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10-12 Day Honeymoon in Northern Portugal - Itinerary Suggestions?

10-12 Day Honeymoon in Northern Portugal - Itinerary Suggestions?

Oct 9th, 2017, 09:06 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2017
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10-12 Day Honeymoon in Northern Portugal - Itinerary Suggestions?

My fiance and I are planning a trip to northern Portugal for our honeymoon. Our wedding is in late July, and with my fiance's work schedule, we are unfortunately relatively inflexible about our dates - we will pretty much have to leave directly after the wedding, so our 10-12 days will be in the first half of August (2018).

A little about us - we are both in our early 30s, and enjoy good food & wine (we love port and vinho verde), hiking/hill walking/biking, and also cultural sites - archaeological sites, museums, and even a few churches! Not too interested in big cities, shopping, or lying on the beach - prefer more active activities but we do hope to visit the coastline of course. I have been lucky enough to visit Europe many times as my mother is from Scotland, and I've been to Portugal once - mostly southern Portugal and Lisbon, then out to the Evora region (gorgeous!) I visited Coimbra as well, but nothing further north. My fiance has traveled to Europe a few times and is a pretty good traveler, but never to southern Europe.

Specific details / questions:

We are in the very early planning stages right now, so we're really looking for advice on outstanding areas to visit. After visiting Prague last year, I feel really exhausted with extremely touristy & crowded sites, and concerned about my impact, as a tourist, on local people and historical monuments. So if at possible, I'd like to visit some places that are slightly less overwhelmed by tourism. We were initially considering going to the coast of Croatia (Dubrovnik, etc.) but for this reason decided against it. I'm not sure how northern Portugal in August would compare to Croatia in terms of crowds, Disneyification of sites, etc. and would appreciate any comments from more knowledgeable people.

So far we have little solid decisions made on our itinerary. We will likely fly in to Lisbon (we are coming from the west coast of the USA) and I would like to take my fiance to Sintra (not exactly an untouristed place, I realize - but I found it so incredibly stunning when I visited that I really want to go back.) We would then like to visit Porto, of course, and hopefully go inland as well, to the Douro Valley and perhaps Braga. I would be very eager to hear any suggestions about smaller villages or relaxing towns to visit. We may or may not rent a car for northern Portugal and realize that could limit us - would also appreciate opinions on that. When I was in Portugal before we rented a car and found it relatively easy to drive (Did not use the car in Lisbon! but loved it for visiting some relatively obscures sites like the Convent of Capuchos in Sintra. This was one of my favorite sites in Portugal so I'm wary of missing places like this without a car.)

To add another fly in the ointment - we are also considering perhaps just sticking to Porto for wine, etc. and then spending a substantial amount of time in the Azores, rather than mainland Portugal. It's always been a bit of a dream of mine to go there and I don't know when I'll get a better chance! However, I suspect that August will be very much the high season and perhaps it will be extremely busy / expensive to get there? Despite my love of the pictures / history of the place, I know very little about the Azores and definitely need to do more research there - any links or book recommendations would be much appreciated.
lizu2014 is offline  
Oct 9th, 2017, 10:06 AM
  #2  
 
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We may or may not rent a car for northern Portugal and realize that could limit us - would also appreciate opinions on that.>

Given your previous good experience renting car in P I'd do that, especially since your interests are hiking/walking/biking - things hard to do in cities - well walking is but you're talking I think about walking in nature.

But it depends on what you do - Porto to me would be a must and a large city - I took trains from it to Guimares and Braga - two neat historic cities you should research - Batalha Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and though has bus service would be better by cadr.

But you may love to hike/walk in the Duoro Valley which has poor public transit IME/

Seaside sites of course in summer could always be crowded but not like Croatia or Algarve I believe - Figeura de Foz was fairly crowded once when I was there in August- Nazare is one place I really liked.

Anyway for trains check out these sites: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en -official site of Portugeuse Railways; www.seat61.com - how to score the cheapest tickets - www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com - last two great at where to go by train.

If car begin or end in Porto where you will not need or want a car.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 9th, 2017, 10:19 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
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Can't help you with assessing how "crowded" it might be in the Azores, but will add a few things:

If you can have a honeymoon splurge dinner or cocktails (or stay) at the Yeatman in Porto, lovely. If cocktails is all you want to spring for, still lovely.

I liked Guimaraes much better than Braga.

Check out Amarante.

You might find this useful in some ways

http://www.travelandleisure.com/arti...s-wine-country

Have you considered going over the border into Spain? Totally different cutlure, marvelous food. At that time of year you need to stay away from the cruise ship ports and cheap flight depots (Vigo, A Coruna) and the pilgrim walkers in and around Santiago de Compostela, but the number of holidaymakers who've discovered this part of the world is still relatively quite low to other places people are stampeding to. Tremendous value, I think, when it comes to getting a real payoff in food, wine, scenery.

Overall I think you are making good choices giving the way you describe your needs. Hopefully you can find some good guidance about enjoying unspoiled corners, how to dodge the tourist hotspots, whether you stay on the continent or hop over to the islands. They do sound dreamy & hope tourists willing to go beyond the typical can still find tranquility in its natural areas in summertime.
massimop is offline  
Oct 9th, 2017, 04:07 PM
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If you are considering the Azores, I would add Madeira (and maybe even Porto Santo) to your list. We were there 16 years ago and it was beautiful! There are great hiking trails along the levadas (irrigation channels), beautiful hotels (I wish I could remember where we stayed) and good food!

http://www.visitmadeira.pt/en-gb/homepage

We were there in December so I have no idea what it's like in August.
iowamom is offline  
Oct 9th, 2017, 06:04 PM
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We toured the Minho region north of Porto before dropping the car off and staying in Porto. Look at Guimares, Viana do Castello, and Ponte de Lima. We visited most of Portugal and this area was a real favorite. Stay in Pousadas if they are available.
Best wishes on your upcoming marriage.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Oct 10th, 2017, 01:49 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
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Hi!

First of all, congratulations about your upcoming wedding!

I think I might be able to help you in a couple of weeks. My husband and I will arrive tomorrow in Lisbon after a few days in Madrid and will spend two weeks traveling around northern and central Portugal. We are also a young couple (I'm 30, he's 33), share your same interests, dislike extremely touristy and crowded sties, and are also concerned about the impact of tourism on local people and traditions (in fact we were just talking about this a few minutes before me writing this). I was also exhausted and saddened by Prague.

I'll let you know how are travels go once we come back. As of now and only based on my internet research, you might like to check Monsanto, Marvao, the schist villages and Monsaraz.

Good luck on the upcoming months!
jimenal is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 08:26 AM
  #7  
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Thank you all for the suggestions and comments so far (And your kind congratulations!) I need to talk it over with my fiance a bit more, but these places people have mentioned all look amazing. I think we're going to be happy we settled on northern Portugal. I would definitely like to go to Madeira or the Azores as I mentioned at some point, but starting to think it might be too much since there is so much to do in northern Portugal, and even maybe hopping over into northern Spain, as people have mentioned.

jimenal, I would love to hear your feedback and maybe a quick trip report once you're back. It sounds like we have a lot in common!
lizu2014 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 08:51 AM
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We did a similar trip last summer (including Azores. See if you can find my report). A few quick comments - Douro valley is not touristy (we went in the peak summer months). The winery, views and inns around Pinhao are fantastic. I would rent a car once you are done with your time in Lisbon. We skipped Porto (cities are not our thing and we had limited number of days in N Portugal). From Lisbon visit Sintra and Tomar (talk about stunning old architecture somewhat off the beaten path). We stayed overnight in Coimbra on our way from Tomar to Pinhao. Driving in Portugal is fine (roads are fantastic and there is hardly any traffic). Some access roads to the wineries in/around Pinhao may not be great.
Lastly with respect to Azores - if you are into scenic beauty, hiking, views, non-touristy destination the Azores are not to be missed... simply do a Google search of images online. It blew us away!!! I understand if its too much for you on this particular trip but the place is simply gorgeous.
We covered Azores on our way to Lisbon. Broke up the trip nicely for us.

Good luck and best wishes on your upcoming wedding.
mnag is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 11:16 AM
  #9  
 
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We would then like to visit Porto, of course, and hopefully go inland as well, to the Douro Valley and perhaps Braga. I would be very eager to hear any suggestions about smaller villages or relaxing towns to visit>

I went by train from Porto to Braga - really nice and Guimares - even nicer IMO and up the Douro - the latter on a day trip was hard to appreciate and a car or excursion bus from Porto might be best.
PalenQ is offline  

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