Portugal 16 or 17 days in April

Old Feb 15th, 2022, 10:33 AM
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Portugal 16 or 17 days in April

Trying to plan the pandemic-delayed trip to Portugal, my first time there.

Best fares seem to be in and out of Lisbon, meaning that I will have to back track to Lisbon the final night before flying back.

So far I have:

3 nights Lisbon

2 nights Cascais/Sintra (rent a car in Lisbon, drive to Cascais/Sintra)

4 nights Algarve (drive from Cascais/Sintra to Algarve, either Lagos or maybe around Carveiro, then return car at Faro airport, fly to Porto)

3 nights Porto

2 nights Pinhao (rent a car in Porto or Porto airport, drive to Pinhao. Then return car to OPO and fly down to Lisbon)

1 night Lisbon


So I may have an extra night, was thinking of either adding a night in Cascais/Sintra or Pinhao. Or possibly Algarve, which is likely to have the best weather in mid to late April.

Porto and the north is suppose to be more wet. But is it true of the Duoro Valley as well? Maybe an extra day for Pinhao increases chance of getting at least one good weather day?

Or maybe, just keep it to 16 days and don't allocate the additional day to one of the places?

Nothing has been booked yet, other than two Lisbon hotels with whom I have a credit from originally 2020 to use.

Last edited by scrb11; Feb 15th, 2022 at 10:35 AM.
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Old Feb 15th, 2022, 11:49 AM
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Be sure to keep an eye on COVID restrictions. Supposedly an announcement will be made tomorrow, but as of this minute, Portugal requires a COVID test to get in and an EU Digital Certificate to get into hotels, restaurants and attractions.

That last bit is worrisome as I've had two hotels tell me that my CDC card won't suffice (and then they changed their minds when I pushed the issue). At the moment we're booked for late March/April, but unless the guidelines change to accept CDC cards and American digital vaccine certificates, we may well have to cancel for the third time.

Lots of chatter over on Trip Advisor regarding this very topic.

PS - We booked flying into Porto and out of Lisbon for a reasonable price, fully refundable tickets on United.
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Old Feb 15th, 2022, 12:41 PM
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Hi Mel,
We (again) are considering going...waiting for the hotels to confirm the CDC card will be acceptable. Fingers crossed.
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Old Feb 15th, 2022, 12:46 PM
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My hotel was noncommittal.

I can’t imagine they would turn away Americans wanting to visit and spending money.

some TA posts suggest enforcement by restaurants is lax.
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Old Feb 15th, 2022, 12:53 PM
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Yeah, well. Switzerland was definitely not lax when we visited in October. Portugal, however, is not Switzerland and therefore a whole different animal.

I'd prefer to know going in though, as who wants to get there and not be able to eat in restaurants or visit attractions?

I think things are about to change though, so I'm not worried just yet.

Fingers crossed xyz99.

Last edited by Melnq8; Feb 15th, 2022 at 12:56 PM.
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Old Feb 15th, 2022, 01:14 PM
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There are suppose to be some deliberations on Wednesday so they can announce some change.

Switzerland is also suppose to be considering changing some rules on Wednesday as well.
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Old Feb 15th, 2022, 03:36 PM
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Hi- We're scheduled to fly into Porto 11 Apr, then do a segment of the Camino de Santiago, explore Galicia in a rental car for a few nights before returning to fly out of Porto on 5 May.

Our 11 nights on the Camino are booked through a travel agent, they arrange the lodging, schlep the luggage so we only have to carry a day pack, etc. We have not heard anything about vaccination certificates for hotels. We are boosted, but only have the cardboard shot record.

So I'm glad you posted this. I was aware of the testing requirement prior to flight, but that's it. I'll get with our tour vendor, and get their thoughts. We can cancel up to 15 March no penalty.

Regarding flights, still seeing good prices on United, no difference flying into Porto and out of Lisbon. Good luck with your travels.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 02:18 AM
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From our tour guide, who does live in Portugal:"The measures are updated every 15 days. At the moment, even in restaurants, they accept the country's vaccination certificate (regardless of whether it is from the European Union or not). They already warned that they were going to lower restrictions and we are sure that at the end of February these measures will no longer be implemented.



Therefore, we advise you not to take these measures for granted, as they are reviewed.

The Portuguese government will meet today to discuss a possible easing of measures to combat the covid-19 pandemic. The meeting comes at a time when there is a decrease in new infections, which marks the descending phase of the pandemic in Portugal."

Hopefully this resolves itself. But we've been saying that for 2 years. If this trip gets canceled, it'll be motorcycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so not a terrible back up plan.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 06:59 AM
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Nothing solid yet regarding easing of restrictions and Vax passports, but today's press briefing by the Minister of Health indicated that changes are coming.

​​​​​​https://www.theportugalnews.com/news...rictions/65320

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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 07:01 AM
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Switzerland has done away with the COVID certificate effective February 17, but will still issue them to residents planning to travel within the EU.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 07:10 AM
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Back to the itinerary, having a car in Sintra isn't usually recommended.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 07:17 AM
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Ditto mlgb's comment about a car. I've not been to Portugal yet, but I've read so many negative comments about having a car in Sintra that I'd never take one there.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 08:24 AM
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For those with an upcoming trip to Portugal who are wondering about access to museums, monuments:
I've emailed several museums, monuments that I plant to visit in March and have received responses that vaccination certificates are not required for entrance.
This is one response of many that arrived in my inbox this morning:

"Dear Maribel,
Thank you for your contact and interest in visiting Porto
Regarding your request, we inform you that, there's no need to present a vaccination passport to visit museums and monuments.
The only touristic attraction where you need to present it is in the Port Wine Cellars.
You'll only need to present your vaccination passport in accommodation and restaurants. In that case, the US vaccination passport is valid.
If you need any further assistance from us, do not hesitate to contact.
Kind regards,
Gonçalo Castro"

Same response from Museu Medeiro Almeda, Museo Berardo, Museu Nacional de Coches, all in Lisbon, and the monuments run by Parques de Sintra plus Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra.

The only venues requiring vaccination certificates are performance venues, such as Lisbon's Centro Cultural de Belém & Porto's Casa da Musica, who sent the following response:

"Dear Maribel,
In order to attend the performance you will need to show your CDC vaccination card along with your Passport, or any other document that attests your identity.
Best regards,
Sérgio Leite
Bilheteira / Box Office
Casa da Música"

Hope this helps.
I was bored yesterday with nothing to do but send these emails (except for housework, of course!)

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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
Back to the itinerary, having a car in Sintra isn't usually recommended.
I've been studying hotel and restaurant options and it seems Cascais has more restaurants while Sintra hotels are less expensive. However, looks like many of them are at different levels so some hiking up and down.

So maybe thinking of visiting Sintra from Cascais or Lisbon, either by train or by car. Or maybe by guided tour.

If you had time for one, which of the palaces or castles would you visit, Pena, Castelos dos Mouros, Sintra National Palace or Quinta da Regaleira?
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
Switzerland has done away with the COVID certificate effective February 17, but will still issue them to residents planning to travel within the EU.

I contacted a couple of hotels and one said the US CDC card is fine while the other said as long as you have an EMA-approved vaccine.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 09:15 AM
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Yes, scrb11,
This is my understanding from our hotels--the US CDC will suffice having an EMA-approved vaccine.
We are staying in Cascais this time (but it's somewhat work related). Yes, Cascais has more dining options but it does have accommodations in all price ranges as well. Our rate at the Pousada is only 90 euros/night.

You do not want to visit Sintra from Cascais by train. You will want to take the bus 417 which takes 30 minutes.
Winter bus schedule:
https://scotturb.com/carreiras/horarios/inverno/.

Sintra would be more convenient, however, so that you're already there to do your monument touring and can head out earlier in the morning.

As to monuments, I've seen all 5 and it really depends on your personal interest. For me the most interesting was the National Palace because of its history--the only surviving Portuguese palace from the Middle Ages.

Most want to see the Pena Palace (at least from the outside) because of its fanciful, extravagant hodge podge mix of architectural styles (some poster described it as "Disney meets Gaudí"). Please be aware that now the Pena Palace has timed tickets, timed entry slots, to control the crowds somewhat better.
Some like to climb the ramparts of the Castelo dos Moros.
Others like to spend their time exploring the Parque de Sintra's vast grounds.

This time we're going to spend more time exploring the grounds of the Quinta da Regaleira (doesn't belong to the Parques de Sintra and has its own online ticket sales) and then finish with the gardens of Monserrate.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 10:05 AM
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Thanks for the update Maribel, that's very encouraging.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 10:12 AM
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You're welcome Mel. I'm now very optimistic about our upcoming trip!
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 10:14 AM
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OK, I'm also weighing Lagos vs. Carvoeiro.

Any opinions?

For the places I'm looking at, it seems you can be closer to the coast line in Carvoeiro than in Lagos. But in the latter you're closer to amenities and there are more of them, restaurants, markets, maybe even laundromats.

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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 10:20 AM
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Wonderful news, Maribel! It’s so helpful to hear how rules are applied in the real world!

And the recommendations for Sintra are very helpful. In fact, I was just toying with the possibility of staying in Cascais for our first 3 days rather than Sintra, but I know that if I start second guessing my choices, I’ll drive myself nuts!
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