venturing out from Madrid
February 21, 2005 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I am meeting some friends in Madrid on Mar 30th, but have a few days before that and I thinking of flying out early. The friends and I are headed to Ronda, so before that journey, I want to try something else. I am leaning toward Portugal. . . (more)

Question is, for this period, the 25th - 30th, how much in advance do I have to plan. Or can I play it by ear, head toward Lisbon and wander. I am stuck in my language, so there's that trouble. And then what to do?
I am a bit tired of the city (Brooklyn) but feel I still need the urban world as a locus of activity.
Tips? Suggestions? Warnings?
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat to Travel & Transportation around Madrid, Spain (11 answers total)
Response by poster: (I forgot an "am" -- the typing-to-coffee ratio is far too low. I ashamed.)

The real postscript is that I am not tied to Lisbon, and other destinations in Portugal might also interest me.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:49 AM on February 21, 2005

You shouldn't have any problems at all in Lisbon with language.

It's kind of far from Madrid to Lisbon. Isn't it an overnight train? It might be more fun to go to Barcelona instead.
posted by smackfu at 8:08 AM on February 21, 2005

or Bilbao.

Lisbon is far, unless you can find cheap flights.
posted by amberglow at 10:37 AM on February 21, 2005

If you're headed that way, there's not a lot in between Madrid and Caceres, but I would suggest stopping off in Trujillo. It's a large town in the middle of scenic Extremadura, Pizarro's hometown and the people are really nice. Been there a couple of times.

The Parador has discounted rates:
posted by jsavimbi at 12:23 PM on February 21, 2005

Lagos, Portugal is beautiful and filled to the brim with expats from England and Australia. There are plenty of bars/clubs to choose from at night and gorgeous beaches by day. I meant to spend merely an afternoon there this past november, but stayed for 5 days. I don't believe it's too far from Ronda, and should be accessible by bus via Huelva. (By too far, I mean no longer than 8 hours)

There's also Granada with the Alhambra, which is amazing, Cordoba with the Mezquita, or Gibralter all within a few hours.
posted by immer geradeaus at 1:26 PM on February 21, 2005

Best answer: Oh, and the bus from Madrid to Lisbon is about 6.5 hours overnight. It leaves from the main bus station (a few metro stops away from Atocha train station) at 11pm. It was 38 euros back in November.
You can look all of these up on I didn't quite care for Lisbon. Just another large city in Europe with people speaking portuguese, but that's just my opinion. If you choose to go to Lisbon, you may want to check out Sintra,which is about 45 minutes via commuter train. It has 3 amazing castles/palaces, a toy museum, and a fantastic modern art museum.
posted by immer geradeaus at 1:42 PM on February 21, 2005

There's also a lot to do around Madrid: El Escorial, Toledo, Segovia and Avila are all great day trips, even Aranjuez.

And Madrid itself is great and will take you more than a couple of days to see.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:53 PM on February 21, 2005

It's kind of far from Madrid to Lisbon. Isn't it an overnight train?

In my experience, it was a 5 or 6 hour car ride. I loved Lisbon - it's a beautiful city with lots to do and see - and most for free or cheap. Just walking around, or riding the streetcars, is worthwhile.

As for places to stay... I'd like to say that you can just show up and find a decent room - my feeling is you can - but we didn't do that, so I have nothing to offer in that regard. You could always camp out at any of the many public or private campsites at the beaches near there, and drive in.

Warnings? None, except that at the more touristy little eateries in Lisbon be aware that they may be charging you - a lot - for that platter of cheese and bread on the table that you'd otherwise assume was free.
posted by deliquescent at 6:01 PM on February 21, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks all, still stumped about the choice I will make, but this is a great help.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:58 PM on February 21, 2005

the most amazing thing i saw in spain was the alhambra - if you have time to kill, you might consider visiting.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:55 AM on February 22, 2005

I have not been to Portugal, so maybe I don't know what I'm missing, but the south of Spain (Andulucia) is great. Toledo is about 1 hour south of Madrid. It's a classic medieval city and fun to wander around in. I didn't spend the night there. I did spend a few days in each of Seville, Granada (where the Alhambra, mentioned above, is -- and I agree that it's one of the most amazing places I've ever been) and Cordoba.

All of these tows are accessible by train from Madrid. The prices of the trains were cheap (but this was back in the days of pesetas, so... ymmv) and they were pretty fast and ran on schedule. Grenada is the furthest from Madrid -- about 4 or 5 hours by train.
posted by zpousman at 8:49 AM on February 22, 2005

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