10-12 day Itinerary for Portugal

May 31st, 2012, 08:10 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 195
10-12 day Itinerary for Portugal

Hello friends,

My husband and I (29 & 30 yrs old) from NYC are planning an anniversary trip to Portugal in July (not a lot of lead time, I know). We want to see Porto, the Algarve and Lisbon and any surrounding areas we can see while there. We have tentative bookings at our hotels (using points), but just wanted to get your thoughts on our itinerary before we booked our flights. How does this look?

7/18/2012 Fly out from NY
7/19/2012 Arrive in Porto; Overnight in Porto
7/20/2012 See Duoro Valley; Overnight in Porto
7/21/2012 See Porto; Overnight in Porto
7/22/2012 Travel to Algarve, making Lagos our base; Overnight in Lagos
7/23/2012 Explore Algarve; Overnight in Lagos
7/24/2012 Exolore Algarve; Overnight in Lagos
7/25/2012 Travel to Lisbon; Overnight in Lisbon
7/26/2012 See Lisbon or day trip; Overnight in Lisbon
7/27/2012 See Lisbon or day trip; Overnight in Lisbon
7/28/2012 See Lisbon or day trip; Overnight in Lisbon
7/29/2012 Fly out from Lisbon

Based on this would you add/subtract days from a place? We were orginally thinking of using trains to get from Porto to Algarve to Lisbon but are now leaning towards getting a car. Which is the better option? We can also get a car just for Porto and the Algarve and give up the car for our days in Lisbon.

Thanks in advance!
Suzy_Q is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 11:34 AM
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Itinerary looks decent to me. Portugal is connected pretty well by rail so i think that might be a better option. You also won't have to fuss around with the hassle of picking up car, dropping it off, fees associated etc. With rail you're one and done.

I would recommend Sintra as a half day trip from Lisbon. Very charming and romantic and only 35 minutes by train at Rossio Station (in city center) Pena Palace and Moorish castle were worth the trip alone. just keep in mind there are lots of hills and that it will be STEAMING HOT
tailsock is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 03:41 PM
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Thanks tailsock. We're aware it's going to be hot, but summer is the only time we can go because I'm in school - must take advantage of my last summer break ever!

We might just rent a car in Algarve then. From what I've read, it seems that you can make your base in one town but you will only get a sense of the area by driving around. Sintra is on our must-do list.
Suzy_Q is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 05:33 PM
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Besides Evora we preferred the sights and towns of central and northern Portugal. Like Tailsock we highly recommend Sintra but also Braga, Coimbra, and Amarante.

They have interesting system of places to stay called pousadas.

Aduchamp1 is offline  
May 31st, 2012, 10:11 PM
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There is a high speed train from Porto to the Algarve (Faro, or Tunes)which you can book on cpp.pt It is very reasonable. Still, once you are in the Algarve, it is much easier to have a car. For me, the flexibility and freedom of having a car for this type of trip outweighs the hassle.

I agree on Sintra and Evora. We also have liked Obidos. In the Algarve, Silves, Tavira and a day spent wandering the beaches were there aren't the maddening crowds.
SloJan2 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2012, 05:53 PM
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Spend the time in Sintra, Estoril, and Cascais instead of Lisbon. They are charming coastal towns and well worth an extended stay. The economic crisis has really hit Lisbon hard and members of my tour group and I felt very unsafe there.
PamEwing is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:16 AM
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You've set aside plenty of time for Lisbon - that's great as there is a lot to see and do and the city's culinary and nightlife scenes are really buzzing these days. But you should definitely not miss Sintra - it is a fantastic place. There isn't anything to do in Estoril (unless you like casinos - there's a giant one there) and Cascais, although once a cute fishing village, can be seen in less than a day. All three are easily reached from Lisbon. You can also use Lisbon as a base for day trips: I would definitely recommend getting out to somewhere like Óbidos, Evora or Alcobaça. If you are at all interested in wine you could do worse than combining a trip to one or more of these places with a visit to a winery, with the local company Have a Wine Day ( www.en.haveawineday.com ). They are safe drivers and very friendly and helpful and can adapt the itinerary to your needs. We had a lovely time in the Alentejo, visiting Evora and surrounding area, including a stop at some giant prehistoric standing stones and the winery, of course, where we tried three different wines. I think they also do a Sintra/Cascais trip. We are off to Porto shortly and the driver, Alex, provided us with lots of handy tips.
amr65London is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2012, 12:17 PM
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Thank you all for the great advice. I think we'll definitely rent the car in Algarve. What we're trying to decide right now is staying in Porto for the third night, or leaving at some point that day (probably late morning/early afternoon) and driving down to Algarve before it gets too dark. This first option would mean renting a car from Porto.

If we stayed in Porto the third night, we did look into the schedules on cpp.pt and the high speed trains leave at 5am and 6am in the morning. We would then pick up a rental in Algarve. What do you think? Would we be cutting our time in Porto too short if we left after 2 nights?

Next question, is it easier to drive to Lisbon from Lagos? Or should we take the train? We wouldn't keep the car for Lisbon.

Here are our hotels (We are tied to the Sheratons because we're using points):
Porto - Sheraton
Lagos - We have booked both Cascade Wellness and Yellow Lagos. Will be canceling one shortly. Any input between the two?
Lisbon - Sheraton
Suzy_Q is offline  
Jun 7th, 2012, 01:54 AM
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For a first trip to Portugal, two nights is probably enough in Porto. The Sheraton there is a slick modern hotel with great facilitie; the one in Lisbon ticks all the boxes but isn't so impressive.
Trains from Lisbon to the Algrave are not particularly fast (takes about hour more than driving) but not a bad option if you're not in a hurry.
In Lisbon you are doing the right thing not hanging on to the car.
amr65London is offline  
Jun 7th, 2012, 07:09 PM
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Thanks for your response. Maybe we'll rent the car from Porto then. I've been reading about the expensive tolls on the roads (plus renting the car for the extra time), but we'll do some looking into how the cost compares with train tickets.
Suzy_Q is offline  
Jun 8th, 2012, 02:11 PM
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I really enjoyed Porto, so i would recommend a 3rd night there. It all depends on what you like to see and do..plus how rushed you want dont want to be. While a train or bus to Algrave is convenient, you may also consider taking your time and driving down and explore places like Coimbra and Evora.

The Sheraton in Lisbon is one of my favorite hotels. It's chic and modern. They have a bar on the top floor which has a nice view towards the water (drinks can be pricy), there are a few cafes in the neighborhood that i tend to venture off to for a morning coffee and snack. To get to the water front you can grab a taxi (right in front of the hotel is a taxi queue), walk or take a bus or metro. Lot's of options.

Have a great time on your trip
dmelo1 is offline  
Jun 18th, 2012, 07:10 PM
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I think you've got great advice here, but in my opinion if you're planning to know Algarve (and not spend 100% of time toasting in the beach) I would suggest making your base more central than Lagos.
It seems to me that Faro would be better, as you arrive there by train, can explore the old Town, Ria Formosa, Estoi, the Roman Ruins, Beaches around, Local Markets and so on. I think here you can find a decent list of things to do: http://www.faroportugal.org
and also... a trip west to Lagos, Silves and Sagres is highly recommended!

hope you enjoy it.

MiguelE is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Sintra, Cascais, Estoril charming coastal towns?? They're little more than shameless playgrounds for the rich.....both nationals and tourists. For years Sintra was the summer 'home' of Portuguese and other European royalty.
wfg463 is offline  
Jun 24th, 2012, 02:10 AM
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We have just returned from our third roadtrip through Portugal and have visited some other coastal towns this year (visited Cascais and Estoril last year).
Peniche, Baleal, Nazaré, ... have much more charm than Cascais and Estoril. I got the feeling that this is the real authentic Portugal, especially in Nazaré where older women sat on a chair on the boardwalk with their signs "aluga se quarto" (or something similar).
Anyway, Porto still remains my favourite Portuguese city and deserves much more than 2 days. We spent 5 days there last year (drove the Douro Valley) and 2 days this year. Could easily have spent another few days there.
MyriamC is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2012, 07:37 AM
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Thank you Suzy_Q for this post. I was just looking for some information about the trip to Portugal that my wife and I planning in September. Your trip plan is very alike to what we are planning starting with Porto then Algarve and ending with Lisbon. We are taking 17 days for this trip so it should be enough to see all mentioned plus Seville for day trip. I would strongly recommend having a car in Algarve to explore anything besides your base in Algarve. We have been previously in Spain and Italy and car is necessity unless you’re staying in one city. I want to thank all that responded to this post. All information helps me develop my plan for my trip that I am very excited about.
kumka is offline  
Jul 9th, 2012, 09:06 PM
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Thank you all for continuing to respond with helpful advice! We are now planning on getting a car from Porto until we get into Lisbon. I prefer the freedom of being able to stop when we want to, so I'm glad that driving seems to be the favored option among a lot of you. We leave in 9 days!
Suzy_Q is offline  
Jul 9th, 2012, 11:03 PM
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SuzyQ, it sounds like a great trip! I am sitting in my house in the Algarve now, drinking my coffee, thinking about a trip to the Douro to explore and drink wine. The weather has been fabulous; not too hot, dry and sunny.

Lagos is one of my favorite cities in the Algarve. Stick with that as your base. There are beaches just to the west that are not crowded, even in the height of summer. Make sure you visit the western beaches and compare too. There are also a ton of musical festivals around now and into late July and August. I will do a search later and post if I find something interesting. I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on Portugal´s various regions. The Algarve is unlike the rest of PT. It doesn´t have the old world charm and the 'authentic' feel of some of the other regions, but it is beautiful and has sheer relaxation...this is the place to have lazy days.

I am sure you will have a great time.
SloJan2 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2012, 01:29 AM
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My quick 10 cents worth - just returned from France, Spain and Portugal, the latter for the first time and being the real surprise! Absolutely LOVED Porto (spent 3 nights and didn't even get to the Douro Valley regrettably) and 5 nights in Lisbon. Did not once feel unsafe there.
Only drove through the Algarve en route from Sevilla to Lisbon so can't offer any advice there.
You will have a great time!
ozgirl is offline  
Jul 10th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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Suzy_Q, just in case you have a car in the Algarve, do visit the Eastern Algarve (Tavira and further east). The beaches are very different from the ones in the Western Algarve (Lagos). The Tavira/Cabanas de Tavira beaches are in fact sandbanks with fine white sand and only reachable by small boat or by tourist train. Our favourite is Praia Verde in Castro Marim (reachable on foot). Wish we were still there ...
MyriamC is offline  
Jul 13th, 2012, 08:22 PM
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Thank you again for all of the advice. SloJan2, if you do find some events, let me know and thanks in advance.

We're going to stick to 3 nights in Porto and then 3 in the Algarve. It seems like we would shortchange Porto too much if we only spent 2 nights there. And yes, the car has been rented for the duration of our stay in Porto and Algarve, so we are planning to explore the areas as much as possible!

The general plan for Porto is to settle into to our hotel the first afternoon/evening, explore the city the next day, and then drive into Duoro Valley for the third day. We'll plan to leave for the drive to Algarve as early as possible the following morning.
Suzy_Q is offline  

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