, they were mostly blue and white but over time more colors were added to the mix. Now, they are what come to mind when one thinks of Lisbon. A fun idea during your trip is to make your own azulejo.
When in Lisbon, you must ride the trams. It is one of the most recommended tourist activities. The Remodelado trams are the quaint yellow trams that rattle and screech through the narrow streets of Lisbon. The most scenic route is the 28 E, which crosses the Alfama district which is on the opposite side of the river from Lisbon.
Possible Lisbon Day Trips
An eccentric place that deserves a visit. There are so many palaces to see: Palacio da Pena, Palácio Nacional de Sintra, and Palácio de Monserrate, but you are only here for a day trip from Lisbon so you do not need to spend your precious time here touring palaces. All you need to do is walk the grounds and enjoy the atmosphere.
During your trip to Sintra, make sure to visit Cabo de Roca which is the most western point in continental Europe. These stunning views that should not be missed!
Estoril and Cascais
These are the beach towns north of Lisbon that can be reached on a day trip, but you will be heading to the shoreline when you leave Lisbon. However, if you love all things related to the sea, make a day trip here.
Obidos is one of the most picturesque and well preserved medieval cities in all of Europe. You could wander around here for hours, but do not spend your entire day here because we have a special treat for you if you are visiting during the right time of year.
If you are visiting Portugal during big wave season, October through March (and sometimes April), you must witness the largest waves being surfed in the world. Visit the lighthouse and see the largest waves in the world being surfed. To give you an idea of the size of these waves, Rodrigo Koxa conquered an 80-foot wave in 2017. And those are just the waves being surfed, there are bigger ones not being surfed! They really have to be seen to be believed!
If wineries are your thing, then consider a visit to Evora. It is a beautiful small town that is part of the Alentejo region was elected by USA TODAY readers as the best wine region to visit in the world. The Herdades and Quintas (wineries) are part of its culture and identity and are definitely a must tour in the Alentejo journey.
Algarve Region – Portugal
Take your time making your way from Lisbon to this southernmost region famous for its beaches and golf course. The coastline is stunning. After your busy days in Lisbon, you deserve to relax in Algarve.
You are now in Spain, time for tapas, paella, gazpacho, and tempranillo. And because you are in Seville, it is also time for Flamenco.
Flamenco is a Spanish art form made up of three parts: guitar playing, song, and dance. It is a mesmerizing art form to witness, and seeing it performed must be done in its birthplace.
Seville is also famous for its Moorish architecture and many festivals. It is a hub of Spanish culture. A visit to Seville’s central cathedral, which is a UNEXCO world heritage site and the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, is a must. Alcazar’s palace took over 100 years to build and is one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture in Spain. Another example of Moorish architecture is the Plaza de España which was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929
Seville Day Trips
Ronda & The Pueblos Blancos
This city’s two halves lie either side of the El Tajo gorge and are connected by the spectacular “New Bridge”. Ronda can be combined with the Pueblos Blancos during a day trip from Seville. The Pueblos Blancos are picturesque hilltop villages of the Andalucia region of Spain.
You thought Madrid was where you should end your trip, didn’t you? While Madrid is technically the ending point of this quick jaunt around Portugal and Spain since you will fly out of the Madrid Airport. However, we recommend you stay in Toledo which is a little over an hour away from the airport by train and subway. Simply put, Toledo is breathtaking. It is a treasure of art and history.
While in Toledo, make sure to go up the hill to visit El Greco’s viewport. Also, please do not skip the Toledo Cathedral which the apex of Iberian gothic architecture. Spend as much time as possible walking the walls of this impressive medieval city.
Please note that no recommendations were given on how to divide your time between each place. That is a matter of personal choice based on your interests. However, the combination of these cities will allow you to make the most of your quick Spain and Portugal trip.
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