Portugal - Where to go, stay, eat

Sep 1st, 2012, 01:27 PM
  #1  
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Portugal - Where to go, stay, eat

My boyfriend and I have just booked a trip to Portugal from October 6th-19th. We arrive in Porto and depart from Lisbon. We have booked a rental car for 8 days and would love to do a circuit of the country, allowing one full day or two full days in each town/city as required.
My dad is portuguese, and for me this trip is really important and meaningful. I'm the type of traveller where I need to experience the food to really understand the culture. I love sight seeing etc. But this will be my first Europe trip (we are both from and live in Canada).

Any help on where to go, what to see and any recommendations on food would be really appreciated.
JErinPereira is offline  
Sep 1st, 2012, 01:32 PM
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Take a look at pousadas.pt. I think they have "young people" specials or stay 4 nights pay for 3..But worth a look as these hotels are outstanding..Roast suckling pig..Yum..Calaplana.more yum and bread called Broa in the northern part of the country..Even more yum.. Pastries in Belem area of Lisbon..more and more and more yum. Have a wonderful time. You will love the country!!!
amer_can is offline  
Sep 1st, 2012, 07:34 PM
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It involves a lot of driving, but in October, I would first head up to Braga, the ancient Celtic city with more than 300 churches, then down to Guimaraes (the birthplace of Portugal and the European Capital of Culture for 2012), before driving to the Douro River Valley via Vila Real. From there you can head south to Visue (the center of the Dão wine-growing region) and Guarda (the highest place in Portugal) before finally heading for Evora in the Alentejo. After Evora, you can drop the car off in Lisbon and it you have any time left, try to enjoy the city.
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2012, 07:47 PM
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You might want to take a look at my trip report; click on my name to find it. Just leave out the part dealing with Santiago, you just do not have the time for that part of the trip.

The middle sets are the most relevant:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7623555520457/
Michael is online now  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 08:25 AM
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Just to piggyback a bit on Robert's suggestions, I would agree completely wiht a visit to Braga (and maybe skip over to Barcelos, which is very close) and Guimaraes. I really like Guimaraes, it has a lot of tourist "bang for the buck" in terms of castle, palace, walls, historic center, and beautiful pousada in the Santa Marinha convent a few kms out of town. There is also a pretty amazing pre-historic stone fort village in Citania dos Breteiros, which I really enjoyed though I know nothing about these old civilizations.

I am not as enthusiastic about Viseu or Guarda. I think I would stay a while in the Douro Valley, for instance at the Casa de Canilhas in Mesao Frio (much nicer river views than the pousada IMO, though the pousada is pretty and has great grounds for walking around -- if you stay there, try to avoid the dormer rooms on the top floor). In the Douro do not miss the train ride from Pinhao eastward to Pocinho. It is by far the most beautiful part of the Douro east of Porto. It's a little rickety train, goes out and back with a half hour stop in Pocinho. You can get it further west than Pinhao, but the real beauty starts there.

If you were to drive from the Douro to Lisbon on the back roads, I'd stop either in the Serra de Estrela or the mountain area around Lousa. Lots of pretty little towns to visit, like Linhares and a few of the schist towns.

Do you have any "must see" stops already planned, to see your father's town or anything like that? That might also determine which part of the country you include in your trip.
lreynold1 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2012, 09:11 AM
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I'd be curious to know where in Portugal your father is from.
aguamineral is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 10:48 AM
  #7  
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Thank you so much for all your input!! I am so excited-- we booked two nights in douro valley at Casa de Canilhas! Thank you for that recommendation, it looks so beautiful. We are definitely going to take the train ride as well.

We don't really have anything set in stone for our trip at all. Just booked our flight and stuff this week, so we are just reading up on blogs and asking people's opinions who have travelled there.

what is your opinion on the algarve? we are looking into staying at Tivoli Carvoeiro.
JErinPereira is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 10:50 AM
  #8  
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my dad is from sao miguel -- we won't be going to the island this time around, unfortunately.

do you have any idea what the tipping etiquette is? in canada we tip everyone who provides a "service" 15%-20%.
JErinPereira is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Tipping is much more conservative, more like Spain than Canada, but you can give whatever you want.
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 12:26 PM
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Daughter was in Spain for 1 year studying and i was fortunate to visit 2 times for a month each. Tipping apparently is not customary and it seems that if you round off the bill to the next euro that is appreciated but definitly not expected and this North American custom works a hardship on locals. I was told this by several times by Spanish people that we met and socialized with. Salaries are regulated and the waiters do not live on tips. Cab drivers don't either, nor doormen, maids, etc. Use your head and don't exceed the local expectations.
amer_can is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 01:12 PM
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I'll just second what the others have said on tips -- rounding up, or in the case of a very large bill (and by that I mean several hundred euros) maybe a 5 or 10 euro note.

I think you'll like the Casa de Canilhas. It's in walking distance to the little town of Mesao Frio, where there is a decent restaurant. The owners of the Casa will give you lots of information and suggestions about restaurants, what to do, etc.

I have been to the Algarve a number of times, and there are beautiful parts and touristy tacky parts. Praia da Rocha is one of the most beautiful stretches of beach I've ever walked on, with amazing rock formations, but it's a stone's throw from some of the most overbuilt parts of the Algarve in Portimao. I like Tavira on the eastern Algarve, and Lagos and Praia da Luz, Saleme and Burgao on the west. Carvoeiro is a really built up part of the Algarve, but there are some pretty beaches in that part as well. October will not be high season and weather should be nice.

Maybe you could give a little better idea of your plans to help suggest an itinerary. Land in Porto, spend a few days there? Rent car from Porto? Drop off car in Porto? Going to Lisbon? How many nights? etc. You will love this place, I'm sure of it.
lreynold1 is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2012, 01:50 PM
  #12  
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Thanks for the help on the tipping, i find it is over kill in Canada & the US.. but good to know for Portugal.

so far we have decided to book a car for 9 days from Porto.

Porto (two nights) - no hotel booked yet
Guimaraes (one night) -
1720 Quinta da Cancela
douro valley (two nights)- Casa De Canilhas
tomar (not set on this one)
estremez (not set on this either)
Carvoeiro/tavira (not sure which yet for two nights)
cascais (1/2 day)
lisbon (two nights)

I am up for any additions/changes to the itinerary. we are not set in any reservation for the hotels or any city. I have mostly gone of people's recommendations etc. If you know of any place that would be a "must see", please let me know.

Thank you for all the help! it's greatly appreciated
JErinPereira is offline  
Sep 4th, 2012, 06:53 AM
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I personally would not add the Algarve to this trip but would stay up north, but that's just me. I think there's a lot of driving there for a two night stay.

Are you planning on a one-way car rental, and if so, have you checked the cost? It usually adds a hefty chunk if you plan to drop off the car in a town other than where you picked it up.

I'd vote for Marvao instead of Tomar and Estremoz, it's a wonerful castle town. But a little out of the way perhaps.
lreynold1 is offline  
Sep 4th, 2012, 08:16 AM
  #14  
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Yes, surprisingly the cost for 8 days and dropping it off in a different city is only $168.00 CAD. so surprising, thats the cost for a weekend here!
JErinPereira is offline  
Sep 4th, 2012, 12:23 PM
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I'd skip the Algarve, too. It's a lot of driving for only 2 nights. I would consider Évora instead (definitely stay at Albergaria do Calvário). Or Sintra which is very close to Cascais, and to Lisbon.
MyriamC is offline  

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