Suggestions on itinerary

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Jun 18th, 2018, 04:14 PM
  #1
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Suggestions on itinerary

Hi everyone,
We are going to spend about 2 weeks in Portugal in mid September and wanted suggestions or advice on our itinerary. We enjoy museums, culture, history and meandering through charming little towns, villages and neighborhoods.... places to eat and shopping aren't that important to us.

We plan on 2-3 full days in Porto and doing 1-2 day trips to either Braga, Coimbra or Guimaraes. Which two would you suggest? We will spend one whole day on a Douro tour.

Things to See in Porto: First full day we will take the Porto Walking tour (3 hours) to get the lay of the land. Then maybe look deeper into: Igreja Sao Francisco, Palacio de Bolsa, Museu Nacional da Soares, Igreja Torre dos Clerigo, PortuguÍs Centro de Fotografia, Livraria Lello, Igreja dos Carmelitas, Sao Bento train station, Porto Cathedral, Serralves Park and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Training it to Sintra and spending 2 days in Sintra (I know you can do it from Lisbon, but we decided to spend 2 nights there). Things to See in Sintra: Pena Palace for sure. Then there are: Quinta da Regaleira, Capuchos Convent, Moorish Castle (I love Moorish culture, so this might be at the top of the list after Pena), Palacio Monserrate and National Palace of Queluz. Which ones would you suggest?

Train it to Lisbon and spend 5 days there. Things to See in Lisbon: Museo de Azulejo, Museo Nacional de Arte Antiga, Parque das Nacoes, Museo Calouste Gulbenkian, Museo de Marinha, Convento do Carmo ruins, Archeological Museum, Sao Roque Igreja, Adego Machado for Fado, Fado Museum, Fraga Fernando II e Gloria and Castelo de Sao Jorge. Then with any time left over, day trip it to Obidos and Belem. We like to limit our travel time one way for day trips to about an hour 15 minutes. We will be taking public transportation, not renting a car at all.

Of course, if we feel like we've seen quite enough, we can drop some of these items off the list and just "veg out". It seems like the more I research, the more I discover we can see or do.....gotta stop the list somewhere. Any suggestions or advice you can give to me is greatly appreciated.

Enjoy the rest of the week!
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Jun 18th, 2018, 04:20 PM
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Book trains at www.cp.pt - Portugeuse Railways site for possible discounts on long-distance trains - Sintra to Lisbon and day trips from Porto (loved Guimares and Braga) are loca tickets just buy at stations - itinerary sounds neat - just about right amount of time spread out. For lots on trains and ticketing, etc check www.seat61.com; general info www.ricksteves.com and BETS-European Rail Experts. Consider stoppin for a few hours at Coimbra -put bags in station locker and explore exquisite old upper town.
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Jun 18th, 2018, 08:53 PM
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We spent 5 nights in Lisbon this past April, so we had 4 full days.You can click on my name to read my trip report if you wish.

We did spend time wandering around the neighborhoods and visiting the miradouros. We also saw the following sights:

Gulbenkian Museum
Castelo Sao Jorge
Sao Roque Igreja
Igreja da Sao Vicente de Fora
Jeronimos Monastery
climbed the Monument of the Discoveries
Saw tower of Belem from top of the Discoveries Monument
Coach Museum in Belem
Pena Palace in Sintra with quick stop and drive through of Cascais and Estoril (this was a bus tour)

We enjoyed everything we saw; some of our favorites are Gulbenkian Museum, Castelo Sao Jorge, wandering through the Alfama; and Jeronimos Monastery. Don't miss Belem!

We visited all the other places on my list on our own.
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Jun 18th, 2018, 08:55 PM
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Also want to add that I think it's wise to spend 2 nights in Sintra. It was very crowded in April with lots of tour buses so I think it would be nice to spend 1 or 2 evenings there when the crowds are gone.
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Jun 19th, 2018, 07:28 AM
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This sounds much like the trip I'll be taking in a couple weeks - although I don't plan to visit quite as many museums. I'm in the habit of writing detailed trip reports, so I'll be sure to share opinions once I return.
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Jun 19th, 2018, 08:00 AM
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Belem is a part of Lisbon - and can easily be combined in same day to Cascais just down train line from Belem. don't miss taking antique trams on line # 28 up and down hills of Alfama:

https://www.google.com/search?q=tram...iw=824&bih=882
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Jun 22nd, 2018, 04:05 PM
  #7
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We plan to do the 28 trolley, but not Cascais since we are not "beach people". But thanks for the link.
G.
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Jun 22nd, 2018, 04:10 PM
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I just read your report and made notations on a few things I want to put on my list, which are close to "attractions" that were already on the list. Thank you for the report!
G.
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Jun 22nd, 2018, 04:11 PM
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We also have used that "cp" website and the seat 61 as well, but thank you for the reminders.
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Jun 22nd, 2018, 04:30 PM
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Cascais is not just a beach but an aging once luxurious seaside resort - I went a few times not for sands but to see the elegant but fading old hotels, etc. But though often a much recmmended day trip from Cascais IMO is interesting but overblown.
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Jun 22nd, 2018, 08:47 PM
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Something to keep in mind about both Porto and Lisbon - and Sintra, for that matter - is that site visits can be quite physically demanding in terms of walking up and down hills and stairs. Not to discourage you, but keep it in mind. If you don't already have an uber app on your phone, suggest you get it prior to this trip. On my recent visit to Lisbon and Porto I used uber extensively - relatively inexpensive, reliable and readily available. Locals repeatedly recommended it as superior to taxis. At the end of a long day of climbing it can be a godsend!

I do think you may need more than a single day to check off the sites you list for Porto. The walking tour is great - you'll cover several things on your list.

If you click on my screen name you should get a link to my recent trip report.
.
.
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Jun 23rd, 2018, 10:12 AM
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Thank you for your info. I'm assuming that the hills aren't much worse than the real steep ones in San Francisco (?). We're quite active and fit. In our older age, my honey and I have realized that it's better to take it easy and enjoy everything rather than to zoom around like crazy people trying to see all the sites. I have my list but it's ok if we don't get to all of the things on it. I read your report and it gave me some food for thought, especially installing the Uber app. BTW, I've read in many places that it's best to speak in English rather than Spanish when in Portugal. I am Hispanic and was hoping to use my Spanish, but I don't want to insult anyone there. What is your thought on this?
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Jun 23rd, 2018, 10:45 AM
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What is your thought on this?>

Some Portugeuse Fodor's folks have said what you heard - they despise Spaniards and Spanish or many do so forget the Spanish. Are the languages that similar? Don't know but few Portuguese speak Spanish I'd hazard. English always spoken somewhat for folks you'll have to deal with.
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Jun 23rd, 2018, 10:47 AM
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As far as speaking Spanish in Portugal, we were advised to use English. We met some Cuban-Americans who told us they had stopped using Spanish as the Portugese do not look favorably on Spain, for good reason.
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Jun 23rd, 2018, 05:47 PM
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Don't Try Spanish in Portugal

Would advise not to use any Spanish in Portugal even in jest. We were admonished strongly when we did. Also watch for pickpockets on the tram to Belem.
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Jun 23rd, 2018, 09:47 PM
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Sounds like you'll be fine, pichuita. The hills are indeed much like in SF, but in many parts of town there is one after another hill or staircase. There's a reason they have those elevators!

As to the Portuguese aversion to Spanish - much like the urban myth about rude Parisian waiters, mostly overblown artifact. Portuguese speakers understand Spanish speakers much better than vice versa. They may not particularly like Spaniards, but they recognize that many nationalities other than Spanish speak a version of the language, plus as they grow their tourism business they key in on being helpful rather than taking nationalistic umbrage. Given a choice, many will prefer English - and will say so - but the days of Spanish engendering hateful stares are gone, at least in cities. I would not count on getting by with Spanish, and would try English first, but if all else fails you can try <<No falo Portuguese, falo Espanol o Ingles>> where the s is pronounced "sh" and see what response you get.
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Jun 24th, 2018, 04:19 AM
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Skip Coimbra and use it to go to Obidos. We are in Coimbra right now. Itís dead and the university isnít a reason to stop here. I wish I had skipped it.
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Jun 24th, 2018, 07:23 AM
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Very surprised to read that about Coimbra. I would advise stopping there instead of making it a day trip. Besides the town itself the Roman ruins at Conimbriga are worth seeing. Obdios is an overly cute tourist trap.

Do not skip Belem, the monastery is magnificent.

I also recommend the port caves in Vila Nova de Gaia while you are in Porto. If you only visit one make it Taylor Fladgate (and maybe eat in their restaurant): https://www.taylor.pt/us/visit-taylo...e/port-cellars
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Jun 25th, 2018, 12:47 PM
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I did short stop in Coimbra en route to Porto by train and was great - the university courtyard and library are IMO awesome - not sure about rest of town. Also liked Obidos but was there in October so no huge crowds.
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Jun 25th, 2018, 09:36 PM
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Interested to hear any one else's experience with Coimbra - on recent Porto visit a newly met friend said he found it to be pretty much a brief stop, not worth a whole day. Others differ?
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