Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Preliminary trip planning for Portugal April 2018

Preliminary trip planning for Portugal April 2018

Old Jul 25th, 2017, 07:11 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Preliminary trip planning for Portugal April 2018

Hi everyone,
I am in the very preliminary trip planning stages for a trip to Portugal in April 2018. The trip will be for either 1 or 2 weeks. First, we will visit our daughter and her family in France for 1 or 2 weeks. Because we will be there in April, I thought that will be the perfect time to go to Portugal afterwards because I don't want to go to Lisbon when it is hot and steamy in the summer. Whether or not this will be 1 week or 2 weeks depends on my daughter's work schedule and how long we stay with her. I hope to know in a month or so, and then I will start researching airfares and book our reservations. But before I do that, i want to have a practical itinerary in mind. I have been reading Fodor's guidebook on Portugal and postings on this forum.

A little bit about us: I am 67 and my husband is 70, and we have never been to Portugal. We like just about everything: history, culture, museums, churches, castles, beautiful scenery, easy walks, just wandering around cities and villages, relaxing at cafes. Beaches are not a priority when we go to Europe. We can't do strenuous hikes.

If we go to Portugal for one week, this is my tentative itinerary:
Lisbon - 3 or 4 nights
Evora - 1 - 3 nights (Fodors recommends 3 days for Evora and surroundings)
Sintra - day trip from Lisbon or stay one night
Obidos - day trip from Lisbon or stay one night

Is this doable for 7 - 9 nights?
Should we overnight in Sintra and/or Obidos or visit them as day trips from Lisbon? If we visit them as daytrips from Lisbon, we will add 1 or 2 nights to Lisbon.

2-week itinerary:
The first week will be same as above.
2nd week will be Porto and Douro Valley and possibly Coimbra.
My only concern about Northern Portugal is that my guidebook recommends going there in the summer because in April the weather can be cool and rainy. I like cool weather for sightseeing but not rain. Does it make sense to visit Porto and Douro Valley in April?

My guidebook does not include the Azores. Would that make sense in April instead of Porto/Douro Valley?

Thank you!
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Jul 25th, 2017, 11:29 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,645
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I enjoyed Porto but it can be quite rainy up there in northern Portugal so it sounds to me like a version of your first itinerary is likely to make you happiest, staying further south. It's even possible to do a day trip to Coimbra from Lisbon, so if you can book in just one more day in Lisbon, you can play it by ear when you are there. Even if you end up spending the day in Lisbon you will still find lots to see & enjoy.

One thing I will mention since you mention "strenuous hiking" is that parts of Lisbon are not only quite steep but the beautiful patterned sidewalks are made of a smooth stone that can get slippery when wet. Lisbon has loads of trams & funiculars to help with the hills, but in April you could get some showers in Lisbon and excellent anti-slip soles for your shoes are really a necessity. And if you don't favor a lot of up & down climbing every time you step out the door, pick a flatter neighborhood of Lisbon to stay.

I had a great experience renting an apartment in Lisbon. Typically they are spacial and modern with wonderful amenities, and inexpensive even in popular neighborhoods. Even if you don't plan on doing any cooking, they can still be nicer than smaller hotel rooms.

Hope you enjoy Portugal as much I did. Among my favorite sights in Lisbon is the Convento do Carmo, which is small and sometimes overlooked even though it is located in an area full of other tourist attractions. Keep an eye out for it!
massimop is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2017, 04:56 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,200
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Lisbon is one of my favorite cities (click on my name for my rather old TR). I was not as impressed with Evora as I expected, and Obidos is now irredeemably touristy and at best worth a couple of hours.

I would base in Lisbon. and do day trips rather than one-nighters, except that I think Coimbra would be better as a two night stay. Do not miss the Roman ruins at Conimbriga. I notice that you do not mention Batalha and Alcobaca, which I thought worth seeing.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2017, 05:30 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you massimop and Thursday's! I appreciate your suggestions and advice. I will research Batalha and Alcobaca. Because we might have only 1 week, I am cautious about trying to do too much.

How long does it take to drive from Lisbon to Coimbra?

Thursdaysd, it sounds like you recommend staying overnight in Coimbra and not Evora. I will work on the itinerary and see if we can stay overnight at both places. My friend just returned from Portugal and they really like what she called the "Portuguese Stonehenge" which I think is near Evora.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2017, 05:39 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,645
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would take the train to Coimbra, and a taxi to the library. The street in Coimbra that leads to the library is knows as "backbreaker street" (or something like that) because it is so steep. There is a funicular or elevator, but I didn't use it and thus don't know where it is and whether it is a comfortable walk from the train station.

The train trip to Coimbra from Lisbon is a bit under 2 hours. I think it's possible to see the Roman ruins + the library in the same day, using taxis, but others might prefer to spend the night. I did spend the night in Coimbra and didn't find it otherwise a town with a lot of appeal, partly because when I was there it was so obviously slammed by austerity. The stroll I took downhill from the university encompassed the other historic sights (churches, main square). I didn't feel I need more time there. Others might feel differently.
massimop is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2017, 01:27 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Massimop,
Are the anti-slip soles something you attach to your shoes? Or do you buy shoes with anti-slip soles?
Thanks.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2017, 02:25 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,200
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Coimbra has an elevator. I had no trouble finding it back in 2004 before we had smart phones and maps apps... It is 700 meters from the train station.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2017, 02:55 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,645
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Anti-skid, anti-slip soles are an advertised built-in part of a good walking or running shoe. Stop by a shoe store and explain to the salesperson that you are looking for a walking shoe that doesn't skip or skid in the rain, even on smooth downhill surfaces. You might already have a pair.

https://thenerdynurse.com/7-best-non-slip-shoes/

Hope you didn't get the impression I thought that the elevator to the university in Coimbra is hard to find. I never looked for it. I took a taxi from the hotel where I was staying, and then deliberately wanted to walk downhill from the university area, in order to visit some churches and other historic sites mid-hill. Also just to do it. It is quite steep.

However, for reasons of time, if you want to see more than the library in Coimbra, I would take a taxi from the train station up there.

Also know that visiting the library requires a timed entry, and I believe you can book online. The day that I went, the first entry I could buy at the ticket window was for an hour later. I used the time to visit other parts of the university, which was interesting but didn't take an hour. Had I known about the possibility to book online, I would have done that.
massimop is offline  
Old Jul 26th, 2017, 07:15 PM
  #9  
CGS
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 135
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Karen the "Portuguese Stonehenge" are the megaliths outside Evora. I highly recommend a tour with Mario at Ebora Megalithica:

http://www.eboramegalithica.com

It was one of the highlights of our trip! I've recommended it to several friends and every one of them has come back raving about it! You can drive to the megaliths yourself but there's no information there - the tour is really well worth it.

We loved Evora. I also highly recommend Albergaria do Carvario, where we stayed. Fabulous breakfast. Wish we'd had more than one night there.
CGS is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2017, 11:32 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
CGS, thanks for your reply and information. My guidebook also recommends tours because the megaliths are difficult to find by car.

I've been doing more reading and realize there is so much to see in Portugal. And so much to see in Lisbon and outside of Lisbon. Because we will be doing several major trips in 2017, we need to keep our expenses down for 2018, so I think the Portugal trip will be one week. But it will be so hard to decide what to see and what to leave out.

I read Candace's report on Sintra from last year. She stayed overnight in Sintra and loved it, so I am inclined to overnight in Sintra, although I realize moving around like that takes up a lot of time, rather than doing day trips.

How long does it take to drive from Evora to Coimbra?

Here is what I am thinking of now:

Lisbon - 4 nights
Evora - 1 night
Coimbra - 1 night
Sintra - 1 night
Maybe I can add 1 or 2 more nights somewhere.

How far is Sintra from Lisbon Airport? Would it make sense to drive from Sintra to Lisbon Airport the day we leave for home? (Assuming it's a later flight).

Thank you!
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2017, 12:00 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If two weeks: I loved Porto too and really neat places nearby like Batalha Monstery -UNESCO World Heritage Site; Guimares and Braga two historic lovely cities plus the Duoro Valley.

Hit Coimbra on way up if possible.

But sounds like you don't have time for Porto

Yes I believe Lisbon Airport is on northeast side of Lisbon - Sintra northwest. Sintra to me was castles -not much of a town IME. Obidos is exceptional -could drive to airport from there -drive via Sintra to Obidos?

How long does it take to drive from Evora to Coimbra?>

https://www.viamichelin.com/

I LOVE Michelin Green Guides -always had one the five times I've been to Portugal.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 06:22 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
PalenQ, thanks for the link. It looks like drive time from Evora to Coimbra is 3 hours and 20 minutes.

I will buy a Michelin Green Guide for Portugal. I have one for Spain, and it is great!
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 06:31 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
could make a brief stop at say Obidos en route - if not far off route.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 07:58 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3,680
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Is Porto and the north more appealing than Algave and the south?

I just noticed that in April, Lisbon and points south have nice dry, sunny weather whereas Porto is wetter and presumably more gray.
scrb11 is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 12:52 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Scrb11, that is why we most likely won't go to Porto in April. Will visit Lisbon and places near Lisbon, such as Evora, Sintra, etc. I think Lisbon is too hot and humid for me during the summer, so April should be the perfect time to visit Lisbon.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 01:14 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just noticed that in April, Lisbon and points south have nice dry, sunny weather whereas Porto is wetter and presumably more gray.>

Actually not that much difference:

Avg temp -Porto 55 Lisbon 58
Avg hi P- 63 L- 68
avg lo P- 48 L- 53
Days with rain P-15 L-12

So yes a bit better but not that much but yes points south of Lisbon more and more better so yes I'd head south too.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2017, 05:57 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3,680
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here's Porto, 108 mm of rain in April on average:

http://www.whereandwhen.net/when/europe/portugal/porto/

Here's Lisbon, less but not a lot less:

http://www.whereandwhen.net/when/eur...rtugal/lisbon/

And here's Faro, which has the least and really gets dry in May:

http://www.whereandwhen.net/when/europe/portugal/faro/
scrb11 is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2017, 04:03 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Massimop, (and others),
What are the flatter areas of Lisbon to stay in? Based on my readings so far, Alfama is hilly, so even though it sounds lovely, I probably wouldn't want to stay there. I can't handle too many steep steps.

Baixa sounds nice. It's flat, right?

Bairro Alto is described as a party place at night, so I wouldn't want to stay there.

Is Belem hilly or flat? Is it too far away from most other historical sites?

Thanks!
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2017, 04:17 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,200
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
I sleep just off the Praca dos Restauradores.

Not sure of your budget, but if you can afford it the Avenida Palace would be great.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2017, 05:04 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,869
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tagging on to follow for our trip in May 2018 to Lisbon!
DebitNM is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
nitishraj
Europe
7
Dec 22nd, 2017 08:45 AM
NativeNewYorker
Europe
7
Oct 15th, 2017 08:58 AM
wparmar
Europe
18
Aug 4th, 2011 01:58 PM
GiuliaPiraino
Europe
11
Apr 3rd, 2009 07:10 PM
trelena
Europe
7
Nov 24th, 2003 07:10 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:41 PM.