Portugal 18-20 day Itinerary-Help!

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Mar 28th, 2016, 11:42 AM
  #1
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Portugal 18-20 day Itinerary-Help!

My fiancee and I are going to Portugal in August for our 18-20 day honeymoon. We know for the most part where we want to go, and for about how long we want to stay in each place, but we need a little help with the order of our trip. We want to see as much as possible while leaving a lot of room for relaxation and not overloading ourselves, as it is our honeymoon!

-Days 1-3 will be in Lisbon, as well as the last 1.5 days (flying in and out of Lisbon)
- minimum of 3 nights in Sintra (more if time allows)
-3-4 nights in the Algarve (2 in Sagres/near Cape, 2 in Lagos OR Tavira)
-1-2 days in Evora
-4 days in Porto and Douro Valley

We want to avoid renting a car, if possible. We'd appreciate any advice: are we missing a must-see spot? Should we skip (or reduce time) in one of our places? Should we increase time somewhere? In what order should we visit each place?

In particular, too, we'd love any advice on getting through and around the Douro without a car. Right now, we're thinking we would take a river cruise from Porto and find a winery with hotel to stay in, because we want to avoid renting a car.

Your suggestions are appreciated!
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Mar 28th, 2016, 11:54 AM
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You can visit Sintra easily from Lisbon, redundant to stay in both. You could use the time saved to add Coimbra on the way north.

Do you have a copy of Lonely Planet or Rough Guide? Both are good on logistics without a car.

I visited Evora without a car the last time I was in Portugal. I took the bus from Lisbon, and arranged a day trip to local wineries through my B&B - http://adcevora.com/ - I recommend the B&B and the day tour.

Not being a beach person I haven't been to the Algarve, but I'm sure you can get there by bus. Going north you should take the train. It goes via Coimbra to Porto. I visited the Duoro valley by train, but at that time (2004) there were mountain railways that I think no longer run. You can get up the main valley and back by train, but I think a boat would be more fun.
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Mar 28th, 2016, 10:54 PM
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I don't know how much research you've done, but it will be very hot in the Douro River Valley in August and overcrowded on the Algarve.

Getting around the Douro without a car is difficult.
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Mar 29th, 2016, 05:07 AM
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Thanks for the info so far! Yes, we know August isn't an ideal time for the Algarve or the Douro, but I'm a teacher, so we must honeymoon in August when I'm out of school. We are considering skipping Porto and the Douro entirely in order to slow the pace of the trip and also eliminate the need for a car. Or, do Porto and a river cruise but skip the Douro.

I have the Lonely Planet guide so I'm looking more into understanding train routes but it does seem like it's fairly easy to get almost anywhere we want to be by train or bus (except, again, if we want to venture into the Douro and wineries). I guess I was wondering though if there were a particular order to visiting towns that anyone could suggest (for example, what towns would we want to avoid on weekends? can we avoid doing an excessive amount of backtracking? etc.)

We are beach lovers and want to spend at least a portion of our trip by water. If you have any recommendations outside of the Algarve (or a place in the Algarve that might be less crowded) we'd appreciate it! We were trying to schedule our time in the Algarve during the week- I'm sure it will still be crowded, but hopefully a little less so than on the weekend?

On the recommendation of a colleague who visited last September, we want to stay several days in Sintra. We found a lovely cottage we can rent and are looking at our time there as some "down time" to explore the town, castles, etc.

If you have any additional suggestions of places that might be better to go, please share! Other than Lisbon, Sintra, and some beach somewhere, we are very open and still in the planning stages. The more I read, the more I want to go everywhere! Alas, we've only got 18 days and don't want to push it
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Mar 29th, 2016, 05:10 AM
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And I forgot to say thank you, thursdaysd- the b&b looks fabulous. Perhaps we can extend our time in Evora, wine tour there and skip the Douro? How many days would you suggest in Evora? Would you still suggest making the trip up to Porto for a few days?
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Mar 29th, 2016, 05:44 AM
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why adverse to renting a car? we have done european trips (12) since 1970 and have alway rented or leased a car. without a car you are stuck in urban centers filled with tourists, especially in august, or in smaller villages but still in town centers. a car with allow you to experience so much more of the real cultures and people. nothing is better than going to a mountain village and having lunch in a restaurant that is filled with locals.
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Mar 29th, 2016, 06:35 AM
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You can go to a mountain village by bus. and foot. I haven't rented a car on a trip since 2004 (and that was just for two days to visit Hadrian's Wall) and I have had wonderful trips. I have friends who are currently exploring Sicily and southern Italy without a car and who are doing fine, off the beaten path.

I don't think that mid-week will help with crowds in the Algarve. Europeans are likely to go for a week with their kids. I would suggest looking at the Atlantic beaches - it's been so long since I visited one I'm hesitant to make a recommendation.

Evora is a little out of the way, and there is not a whole lot to do there. But if you arrange a wine tour two or three nights should be plenty. You could go north to Coimbra and west to the Atlantic coast and then back to Lisbon.

You didn't give a budget, but you are on your honeymoon and there is also this place:
http://www.bussacopalace.com/en/bussaco-forest.html

I'm pretty sure I visited it by public transport but that was in 2004. check the guidebooks for the current situation.
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Mar 29th, 2016, 05:38 PM
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Timely link just showed up in my inbox:

http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/...-and-portugal/
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Mar 29th, 2016, 08:10 PM
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Thank you so much for all the suggestions, links and help! Further digging revealed that there are some quite beaches near Sintra. Does anyone have any experience/advice with regard to these, Cascais, etc.? Lastly, do you think we should skip the Algarve altogether and spend the time exploring the Sintra-area countryside instead? I feel like we should see the Cape and coast of the algarves but I'm reluctant to spend too much time there due to how crowded and touristy it's going to be. Again, I appreciate everyone's suggestions!
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Mar 29th, 2016, 09:40 PM
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I have been to Portugal several times, and have yet to make it to the Algarve. But I'm not a beach person.
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Mar 29th, 2016, 11:35 PM
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Okay, you've been to Portugal several times, but I guess you've never been on the Silver Coast or on the coast just beyond Lisbon. You don't need to be a "beach person".
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Mar 30th, 2016, 05:35 AM
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Robert2533, any suggestions for beaches not in the Algarve would be appreciated!
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Mar 30th, 2016, 06:24 AM
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Yes, I have been to the Atlantic coast beaches, although not recently. That's why I recommended them. Also Cascais.

I have many miles of golden beaches two hours drive from my house. I don't need to travel to visit beaches, there many other things I would rather see in Portugal.
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Mar 30th, 2016, 07:03 AM
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thank you again, thursdaysd, for all of the info you've offered! We are definitely going to check out both the B&B in Evora and the castle.
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Mar 30th, 2016, 07:41 AM
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You're welcome. Just remembered. If you're on your honeymoon especially you should visit Obidos.
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Mar 30th, 2016, 02:49 PM
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Ksbarra, just wanted to pitch the Vincentina Coast. Very undeveloped (in a good way) and gorgeous. We just finished a stay at Herade do Touril and highly recommend it. Would go back in a heartbeat....
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Mar 30th, 2016, 05:33 PM
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Maybe my trip report will offer some ideas...

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...eport-2014.cfm
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Mar 30th, 2016, 11:30 PM
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The Silver Coast, the Costa de Prata, is still pretty much undeveloped, but a destination for surfers (some of the largest waves in the world), golfers and a few Brits. It is a bit cooler then the Algarve if it's beach weather you're looking for. Just south of Lisbon is the beach on the Troia peninsula (Setúbal), far less crowded then the beach at Cascais and easily reached from Lisbon.
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Mar 31st, 2016, 09:47 AM
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Continued thanks to everyone for the info and suggestions. Brookums71, I read your entire report and wrote down many of your suggestions! And since my fiancée is a total germophobe, we now know what to avoid! robert2533 and cindyjo, I will check out both beaches, thanks.
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Mar 31st, 2016, 09:59 AM
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I am new to messageboard etiquette, so I did make a separate post, but, in case anyone here has suggestions for neighborhoods or hotels to stay in while in Lisbon, I would appreciate it! We would like to dedicate our time in Lisbon to strolling, eating, and people watching thank you again.
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