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Help me get excited about a week in Portugal

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Dec 11th, 2017, 04:34 PM
  #1
jgg
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Help me get excited about a week in Portugal

We have a wedding to go to April 7 in a town outside of London. We will spend a few days before in London but then have a week after the wedding to explore someplace. We have traveled to Europe many times and trying to pick a place we have not been to that will have decent weather in early April, so right now our top choice is Portugal. Unfortunately, I just can't seem to get too excited about it and I'm the travel planner. (Ireland, Scotland or Norway would be my top choices but husband saving those for when they would be warmer; We have been to Andalucia, Barcelona, Provence, Morocco all over Italy - listing these as they would have decent weather).

We are in our mid-fifties, big foodies, love history, architecture, natural beauty and shopping. Less so into museums unless more history oriented. Looking for a recommendation of something that will get me excited - a truly amazing B&B or hotel, top notch fabulous meal, fabulous tour guide particularly for history, architectural wonder or a place with breathtaking natural beauty. As an example years ago I read about an amazing B&B in the Piedmont region of Italy - that got me excited to go there and we went and stayed there and had a fabulous trip. Also, my husband wanted to go to Argentina - which I wasn't that excited about, but then I read we could go ice trekking in Patagonia and that got me excited to plan the rest of the trip which included Buenos Aires, and Iguazu Falls. I can be more "go, go, go" but husband looking for more taking it slow so I think Portugal will fit for that - I'm just looking for one thing that I can really look forward to seeing, or experiencing.

Right now my plan would be to fly to Porto for 3 nights and then train to Lisbon for 4 nights. So many people seem to love Portugal - tell me what was your favorite thing that made you love it!! Thanks for the help!!
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Dec 11th, 2017, 04:54 PM
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We were in Florence and Rome the end of August and start of September. Since we had been to these places several times before we wanted some place we hadn't visited. We had 4 days.

We chose Lisbon with one day trip.

I assume the day trip would be Sintra. As I read more that day appeared to be "climb a hill and wait in line" then repeat. I show some papers to my wife and asked her to read them without telling her why. Her response was that she'd rather not go there.

I told her about Casais and it being a beach town (we live a hour hour from the ocean to that's not a novelty). She thought that sounded like a good day.

We spent a very nice day wandering around the town and relaxing.

In Lisbon we stayed at the beautiful Avenida Palace Hotel. Excellent hotel in a great location. Lisbon has a few flat, parallel street and then goes up on both sides. The hotel is right in the middle of the flat part. There's a street full of restaurants a block away so we did fine there.

We were pleasantly surprised with Lisbon. Nice city, easy to get around and fun to wander.
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Dec 11th, 2017, 05:20 PM
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seem to be having some posting trouble here so here's my 3rd try!
Several years ago we had a wonderful time in Lisbon at the BA Wine Bar.I just googled it and I see it's still very highly rated. Here are my notes about it: Glad we took a taxi, as it would have been hard to find the narrow street in the dark and rain, and it was further along the street than I had imagined. Six tables, 150 wines by the glass... Not sure if that included some port, too. We chose a cheese sampler with 4 types. Sausage sampler of three types, sardines in tomato sauce. Plus extra bread. Included red pepper jam that I liked. Then lady who's co-owner asked what kinds of wines we liked, and brought two to taste. We chose one and had one glass of it. Very interesting way to handle things, very unique. Rated number two of over 1500 restaurants rated in Lisbon. Bought some pumpkin with walnuts jam as a gift.
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Dec 11th, 2017, 05:35 PM
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We loved Portugal. One big attraction in Lisbon is Fado - the melancoly,bluesy music performed at clubs and restuarants throughout the city. We had a very memorable night at the Lion D'Or for dinner with Fado.Riding thru the winding city streets in a creaky old trolley was another great experience. A day trip to Sintra was amazing.
We actually rented a beautiful apartment in the town of Evora for several nights - one of our most fun stays in all of Europe. We also stayed at a beachfront highrise hotel with a rooftop pool in the beautiful resort town of Sesimbra - I'd go back in a minute!
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Dec 11th, 2017, 07:06 PM
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Lisbon is one of my favorite cities. My TR is a bit dated but the sights are still there (as is Bom Jardim). I have been back a couple of times and would go back again. If I had to pick just one sight it would be the monastery in Belem.

TR: https://www.fodors.com/community/eur...ing-lisbon.cfm

Photos: https://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/...o-2008/Lisbon/ (monastery starts at the bottom of page 2)

Don't miss the port caves across the river in Porto. My favorite would be Taylors: http://www.taylor.pt/en/visit-taylors/port-cellars/

I am also a fan of Coimbra, but if you only have a week you hardly have enough time for both Porto and Lisbon.
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Dec 11th, 2017, 08:03 PM
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Another vote for Belem.
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Dec 12th, 2017, 05:26 AM
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Ireland, Scotland or Norway sound like perfect destinations in April and I don't understand why rule them out. Opt by any of them and you won't regret.
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Dec 12th, 2017, 06:35 AM
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I can't say I'm much of an expert on the matter of Portugal, but some years ago my wife and I spent ten days or so in the country on a driving tour, starting in Bragança in the north, traveling down the Douro Valley (but bypassing Porto) followed by stays in Cascais and ending in the Alentejo country in the east. This was in the autumn, and weather played a role - chilly in Bragança, wetwetwet in the Douro, then becoming sunnier as we went south, ending with days of glorious warm sun in the Alentejo.

While we enjoyed Cascais - a little - and spent a day joining an awful lot of people in Sintra, we found the whole Lisbon area to be too trafficky for our liking; we really wanted a more peaceful time of things, so really bypassed the city on this trip.

We stayed in three of , two of which apparently aren't anymore, but the highlight was the hotel we stayed at in the Alentejo, the Horta da Moura - http://hortadamoura.pt/ . (Apparently their website doesn't have an English page, so look here instead - https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Re..._Alentejo.html .

It's located close to the impressive hill town of Monsaraz, in gorgeous rolling country of olive trees (with many resident storks) as well as Eucalyptus groves that made me homesick for California. The landscape is dotted with picturesque villages, the food in the restaurant was terrific, and there are friendly horses to visit. http://gardyloo.us/wp-content/upload...rthorses1A.jpg . Many of the rooms have fireplaces that might be welcome in the spring, and the whole scene was nothing short of terrific. It's VERY rural, so if you're looking for action, maybe not your place. But I'd strongly recommend exploring the Alentejo; it's something of a magical place.
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Dec 12th, 2017, 07:28 AM
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The Azores? Crete? Rhodes? Corfu?
Spring can be so iffy. I want sweater weather, at least, and warm enough weather to sit outside to eat.
Only went to Ireland once in April and it was very cool, wet and unpleasant.
The Netherlands - if lucky can be absolutely beautiful (though not warm enough for sitting out) or if unlucky, freezing.
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Dec 12th, 2017, 07:48 AM
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Porto to me was so neat - and has some nice easy day trips by train if tire of city. I would spend 2 days in Porto and a day trip to say Guimares or Braga train - research them.

en route to Lisbon by train easy to stop off at Coimbra for a few hours to see the amazing old university quadrangle area.

Lisbon 4 days great - again a day trip to nearby Sintra a must IMO.

For lots on trains check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Evora would be another sweet day trip by train from Lisbon but Lisbon itself has lots of areas to explore.
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Dec 12th, 2017, 08:12 AM
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I spent 4 nights, three ful days in Lisbon a few years ago.
It was enough time to see the city ( I am a slow traveler) .I did not make itnto Sintra.
but enjoyed very much an afternoon in Belem..(.easy tram ride.)

I found the city very intersting, extrimely hilly, a bit rough around the edges ,
definetly worth a visit .
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Dec 12th, 2017, 08:15 AM
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And Portugal is still cheaper than many European countries.
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Dec 12th, 2017, 01:11 PM
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In Lisbon be sure to hop the famous hill-climbing trams thru the old quarter on a hill - the Alfama:

https://www.google.com/search?q=hill...w=1536&bih=759
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Dec 12th, 2017, 08:32 PM
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Lisbon is a great place to visit but it won't blow your mind like Andalucia or Iguazu Falls (2 places you mentioned that you've been to.) It is lots of fun with its trolley, interesting architecture, old town Alfama, view points, Fado bars with good food, nice people, lower costs, monastery, cathedrals, plazas. Recommend you go to the Timeout food court where you can sample food from numerous Portuguese gourmet chefs in one location. Here are some pic from my Jan 2017 trip.

https://goo.gl/photos/dZdZqa4S7GgK5k7p6
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Dec 13th, 2017, 02:58 AM
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Amsterdam is cooler and wetter than Dublin, and often has high winds.

I wasn't blown away by Lisbon. How about Spain?
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Dec 13th, 2017, 06:08 AM
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The OP has been to Spain. And I was blown away by Lisbon. I keep going back.
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Dec 13th, 2017, 12:46 PM
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My daughter kept after me for years to go to Portugal - we had been to many other European countries. Well we finally went and I liked it quite a bit - my daughter not so much - go figure! 7 nights should be enough for a nice stay.

Lisbon the city is just fun to explore on the trams. We visited the tile museum which was worth several hours. Belem is an easy trip from the city. We did go to Sintra but we had seen other palaces similar so it was a bit ho-hum for us.

We had a very memorable meal in Porto - out by the docks (we were on a cruise ship). There were large grills with very fresh fish - very simple but so delicious!
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Dec 14th, 2017, 02:02 PM
  #18
jgg
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Thank you all for your ideas and recommendations!! These are all very helpful. Took a break from trip planning to catch up on Christmas stuff but now back at it!! Have been looking at more pics and I must say Portugal looks like a great country with beautiful countryside, oceanside and great cities.

With just one week - would you do Porto 3 nights Lisbon 4 nights, Porto 2 nights nights, Lisbon 5 nights (another place in place of Porto?) or spend the whole week in Lisbon (with more day trips from there)? Will be coming from being in England for a week so jet lag won't be an issue.
Thanks!
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Dec 14th, 2017, 02:06 PM
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Porto has sweet day trips too - by car or train or bus:
especially:
Guimares
Braga

two cities of great historic importance in Portugal and short train trips. I'd do at least 3 days in Porto with one more perhaps if doing two day trips.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 02:28 PM
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I can easily spend a week in Lisbon, but for a first trip maybe you should take a look at Porto as well. If you're coming from London should be no problem getting a direct flight to Porto, and then you can take the train to Lisbon.
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