Spain and Portugal are such beautiful countries and it is even pleasant to visit during the winter month. I visited these countries during the winter season and the weather was tolerable. During the day when the sun is out, the weather was warm. At night, the weather was slightly chilly.
The below is itinerary for Spain and Portugal which takes about 13 days 10 nights that may be useful for you if you are thinking of doing Spain & Portugal.
What flight do we catch?
Emirate – From Singapore Madrid and transit a few hours in Dubai Airport.
We flew to Madrid and fly off from Barcelona. From Madrid to Barcelona, we have the same coach bus touring all the cities below in both Spain & Portugal.
Cities that we visited in Spain
Cities that we visited in Portugal
- Cabo da Roca
In this itinerary, you will find:
- What to eat in Spain – Tapas review, Suckling Pig and Seafood Paella
- What to buy in Spain & Portugal
- Sea cultures and sea power
- History & culture of Moors, Jews, Christian
- Knights history
- One of the oldest Universities in Europe
- Flamenco dance and Gypsies cultures & cave house experience
- Architecture – azulejo tiles & Manueline style
- Longest bridge in Europe – Vasco da Gama Bridge, Lisbon Portugal
- Westernmost corner in Europe – Cabo da Roca
- Road trip Spain & Portugal borders
- Catholics religion and Fatima miracle
- Portugal famous dessert – egg tart review
- Portugal must-buy souvenir – personalize sardines in a tin.
- Hotel reviews – 4-5 stars
- Breakfast – American Breakfast in the hotel.
We first arrived in Madrid and was shocked at the elegant boulevards and expansive buildings. It is the capital of Spain. Our bus did a city tour which is a good thing as you get to see most of the beautiful buildings in Madrid, including the famous spot- Puerta del Sol.
Some facts about Madrid, it is the capital of Spain, elegant boulevards, deluxe shopping, museum exhibition, and green parks. The name Madrid comes from the Arabic “magerit” which means places of many streams. It is the third-largest city in the Eu, after London and Berlin.
The huge sherry bottle (Sherry winery) which resembles a human wearing a wide-brimmed hat and short bullfighter jacket, and is holding a guitar is the popular sign in Madrid Puerta del Sol.
The largest building in Madrid, the capital of Spain, is the Royal Palace of Madrid. There are so many historical and grand buildings surrounding Madrid but the Royal Palace Madrid look the most beautiful.
The Royal Palace of Madrid is no doubt grand and full of treasure. There are two things which make the Royal Palace of Madrid stands out from the rest of the palaces that I have visited. The number of clocks in this palace and the world’s most expensive Stradivarius String Instrument.
If you are in Madrid and love designer stuff, then coming to Las Rozas Village would be the right choice for you. This is a paradise for shoppers and great savings too. Do remember to inform the shop that you need to do a tax refund, they will help you to input your details from your passport into their computer and then give you the document to hand in the airport.
At the airport, I usually like to get cashback rather than asking the tax refund to be charged back to my credit card. The instant cashback would be slightly lesser but at least I am sure I have gotten my money on hand before I fly out of this country. The charging back to my credit card does have some risk of not getting my tax refund back in case something went wrong and there is very little that I can do as I am already at the other end of the world.
If you check the meaning of Tapas, it is an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine, usually in a small portion. However, the real meaning of Tapas is actually something that you do. Tapas can be anything, it is a way of doing thing, bar hopping and interacting with people.
Hotel Senator Castellana is where we stayed in Madrid for two nights. It is about half an hour to the “Centro” city center of Madrid such as Gran Via, Calle de Alcala, Plaza de Cibeles and Plaza de Espana. The hotel is located in the financial and commercial heart of Madrid so you see big buildings after just 2 mins walk from the hotel. There are also few supermarkets, restaurants and the metro located nearby.
Toledo is an optional tour from our tour package, we have to pay additional to visit this ancient city that is about an hour bus journey. I highly recommend visiting Toledo if you are in Madrid. Do a day tour.
The ancient city of Toledo is just an hour away by bus from Madrid. I highly recommend you to visit Toledo if you are in Madrid. One of the unique characteristics in Toledo is the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims and Jews reflected here.
If you are exploring Madrid and want to visit the nearby cities, Segovia is a great location for a day trip. This city attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to check out the grand Aqueduct tower which is majestically above the streets and monuments of Segovia.
You can also find cochinillo, the Spain style of roast suckling pig near Madrid but Segovia is the “place” for this suckling pig cuisine. Crispy on the outside and tender and flavorful on the inside which melts in your mouth, similar to the Chinese roast suckling pig. If you love meat, this would be a wonderful dish for you and do remember to pair it with a glass of wine.
Salamanca city is in western Spain and one of the most important things to see is the University. Let me give you a rough idea where is the location of Salamanca city, it is about 200 km away from Madrid and quite near the Portuguese border, about 80 km. The city was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1988 so you will expect a lot to see and to do in this city too.
I love the hotel old fashion decoration and enjoyed most of the paintings and artwork & old antique furniture in the hallway and hotel room.
A trip to Portugal would be incomplete without visiting Fatima, an important pilgrim center for Catholics around the world. The place was unlike any religious place because it was very so massive and the entire town of Fatima revolved around the religious history of the town.
12. Centro Commercial Fatima – restaurant & factory souvenirs shopping
Centro Commercial Fatima is a good stop for tourists who would like to dine and shop for religious souvenirs. The shopping on the first floor is huge and many of the religious statues from small to big are made locally.
We stayed in Lux Fatima in Portugal during our spiritual tour in Fatima. I have to say Lux Hotel is a perfect location as it is just within walking distance (5 mins) to check the Church of Lady of Fatima.
I have to say the highlight of Tomar city has to be the Tomar Castle and Convent of Christ which was located at the hilltop and built in the 12th century. The Convent of Christ is inside the Tomar Castle. Interesting right? You got to visit the Church & the Castle, killing two birds with one stone.
Cabo da Roca is about an hour’s drive from Lisbon, half an hour from Sintra and 2 hours from Fatima. If you are traveling to Sintra, you should stop by Cabo da Roca to step foot on the westernmost of the Europe continent. A good half an hour to an hour is good to explore this place.
I love Sintra because it is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, it is only about 28 km away from Lisbon. Many choose to have one day trip in Sintra and still staying in Lisbon. The town of Sintra itself boasts the medieval Sintra National Palace and several 19th-century estates, photo opportunities everywhere. Check out the top 16 things you need to know before visiting Sintra Portugal.
Belem Tower is one of the iconic landmarks in Belem Neighborhood of Lisbon. You will learn about the powerful sea cultures in the early day here. Do also check out the giant monument to the discoveries, one of the proudest things for the Portuguese.
Pasteis de Belem is located in Bele Neighborhood and very near to the historical sites, so I highly recommend anyone to go in and check out the ambiance and the whole experience. Always long queue but worth it.
Jeronimos Monastery is the most stunning masterpiece of Portuguese architecture from the 16th century. Make sure you look at all the details of the architecture which is Manueline style.
The Manueline refer to the Portuguese late Gothic style of architecture which consists of many elements from the maritime. You will notice many of the ornaments are representations of the discoveries brought from the voyages by Portuguese famous explorer Vasco da Gama. The ornaments are anchors, elements from the seashells, pearls, and string of seaweed. This tells us the power and knowledge of the Portuguese sailors and the Portuguese empire during that period.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and it is one of the beautiful cities in the world. Even Madonna, the super pop star once lived here. She loves Lisbon so much that she moved her whole family including all her children to Lisbon for several years.
The Fantastic World Of The Portuguese Sardine store is one of the most eccentric stores in town. The music and the circus vibes are just a bizarre experience. Step into this store to enjoy the funky atmosphere, even if you don’t buy tin sardines from here, it is totally fine.
If you wonder how’s the Chinese food in Lisbon, check this out. Olives serve a good appetizer. I was just a little surprised to find olive on the Chinese table menu.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge is located in Lisbon, capital of Portugal. It is the longest bridge in Europe with a total length of 17.2 km. We spent about 15 mins to drive across this bridge which is seemingly endless. It is quite an impressive sight how it spans the river.
VIP Executive Santa Iria Hotel is located 15 mins drive from Lisbon center, the location is great especially if you are driving with your own rental car. The hotel is hidden in an industrial area, look casual and modern and it is an only 8-minute walk from Santa Iria train station.
Today we traveled from Lisbon Portugal and going to cross the border to enter Spain to reach our end destination at Seville. Portugal and Spain are both parts of the European Union, so we are free to travel from one to the other. We don’t have to come down for passport stamping at all. Portuguese roads are generally good, we experience good highways and toll roads. In this post you also read about the rest area and what kind of snacks and souvenirs you can get from there.
The Plaza de España is one of the top highlights in Seville. Many movies used this Plaza for filming and one of them is Star Wars. I feel like Queen Amidala of Star Wars walking through the semi-circular gallery of the Plaza de Espana. In Seville, you can experience a film-based journey.
Because of the intrinsic charm, beauty and atmosphere of the area, the Santa Cruz is a mecca for tourists. The best way to explore is by foot and get lost in the maze of these narrow alleys.
Casa de Pilatos is a stunning mansion with one of the largest azulejo collection in the world. You can spend the whole day looking at the details from the floor, tiles and the ceiling. And feel dizzy.
Christopher Columbus, colorful azulejo tiles, tapas, horse carriage, flamenco & orange trees are the things that I can relate to when I think of Seville city in Spain.
Alcázar of Seville & General Archive of the Indies both located near Seville Cathedral.
Seville Cathedral is said to be the third-largest church in the world. What made it stands out is the tall minaret but turned Bell Tower now.
During our visit to Seville, we stayed in Silken Al-Andalus Palace, a 4-star hotel, elegant, grand and suitable for couples, families or big groups of friends. The hotel is conveniently located in Heliopolis district, just 10 mins drive from Seville’s historic center. Al Andalus Palace is one of the best hotels for my Spain tour. A wide selection of choices for breakfast and dinner.
Ronda is a good stop between Granda and Seville, this small little town will amaze you.
Ronda is really a nice stop between Seville and Granada. The jaw-dropping scenery from the iconic bridge Puenta Nuevo and oldest bullring -The Plaza de Toros are some of the must-do while in Ronda city. The city is small and easy to explore the old and new town on foot.
And yes, don’t forget to do some shopping as things here are quite cheap compared to other parts of Spain.
Ronda Bullring is one of the oldest in Spain. You get to learn about bullring and bullfights in Spain which is the National Heritage here.
Ronda is a city located in a mountaintop in Malaga province, Andalucia. The city is built to the edge of beige stone cliffs which attracts visitors from all over the world. They come for the new Bridge name Ronda is a city located in a mountaintop in Malaga province, Andalucia. The city is built to the edge of beige stone cliffs which attracts visitors from all over the world. They come for the new Bridge name Puente Nuevo, the most famous landmark., the most famous landmark.
Granada sits in southern Spain’s Andalusia region, it has a lot of Moorish medieval architectures. You will also learn about Gypsies here.
Alhambra is a must-visit when you come to Granada, the water system amazed you and create a calming effect and music to your ears. It also cools down the whole palace during the summertime. Learn the things before you visit this site.
Granada is also known as one of the birthplaces of flamenco which was named as a World Heritage Treasure in 2010. The best experience is to see it in a cave, the sounds work better and the vibes are great.
Cave houses are popular in Granada, Andalucia region – the southern part of Spain. The stable temperature of caves provided a cool habitat in summers and a warm & dry shelter in the winter. There are still people living in cave houses in Granada and the area has the largest cave-dwelling population in Europe!
Abades Nevada Palace is an ideal location, just 10 minutes drive from Granada top attraction such as Alhambra. From the outside, the shape of the hotel is elliptical which has 258 rooms which include 23 apartments.
Valencia is a port city, lots of seafood. You also notice orange trees planted all over the cities which is quite pretty. You will find both the “modern futuristic City of Arts and Science” and “old town” found in this city.
Walking in the old town of Valencia is a nice thing to do. Take a break and sip a cup of coffee or local drink “horchata” (popular drink in Valencia that looks like milk, taste sweet) with fartons (confectionery sweets, looks like a bread) at the Plaza de la Virgen.
When you think of Spain, you think of Barcelona and Madrid. However, Valencia is the third-largest cities in Spain do have a lot to offer. It has a modern side and historical side, please check out the top 17 things to do in Valencia.
When you are in Spain, don’t just order paella anyway such as Barcelona or Madrid as you may get served with a frozen paella which will be heated in the microwave oven when you ordered. The best place to eat paella is at Valencia city, the birthplace of paella.
You may want to stay in Eurostars Rey Don Jaime. It has a nice location and close to many attractions in Valencia such as the City of Arts and Sciences and the Valencia historical center. Only 2km away from Valencia city center.
Sit between Valencia and Barcelona, Peniscola makes a good stop to chill especially in summer. The Mediterranean sea and stunning view of the white-washed houses are simply breathtaking. After all, this is the top getaway for Spaniard in summer.
Barcelona is where we will depart home. Many great painters and artists worked here some time ago and you can see their influence is still evident throughout the city. Antoni Gaudí is the most influential artist here.
Sagrada Familia is truly an amazing monument, a UNESCO World Heritage site and your Barcelona trip is not completed without paying a visit here. I highly recommend anyone to buy the ticket to get in to check out the interior of this Basilica. Trust me, it gives you a good shock and not the usual cathedral or basilica that you have seen so far.
Montjuic is one of the important places you should visit when you are in Barcelona, there are a number of sites here and you could spend a whole day explore this little flat hill.
In case you are not aware, the best time to spot street arts or graffitis during Spain Siesta hour, (afternoon nap or rest timing). During the siesta hour, usually from 2-5 pm, many of the Spanish shops or restaurants will be closing. Many of the metal shutters (gate) will be pulled down when the business is closed. These shutters are where you could find interesting street arts. During my trip to Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, I have seen many of the metal shutters painted with beautiful street arts. What a brilliant way to decorate the streets and make it so interesting. Who draws this beautiful artwork on the metal shutters? Shop owners commission some street artists to help them decorate the metal shutter (gate).
The Barcelona Olympic stadium sits behind of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Montjuïc hill. There are few iconic structures and buildings to look at, the Olympic Stadium, the indoor arena – Palau Sant Jordi which looks like a black spaceship and the eye-catching white tall tower called the communication tower.
Museu Picasso is the most visited museum in Barcelona, located at Montcada Street, a trendy born district. Visiting the Museu Picasso will enable you to understand the formative years of Pablo Picasso.
Barcelona is a lovely city and you can spend days exploring. From jaw-dropping architecture, great Mediterranean hospitality to delicious tapas, I have lots of love for this vibrant and stunning city. Check out the things to look at in Barcelona.
If you are in Barcelona, you may want to include Montserrat mountain which has a stunning landscape in Catalonia. It is also an important religious site in Spain. Even if you are a non-catholic or Christain, you will still find this place is awesome and many to offer.
I booked my travel package with a local travel agent in Singapore called Super Travel, they do offer a very competitive price as compared to other travel agents. However, I find their tour leader was not as good compared to Chan Brother’s tour leader. Well, you pay for what you get. Prices offered certainly a lot cheaper but then the routes may be slightly different.