Portugal 3 weeks Itin - Thoughts?

Old May 25th, 2022, 01:23 PM
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Portugal 3 weeks Itin - Thoughts?

Hello!

After a lot of reading, and Point A to point B (via points C..Z) mapping we have a semi-stable itinerary for an upcoming Portugal "Bucket-List" trip. Want to thank all the contributors here for being such an amazing source of information and suggestions!!
Would really like feedback on whether this is realistically doable and if any of it needs tweaked -
D01 - Arrive into Porto aroundnoon, O/N Porto Old Town
D02 - Porto sightseeing - Must see places TBD, possibly Bridges cruise, some port tasting
D03 - Pickup car - Drive to Amarante (3N) via Viana De Castelo -> Ponte de Lima - possibly Peneda-Geres (scenic drive only)
D04 - Amarante to Guimares, Braga
D05 - Amarante to Pinhao, Regua, Lamego
D06 - Drive to Seia (1N) via Aveiro -> Coimbra
D07 - Drive to Tomar (3) via Estrela / Torre
D08 - Tomar to Alcobaca, Fatima, Batalha
D09 - Tomar to Marvao
D10 - Drive to Evora (3N) via Santarem
D11 - Evora to Estremoz, Elvas
D12 - Evora to Monsaraz
D13 - Drive to Lagos (3N) via Serpa and Beja
D14 - Lagos to Benagil
D15 - Lagos to Sagres
D16 - Drive to Lisbon (4N) return car
Note - We have 1 "float" day that we can insert somewhere between Porto and Lisbon.. not sure where that would make most sense..thoughts?
We are foodies and will be greatly appreciative of non-touristy/local hangouts for food along the way. Also recently tried a Vinho Verde by pure accident - loved it, and would like to pick up some at the start of the trip, and also any other wines not to be missed..

Thanks!
Pat
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Old May 25th, 2022, 01:47 PM
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Some thoughts-
D02--I would skip the touristy 6 Bridges Tour and do a self-guided walking tour instead (the Rick Steves guide and the Lonely Planet Pocket Porto have walking tours). Some port lodges in Gai require prior reservations (Graham's) while others are walk-in (Taylor's). Cálem has a tour, tasting and fado show at 6:30

D03-much too much. You would barely see Viana do Castelo (a charming town that deserves a full day), Ponte de Lima deserves a half day and the Peneda-Gerês also deserves a full day and is best accessed from Braga. Do you plan to overnight in Amarante at the Relais & Chateaux Casa da Calçada for dinner at Largo do Paço?

D04-ok, but plan on a very full day to see the monuments of Guimarães plus the monumental staircase of Bom Jesus do Monte outside of Braga.

D05--driving in the Douro Valley is very challenging. Are you planning to spend the night in the valley or go back to Amarante?
If the latter, that will make for a long day, particularly if you want to stop to visit any winery. We spent the entire day in Lamego from our base between Régua and Pinhão.

D06-again, strikes me as too much but I haven't been to Seia. I spent 2 nights in Coimbra just to take it all in, including the roman ruins of Conímbriga .
D07-again, since I haven't been to Seia, I can't comment on the drive from there to Tomar via Estrela/Torre, but perhaps someone else can

D08-Tomar to Alcobaça, Batalha, Fátima...I would do just two--the first two
D09-Tomar to Marvão is very doable
D10-I would go directly from Marvão to Evora, stopping in very pretty Castelo do Vide, a delightful mountain town nearby in the Serra de São Mamede.
D11-Evora to Estremoz if it's market day, or Evora to Elvas
D12-ok
D13-ok, we based in Lagos for 4 nights so as to explore the pristine beaches, cliff walks of the Costa Vicentina
D14-ok
D15-ok
D16-can you return the rental car in Faro and take the high-speed Alfa Pendular train back to Lisbon?

The Algarve is wine producing, and there are wineries one can visit from Lagos, like the Quinta do Francês in Silves (plus its castle)
https://inside-carvoeiro.com/feature...algarve-wines/.

For vinho verde wines (alvarinho grape), we enjoy the Quinta de Soalheiro, which sommeliers tell us is the best alvarinho for the best price. Also the Quinta Regueiro.

Last edited by Maribel; May 25th, 2022 at 02:30 PM.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 06:40 AM
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Thank you Maribel - yours have been some of the key posts we have read extensively during planning, and your feedback is very helpful!
Based on the above, we have made some updates -

D02-- Skip 6 Bridges Tour and do a self-guided walking tour, plan reservations (Graham's) and walk-in (Taylor's) Looking into Cálem for tour, tasting and fado show

D03 - Dropped Peneda-Geres, focus on Viana and possibly Ponte, then head to Amarante for 3 nights. Will try to get a reservation at Largo do Paço, check into getting some Quinta de Soalheiro, Quinta Regueiro.

D04 - Braga Guimares
How would you prioritize what to see and what could be dropped from the monuments in both places?

D05 - driving Douro Valley - Since we have to overnight in Amarant, how would you prioritize this day as far as sights and activities in Lamego / Regua / Pinhao? Any must visit wineries?

D06 - if Aveiro and Coimbra are not doable in one day we may drop Aveiro, just visit Coimbra and the ruins

D07 - keep as is unless there are any alternative recommendations

D08 - Tomar to Alcobaça, Batalha

D09 - Tomar to Marvão, and Castelo do Vide - current plan is to return to Tomar for overnight

D10 - If going from Marvao to Evora (instead of Tomar to Evora) would that mean 2 nights in Tomar (night 7 from Seia, and night 8 after Alcobaca/ Batalha day trip) and 4 in Evora?

D11 - Evora to Estremoz if it's market day, or Evora to Elvas - can both Estremoz and Elvas be visited in one day from Evora?

D12 - D15 Explore the coast with Lagos as base, Thank you for the wine recommendation and link - will check it out!

D16 - Rental car return in Faro and take the high-speed Alfa Pendular train back to Lisbon?
We are checking with rental car company - what would be the advantage of train over car? We were hoping to drive along the coast as we went up to Lisbon

We have a day D17 "free" as a buffer - is there any place you would recommend adding that extra day to the plan above?
Many thanks!
Pat
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Old May 26th, 2022, 07:17 AM
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We are currently traveling so don’t have the time to answer in more detail, and Maribel is truly the best person to address your questions, BUT do not consider going from Tomar to Castelo de Vide and Marvao and then back to Tomar. It is enough of a trip to get to the towns and actually visit them - please do yourself a favor and stay the night in Marvao. It’s a pretty straightforward trip to Evora from there. For my money, while we enjoyed the stop in Castelo de Vide, if you are running short of time, it can be passed up in order to maximize your visit to Marvao. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 07:46 AM
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Thank you Progol, enjoy your trip! Will follow your posts as well!
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Old May 26th, 2022, 07:49 AM
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Looks like we can do this instead -
D09 - Tomar to Santarem or something else around there?

D10 - Tomar to Evora via Marvão, and Castelo do Vide, overnight in Evora (3 nights)

D11 - Evora to Estremoz if it's market day, or Evora to Elvas - can both Estremoz and Elvas be visited in one day from Evora?
Thanks again Maribel and Progol, any additional comments are welcome!

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Old May 26th, 2022, 07:50 AM
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[QUOTE=pat_stil;17366385]Thank you Progol, enjoy your trip! Will follow your posts as well! [/QUOTE

There are a LOT of photos but it will give you an idea of those places we’ve been that you are interested in. By the way, I don’t recall if you mentioned the Convento de Cristo in Tomar, but it’s really spectacular.

If you scroll down to the Marvão photos, you’ll see why it’s good to stay there for a night and soak up the atmosphere. Really, it was a highlight of the trip.

Portugal at last!

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Old May 26th, 2022, 10:43 AM
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progol is absolutely right about Tomar to Marvão then back to Tomar. I completely missed that. I though that you would be going to Marvão to overnight, not reading correctly. Marvão is magical and really deserves an overnight, as progol's photos wonderfully show.

More later...
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Old May 26th, 2022, 11:40 AM
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I think that progol's pace of travel in Portugal and mine are very similar, for what that's worth.

The drive from Evora to Marvão (we did this in reverse) takes two hours without the stop to see the very pretty spa town of Castelo da Vide, a "hidden gem", imo.

So from Tomar to Castelo de Vide to Marvão to Evora would be far, far too much for me. And the driving in the São Mamede mountain range (where Marvão and Castelo da Vide are located) is slow-going, The views are spectacular, so you would want to take your time to enjoy them.

On D09--I would drive from Tomar through Abrantes (on the A-23 to the IP2 to the N246) and spend the night in Marvão, visiting Castelo de Vide before reaching Marvão. As progol says (thanks, progol, for the alert that I missed!) DO NOT return to Tomar.

Do you have the truly invaluable Michelin Portugal map 733?

D10-I would drive from Marvão to Evora (2 hours). On this drive you could stop in Estremoz. Saturday is market day there. 3 nights in Evora

D11- you could then drive from Evora to Elvas at the Spanish border, using the fast and safe toll road A6. You could even make a short detour from the A6 south on your way back to Evora, if you have time, to visit the marble village of Vila Viçosa (exit 8 off the A6). It's a 7 km. detour south of the A6.

D12--now I'm a bit confused. I though that this day 12 was the day for an excursion to Monsaraz, returning to spend your last night in Evora.

D13--I thought that this was your day to transfer from Evora to Lagos?? On this drive you would pass through Beja but not Serpa. Again Michelin map 733 is your friend.

Just some more thoughts...

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Old May 26th, 2022, 03:15 PM
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Progol - your photos are gorgeous! Really excited to start our trip Thanks for taking the time to post while traveling - I can barely make it to bed at the end of the day!

Maribel - We are trying out the semi-slow travel in Portugal - Ideally would love to stay a couple of months but this time 3 weeks is all we got.. We may have to return
Sorry for the confusion on D12 onward, I messed up when I revised the itinerary!

D09 - Tomar to Marvão, and Castelo do Vide, staying in Marvao per both of your posts

D10 - Marvao to Evora via Estremoz

D11 - Evora to Elvas possibly visit Vila Viçosa

D12 - Evora to Monsaraz
D13 - Drive to Lagos (3N) via Beja
D14 - Lagos to Benagil
D15 - Lagos to Sagres
D16 - Drive to Lisbon (4N) return car

We don't have the Michelin map yet..will order it - looks like it is essential?

Do you have any suggestions on where we should add a day since we have 14 days with the car before it has to be returned..

Thank you!
Pat
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Old May 26th, 2022, 03:45 PM
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No worries, pat
I thought it was a mistake and that you were set with a 3-day base in Evora.

On which end do you want to add a day, at the beginning of your car rental or at the end?
And another question--
Can you drop off the car at the Faro airport and take the high-speed Alfa Pendular train back to Lisbon, or are you committed to dropping off the car in Lisbon?
If the former, you could add another night to Lagos to explore the Costa Vicentina to the northwest.
Or if the latter, you could drive a different route back to Lisbon with an overnight ON the Costa Vicentina. Well, not ON, exactly, as this coast is protected, and hotels not allowed directly on the coast. There are some lovely countryside inns in the Zambujeira-São Teotónio-Vila Nova de Milfontes area. A new one is the Craveiral Farmhouse. Others are Pé no Monte and Teima. We stayed at the heavenly Paraiso Escondido, but it's so wonderful, it would be a shame just to spend one night (we had 3) because once there, you never want to leave.

If you want to add a night at the beginning, I would choose the lovely Pousada above Viana do Castelo before moving on to Amarante. There's a funicular that takes you from the Pousada down into town. Viana da Castelo is my favorite Minho town. The Minho is the vinho verde wine producing region.

Just more thoughts...
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Old May 26th, 2022, 04:16 PM
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The reason we chose to return the car to Lisbon is to take our time and drive along the coast from Sagres to Vila Nova de Milfontes etc. Will look at the places you have suggested for a possible overnight on Costa Vicentina..

We also like the idea of adding a day to Viane de Castelo.. We just were not sure if a day extra in Tomar or Evora would be worth it even more?
So basically if you could stay one more night - out of Viana de Castelo / Tomar / Evora / Costa Vicentina - from your posts it looks like Viane do Castelo would be the 1st choice?

We are realizing the 3 weeks are going to go like a whirlwind, and we were naive to think we could get to some off-the-beaten-path places and avoid summer crowds! LOL

Also since we are doing this by car, we are slightly worried about finding hotels WITH parking IN the heart of it all? Have read streets are compact and turns are tight within the historic towns..!
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Old May 26th, 2022, 04:39 PM
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That area of the Costa Vicentina would be the area to spend the night between Lagos and Vila Nova de Milfontes.
Here is. an article about lodging, dining and best beaches in the area-
https://www.joandso.com/journal/hote...entina-algarve.

I think that your original plan Amarante (3N) via Viana De Castelo -> Ponte de Lima-Amarante would be giving a bit of short shrift to Viana do Castelo, but again, VdeC is my favorite Minho town, along with Guimarães. I think 3 nights in Tomar and 3 nights in Evora is just fine.

But if you're set on driving from Lagos back to Lisbon rather than the train, the logical extra night would be in the Costa Vicentina area mentioned above.

As to parking, you'll want to book hotels with their own parking, like the Albergaria do Calvario in Evora or across the street at the M'Ar de Ar Aqueducto with underground garage for ease. These 2 options are in the heart of it all in Evora. In Tomar the Thomar Boutique Hotel is lovely, but if booked, the Hotel dos Templarios has a large parking lot. In Lagos we stayed outside of town at the Quinta Bonita, not in the heart of Lagos, but at Lagos' Praia Porto de Mos, there's the Belmar and Vivenda Miranda with parking. The very heart of Lagos is difficult with a car, as it's a typical Moorish maze.

Just a few more thoughts...

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Old May 27th, 2022, 12:23 AM
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We loved the Thomar Boutique Hotel! And though they have no dedicated parking, we never had any problems parking, either in the public parking lot right in front of the hotel or in the street that the hotel is on. I highly recommend this hotel - staff were lovely and the location ideal. We stayed in room 305 - I believe the only one with a small terrace (standing only) with a view of the castle (though partially blocked by trees). If not available, don’t worry - there is a spacious terrace on the 2nd floor where you can sit and enjoy the views and sip whatever drink appeals. And they have port at the front desk for anyone who wants, along with water and natas. Lovely place.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 01:13 AM
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Re: maps and the need for them. I recommend that you get one but is it absolutely critical? Probably not, but it would be helpful. What we did was get a Vodafone SIM card and used the navigation apps (I’m finding the Apple Maps app a little more straightforward than Google Maps), BUT there were definitely times when even the Vodafone signal was weak and a map would’ve been very helpful. Having a map will also give you a direction to go toward, which is invaluable when using the navigation apps. Sometimes we depended on the road signage and knowing the direction can help. Overall, driving is fairly easy in Portugal and the roads are generally well-marked. It would’ve been even a little easier with a good map!

PS - glad you’re enjoying my photo trip report!

Last edited by progol; May 27th, 2022 at 01:17 AM.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 04:42 AM
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Try avoiding the Bridges tour

Try avoiding the Bridges tour. Instead, go for a self-guided tour and be curious because you’ll get to learn about a lot of things. Also, enquire if any places require prior reservations because if you don’t reserve your spot, you may not be able to enter the place. Make sure to keep a full day for exploring Guimaraes’ monuments because there are many and a half-day trip won’t be sufficient.
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Old May 27th, 2022, 09:43 AM
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Maribel - Will see if we can change return location from Lisbon to Lagos..If not we are looking at your links and suggestions for a Costa Vicentina overnight. We have been reading up on VdC and it does seem like a really nice place to explore and stay a while

Progol - good to know you are managing OK without the physical map. We tend to travel light and did not know if the Michelin map would be hefty and cumbersome...will still consider getting it as the cell coverage does seem spotty. We have been reading your report (and all the suggestions in the comments) and making notes. Thank you to all the contributors - this is an amazing community!!

We also appreciate the hotel recs from both of you...We are torn between wanting to stay "in the heart of it all" and "parking included" hotels that tend to be on the outskirts (or at crazy price-points since this is high season)

Portugalvisas - Can you please give us more info on the "enquire if any places require prior reservations" is this restaurants or wine tours or something else?
We have crossed off the 6 bridges cruise and we are giving Guimares a day based on your and Maribel's feedback..it reaffirms our decision to explore independently - which we do tend to enjoy more anyway
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Old May 27th, 2022, 10:41 AM
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pat,
The Michelin map is simply helpful in my planning. With it, for example, you'll see that the best route from Evora to Lagos is through Beja but not through Serpa, which is further east, which would mean an unnecessary detour. The map just gives me a better sense of perspective when planning my driving routes. I also use www.viamichelin.com Route Planner rather than Google maps, as the driving times given by viamichelin are simply more realistic.
Viamichelin Route Planner also gives me the toll date, nearby gas stations, estimated fuel costs. I make a pdf of these road maps to keep on my iPhone.

An extremely important point that progol makes: "Having a map will also give you a direction to go toward, which is invaluable when using the navigation apps".
I also annotate my printed maps with notes for places to stop for coffee or lunch. But my office is filled with Michelin maps, the national (red), regional (orange) and zoom ones (green) for Europe.

As for reservations, most Douro wineries do require advance reservations, and they do get very busy. Some will allow last minute drop ins if they can be added to an already scheduled tour. This we managed last minute with Quinta da Roêda in Pinhão. For our other visits we made advance reservations for the tour + tasting. A few have tasting rooms where one can just drop in. The Quinta Panascal's tasting room is open during certain hours for sampling their ports by the glass. Their tour of the vineyards is self-guided with audio guide.

In Porto, Graham's port lodge requires reservations but Taylor's does not, because it's a self-guided tour with audio guide so to go at one's own pace (and excellent).

As for dining, we make reservations in advance if it's a "special place" that we wouldn't want to miss. For example, we didn't want to miss the Cantinho de Avillez in Lisbon, which is quite small and run by Jose Avillez, whose restaurant empire is hugely popular with visitors. Ditto to O Frade (a contemporary "tasca"), which just received a Michelin Bib Gourmand and has only 14 seats at the semi-circular counter and is a "hot table" at the moment (it was also our very best meal).
We also didn't want to miss the Atira-te ao Rio in Cacilhas, across the river from Lisbon via ferry, which is always packed, especially on sunny weekends, and arriving w/o reservations means a two-hour plus wait.

In the Douro we were able to drop in to Veladouro in Pinhão but reserved in advance for Cozinha da Clara at the Quinta de la Rosa (easy to do on The Fork, even on the fly) and at tiny and charming Tasca da Quinta in (Peso) da Régua, whose owner had to turn people away, given its diminutive size. For that one, we called.
If you're interested in Rui Paula's D.O.C. in the Douro on the river's edge, it's used by the luxury wine tours, so you'd need reservations.

In Porto we purchased tickets for an evening concert at the Rem Koolhass-designed Casa da Música, to get good seats, but we could have bought them at the ticket counter, since all sight lines in the Sala Suggia are great. These concerts don't usually sell out.
https://www.casadamusica.com/en/agenda#tab=lista

If you're interested in seeing the inside of the always packed Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto (of JK Rowling fame), to avoid a long wait in line you can purchase tickets in advance.
https://www.livrarialello.pt/en/store/ticket-voucher




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Old May 27th, 2022, 12:21 PM
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Wow, good to know - thank you for the heads-up about reservations, Maribel - We typically tend to go with the flow when we travel - however this trip seems like we will be making a lot of pre-bookings - some of the more popular attractions, Fado, wine tastings, dinners. Very excited but also a bit hesitant ("Man plans, God laughs" LOL)
Also great tips on the maps, PDF seems like a great idea, maybe will go that route!

Questions for Progol -
How long is your entire trip? Also, how did you find/book your stay in Lisbon, if you don't mind sharing? Been reading the trip report, but can't recall if it was mentioned there
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Old May 27th, 2022, 01:21 PM
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<<Questions for Progol -
How long is your entire trip? Also, how did you find/book your stay in Lisbon, if you don't mind sharing? Been reading the trip report, but can't recall if it was mentioned there >>

pat,
Our trip is 4 weeks long but we’re going at a much slower pace than you. We are finding that we’ve slowed down (I’m late 60s, my husband is mid-70s) and we don’t move fast at all. I tend to have lots of things I want to do but, in reality, we end up doing less than half of what I want to do. I’ve come to realize my plans are only possibilities and only when we are traveling, things unfold.

We did make some reservations for restaurants but, to be honest, we’re just not big foodies and we found that the not so popular places have often worked better for us. We’ve begun eating our bigger meal during the day as the later meals, starting at 7:30 and often going on till late, just don’t work well for us. So a bigger meal mid-day is easier and we often aren’t even that hungry by night. By the way - this isn’t just Portugal - we recently spent 10 days in Savannah and every restaurant needed reservations!

Reservations for popular sites (ie, Belém, Sintra) are pretty important but, in less than the busiest places, you can buy on line pretty much the day of.

So here’s my itinerary- there are several planning threads of mine on Fodors which will have more of the details -

Arrive Lisbon - go directly to
Sintra-3/Chalet Saudade
Lisbon-6 - Apartment rental
(Pick up car when leaving Lisbon)
Evora -3- Albergaria do Calvario
Marvão - 1 - Hotel Dom Dinis
Tomar - 3 - Thomar Boutique Hotel
Coimbra - 3 -Quinta Das Lagrimas
Douro Valley -3 - Quinta do Pego
Guimaraes-2 -Hotel Da Oliveira
(Drop car before arriving in Porto
Porto - 4 - Myo Design House
home!

I have found that the plans for long day trips haven’t worked out exactly as I planned. I did have Elvas and Estremoz on my list but we didn’t get to them. On the other hand, we had a lovely day exploring just the prehistoric sites in the region. Many other places got eliminated. I identified my priorities and if we didn’t get to the other places, so be it. We wander through neighborhoods a lot. We take our time in the morning no matter how much I intend to get going right away! It’s just the way we are traveling no.

Our Lisbon rental was through the following agency:
https://www.ptrentals.com/en/apartme...o-lisbon/6066/

We rented the 1-BR apartment on Rua Nova do Almado. I was satisfied but would look for a more of a neighborhood if I were to do it again. The apartment was huge and spacious, and the agents were extremely responsive, the location very central and convenient to get around, but it was very busy and the street can get crowded.

Anyway, that’s probably more than you asked for, but I hope this helps in the planning.
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