We will be taking a 11 day/10 night trip to Portugal with our two teenage daughters in July. We plan to rent a car and would like to stay in four places (some may say that's too ambitious, but our girls enjoy moving from place to place). We will spend the last three nights in Lisbon and were thinking about also staying in Evora, Coimbra and Obidos for 2 (3?) nights each. Do these 3 towns seem like a good mix to visit, or does someone have better suggestions? We like old towns with a lot of character and things to see/do in or around town. Would love to visit Duoro Valley, but probably too ambitious. Any suggestions much appreciated. Thanks.
Regarding old towns with a lot of character: Obidos is that, a walled town, but it is very small and really not that much to see and do. You might check into Nazare, a small town with some character, about 30 minutes from Obidos and on a beautiful bay. If you spend 3 nights there you could visit Obidos, Alcobaca, Batalha, Conimbriga (Roman ruins). Not sure of your route but if you fly into Lisbon one route could be: Evora-2 nights; Coimbra-2 nights; Nazare-3 nights; Lisbon-3 nights. Your 2 night stays will give you about 1.5 days in each town. Keep in mind that Portugal is small with lots of sights fairly close together. You can visit one or two towns on your way from one place to another. Check google maps for your driving times. You might be able to take a night from Nazare and add it to Coimbra and spend a day driving up to Porto and the Douro, but it would be a full day of driving. There is really so much to see and do in Portugal that it's hard to pick just these four places, but they are a good mix-all beautiful in different ways, without spending too much time driving, for the time you have to spend there. Have a great trip!
Thanks, Carol, for your reply. We were thinking of spending 2 nights in Evora, 3 in Coimbra, 2 in Obidos and 3 in Lisbon. Depending on how things go, we may do a day trip to the Duoro Valley (Regua and Pinhao) from Coimbra. Does this seem worthwhile, to take a day from Coimbra and drive to the Duoro Valley for the entire day?
After watching Rick Steve's segment on Portugal, I was not very impressed with Nazare, which just looks like a beach town, without the character of a walled city like Obidos, or am I wrong? We were thinking of doing day trips from Obidos, perhaps Peniche and Alcobaca? Any suggestions on towns to stay in other than these 3 would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Nazare/Obidos: You're right that Nazare does not have the character of Obidos. We prefer Nazare but have only visited Obidos as day trips so can't give advice on spending nights there. But if you want character then Obidos might be the place to stay.
Peniche/Alcobaca: Peniche has a beautiful rocky coast and a fort (now a museum) which was used for political prisoners, Alcobaca is a beautiful monastery with lots of history. There's a great pastry shop across the street from the entrance. Seems like a good variety for a day trip.
Coimbra/Douro: You really don't have to decide now. Why not plan out the drive and stops along the way using google maps. You will know about how long the round trip drive will take. Then research what you want to see and do in and around Coimbra. When you're there you can then decide what to do depending on how you feel at that time. We always have more activities planned and then end up either cutting or substituting or even adding something interesting we see along the way.
There are so many different towns to stay in and/or to visit that I hesitate to recommend any; it could just get confusing. We find that the hardest part of planning any trip, no matter how many days we have, is to decide where to stay and what to see. Even when we have 4 weeks we always have to cut places and wish we had more time. We make our hotel reservations through booking.com because most offer free cancellation. You could reserve your hotels and continue to research. Then if you want to change your plans you could do so at no extra cost.
Have fun with your plans!