Spain/Portugal or Just Portugal?

Old Oct 23rd, 2002, 05:49 AM
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Spain/Portugal or Just Portugal?

It's killing me! As always, there is too much to see and too little time. I'm seeking advice from others regarding a Portugal/Spain trip that seems to be rapidly turning into Portugal trip. Here is a (very) preliminary agenda:

Day 1: Arrive Lisbon. Night Lisbon
Day 2: Lisbon. Night Lisbon
Day 3: Sintra. Night Lisbon
Day 4: Pick up car. Head north--Obidos, Alcobacar, Leiria, Tomar. Night ?
Day 5: Conimbriga, Coimbra. Night ?
Day 6: Porto. Night Porto
Day 7: Braga, Barcelos, Citana de Briteros
Day 8: Guimares
Day 9: Braganca, Foz Coa
Day 10: Travel day south to Evora. Night Evora.
Day 11: Evora. Night Evora
Day 12: Travel day to Seville
Day 13: Seville. Turn in Car. Night Seville
Day 14: AVE to Madrid
Day 15: Madrid
Day 16: Day trip to Toledo
Day 17: Flight home


Is day 4 too full? We are willing to bypass Coimbra for extra time in the smaller towns and Conimbriga.

My husband loves castles. Are there lesser known castles nearby other than the ones in destinations already listed?

Our biggest question right now is the wisdom of going to Seville. How many hours drive is it from Evora to Seville? Would we be smarter to finish in southern Portugal, return to Lisbon and leave Spain for another trip? Do you have suggestions for sites in the Algarve? We enjoy castles, palaces, churches and sites with Roman and/or Arab origins. We are not looking to go to resort destinations as we will be traveling in March. Flight prices are not a factor at this point as I am finding the same price for a round trip to/from Lisbon as I am open-jaw Lisbon-Madrid.

Thank you in advance.
Old Oct 24th, 2002, 02:05 AM
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It's an ambitious plan.
days 1-3 are enough to Lisbon if you know exactly what to look. I can give you some hints about "must see".
day 4 is ok, but you must take the class A roads (speed limit 120 km/h). If you prefer secondary roads to explore the country, then the time is short. Alcobaça and Tomar have monasteries which are worth to visit (Cister and Templar knights). Óbidos is worth by the walled town and castle themselves.
FozCoa is known by the pre-historic park. There are guided tours.

If you choose to stay the all time in Portugal, I have some more suggestions:
- Marvão - waled town and castle (my very favourite place in Portugal)
- Vila Viçosa (the home base of Braganza family - must see the Duke's palace)
- Monsaraz - waled town and castle
- restaurant "A Maria" in Alandroal - regional cuisine
- restaurant "A adega do Isaias" in Estremoz
- Estremoz street market (Saturday morning)
- Mértola (Alentejo) and Silves (Algarve) - very significative remains of the al-gharb al-andalus - arabic and moslem Portugal

Please check - trip logs collected by 2 nice Americans during a period of 30 years

Check as well:

If you don't have the opportunity of stayng in a Pousada, but you have interess in watching one inside, at least go there to a coffee and ask the staff to let you wander around (eventually they will let you into an empty room to see decoration).

Old Oct 26th, 2002, 01:48 PM
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We faced the very same decision, with a 13 day itinerary, and have decided to limit ourselves to Portugual. We aren't fans of the "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" travel of getting up early each day because we have to get to the next destination. We decided there was so much to see in Portugual alone, along with the desire to make this a leisurely trip of having bases of 2-3 nights at time, that it made the most sense keep it to one country. It also depends on how you like to travel, and if you expect to be able to do Spain another time.

Good luck!
Old Oct 26th, 2002, 02:37 PM
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Will possibly be needing to face a similar decision for a small group trip emerging on the travelcheap2000 Yahoo group. Thinking that the compromise might be mostly Portugal, maybe a little taste of Galicia?

Anyone have a suggestion of internet (or other) resources for villa rental in Portugal? Lisbon or further north? Available in late April?

All interested parties welcome to look into more information that will be posted on or on travelcheap2000.

Hope you find the right decision for you, xxx.

Best wishes,

Old Oct 26th, 2002, 06:49 PM
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That is a tough one. I have done Portugal twice, and with 16 days you can do alot. One option is to do Seville after Evora but then drive back to the Algarve--perhaps Lagos--and then depart from Lisbon. I agree about Marvao--you can see it enroute to Evora. Try this itinerary:
Lisbon--3 nites--stay at Cascais
Obidos--2 nites--see Nazare/Batahla
Viano do Castelleo--3 nites--see Minho
Evora--2 nites--see Marvao enroute
Seville--2 nites
Lagos--3 nites--see Algarve & Sagres
Last nite at Palmela Pousada

That is rough, but gives you a shell to work with. You can see Porto enroute to Viano--3 hours is adequate for me. The Pousada at Viano is magical and makes a good base to explore the Minho region. Plan to hit the Thurs. market at Barcelos. Good luck !
Old Oct 27th, 2002, 12:31 PM
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Also interested in any suggestions for a villa in Portugal. Not interested in the Algarve. Need one big enough for 7 adults and 5 kids.
Old Oct 28th, 2002, 10:54 AM
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Thanks for the replies. While I'm still wavering, I'm leaning more toward limiting ourselves to Portugal. We do plan on a trip to Spain--I just don't know when it will be.
MJ: Do you mind posting your route? I'm curious.
We may fly in and out of Lisbon or perhaps out of Faro to avoid "backtracking." I'm finding fares to be the same. I'm not asking anyone to predict the weather, but overall, is the weather likely to be a factor in a mid-March trip? Cool is fine.
Old Oct 28th, 2002, 11:13 AM
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Several years I went on a family trip to Portugal. Loved it. We didn't include Spain. Portugal wasn't full of tourists, even in summer. Very nice people and castles. We stayed in an old convent in Obidos (Estalagem de Convento) The chapel of bones was memorable at St. Francisco church in Evora, I think. Anyway, there are lots of castles and the people are great.
Old Oct 28th, 2002, 05:40 PM
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Old Oct 28th, 2002, 08:15 PM
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The original poster requested our route:

Our route doesn't go far north or south, but we may do some day trips from these locations. We want to experience the culture, enjoy the accommodations, and have a leisurely getaway.

* Flying in and out of Lisbon

* 3 nights on Atlantic Coast at Guincho (near Cascais)
* 2 nights just north of Coimbra at Bucaco
* 1 night in Crato near Pontalegre
* 2 nights south of Evora at Alvito
* 2 nights in Setubal
* 3 nights in Lisbon

* Staying in pousadas and manor hotels.

On the advice of friends who've been there, we're skipping the Algarve since our visit will not be in the summer.

Have fun!
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 03:49 AM
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Thanks MJ. This gives me more to think about. I am also a fan of not staying in a different place each night. It seems as if you have chosen smaller towns to base in, is this right? Any more opinions?
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 04:27 AM
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Portugal was wonderful for the three weeks I spent in that charming country. You will short change yourself by driving to Seville for such a short visit. It would take you a solid 6-7 hours to drive that distance, if not more if you plan to stop along the way. I would not go to Spain, but, spend more time in northern Portugal.

Since you are getting your car in Lisbon, why go to Sintra on day three? Instead, spead that day in Lisbon and see Sintra first upon getting your car. It is a very short drive to Sintra from Lisbon.

Your whole itinerary looks too rushed to me. I think you will be enchanted by Portugal and not want to move so quickly.

The Posadas are wonderful and half price for those over 55, according to a friend of mine who was there a couple of years back. Here is a link.

Have a wonderful trip to one of my favorite countries. Enjoy wonderful SPain another trip. When you do plan Spain, I can tell you about an exquisite inn outside of Toledo.

Bon Voyage!
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 04:57 AM
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Gigi: Thank you for the reply. How would you revise the itinerary? My reason for not going to Sintra with the car was that (based on reading) it can easily be done via public transportation and that parking is difficult in Sintra. As we finalize decisions as to the sites we want to see, I hope to look for smaller towns as a base and not be in a new place each night. I'm just not yet that far along in my planning. Again, any and all replies are welcome.
Old Oct 29th, 2002, 05:25 AM
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Our car was picked up at the Lisbon airport, a short ride from the city center. We went directly to the Palace of Quelez and then to Sintra. We were there at the end of March and had no problem with crowds or parking. You really must see the exquiste Pena Palace, a lovely moorish castle outside of Pena.
I think the idea of finding a base to stay for a couple of days in each area is really smart. Packing up every day can get to be tiresome.
Have you picked up the Eyewitness guide? It has a nice overview of many of the places you are touring. Just looking at your itinerary strikes me that you are attempting to visit too many places each day. By having that base you can linger and enjoy without the stress of finding accomodations.
Gotta run, enjoy yourself!
Old Oct 31st, 2002, 05:14 AM
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We've decided to focus on only Portugal. I also had to eliminate some destinations within the country. There's just too much.

Day 1&2: Lisbon
Day 3: Sintra
Day 4&5: Obidos, Batalha, Alcobaca, Tomar
Day 6: Conimbriga. Allow time for the drive north.
Day 7: Bom Jesus do Monte, Guimares, Citania de Briteros. Allow time for the drive east.
Day 8: Vila Nova de Foz Coa
Day 9: Border Castle Tour (a drive of castle ruins along the Spanish/Portugese border taken from a travel guide)
Day 10: Sortelha, Sabugal, Monsanto, Idanha-a-Velha
Day 11: Castelo de Vide, Marvao
Day 12: Estremoz, Vila Vicosa
Day 13: Evora
Day 14: Monsarz, Elvas
Day 15: Drive back to Lisbon, return car, check into hotel airport, public transport back into the city to visit the museum (Guk....sorry, I won't be able to spell it.)
Day 16: Flight home.

Haven't yet decided about how to get to Sintra. Thanks for the input, Gigi, as we will also be traveling in March.

Multilple night stays as follows in a location central to the areas on the itinerary:
Nights 1&2
Nights 4&5
Nights 6&7 (both nights near Braga)
Nights 9&10
Nights 11, 12, 13&14 (hopefully in a location to permit going to the listed desitination each day.)

Re: too many places in one day. I agree, it's just the way we plan. We don't always make it to every place but always have a list in case we don't care for a place and want to move on.

What I've eliminated are the bigger cities--namely, Coimbra, Porto and Braganca. Our experience has been that we most enjoy the smaller towns rather than cities. I'm hoping this proves to be the same in Portugal. Our focus remains churches, cathedrals, monestaries, castles and Roman ruins. Braganca was the city we were saddest about "losing," but location and distance were the keys. We are also not going into the Algarve since March is not beach time.

Again, I look forward to everyone's helpful replies.
Old Oct 31st, 2002, 06:02 AM
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xxx, excellent choices! From what you say about enjoying small villages and lingering if desired, this plan makes perfect sense.
I can see if I have my Portugal map that shows exactly how to exit the airport to get to Sintra. It really is an easy drive. Gear up for the fast driving, they vie with the Italians in my book.
I assume you have driven in Europe before? If so, you will find Portugal to be perfect with fewer crowds, and fairly warm weather.
We stayed at a pleasant hotel at Priana de Mar, right on the Atlantic, just outside of Colares, for three days. It was the perfect spot to daytrip to Cabo do Roca, and Sintra, and many villages along the Atlantic.
Have a wonderful trip. I hope to return to Portugal in the next couple of years.
Old Oct 31st, 2002, 07:08 AM
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I like it--you will see the real Portugal and will love it. Good luck !
Old Oct 31st, 2002, 07:16 AM
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Thanks for the encouragement. This part is always the hardest for me--too much information, too many choices, too many desires. After I have the general choices narrowed down, the details seems less prolematic. I have driven Germany and survived the autobahn and the winding, rural roads and also driven in Wales and England. I'm not sure yet if we will spend the extra $$ for an automatic. I can drive stick but my husband cannot and does not wish to learn.
Gigi-was rain a problem for you? We prefer touring in cooler temperatures but hope to not face daylong deluges.
Old Nov 2nd, 2002, 12:31 PM
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Contemplating a trip wth a group of about 10 friends, and wonder about the pros and cons of these different ideas, departing in late April:

1. Southern Italy and Sicily, roughly 6-7 days each.

2. Southern Italy (2-3 days) and Sicily (9-12 days)

3. Spain (mostly northwest and central; 8-10 days and Portugal, 3-4 days

4. Portugal 8-10 days with 3-4 days Spain

5. A "best of Spain" trip - - no preconceptions of what to include/exclude

6. Spain (mostly northwest and central; 8-10 days and southwest France, 3-4 days

7. Northwest Spain and southwest France, 6-7 days each
Old Nov 3rd, 2002, 11:50 AM
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topping, for olliedawg

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