Portugal itinerary feedback

Old Jul 4th, 2021, 04:31 PM
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Portugal itinerary feedback

Hi, All,

I am planning a trip to Portugal for 3 weeks in September. As context, I have been before: once for 11 days (Estorial/Cascais, Lisbon/Belem, Fatima, Coimbra, Porto) and once for 4 days (Faro area) on a trip to Spain. I have read the trip reports here -- including Russ's amazing photo journal) and bought a Michelin road map (to get an overview or possible routings and roads between different cities/areas) and used google maps to get driving times and distances. Based on that, here is the first itinerary I have come up with. At this point, I am planning to have a car for at least some part of the Algarve stay until I return it to Lisbon before staying in that city to end the trip.

Here is what I have laid out:
  • Algarve (likely Vilamoura and Lagos) (6 nights -- just wanting a beach vacation of sorts)
  • Evora (2 nights - at the Pousada?)
  • Portalegre or Castelo de Vide (1 night)
  • Viseu (2 nights -- at the Pousada) [had thought about a stay in Lamegos as well, but looks like such is not needed]
  • Guimaraes (1 or 2 bights - probably at the Pousada)
  • Porto (2 nights)
  • Aveiro (1 night) and/or Figueira da Foz (1 night)
  • Tomar (1 night)
  • Lisbon (drop car and stay in Lisbon and/or Cascais for several nights)
I'm not crazy about the 1-night stops, but driving distances look such that such stays should be sufficient in certain places.

Any thought on:
  • Overall itinerary and length of time in each place
  • Thoughts on consolidating stays in a region (does it make sense to stay in Viseu as well as Guimaraes? Is Viseu a better base than Lamego for the Duoro Valley?)
  • Whether having a car makes sense (will run about $1000 to rent for 3 weeks)
  • Any thoughts on places to stay, especially feedback on Pousadas.

Thanks in advance.

John H
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Old Jul 10th, 2021, 04:51 AM
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Hi!

Concerning car: for some places, and with your itinerary, yes you need. Otherwise how do you intend to move from one place to another?

Concerning your itinerary, some thing I would change, if it was me having this trip:

Portalegre or Castelo de Vide: neither. A night in Marvão, it's a magical place. You can eat very well at the nearest village, Fronteira.

Viseu: why do you need 2 nights there? I mean, there are several thing around, but not sure if you intend to visit. More or less the same thing for Lamego.

Guimarães: 2 nights ok, if you intend it to be a base to visit other places.

Porto: 2 nights: you won't even scruch the surface.

Aveiro or Figueira da Foz: Figueira da Foz

Tomar: lovely town, maybe one night is not enough, the surroundings have a lot to see

Lisbon, several night: YES

Have a nice stay.
Helena
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Old Jul 10th, 2021, 03:10 PM
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Hi, Helen,

Thanks for that feedback. A few thoughts:
  • Substituting Marvao for the other places makes sense
  • On Viseu/Lemago: I was wondering if I need both of these stops, or can do Lemago and maybe Regua out of Viseu on the travel day to Guimaraes. Or, is Lemago a better place to use as a base for the Duoro Valley?
  • I would use Guimaraes as a base for Braga, Bom Jesus, maybe Ponte de Lima. Is a day trip to Santiago de Compostela possible/advisable? Or would you stay overnight there?
  • I agree on Figueira da Foz (can stp in Aveiro en route)
  • Definitely thought about extending Tomar to a couple of nights. Is Batalha a better base? (Tomar seems to have more charm, but Batalha seems closer if I want to see Obidos as well? Or ,might Leira be even a better spot
Some general comments:
  • Overall, I am trying to avoid one-night (and, in some cases with longer driving days between cities, even two-night stays). I don't mind having some quiet/unrushed time in places, just to use lodging spa facilities (if they are open) and spend time just sitting and walking in the towns I stay in)
  • If I do stops while in transit between hotels/different cities, do I need to worry about luggage potentially being stolen if I stop to see places en route for several hours?
  • As noted, I have been to Porto for 4 night previously. Not sure I will stop there this trip. I will likely stay in Lisbon for a couple nights (was there previously for 4 nights) and maybe a couple nights out in Cascais or Estoril
  • I have tentatively allowed for 18 nights to see these places/areas. Maybe I don't need quite that many. Thoughts?
Very much appreciate your thoughts! Any additional thoughts you or others have are very welcome!

John H
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Old Jul 11th, 2021, 10:16 AM
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Hi!

Régua (Peso da Régua) is a better place to use as a base for Douro Valley. That said, Lamego is very interesting. It is one place in Portugal where you can see 3 statues of "Nossa Senhora do Ó" (Our Lady Mary pregnant - very pregnant - it is not very usual), and nearby it's Ucanha, a small village with a very nice bridge where you can still see the "house" where you had to pay tolls to cross (also has a nice Monastery. Last time I went there I almost cryied, they had the ancient books on the table, anyone could handle them, of course I did not, and they had a new baptysm sink made of concret, the priest was very happy, this was a nex one, the old one, made of only one stone, was at the grass at the backyard).

Guimarães is a good base for all the places you mentioned. From Guimarães to Santiago it's more or less 2 hours, and Santiago is a nice place. You take A7 till Famalicão, then A3 towards Valença, and them the Spanish highway till Santiago (please note that you should have an electronic tool that works in Portugal not is Spain, and the same for car insurance. Oh, and another thing, when it is noon at Portugal it's 13:00 in Spain - Always one hour more in Spain).

Batalha is not a base for anything. It's a place you visit (the monastery, I mean). I don't even think they have hotels there. Leiria is a nice town, I like the river and the castle, and the Castle, and of course the streets at the city center, but those are like all the others in all the other portuguese cities. Besides Leiria, you also have Pombal, and Fátima. Fátima is where those miracle things happened, so it's a local for pilgrims, with lots, and I mean lots of cheap and very decent hotels. In my opinion, from any of these cities, to Tomar, you should stop at "Castelo de Almourol". Not that it is a very interesting castle, on the opposite, it's a small one, but it is build in an island in Tejo's river, so it's nice to visit (there is a small boat that would take you there. Or you can swim). If you choose to stay at Tomar, "Hotel dos Templários" is the place. Not cheap, not new, but very good. And at tomar, besides visiting the aqueduct and the castle, you should also visit the "Museu dos fósforos", it's an old jewish place to pray, with jars inside the corner walls to help amplificate the voice of the preacher.

I forgot that you had already been in Portugal, mainly in Porto, so you can split your time through other places you have not been. I don't know how many nights you need, sorry. But I think you can have an idea as the plan starts to be more realistic.

Hope I have helped!
Helena
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Old Jul 11th, 2021, 05:09 PM
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Tomar, Obidos, Evora

Hi John, what a great itinerary. We spent 2 nights in Evora at the Posada and loved it, you could easily do three. If you get a chance go out into the nearby countryside to see the standing stones, and the nearby town (whose name I'm spacing on ) where they make carpets.

Tomar was one of my favorite stops - wish we had stayed longer. We also stayed several nights in Obidos, a charming town north of Sintra which was great as a base for exploring nearby countryside (especially if you have any interest in the Napoleonic wars.
I'll have to get back to you, there was a wonderful former royal hunting lodge that we stayed in south of Porto that was also a major battlefield in the Napoleonic wars, but I'm spacing on the name (we were there many years ago).

Enjoy your trip.
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Old Jul 12th, 2021, 03:59 AM
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Originally Posted by lauramsgarden View Post
Hi John, what a great itinerary. We spent 2 nights in Evora at the Posada and loved it, you could easily do three. If you get a chance go out into the nearby countryside to see the standing stones, and the nearby town (whose name I'm spacing on ) where they make carpets.

Tomar was one of my favorite stops - wish we had stayed longer. We also stayed several nights in Obidos, a charming town north of Sintra which was great as a base for exploring nearby countryside (especially if you have any interest in the Napoleonic wars.
I'll have to get back to you, there was a wonderful former royal hunting lodge that we stayed in south of Porto that was also a major battlefield in the Napoleonic wars, but I'm spacing on the name (we were there many years ago).

Enjoy your trip.
standing stones: Cromeleque dos Almendres
where they made carpets: Arraiolos
former royal hunting lodge: the village is Grijó, but I have no idea where you stayed.

Helena

Last edited by HelenaFatima; Jul 12th, 2021 at 04:02 AM.
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Old Jul 12th, 2021, 04:35 PM
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Yes to Arraiolos,, and the hunting lodge was at Bussaco - battlefield site - magical place in old forest.
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Old Jul 12th, 2021, 09:30 PM
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Thanks, Helena, for your very personal stories and insights -- greatly appreciated. Laura, thanks for your input as well -- please follow up if you can on the items where you couldn't recall the names. And, if you have your overall itinerary and nights spent in each place, that would be great to see. Any lodging recommendations welcome!

Here is where I am on my itinerary as of now (these are the locations I would work out of, not all the places I would visit):

Algarve - 9 nights (want some good beach time, and will drive and spend days in different cities, working out of two base cities)
Evora - 2 nights (possibly 3 given Laura's comments)
Marvao - 1 night
Viseu - 2 nights
Lamego - 1 night (to do Pinhao river cruise and relax)
Guimaraes - 2 nights (possibly 3 if want to do a day trip into Porto, where I previously have spent 4 nights)
Tomar or Obidos - 2 nights
Lisbon and possibly Cascais or Sintra - 2-4 nights (spent 6 days here on a prior trip)

Thanks for any final thoughts / feedback.

John H
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Old Jul 13th, 2021, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by lauramsgarden View Post
Yes to Arraiolos,, and the hunting lodge was at Bussaco - battlefield site - magical place in old forest.
When you said a battle south of Porto my first though was Grijó, but yes, Buçaco also had a big battle! The lodge it "Grande Hotel do Buçaco", and it's astonishing, both the hotel (just visited and had lunch once, never stayed there) and the gardens!
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Old Jul 15th, 2021, 04:13 PM
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Here's an article about entering and visiting Portugal under Covid rules in effect in July 2021.

https://thepointsguy.com/news/portug...process-covid/
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Old Jul 18th, 2021, 07:37 PM
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Thanks so much for posting this. I get the TPG newsletter but somehow missed this. Will keep an eye on things. May have to revert to a different strategy of working out of 3 hotels the entire trip (Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve).
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Old Jul 18th, 2021, 07:48 PM
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My current approach is to stay in 3-4 different posuadas over my three-week trip (barring the above comment on perhaps needing a new strategy in light of covid testing requirements. How do the vouchers work? They seem to save you money, but I find the explanations on the web site confusing, e.g.:
  • The Castelo de Estromoz appears on both the Premium and Luxury check-in voucher programs
  • It appears that they are not valid on Saturday nights and holidays (in which case it looks like the price paid for the voucher merely gets applied to the regular hotel rate for that night) -- doesn't seem to be any discount for buying a voucher (and they are only valid for 12 months from the date of purchase - -seems rather risky for paying cash in advance for something that will potentially expire, especially with covids various waves)
  • Where you can use the vouchers (e.g., 1 night in Marvao for a voucher costing 79.9 Euro vs. a discounted price online of 108 Euros)) they seem like very good bargains

Any thoughts on using these vouchers and clarifying any terms and conditions would be appreciated. Thanks!

John H
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