Spain & Portugal Itinerary

By Rick Steves

So much to see, so little time. How to choose? To help you get started, I've listed my suggested plan for your best three-week trip Spain and Portugal.

Best Three-Week Trip in Spain & Portugal (by Car)

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona (sleep in Barcelona)

Day 2: Enjoy Barcelona's sights (sleep in Barcelona)

Day 3: Sightsee Barcelona, then take afternoon AVE train (or flight) to Madrid (sleep in Madrid)

Day 4: Sightsee Madrid (sleep in Madrid)

Day 5: Pick up your rental car and drive to El Escorial palace on your way to Segovia (sleep in Segovia)

Day 6: Sightsee Segovia before driving to Salamanca (sleep in Salamanca)

Day 7: See the sights in Salamanca, then cross the Portuguese border and head for Coimbra (sleep in Coimbra)

Day 8: All day for Coimbra (sleep in Coimbra)

Day 9: Visit Batalha and/or Fátima en route to Nazaré for the afternoon and evening (sleep in Nazaré)

Day 10: Sightsee Nazaré, then visit Belém on the way into Lisbon (sleep in Lisbon)

Day 11: All day for Lisbon (sleep in Lisbon)

Day 12: Morning in Lisbon, then head to Portugal's south coast, the Algarve (sleep in Salema)

Day 13: Enjoy a beach day, and consider a side-trip to Cape Sagres (sleep in Salema)

Day 14: Head east across the Spanish border to Sevilla (Sevilla)

Day 15: All day for Sevilla. Consider a flamenco show tonight (Sevilla)

Day 16: Follow Andalucía's Route of White Villages to the hill town Arcos de la Frontera (sleep in Arcos)

Day 17: See Arcos, then head south to Jerez (sherry bodegas and horse shows), and on to Tarifa (sleep in Tarifa)

Day 18: Take a day trip into Morocco (sleep in Tarifa)

Day 19: Visit Gibraltar and drive to Granada (sleep in Granada)

Day 20: All day to enjoy Granada and visit the Alhambra (sleep in Granada)

Day 21: Leave early and drive through La Mancha to Toledo (sleep in Toledo)

Day 22: Spend the day in Toledo (sleep in Toledo — or move on to Madrid for another overnight or a late flight home)

By Public Transportation

While this itinerary is designed to be done by car, it works by train and bus. For three weeks without a car, I'd simplify it by flying “open jaw” into Barcelona and out of Lisbon. From Barcelona, fly or take the speedy AVE train to Madrid (see Toledo, Segovia, and El Escorial as side-trips); take the early, direct train from Madrid to Granada (leaving at about 9 a.m.); bus along Costa del Sol to Tarifa (day-trip to Morocco); bus to Arcos de la Frontera, Sevilla, and Algarve; and take the train to Lisbon, your final destination. This skips Salamanca, Coimbra, and Nazaré. If you're taking the train from Lisbon back to Madrid, you can sightsee your way in three days (via Coimbra and Salamanca), or simply catch the night train straight to Madrid.