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Portugal itinerary suggestions (with Marrakech tossed in)

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May 26th, 2015, 09:38 PM
  #1
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Portugal itinerary suggestions (with Marrakech tossed in)

I'm starting to plan a two week (give or take) trip with the focus on Portugal but want to tack on Marrakech since only a two hour flight from Lisbon. We'll be doing open jaw flights between Portugal and Marrakech since we fly through London (big BA flyer) from the United States.

I'm interested in how to allocate time in Portugal and we tend to like settling in a bit rather than move every two days. I don't know much about Portugal but thinking we'll focus on Lisbon and North as not big beach people so skipping the Algarve may help make things a little more feasible). We like architecture, food, wine and small towns (loved Seville and the Alhambra much more than Madrid and we're big fans of the Italian countryside around Umbria)

Lisbon - 3 nights (daytrip to Sintra)
Porto - 3 nights (too many or too little?)
TBD - any great spot in the countryside to stay a couple nights?

The above would leave about four nights in Morocco. Appreciate any thoughts.
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May 26th, 2015, 11:04 PM
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Fly into Porto, do one or more day trips (Braga, Douro river) take the train to Coimbra (don't miss the Roman ruins at Conimbriga), take the train on to Lisbon.

Given that you want to spend one day at Sintra, and you should spend one day at Belem, that only leaves one day for Lisbon - too little.
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May 27th, 2015, 04:53 PM
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So we'll definitely plan on staying in Lisbon and Porto (likely three nights each). If we were going to pick one other spot to stay, thoughts between: Obidos, Evora or Coimbra? We will likely visit each but don't want to be packing and unpacking.

Obidos sounds touristy but similar to San Gimignano, we've stayed there and it's quiet at night after the daytrippers left.

Given how flights work, we are probably going to do somewhat of a loop from/to Lisbon. It's easier to end up in Lisbon in order to make a connection through Heathrow to the US.
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May 27th, 2015, 05:08 PM
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Can't you fly open jaw? Into Porto and out of Marrakech? (Use the multi-city option on the web sites.) All the budget European airlines will book one way fares.
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May 27th, 2015, 05:25 PM
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We can do open jaw but unfortunately the times are terrible with respect to connections to the US and several Europe flights depart Gatwick versus we'll likely be coming into Heathrow (everyone abandoned Gatwick when the Open Skies took effect). Flights as follows:

US to LHR or LGW / LGW to Marrakech

Marrakech to Lisbon (no nonstops to Porto)

Lisbon to LHR / LHR to US (Porto flights won't make connection to US)

While not ideal to fly in/out of Lisbon, since in Portugal for nine or ten nights we figure we will do somewhat of a loop of the north saving Lisbon for the end so we can catch a flight to LHR without getting up at dawn.

Spent a lot of time looking at flights so welcome any suggestions but think the above works best without having to overnight in London somewhere.
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May 27th, 2015, 05:45 PM
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Where in the US? Royal Air Maroc flies JFK to Marrakech with one stop in Casablanca. Other airlines fly one stop other than in London. If you take the BA flights and change airports you can take the National Express coach direct, you don't have to go into London.

And what's wrong with the BA flight from Porto to JFK, connecting in Madrid? Are you using skyscanner. net?
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May 27th, 2015, 07:42 PM
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I'm not using sky scanner but will check it out. Issue is we always use BA travel together tickets to confirm two first class using points equal to one ticket. Requires flight to be mainline BA flights so while Porto to JfK interesting you still have to get to West Coast.
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May 27th, 2015, 07:47 PM
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Well, in that case, you take what you can get.
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May 28th, 2015, 01:13 AM
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Marrakech, probably worth reading up on Fodors Africa section, but the basics, choose hotel in the old town (in converted old buildings) or the international town (where you should expect a pool).

If you are booked into the old town then normally you can expect a pick up at the airport. If not there are expensive taxis at the airport or go to your left as you exit and there is a very efficient and cheap shuttle bus which takes you to the entrance of the old town or past the international hotel area.

Haggling is the way everywhere outside the hotels, the bus station and the gov organised shopping areas (well notified).

The souk can occupy you for 2 whole days, I'd probably also look at a day tour to the south, either to the Atlas valleys or to somewhere like Tafrout.
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May 28th, 2015, 06:25 AM
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"The souk can occupy you for 2 whole days"

That's definitely a YMMV thing! I found two hours were plenty, but admittedly I'd been in Morocco for three weeks by then.
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May 28th, 2015, 06:32 AM
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good point thursday, still there are at least 3 elements worth seeing in terms of the old school, the old merchants house and the previous royal family's tomb. Then the actual souk with the odd jewel of very expensive shop mixed in, the main square (which I dislike but most people love), plus having a snack and maybe an evening meal. Then the large open square over towards the present Royal palace, a visit to a spa and maybe supper in the French quarter. On top of this you could also visit the large water tank near the airport with fine views of the Atlas, the Opera house, the Gov shops, the park outside the walls and just bumming about. That fills my 2 days.
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May 28th, 2015, 06:59 AM
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bilboburgler - right, you can fill two days in Marrakesh, just not all of it in the souk!
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May 28th, 2015, 07:03 AM
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Obidos, Evora or Coimbra?

all are nice and all are different - tough to chose what is best - Obidos is yes small and a bit of a museum town but yes after the day trippers have gone... there is a government-run Pousada (? equivalent of Spain's Paradors) built right into the ancient ramparts still girdling the town.

Coimbra is a big city in many ways but the old upper town with university is so so neat. Might be a classic few-hour stop.

Evora has lots to see and do and the cork forests around town are interesting too.
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May 28th, 2015, 07:07 AM
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I would rank them Coimbra - Obidos - Evora - at least partly because Evora is the outlier in terms of transport. Coimbra has much more to see than either of the others. (Do not go to Evora for the Roman temple, very underwhelming!)
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May 28th, 2015, 09:24 AM
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thursday, you havn't shopped with Mrs Bilbo
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May 28th, 2015, 09:27 AM
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Bilbo - lol, I guess. I quit shopping on trips years ago, except very rarely I'll pick up a piece of jewelry or fabric. I have more stuff than I need already - in fact I need to get rid of a bunch! My souvenirs are photos.
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May 28th, 2015, 09:55 AM
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Thanks all. We were thinking maybe Evora if there were interesting things to explore around there (because it is a little farther afield). It seemed like Coimbra and Obidos (especially Obidos) could be visited while traveling to/from Lisbon to Porto. I'll do a little more research between Coimbra and Evora (and surrounding area) so appreciate the advice.
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May 28th, 2015, 10:20 AM
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There are wineries around Evora. The town itself is fine, but it is a little short on major sites, while Coimbra has the university library and the Roman ruins at Conimbriga.
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