At this time last year I was backpacking solo for two weeks in Spain & Portugal. It all started a few weeks before departure, when I learned I had two weeks off school for spring break in stead of one (oh, the joy of being a master student!). I decided it was the perfect time to go see more of Europe! I found really cheap flight tickets, with a layover in Istanbul (which doesn’t really makes sense since I live in Canada… but hey, I wasn’t going to pass on a round trip that was 200$ cheaper than usual!). It was hard to decide on what cities I would stop in but my choice finally came down to 4: Seville, Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona. Best choices ever: I had a blast!
3 Days in Seville
I actually spent 5 days in Seville. I wanted to add a day to make sure I was recovering from jet lag, but didn’t realise it was a leap year… oops! I didn’t mind at all since I loved Seville! It was really warm (which, if you have ever been to Canada in February, you understand was a really big deal for me) and it was just really pretty and chill and fun. However, 3 days should be enough to see it! They are great free walking tours options in Seville, which I would recommend taking to get a great idea of what’s to see and how to get around. That way, you can go back to you favourites places! Then, spend some time in Jardines Murillo before going to Real Alcazar where you can admire the architecture and the gardens. If you’re travelling on a Monday, wait until 4pm to enter, as it is free!
On the second day, go see Plaza de Espana! It’s just gorgeous! Spend the afternoon in Parque de Maria Luisa! Then, end your day by a sunset view on the Metropol Parasol. Spend your third day visiting the Cathedral and the Plaza de Toros. If you have some time left, walk or sit by the Canal of Alfonso and enjoy the sun! Make sure you spent at least one of your nights enjoying some Flamenco dancing in a bar (ask locals for the best non-tourist place to go!) I stayed at Samay Hostel and would absolutely recommend it: not only is it a walking distance from everything great to see, it also has a great ambiance, together with free dinners or drinks a few times a week! Obviously, while in Seville, make sure you have tapas on a terrace while sipping on cheap Sangria!
4 Days in Lisbon
From Seville, you can get to Lisbon with a 5h bus. I would recommend taking the Eurolines night bus to save time and accommodation money! Once in Lisbon, you have an amazing city to discover! Once again, I would recommend starting with a free walking tour in order to see the main things of the city, admire the colourful streets and enjoy the graffiti culture around the city! If you still have time at the end of the tour, go back to your favourite spots, like the Arco de Rua Augusta or the Lisbon Cathedral! On your second day, take the famous line 28 Tram across the city and up the hill. Once you got to the top, visit St. Jorge Castle!
If you have some time left, go see the National Pantheon or simply sit by the river and enjoy some of Portugal pastries, including Pastel de Nata. On your third day, make sure you take a day trip to Sintra! I wrote an article about why you absolutely have to go there together with information on how to get there and what to see (Read it here). Let me simply say it’s full of colorful castles, underground paths, garden, etc… it’s a Disneyland for adults!
On your last day, take a train to see Toree de Belém, then, continue your train trip to Cascais where you can enjoy a wonderful sunset view by the sea! During my time in Lisbon, I stayed at Oasis Backpackers Mansion Lisboa, which I absolutely recommend as well!
3 Days in Porto
From Lisbon, you can fly to Porto with Ryanair for very cheap! Porto is a really beautiful, even if small, city! For this reason, free walking tours are really great because it allows you to see almost all of it while hearing lots of historical stories! After the tour, go back to the places you loved the most! My recommendations would be the Sao Bentro Train Station, the Monument church of St. Francis and Sé de Porto Cathedral! You can even go eat a BigMac at the McDonald by the Praça da Liberdade, as it is officially known to be the most beautiful McDonalds in the world!
On the second day, cross over Luis 1 Bridge to get to Gaia! That’s where all the port wine cellars are and believe me, you want to visit one! I would really recommend choosing Taylor’s Port: for only a few euros, they give you a tour of their gorgeous property, telling you about port preparation and you end your tour with three glasses of port to taste while enjoying the view of Porto! Spend the third day visiting Livraria Lello, the wonderful bookstore where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter books (and got some of her inspiration)! After your visit, go see Clérigos Church and make sure to go up the tower to enjoy the view before heading to Padaria Ribeiro Confectionary (it’s known to be the best one in Porto) if you’re not tired of Pastel de Nata yet (how could you be, though!)! I stayed at Porto Downtown Hostel, which has a great location and is good if you want quiet and comfort… wouldn’t recommend it for more social travellers, though!
4 Days in Barcelona
You can get from Porto to Barcelona by flying for very cheap with Ryanair, once again. Now, let’s make it clear for everyone: 4 days is not enough to see Barcelona. Not only is it big, there’s also too many things to see and all are worth it! However, if you can only spend 4 days (like I did), make sure you get up early to miss as less as possible! I wouldn’t recommend a walking tour of Barcelona since the city is a bit too big for that! If you have time, you can go on more specific free walking tours like Gaudi’s architecture tour or Gothic quarter’s tour. First day should be spent seeing the Segrada Familia, the magnificient unfinished church designed by Gaudi. And guys, if there’s at least one thing I totally recommend paying to enter, it is the Segrada Familia… the inside is even more impressive than the outside (yes, it’s possible!)! Make sure to book your ticket online (book it here) prior arrival on the site, if you don’t want to wait in line forever! After that, go see Gaudi’s other great work by visiting Casa Batlo and Casa Mila.
Spend your second day at Park Güell, walking around, but mostly enjoying Gaudi’s gorgous architecture! Make sure to book your tickets online (book it here) early to make sure you get a chance to see the mosaic buildings from closer! The third day can be spent at Montjuïc, hiking or taking a cable car up the hill to visit the castle!
Finally, you should spend your last day getting lost in Barcelona Gauthic quarter, visiting the cathedral, walking down the famous La Rambla street, stroll around the harbor and enjoying the beach! I stayed at Backpackers BCN which was really well located (same metro station than Casa Batlo) bu wasn’t the best for me as it was really quiet. I would recommend instead staying at either Sant Jordi Sagrada Familia or Twentytu Hi-Tech Hostel, which have awesome ratings and are really affordable!
I totally loved Spain and Portugal as they totally became my two favourites European countries (I know I have lot’s of favourite places… please don’t judge!). It has gorgeous architecture, amazing food, awesome culture and the alcohol is super cheap so everything comes together to make sure you have the best time! If you have the chance, make it a longer trip and stay longer in each city, or see more of those amazing countries! Following this article are my own pictures from my trip there!