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8 nights Middle/north Portugal

late May, 2017...Fly into Porto via Lisbon from Boston--I'd like to save Lisbon for last and so might as well start with Porto and work my way down to Lisbon instead of vice versa, then fly home for Lisbon. 3 nights Porto, one night Obidos, one night Coimbra, and 3 nights Lisbon--with a day trip to Sintra from there.
Or--2 nights on Porto, then 4 nights in Lisbon? I'm leaning toward this. We're not wine drinkers and I hear so much nice about Lisbon, and with a day trip to Sintra, that would leave more time to relax in Lisbon at end of trip.

how best to get around? Train or rent a car?
Thanks!

Posted by
16996 posts

I'm confused. Where did Night 7 and Night 8 go?

I wonder whether it would be possible to see Coimbra in transit. I found this information on a website that was updated recently:

"Luggage storage - there is none at the railway or bus stations but new information offers this : CASA MEDIEVAL- Coimbra Welcome Center, located in "Rua do Sargento Mor, Casa Medieval nº4" and it's near the historical centre of the city. Price examples : morning/afternoon (10am to 2pm/ 2pm to 6pm) it's 5€, full day it's 8€."

Obidos will not be ideal as a day-trip from Lisbon via public transportation since it's apparently about a four-hour round-trip by bus and slower by train. This might be a place to look into a one-day bus tour. I suspect you'd find one that would include at least one other town since Obidos is quite small. Although a car might be helpful for Obidos, by the time you deal with picking it up and returning it, I can't see that you'd gain any time.

Posted by
1878 posts

I would check the train an bus connections to answer the transportation questions. Rick's book would also have great information about this. We rented a car on our 2008 trip, but we also included a lot of places more out of the way like Nazare, Tomar, Evora (on a different train line from the north/south), and even made it to Alcobaqa and Marvao. One night stays are tough, I try to avoid them. Definitely finish in Lisbon, and yes I would give it four days, especially if you are going to include a day trip to Sintra. The Gulbenkian Museum and Belem are highlights, and don't forget to ride the scenic trams! Sintra, it would be so great to stay overnight as we did. It really is a magical place. Our highlights for Portugal were Lisbon, Sintra, Nazare, Obidos (day trip from Nazare), would fill eight days. Second tier highlights Porto, Evora, Coimbra. There were no lowlights, none! Lisbon is one of the most underrated cities that I have visited in Europe, and I've been to plenty. Portugal, once of the most underrated countries. Spend a little more for hotels as the standards are a little lower there that most countries in Europe. We were there in September and the weather was sublime, like southern California. The golden light at Nazare on the beach at sunset was absolute magic. You are making me wish I had gone back to Portugal instead of Italy on my recent solo trip!

Posted by
19 posts

Now I'm confused--8 nights plainly stated. And we will be traveling from Porto to Lisbon so Coimbra not out of the way

Posted by
16996 posts

It's this that's confusing me:

"Or--2 nights on Porto, then 4 nights in Lisbon?"

I know Coimbra is on the way to Lisbon; I just meant that you wouldn't want to tour the city carrying your luggage, so you'd need to have a place to store it.

Posted by
4022 posts

Nazare was once a pretty fishing village but is now much bigger and has lost its character. It's OK for a 2 hour visit, but there are much nicer places to stay. The ladies there as a tourist trap wear the old, traditional skirts.

I would stick with 3 nights in Porto and 3 in Lisbon. As an alternative to Coimbra, consider the gorgeous town of Evora. A car is a disadvantage in Lisbon, but would be useful if you want to undertake more touring, as public transport is more limited when travelling to smaller towns and villages.

Posted by
409 posts

I would rent a car and start with 2 days/nights in Porto. Drive the Douro Valley on day 2, which is in the book. I parked at a parking garage while in Porto which was very reasonable. Leave for Coimbra and use up a full day there and stay overnight. Parking garage was included in my hotel rate at "Pensao Residencial Domus".
Start early the next day and visit in this order...Fatima, then Batalha, both can be done quickly. Continue to Nazare (drive through the town along the beach) and up to Sitio and have lunch there. Then head down to Obidos...2 hours is ample enough to walk around. There is bakery on the main road in Obidos called Capinha D'Obidos which sells cheap calzones that are amazing!! Buy some then definitely walk on the wall back to the town gate/entrance. You can eat the calzones in the car on the drive to Lisbon. Finish up your long day by dropping the car off at the airport to avoid driving in Lisbon. Metro or taxi to the hotel. The rest of your time is Lisbon AND definitely use a day for Sintra! You could spend weeks in Lisbon and not ever be bored!

Hope this is a optional itinerary for you. Good Luck!

Posted by
19 posts

Well, I see how we would need a car to go to Evora. Is Evora worth 2 nights? We could go 2-3 nights in Porto, 2 in Evora, and 3-4 in Lisbon. I like the idea of dropping off the car in Lisbon airport before going into the town.

Posted by
16996 posts

Actually, I don't think a rental car would save you any time if you're just driving Porto-Evora and then Evora-Lisbon. The train might be a bit slower from Porto but will be faster on the leg to Lisbon. And that doesn't take into account the time you spend renting and returning the car. Check on the location of the Porto and Lisbon train stations used for service to Evora though, because both cities have more than one station.

Trains are not frequent, so you might not find a departure that fits your preferred schedule. You can check schedules and fares on the Combios de Portugal website.

Posted by
19 posts

Yes, but train from Porto to Evora goes through Lisbon and that seems like a long way--if we drive we could take the A13 and see some other scenery. well, I guess we need to decide which town(s) to visit first then figure out transport, instead of vice versa. Porto and Lisbon, a day cruise out of Porto, Sintra from Lisbon. Is it even worthwhile to go elsewhere?

Posted by
80 posts

Hi blue hen,

Your final itinerary looks fine; I think it would be a terrific trip if Lisbon & Porto were your main (only) stops. Don't dismiss Coimbra, especially in favor of Evora- both places are great, but Coimbra is certainly more 'on the way', and would involve less travel. We had a car, so I can't really speak to the public transport part. Best of luck.

Robert in Montreal

Posted by
1878 posts

My wife and I visited Nazare for two nights in September 2008, so it's been a while, but I thought it was a very charming town. The charm does not jump out at you immediately, but the location right on the beach is really something. The light was an incredible golden yellow around sunset, and sunset on the beach was an amazing memory that has stayed with me. In the winter, I think it is, surfers go there because the big waves are legendary, but for our visit the waves were calm. I just thought it was an unpretentious beach town not overrun by tourists, and on the way on the route from Porto to Lisbon/Sintra. I did not necessarily need to go to a beach town on this trip (live near the California coast), but since Rick was a fan of Nazare I thought it made sense as a base for a day trip to Obidos. Algarve was not tempting to me based upon Rick's description. I was glad we did it this way because Obidos was very sleepy even during the day, and would have been even more so after the day trippers left. We were just a week or two after the high season in Nazare, and drove into town without a reservation. With no reservation we scored a room for 30 Euros a night that was listed at 89 Euros in Rick's book. At night we could hear the waves lapping on the beach from our room. This was in a hotel, not one of the local people renting rooms.

Posted by
19 posts

Well, I think I've decided--more or less! Ease of travel and relaxing is important to us so I want to minimize sleep stops. I figure we'll fly into Porto, stay there for 3 nights, maybe do a Duoro river cruise for a day, then take the train to Lisbon and day trip from there by train to Evora (1 3/4 hours) and Sintra. Maybe 4-5 nights in Lisbon, and fly home from there.
The alternative would be to stay in Coimbra for a night on the way to Lisbon and one night less in Lisbon. But that would mean no day trip to Evora.
So I guess I'm leaning toward just hotel in Porto and Lisbon, and from Lisbon day trips to Evora and Sintra.