QUICK GUIDE TO SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

Flamenco - New

From paella to port, churros to custard tart, eat and drink your way through two gorgeous countries – Spain and Portugal. This two-week trip from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, starts in Barcelona before heading inland to the cities of Madrid and Seville and finishing off in Lagos and Lisbon.

Days 1, 2 and 3: Barcelona

Enter the seaside city of Barcelona and it will have you hooked from the word ‘go’. The 2000 years of history of this Catalan capital has impressive art and architecture and about 8 UNESCO World heritage sites. Their delicious and inventive culinary scene is like a cherry on the cake and makes it one of Europe’s most popular city breaks. You can feel the electric vibe by just walking down the bustling Las Ramblas. The art of Anton Gaudi put this city on the map, giving it the fairy tale vibes and a rich history and heritage.

La Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's GemLa Sagrada Familia – Gaudi’s Gem
Park Guell - A perfect Evening strollPark Guell – A perfect Evening stroll

Must – do’s in Barcelona:

  1. The La Sagrada Familia (Do book in advance as it tends to sell out soon)
  2. Park Guell (A great way to spend a picnic evening)
  3. Take the Cable car to Montjuic and watch the sunset (It is magical!)
  4. Walk along the streets of Las Ramblas and blend in with the locals
  5. Visit the FC Barcelona stadium (Messi fans will love this)
  6. Hang out at one of the many beachside bars at Barceloneta beach (You can also opt for a boat party with booze for a more lively experience)
  7. Tapas tasting and wine drinking to explore the amazing food scene and nightlife of the city
  8. A day trip to Montserrat for some mesmerizing views and a little quite time away from the city
Sunset at Montjuic
Sunset at MontjuicMontserrat - An ideal getawayMontserrat – An ideal getaway
A stroll through Las RamblasA stroll through Las Ramblas
Beer and chill at Barcelona beachBeer and chill at Barceloneta beach

Where to stay in Barcelona:

Although the street of Las Ramblas is bustling with numerous bars and cafes the hotels/hostels around are slightly pricey. The adjoining area of Example however, is well connected by public transport, has great accommodation options and has some of the best restaurants, bars and cafes.

There is always something to do in the city whether it’s a tapas tour or a day relaxing on the beach. Barcelona will warrant at least three days to capture the essence of this lively city.

Pro tip: Instead of taking a cab from the airport to the city which are slightly pricey we recommend taking one of the aerobuses that operate every hour from the airport to the city. While cabs cost anywhere between 40 – 50 EUR, buses typically cost between 5-10 EUR. The buses have luggage storing facilities and offer complimentary wi-fi onboard.

Day 4 and 5: Madrid

A convenient train from Barcelona Sants station to Madrid Atocha (Approx 4 hours) takes you to the centre of country and in the food capital of Spain- Madrid. The one thing that stands out here is the love for food and art among the locals. Head out on a food and drink-filled tour of the city’s tapas bars, or visit the beautiful San Miguel market, with stalls selling tasty treats from across Spain and you’ll know it’s true. Art-lovers are spoilt for choice in Madrid’s ‘Golden Triangle’, with modern art at the Reina Sofia museum, European art at the Thyssen-Bornemisza and Spanish art at the world-famous El Prado. After so much walking, a picnic at the Retiro park or a cup of coffee at the numerous cafes in Puerta del sol where you watch the people pass by is like cherry on the cake.

Art at the El PradoArt at the El Prado
Churros and Hot Chocolate - Heavenly!Santaigo Bernabeu – Hala Madrid

Must – do’s in Madrid:

  1. A bite of the heavenly hot chocolate and churros at San Gines in Puerta Del sol
  2. A walk-through art and history at the Reina Sofia museum and the El Prado.
  3. A tapas tour at Puerta Del sol
  4. Tour of the Santiago Bernabeu football stadium (Hala Madrid!)
  5. Visit to the largest palace of Europe – the Royal Palace
El Retiro Park
Churros and Hot Chocolate - Heavenly!Churros and Hot Chocolate – Heavenly!

Where to stay in Madrid:

Since most of Madrid’s main attractions are centrally-located and within easy walking distance of one another, it makes sense to stay either in Centro or in Retiro, depending on whether you’re more interested in being close to the Royal Palace (Centro) or the ‘Golden Triangle’ of art museums (Retiro). Either way, the other areas are accessible on foot or you can use the efficient public transport as well.

Days 6,7 and 8: Seville

A short 3 hour train ride from Madrid, Seville is the most underrated city in the South of Spain. A quintessential Spanish city it is constantly bustling with fairs & parades including the most famous Semana Santa (Easter Week) celebration in Spain. Known as the birthplace of Flamenco and the port for legendary explorers, Seville is is as soulful a place as I’ve ever been. With its cobbled stone streets, narrow alleyways, spectacular Andalusian tapas and UNESCO heritage sites such as the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies, Seville is certainly worth 3 days of your time. The best part is you can also consider day trips to Granada to see the Allhambra, or visit the charming city of Cordoba. The best skydiving experience is also about a 1 hour bus ride away from Seville.

A stroll along Plaza De EspanyaA stroll along Plaza De Espanya
Seville Cathedral - Its a step back in timeSeville Cathedral – Its a step back in time

Must – do’s in Seville

  1. Visit the Alcazar and Seville Cathedral
  2. Watch a Flamenco show at the Flamenco museum
  3. Try the tapas and wine while you learn the Flamenco at numerous flamenco bars
  4. A day trip to Granada to see the Allhambra (Book in advance as it sells out really fast)
  5. A day trip to Cordoba
  6. Skydive from 15,000 feet with Skydive Seville
  7. Walk along the promenade at Plaza De Espana
Allhambra - Beauty at its bestAllhambra – Beauty at its best
Flamenco - The art of love and passionFlamenco – The art of love and passion
A delicious pan of paella - Spains' gift to the worldA delicious pan of paella – Spains’ gift to the world

Where to stay in Seville

Since the heart of the city is compact and very walkable, and since many of Seville’s attractions are centrally located and close together, we recommend the area around the Cathedral to stay. Not only do you get magnificent views of the Alcazar and the cathedral, there are also numerous bars, cafes and restaurants that come to life in the evening with locals and tourists sipping wine.

Day 9  and 10 – Lagos

Take a bus from Seville to Lagos which is a rather long journey of about 6 hours. But the views along the way are absolutely worth it. A busy coastal city in the Algarve, Lagos in Portugal is the perfect beach break after visiting the inlands of Spain. Lagos offers picturesque beaches, buzzing nightlife, thrilling water sports and outstanding architecture. It also acts are the perfect base to explore the region of Algarve due to its connectivity. The Algarve region natural cliffs and lagoons with red and limestone outcrops that are simply awe-inspiring

Chilling at Meia PraiaChilling at Meia Praia
The hidden coves and limestones at Ponta De PeidadeThe hidden coves and limestones at Ponta De Peidade

Must – do’s in Lagos:

  1. Kayak from the marina to Ponta De Peidade as you pass under natural arches and enter caves.
  2. Water sports – Due to its numerous beaches, Lagos has offers many activities like surfing, paddle boarding, kite surfing, kayaking, etc.
  3. Take a choppy cruise from Portimao to see the Benegil caves (You can also opt for a boat party)
  4. Explore the old town of Lagos and try the cod fish at a traditional restaurant
  5. Get a tan and chill at the beach of Meia Praia
The Benegil caves - Nature's wonderThe Benegil caves – Nature’s wonder

Found within the historic centre is a proud Portuguese city, with cobbled streets, authentic restaurants, and an atmosphere which is relaxed and welcoming. Lagos is the perfect combination of traditional Portuguese culture and beautiful beaches.

Where to stay in Lagos

The Lagos Marina is the ideal for visitors, a harbourside area with the best of everything in Lagos on offer: this includes beaches and history and a short distance from the old town.  With as many boats and yachts as there are chilled cafes and bar terraces for drinks, this is a vibrant and diverse area of town, convenient for most visitors.

Days 11 ,12 and 13: Lisbon

Numerous buses and trains run between Lagos and Lisbon making the connection a breeze. Typically, a journey from Lagos to Lisbon takes about 4 hours. The capital of Portugal – Lisbon is one hilly city but that does make for some great views. Wander through the grand Praça do Comércio square and explore the narrow winding cobblestone streets of medieval Alfama, the city’s oldest district, where you’ll find Lisbon’s Cathedral and the hilltop São Jorge Castle. Take a boat trip down Tagus river or simply walk along the promenade to Belem tower and make sure to try some Portuguese specialities, like bacalhau(cod fish), custard tarts and cherry liqueur.

Sao Jorge castle - Royalty redefinedSao Jorge castle – Royalty redefined
Custard tart - Creamy deliciousnessCustard tart – Creamy deliciousness

Lisbon is definitely worth three days or more as you can take several day trips to sites such as Sintra known for the Pena Palace or Cascais – a lovely oceanside town. A stop at Cabo Da Roca brings you to the end of Western Europe with some epic ocean views.The best thing about Lisbon is that it is notoriously cheap, you can eat quite well in the restaurants that line the city streets like Alfama and Barrio Alto to eat and drink well into the night.

Must do’s in Lisbon:

  1. Explore the San Gorge Castle and look across Lisbon’s red rooftops
  2. Visit the Belem tower and try the famous custard tarts close by
  3. Take a day trip to Sintra and Cascais to visit infamous places like Pena Palace and Quinta De Regaliera
  4. Take a selfie at Cabo Da Roca with the ocean as your backdrop
  5. Eat and drink your way through the delicious cuisine and wines at numerous local restaurants and cafes
  6. The nightlife of Lisbon is electric and hence a pub crawl is a must.
  7. Attend a Fado music show and tap your feet to its charming music
Cabo Da Roca - The westernmost tip of mainland EuropeCabo Da Roca – The westernmost tip of mainland Europe
Pena Palace - Feels like straight out of a fairy talePena Palace – Feels like straight out of a fairy tale

Where to stay in Lisbon

The Baixa and Chaido regions have vintage buildings and cobbled streets. Think vintage meets modern as the hotels/ hostels have all the modern facilities yet maintain the rustic age-old vibes. It is also close to metros and trams making commute a breeze.

Day 13 and 14 : Porto

Visit Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, famous for port wine, sandy beaches and wine cellars. The cities of Lisbon and Porto are well connected with multiple trains and buses operating through the day. Get lost in the Ribeira, Porto’s medieval old town, with its maze of narrow streets running up into the hillside. Cool off in the shady Jardins do Palácio de Cristal gardens and grab a drink by the riverside in the colourful Praça da Ribeira square.

You could also do a day trip to the Duoro Valley, following the river from Porto past vineyards and port lodges through the villages of Régua, Pinhão and Pocinho. Fancy a luxury cruise along the Duoro river where you observe the vineyards pass by as you sip on some local port and enjoy a classic Portuguese lunch of fish and cheese.

Riberia - The icon of PortoRiberia – The icon of Porto

With vintage architecture and country vibes Porto feels like a step back in time!

Must do’s in Porto:

  1. Sightseeing cruise along the Duoro river
  2. Watch the sunset from Miraduoro Da Vitoria
  3. Stroll through the cobbled stone streets of Riberia, Baixa and Bolhao
  4. Visit Livraria Lello – Porto’s most beautiful library that was the inspiration behind J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
  5. Enjoy port in Porto
Port wine at its source - The Duoro valleyPort wine at its source – The Duoro valley
Livraria Lello Library - A step into HogwartsLivraria Lello Library – A step into Hogwarts

Where to stay in Porto

The liveliest and most central neighbourhoods for important sights, restaurants and atmosphere are Ribeira, São Bento and Aliados, Batalha and Belas Artes, Clérigos and Cedofeita. Luckily, Porto’s historical centre is compact enough to facilitate walking between most major sights as long as you’re based in one of these areas.

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