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Help, please, with first time visit to Portugal

Help, please, with first time visit to Portugal

Old Feb 12th, 2005, 04:14 AM
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Help, please, with first time visit to Portugal

We have decided to try someplace new this July and not take our traditional trip to Italy and France. So, we selected Portugal. We will be away for about 2 1/2 weeks.

We have spent hours and hours reading almost everything posted here, on other websites and at the bookstore. Right now, we are thinking of leaving from Boston mid-week and spending a few days (Th and Friday) in Lisbon before heading to the Algarve region for a week. Our plans are to rent a villa Saturday to Saturday somewhere on the coast in this region. We are then thinking of moving to Cascais or Estoril (villa also) for another week which would make visits to Lisbon, Sintra and the surrounding areas relatively easy.

Any recommendations for hotels in Lisbon for the 2 nights at the beginning of our trip? We prefer smaller, lovely hotels with ocean views.

Any suggestions for where we should base ourselves in the Algarve region? We enjoy staying near a quaint, interesting village where we can experience the culture of the area. We do plan to rent a car but we still like to be able to walk into a town for shopping, dining, etc.

Thanks, in advance, for any suggestions, recommendations, and advice you may offer.




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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 04:22 AM
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I like the way you are planning this trip--- you have done research, you have narrowed it down to a draft and now you are ready to incorporate. Kudos.

That said, I would strongly suggest you spend some time in Northern Portugal, specifically the Viana do Castelo area. Absolutely gorgeous towns, with plenty of coastal areas. I suggest you check out the following website: http://www.rinconesdelmundo.com/casa...l/portugal.htm it lists many undiscovered gems in Portugal.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 07:32 AM
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Thanks, Viajero2, for the info and the website. We had considered going north but thought it might be too much to do on a first visit, but it is still a possibility. We did find a great looking B&B on that website in an area we were considering - thanks!

I will continue to check here for more information from others who may have suggestions and recommendations also. We really can use all the help we can get!
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 08:42 AM
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We spent 4 weeks in Portugal in October, also our first visit, and I think Viajero2 is right - don't miss the north. Coincidentally, we stayed in Viana do Castelo, at a wonderful manor house in one of the cottages: http://www.manorhouses.com/manors/po...onteverde.html. I don't know if you have time, but our favorite part of Portugal is the Douro valley, which is absolutely beautiful. I think that on a first trip, I wouldn't devote a week to the Cascais/Sintra area (and I sure wouldn't stay in Estoril).
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 09:13 AM
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We've haven't travelled to the north but have visited Lison and have been to the Algarve area twice. We loved it. The first time we rented an apartment near Albufeira and the second time a villa near Vilamoura. We also liked Portimao a lot - great shopping and a wonderful pub/bar called The Dennis Inn.

July will be quite hot and busy but depending on your budget you may be able to get a place with a pool. The beaches are absolutely breathtaking, especially for romantic walks in the evening. And the Portuguese are some of the gentlest/kindest people you'll ever meet.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 04:42 AM
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Topping for Sunday people.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Marianna-- a kind reminder that Portuguese drivers are very agressive. Just let them go their merry way...

I will like to reiterate not to miss Northern Portugal; the weather, crowds, sigths, cost, food, and people are just fabulous!
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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Thanks for the tip - the same is true about Italian drivers!

We are still enjoying researching all the areas to visit in Portugal - part of the fun of traveling, don't you think? From what we have learned so far, Portugal is beautiful, interesting and the people are very friendly so, no matter where we end up, I think we will be delighted by the experience of visiting a new place for us.

We are looking forward to our trip.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 07:42 AM
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Portugal is our favorite place to visit. I feel that you will not be disappointed. We've made two trips to Portugal;one for 3 1/2 weeks and another for 2 weeks.
While the north is lovely it's pretty ambitious to want to spend time in Lisbon, the algarve and the north.

If you were looking for a base in the algarve, Lagos is a wonderful option. The town has some interesting shopping , good restaurants and a good feel to it. It is also situated next to some of the most beautiful beaches with some interesting grottos. It's also nicely situated for exploring some interesting hill towns.

I know you were thinking about cascais or estoril. These places are nice, but a little generic. Have you considered Setubal.There is a fabulous posada there with some dramatic views of the water. Even if you don't stay ther is a great place for a cup of tea or a glass of port. Evora to the east is also well worth a trip.

Enjoy your trip. We visit europe about once a year and our destination choices are always between Portugal and some place else.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 08:44 AM
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I agree with Viajero2.
We spent last July in the NW (and Galicia, Spain). Great Weather, great Pousadas, great ('tho a bit salty) food.
As much as we loved Guimareas and Viana do Costelo, Baonia, Sp and the beach front parador are world class. That would be my nearly affordable (if the USD were not so weak) first choice for beach front retirement.
We plan to do Central and Southern PT some Spring or Fall when the weather is "better".
There were very many helpful threads here and on tripadvisor last Spring.
Oh, the 35% Senior and various other discounts help with the pousadas.
M

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Old Feb 15th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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Topping for lobo-mau and anyone else.
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Old Feb 16th, 2005, 01:46 AM
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Hi Marianna, check Hotel Borges in Lisbon, I guess it's not expensive and it is located in Chiado/Bairro Alto district of Lisbon.
As I said in another post, I'd choose Lagos in the Algarve. The trip Lisbon/Algarve and Algarve/Lisbon may be very interesting by itself (specially if you are interested in trying grilled fish)
Don't forget to visit http://www.discoverportugal2day.com an American viewpoint of memories of 30 years of travels to Portugal, written by someone I had the great honor of meeting personally.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 04:47 AM
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Thanks, Viajero2, for the website you suggested here. We found a very nice B and B listed on it and have reserved it for part of our trip. We have communicated with the owner both by phone and email and we think it will be enjoyable place to stay.

Thanks, lobo_mau, for the link you suggested. What an interesting, entertaining and informative website! Everyone visiting Portugal should take a look.

Here's our basic plan so far:

One week in Cascais with trips to Lisbon, Sintra and maybe a bit north of Lisbon also. We will have a car and we both enjoy taking day trips to places of interest. Is Coimbra too distant for a day trip?

One week in the Lagos area. This will be a beach type holiday. We have rented a villa with a pool and plan to explore areas from Sagres and along the southern Algarve coast to the east a bit.

Our last night will be in Lisbon since we leave early the next morning. We are looking for a charming hotel, on the small side in a centrally located area so we can easily take a pleasant evening walk to dinner and enjoy our last evening in Portugal. Any recommendations for a hotel?

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks to all!

T
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Old Feb 21st, 2005, 12:44 AM
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Coimbra is 2 hours non stop each direction. Coimbra is a lovely student's town with a lot of traditions, but unless you are looking for something os special interest, I can't think of anything in Coimbra that deserves a 4 hours car ride. In my opinion Evora is more worthwhile and closer (just my opinion). You may combine Evora with Arraiolos, the capital of Portuguese hand made tapistry. There are other hidden gems in this area (Reguengos, Monsaraz, Alandroal, Estremoz, Marvao, Vila Vicosa), but may be you wish to leave it for the next trip.
The reference of charming hotels in Lisbon is Avenida Palace (Mr. Marconi stayed there in the beginning of 20th century when visiting Lisbon). The location in unbeatable. But it's expensive and reserves are hard to find, but considering that you are looking for a "grand finale" for your stay, why don't you check?
Another good option is Lisboa Regency Chiado, also well located.
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Old Feb 21st, 2005, 03:48 AM
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Totally agree with last post about Coimbra vs. Evora and surroundings. Enjoy
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Old Feb 21st, 2005, 06:18 AM
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Prhirsch, what is the name of the pousada you stayed at in Setubal?

Thanks.
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Old Feb 21st, 2005, 12:02 PM
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The name of the posada in Setubal was Posada de Sao Filipe. You can check out the website for all posadas at posadasofportugal.com. It's a very usable site. I can't tell you how much we enjoyed this posada. The building is a renovated castle and we spent alot of time walking around the roof and ramparts. The service is also top notch. I hope you get a chance to visit!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:23 AM
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It's been several years since my trip to Portugal, but I would recommend a visit to Evora and a stay at the pousada there. It is a converted monastery steps from the ruins of a Roman temple. We were there in November and warmed ourselves with a glass of port in front of a magnificent fire in the lobby.

In Lisbon, we stayed at a lovely small hotel called As Janelas Verdes. It is in the vicinity of the cruise pier and has a deck overlooking the water. It was wonderful.
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