Travelling to Portugal

Hello,

We are a family of 4 travelling to portugal for vacation from Feb 13th to feb 23 2014. I have a 9 years old and 3 years old. This would be my itinerary,

We will be reaching Lisbon 14th late evening, so Feb 15-18th with a day side trip to Sintra. 19th Leave for Evora, spend the night there .20th go to Coimbra and then get back to Lisbon on Feb 22nd in the aftenoon, leave for the US on Feb 23rd morning. Please let me know if this is too aggressive or doable. I will be using the public transport nad plan to rent an appartment in Lisbon. What would be the safest neighbourhoods? I am thinking Baixa or Alfama.

I apologise if this has already been posted and appreciate any replies. this is our first trip to Europe with the little one and am a little nervous

Thanks
SC

Posted by shirley
Toronto, Canada
347 posts

I rented an apartment in the Bairro Alto neighbourhood. Even though it can be a popular place for bar hopping, it was safe. Baixa would be fine too and likely quieter. Both neighbourhoods would be good for using public transit.

Alfama is very hilly and you may have a lot of walking to get to your apartment. And you may not be able to get a taxi to your front door as some of the streets are too narrow. They could get close to it, but maybe not right to it. If travelling with small children, I'm not sure i would pick this location as it might be very taxing for the kids to walk uphill all the time.

We did a day trip to Sintra using the train and then a taxi to the castle and then a bus back from there to the train station. It's quite doable in a day. There is a bit of up hill walking involved.

i think you plan is quite workable. We hired a car and driver to take us from Lisbon to Coimbra and then onto Porto so I can't help you with public transit to Coimbra.

Posted by Stephanie
Columbus, OH, USA
44 posts

I visited Portugal about 8 years ago with my BFF (the year we turned 30). We spent about 12 days there, so a similar time period. I'll describe my itinerary, and then make a suggestion.

We flew into Lisbon, rented a car, and left immediately for the walled city of Obidos. Obidos is about an hour or so north of LIsbon - it's very "touristy" but it's a low-key place with some pretty churches, castles, etc. to look at. We spent 2 nights there, and then left for Douro Valley for 1 night. We then drove to Bussaco Forest for 2 nights, a stop in Evora for the day, then to Marvao for a night, then to the Algarve for 3 nights. We spent the last 4 nights in Lisbon, dropping the car as soon as we hit the airport.

We did a day trip to Coimbra, but I can't remember if it was en route between Obidos and Douro Valley or otherwise. I remember walking around a university and doing a little pottery shopping, but I don't think that we really spent a lot of time in Coimbra or found it to be overwhelmingly interesting. We also went to Nazare, Batalha, and Fatima.

We did a lot of moving on our trip, but the car made it easier/less disruptive - and of course, I didn't have small children with me :-). We also stayed in pousadas, the state-owned old castles or stately homes -- it was beautiful and historic.

In Lisbon, we stayed in the Alfama area, and liked it very much. It was well-located. Baixa is "in the middle of everything" so that may work best for you. We stayed at Albergaria Senhora do Monte, which was a hotel. It had great views, was clean, and had a rooftop bar that was awesome (breakfast was served there, and it was also open late). I absolutely loved Lisbon, and I'm jealous that you're going! I felt like I could have spent more time in Lisbon itself.

I wish that we would have gone to Porto.

Some comments:

  • Why are you interested in going to Evora? It's quite out of the way for a 1 night trip given the other locations that you are visiting. If I recall correctly, it's a few hours from Lisbon - like 2 or 3? The highways are terrific, although I know that you mentioned taking public transport, which I have no experience with aside from the subway in Lisbon. The chapel of the bones was interesting, and the scenery (cork trees) was very pretty as we entered the area, but I can't say that I would have considered it a "don't miss."
  • Could you consider grouping your "Lisbon" stay and Sintra side trip at the back-end of the trip -- it'll reduce the number of times that you're changing hotels for the night? Maybe land in Lisbon and take off immediately for Coimbra, Obidos, or Nazare? I've found that I normally don't mind a brief train ride right after an international flight.
  • If I became the master of your trip, I would skip Evora, and concentrate on the northern section, surrounding Lisbon, Obidos, Coimbra, Nazare, Porto. I also really loved the Algarve (Salema) although you'd end up with the same situation with it being quite a distance from where you're going and I don't know that the weather would be ideal in February.

Good luck -- hope that my comments were helpful.