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    by ibobi Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 20, 17 at 01:24 PM
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Is this itinerary reasonable?

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We will be headed to Portugal the first half of October, flying into and out of Lisbon. Our current thinking is to rent a car when we arrive, see most of the places we want to see by car, and then drop the car back at the airport and finish our time there in Lisbon.

We enjoy driving around, but we would like to enjoy the towns and cities along the way, too. It seems that most of the driving times are relatively short, but I'm worried about packing in a bit too much for one trip and losing a sense of leisure as a result. With that in mind, I'd love to hear thoughts on this proposed itinerary (one night in each town listed except as noted, with stops along the way in the towns we won't be sleeping in):

Pick up car late morning, head to Evora for the first night
Porto (two nights)
Lamgeo or Pinhao
Sintra or Cascais
Drop car and head to Lisbon late in the day (four nights)
Fly out last morning

Thanks for any and all suggestions.

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    If memory serves me right, the order given makes for a lot of zig-zagging. From Marvão I would go to Pinhão and stop to visit the prehistoric sites in between. You might want to take a look at my trip report; click on my name to find it. Don't miss Tomar.

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    If you are flying in trans-Atlantic and will be jet-lagged, consider going straight to Porto by train, and relaxing there for a few days to get over your jet lag, and then doing the rest of your trip in a re-arranged order. You might be able to drop off your car in Evora and take the train in to Lisbon. Since it is so easy to get to Sintra and Cascais without a car from Lisbon, you might think about getting into Lisbon as early as possible.

    Just a thought to save you a hotel change. Also, that would put you north at the beginning of the trip, heading south. I don't know weather patterns in Portugal, but maybe it gives a teeny bit of sunshine advantage at that time of year.

    I spent the night in Coimbra and realized I could have seen all that I found to be interesting -- the university and the library -- in the space of a few hours. So I would add that night to Porto.

    Guimaraes is a very enjoyable town but quite small and I while I doubt I would have regretted a night there or even a month there, I think I could have seen everything of great interest in a half day or so. I think if you drove into town for dinner, spent the night, ate lunch and headed on after lunch, that might work for you. If that helps you linger in Porto or arrive sooner in Lisbon, I think you might a more leisurely exploration of both cities.

    I've not been to your other destinations, so I really can't advise if you are trying to pack too much in. I don't know how you like to relax, but I found Lisbon a relaxing city. It is not overwhelmed with motor traffic, and it is filled with cafes and riverside walks and its indoor attractions are not mobbed.

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    I think that whether this is too rushed will depend on your own travel style. I personally don't mind having a couple of one-night stops, but I try to have an adjustable itinerary so we can ratchet down if things get rushed, but depending on what you do in between it could be kind of hectic. Some scattered comments:

    Your itinerary combines Evora/Alentejo with northern Portugal. You might want to focus on one or the other. There is plenty to do and see in the Alentejo, and the same goes for the Douro and the north.

    Secondary roads in Portugal are generally very good and have little traffic, so the actual mechanics of getting from Marvao to Leiria, for instance, won't be too complicated (actually you can hop on a couple of toll routes for much of that trip).

    I personally don't think Leiria has a lot to justify a night's stay or, frankly, even a visit, unless you have some special reason to go there. There is a castle up on top of town, with a nice gothic window balcony if I remember correctly, and the downtown old core is cute, but not really special.

    For a good Douro Valley visit, I really think at least two nights are a minimum. A train ride from Pinhao to Pocinho is high on my list (you can find many posts in which I've made that point over and over) and just driving around the valley to the vineyards, seeing the views over the river, is all worth a less rushed pace.

    I would put Lamego in the same category as Leiria, it has a little museum with a Grao Vasco painting or two, and a church at the end of a long mall with a nice walk up (kind of along the lines of the Bom Jesus outside Braga), and a romanesque church out in the suburbs, but not a place I'd put on a first or second trip to Portugal list.

    Guimaraes is a perfect little tourist town with castle, walls, old square, old church, etc. Sure you can see it in a half day but it depends on what kind of time you want to spend there.

    And then finally, I would say that Obidos is generally mobbed during tourist season, which detracts quite a bit from its charm. Tons of day tours from Lisbon. True, it's an old walled city, but I think Marvao beats it hands down. Last time I was in Marvao, about 3 or 4 years ago, it had done much more "touristifying" but was still way less touristy than Obidos. I've had a couple of one-night stays in Obidos, and it is much nicer when the tourists are gone, and it is a good base for visiting Nazare and Batalha and/or Alcobaca.

    I'd consider making Sintra a two-night stay. In addition to all the sites in town, there are some that are not heavily touristed that are really nice, see here:
    Monserrate and convent dos capuchos are high on my list. And then you could take a jaunt out to the coast from Sintra to see Cabo da Roca (good for a long walk along water, lots of spectacular views) and a stop at one of my favorite restaurants at Praia d'Adraga. It's a small beach, you get there from the town of Algoceme (may have that spelling wrong), and the only structure on the beach is this restaurant, where the fish is phenomenal. That's all easy to do from Sintra but you need a car. One suggestion would be -- on the morning you leave Sintra heading for Lisbon, eat lunch in the Praia da Adraga, go on to Cabo da Roca, and then head to Lisbon. Opinions are divided on Cascais, it has its charm but again it is a hugely congested place, because it is a popular suburb for many who work in Lisbon.

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