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Portugal in September - Where to stay in Porto?

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Hello. I have been reading trip reports and threads re: Portugal for past few months doing trip research - so thanks to everyone...you've already helped organize our trip more than you know.

Here's an overview of our trip - We are a group of 3 making the trip in late September 2010. We are flying into Lisbon (from St. Louis), renting a car to drive to Porto (w/ a overnight stay on the way). 3 nights in Porto. Then one long day of driving to Algarve (staying in Salema) for 3 relaxing days at the beach before heading to Lisbon (and Sintra, of course) for 4 nights. I know it's a lot...but we are used to this type of traveling schedule.

We prefer self-catering apartments/pensions (vs. hotels) in regards to lodging - and would consider ourselves moderate budget travelers. I have made arrangements in Lisbon (Alfama area) and Algarve (Salema). I am still looking for accomodations in Porto and the overnight location. We were thinking of somewhere in/around Coimbra.

I am seeking recommendations on a few topics:
- Apartments in Porto
- 3 days in Porto too much (we are open to a full day trip - Duoro Valley?)
- Is Coimbra a good choice to stop and break the drive from Lisbon to Porto (knowing that we will have had a 12 hr. flight)? Or would you recommend somewhere else (Tomar?)
- If so, any recommendations on hotels for one night in the area?

Thanks in advance - I truly appreciate any recommendations or overall thoughts in regards to our trip.
Tracee

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