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Portugal in September - Where to stay in Porto?

Portugal in September - Where to stay in Porto?

Old May 22nd, 2010, 08:37 AM
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Portugal in September - Where to stay in Porto?

Hello. I have been reading trip reports and threads re: Portugal for past few months doing trip research - so thanks to everyone...you've already helped organize our trip more than you know.

Here's an overview of our trip - We are a group of 3 making the trip in late September 2010. We are flying into Lisbon (from St. Louis), renting a car to drive to Porto (w/ a overnight stay on the way). 3 nights in Porto. Then one long day of driving to Algarve (staying in Salema) for 3 relaxing days at the beach before heading to Lisbon (and Sintra, of course) for 4 nights. I know it's a lot...but we are used to this type of traveling schedule.

We prefer self-catering apartments/pensions (vs. hotels) in regards to lodging - and would consider ourselves moderate budget travelers. I have made arrangements in Lisbon (Alfama area) and Algarve (Salema). I am still looking for accomodations in Porto and the overnight location. We were thinking of somewhere in/around Coimbra.

I am seeking recommendations on a few topics:
- Apartments in Porto
- 3 days in Porto too much (we are open to a full day trip - Duoro Valley?)
- Is Coimbra a good choice to stop and break the drive from Lisbon to Porto (knowing that we will have had a 12 hr. flight)? Or would you recommend somewhere else (Tomar?)
- If so, any recommendations on hotels for one night in the area?

Thanks in advance - I truly appreciate any recommendations or overall thoughts in regards to our trip.
Tracee
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 11:16 AM
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I'd think real hard about arriving in Lisbon and immediately getting in a car to drive somewhere. I know that flying from the East Coast into Lisbon cost me most of a day to recover from jet lag - and you're flying from further west. Can you rearrange your itinerary to stay at least one night in Lisbon before heading north?
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 11:49 AM
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On two of the three trips to Portugal we drove directly to the area around Porto once and to the Serra da Estrela area on the arrival day and had no problem.
You will have about four hours to Porto. The roads are good and it is easy driving.
Immediately being on the move works for us when we travel to Europe but everyone is different. If you are used to a fast paced travel schedule you won't have a problem.
We thought that Tomar was a nice little town And there are many interesting things to see around the area which can be accomplished for a few hours in the morning. Likewise for Coimbra so if you want to stop on the way to Porto and want to see some of the things in and around Coimbra/Tomar that is a good stopping point.
Likewise you could drive directly to Porto upon arrival in Portugal and take more time coming down to Salema. Use the overnight for that long drive and break it up with some sightseeing in the Tomar/Coimbra area. This is what I would do. Only you know what you will be prepared for.
We stayed one night at the Bucaco Palace Hotel for a splurge and it was very unusual. And the grounds are quite beautiful. So I do not have another suggestion for a hotel for the night. You might be able to get a last minute room there at a good price. I definitely would not consider it moderate budget, though as that is what I think we would say we are.
Have a great trip.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 12:50 PM
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We stayed in a wonderful hotel in Porto and at a very reasonable price. Look at Hotel Infante de Sagres. We couldn't believe the deal they offered us.
Coimbra is a nice stop but you would be too tired to enjoy it. Go directly to Porto or stay overnight in Lisbon.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:45 AM
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Hi Tracee, In June 2008, we stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment right on the Ribiera. They had just started renting it out that year, so there were no testimonies for us to rely on. We took a chance, because the location was so great, and the price was so great. It turned out to be just perfect. The large windows overlook the river, and the port caves, and it is right next to the big bridge over to the wine caves. The website it chooseportugal.com and the # is 7413. Two brothers own it, and they were very nice, and easy to deal with. THey still send me emails and updates on their place every now and then. I believe the last update they sent, said that they had added airconditioning. Have a great trip!pp ps:I mention it in my trip report if your interested!
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Old May 24th, 2010, 08:47 AM
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oop! forgot to mention that we also stayed at the Bucacco palace hotel, and loved it as well. pp
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Old May 24th, 2010, 06:17 PM
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Thank you so much for your thoughts. Sher, like you, we are used to using that first day to actively combat our jet lag. Luckily,we have an overnight flight so we typically get some sleep and try to make the most of the first day (and are ready to turn in early that first night.

@peppermintpatti...that is the exact apartment I was hoping to rent. Unfortunately,it is booked the first night of our stay. I am going to fill out the inquiry form just in case of a cancellation.

Did you find that 3 days in Porto was a good amount of time? Any thoughts on sights/experiences that are not to be missed are appreciated.

The Bucacco Palace looks fabulous...not sure if we are going to splurge on that first night...but if we do, I think we have found our place. Same with Hotel Infante de Sagres.
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Old May 25th, 2010, 04:57 AM
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Hi Tracee,
I think had we not spent one day on a Douro river cruise, 3 days would have been good for us. But if we had more time, we certainly could have found more to do! We really didn't get much of a chance to explore more of the city than the river front, and the train station. If I had it to do over again, I think I would have had another day in Porto, and then rented a car to explore the Douro valley. The cruise we did was too long on travel time to get to and from the boat, and too long on the boat to get to the scenic part of the valley, so we all felt a lot of wasted time on that day. I seem to recall other trip reports here that others have done, who have stayed overnight at a Quinta in the valley, and really enjoyed it.
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Old May 25th, 2010, 05:47 AM
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TraceeC. I suggested just going to the hotel and seeing if they have a room. I think that you would have no trouble finding a place to stay at that time of the year.
I wouldn't do it in Lisbon or Porto although you probably could. But it really was a place unlike any other that you will ever stay at.
If you decide to take a chance, look up prices on line so that you know where you stand. Personally I just do not see them being booked.
You can almost always get good rates for a walk up. We tried this in May when we were in the Alentejo. We took the names of several hotels in the area we wanted to stay close together and just called them. We got lucky on the first try.
Anyway. You will have a great trip.

I will give you my opinion on Porto but mostly the area. If you only have three days, make the most of it. But the Douro is lovely and you could easily spend two days there just at a Quinta and exploring wineries, visiting Braga, going to the market at Barcelos among others. You will not want for things to do. Make a list and save those you cannot see for another trip. We had a car for the time we spent there but we only spent a day in Porto taking the train from Braga where we parked the car.
Have a great trip.
PS If you have read some of the posts remember food portions are large in Portugal especially in the country. You might do with half portions and be satisfied. Even on this last trip to Lisbon the four of us quite often made due with two half portions. The prices are reasonble and you might equate portions to price.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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Thanks so much! We are so looking forward. @peppermintpatti...BTW, one of the brothers from the Oporto apartment has been the best and has forwarded some other options to assist in finding a location (since they are booked). Fabulous.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 07:13 AM
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I just happened to find this today. The area looks wonderful!

http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/05/30...tml?ref=travel

It just came out in the NYTimes travel section.
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Old Jun 1st, 2010, 07:57 AM
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Isabel, we are planning a trip at the end of September. Please post information on the apt.
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Old Jun 1st, 2010, 01:55 PM
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Hi Isabel - I would also like some information on the appartment.
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Old Jun 5th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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Hi Isabel, I would be interested in the pictures and details about the apartment as well...I am e-mailing you now. Thanks!
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Old Jun 8th, 2010, 03:37 PM
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My advise is to watch yourself with the Super Bock its incredibly strong.
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 10:45 AM
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Isabel,

I'd love the information too... we will be there in November. Can you please let everyone know the rental cost ?

TraceeC - let us know how it is !
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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 05:34 AM
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TraceeC and Reece - What do you think of Isabel's apartment?
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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 06:01 AM
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We are doing a similar trip in October, but upon arriving in Lisbon in the early morning (from NYC), we are going to take a train to Porto figuring we'll be exhausted from the flight, and can get some sleep on the train. We considered driving as well, but for the reason GoAway mentions, we decided to go with the train.

We are renting a car once in Porto, and, after staying a couple of days in Porto, we'll work our way leisurely back to Lisbon by car.
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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 06:20 AM
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MFNY. I hope you have a great trip. I am sure you will love Portugal.
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Old Aug 4th, 2010, 06:11 PM
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Micheline - Isabel is still working to complete the renovations on her apartment so I don't have any insights for you as of right now. Wish I had more to share.
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