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Portugal - Head North from Lisbon or South

Portugal - Head North from Lisbon or South

Nov 30th, 2009, 05:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Portugal - Head North from Lisbon or South

We have two weeks in Portugal at the beginning of May. We are trying to determine with the amount of time we have, should we focus on the North or the South. We are planning on exploring (not sitting on the beach), so we want more "sites". Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Rocky is offline  
Dec 1st, 2009, 03:48 PM
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Ah, two weeks in northern Portugal - sounds like a trip to heaven! Of course, you need to take that with a grain of salt, I have no experience with southern Portugal.

We spent just a little over 9 days travelling from Lisbon to Batalha, east to Serra da Estrela and Chacim, then back west to Barcelos. Not anywhere near enough time.
GoAway is offline  
Dec 1st, 2009, 06:36 PM
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We spent two wonderful weeks traveling north from Lisbon.We visited many historic and cultural sites and highly recommend this itinerary.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Dec 1st, 2009, 06:51 PM
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Our last three vacations have been in Portugal. And still there is so much for us to see. Not that you can't do the country justice in two weeks, you can. You just cannot see all of Portugal and enjoy it in 14 days.
To date, we have not visited the Algarve. It is beautiful. And the sea is enjoyable. But if you are not beach people, I wouldn't include that part on this trip.
We have always arrived and departed from Lisbon. And today I could gladly spend a week there. But there are so many enjoyable places to visit.
This is what we did on the first trip. We started in Braga. explored Porto just a bit, traveled down the center to Tomar, etc spent some time on the Silver Coast and returned to Lisbon. On this trip I don't feel we did Porto justice. We just had a taste. And to date we have not traveled much North of Porto.

The second trip we did Serra da Estrela and concentrated on the Alentejo, even the coast and Lisbon.

Our last trip we took friends and spent a lovely week doing nothing on the Silver Coast near Salir and a week in Lisbon.

Everyone has their favorites. Whatever you pick, I think you will really enjoy Portugal. The people are wonderful. And really the country is a bargain compared to other destinations in Europe.

Sher is offline  
Dec 1st, 2009, 07:37 PM
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On our first trip to Portugal in 1984, we were advised to go North to see the "real" Portugal. It was the correct advise, and we went to Tomar, Obidos, Batalha, Alcobaca, and Guimaraes, and Ponte de Lima and all the way to Valenca da Minho,on the border of Spain. (don't miss this fortress town if you go up that far.) It was such good advice - a superb trip to an unspoiled area of the country.

We have now been to Portugal four times, and would go again in a minute, and though we did spend a lot of time one winter going South, and staying in the Algarve, where we enjoyed the quiet of a winter time visit there, I would not go in the warm weather, because the Algarve is full of Irish bars and British accents. Now there is nothing wrong with those two things, except in Portugal. Those bars were all closed for the winter, Deo gratias.

Lisbon is exciting and interesting, the Gulbenkian a gem, and we've loved the pousadas and other country inns and pacos up north - and on our next trip we'd go farther toward the Eastern border mountains places like Marvao which have recently been reported on by others here.

We also loved the Alentejo, so if you go south start there.
People with lots of money could and should go south to places like the elegant golf resorts like Quinta da Lago, if that is what you want, you can't beat them for beauty and golf on the sea.
taconictraveler is offline  
Dec 1st, 2009, 08:37 PM
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If you can do it, try to book a night at least in Obdios in the Pousada (the old castle). We were there last year. I think they only have 6 rooms, or something like that, but we were lucky (book ahead) and the restaurant is to die for...then you can walk from the castle down into the village, an endlessly facinating place.

I vote for North too, although we have had many happy times on the Algarve..it's not just beach...we stayed in a town caqlled Villa Moura, and there is a little one called Alburferia not far, and you can drive to Sagres..where Henry The Navigator did his thing..We always go back to Portugal...You can stay at the Pousada's and they are always predictable...clean and usually historic, with local food offered in the restaurants...the wine country, etc.

See my long report: "Portugal for Dummies"...you can search on it, and it includes some pictures, if you are interested.

Have a great time.
clarasong is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 08:04 AM
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I love the north of Portugal, and if I were to take a two week trip I would make sure to visit Coimbra, Porto and the Douro Valley, Amarante, Guimaraes, Braga, Ponte de Lima, Barcelos, Viana do Castelo, and Valenca do Minho (not in that order).

But the south has a lot to offer as well, most notably the Alentejo. From Santiago de Cacem with its Roman ruins, nice little museum and castle, to the towns of Evora, Monsaraz, Estremoz, Serpa, Beja, Marvao, Castelo de Vide, Arraiolos -- and these are just the ones that come quickly to mind.

How to decide? I think if you want wide open spaces with cork trees and vineyards, stay in the Alentejo. It's got some of the nicest castle towns. The north has more elevation, rainier perhaps, but probably more in the way of pure scenery (Douro Valley and some of the mountainous areas are spectacular) and maybe more variety in the towns you would visit -- Guimaraes is very different from Ponte de Lima for instance, and the north probably has, on average, more bigger towns than the Alentejo.

But either way, you have a lot of wonderful choices! Laurie
lreynold1 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 02:21 AM
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THANK YOU ALL! Still haven't decided, but your inputs are invaluable.
Rocky is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 06:43 AM
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You might want to look at my trip report. It covers a good deal of the area north of Lisbon. Just click on my name to find it.
Michael is offline  
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