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Choosing between Coimbra, Evora, or Northeast lithographs

My husband and I are making progress in putting together an itinerary for 11 nights in Portugal. We are planning on arriving in Lisbon and spending 2 nights, going to Sintra and staying 2 nights, spending 2 nights on the coast somewhere between Coimbra and Sintra, and driving around to some of the sights/towns, and 2 nights in Porto.

As you can see, that leaves 2 nights (and their days) open.

Possible choices that interest us:
1. Coimbra
2. Evora
3. Driving East, spending a night in Castelo Rodrigo, see a dusk lithograph tour and then drive up to Pedras Salgadas Park and spend the night in a forest tree house before getting to Porto,
or
4. Shorten one of the original items and include more of these other choices.

Recommendations?

Thanks.

Posted by
5937 posts

First, take a night from Sintra and add it to Lisbon. 3N givesou two days which is barely enough for Lisbon. In fact I would do Sintra as a day teip from Lisbon this giving you 4 N in Lisbon.
Both Evora and Coimbra deserve a visit.

Posted by
17165 posts

I agree with Suki: 2 days Lisbon and 2 days Sintra doesn't seem the best approach to me. Lisbon has a lot to see and is worth more than 1-1/2 days (the first, partial day being sleep-deprived and jet-lagged).

For me, the only thing worse than a series of 2-night stops is a series of 1-night stops. You'll be spending a lot of time checking in and out of hotels.

Posted by
922 posts

By staying only two nights anywhere, you really aren't going to see much and will be spending most of your time traveling and changing hotels. I agree with spending more time in Lisbon and doing a day trip to Sintra. In 11 days, I would try to limit overnights to three places at most.

Evora is lovely but in your limited time, I would skip it in favor of more time in Lisbon and Porto. But, if you can't skip Evora, it can be done as a day trip from Lisbon - and is easy to do on the train. A day trip to the Douro while in Porto is great. The views are spectacular and visiting a winery or two makes it even better.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for your help. We are now thinking of this plan. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

We arrive in Lisbon at 6:00 a.m. Stay in Lisbon 3 nights; next day drive for day trip to Evora, but return to Sintra to sleep for nite 4, instead of Lisbon. We are not super early risers, so I am afraid that we won't have much time in Sintra if we drive the next morning. Sleep in Sintra for nite 5, then drive up coast and stay in one location somewhere on the coast for 3 nights visiting towns including Coimbra. Then go to Porto and spend 3 nights, leaving the next morning.
Better?

Posted by
922 posts

Yes, better. But, doing a day trip from Lisbon to Evora and then driving back to Sintra to spend the night is going to be a very long day! You will either have a very short time in Evora or arrive very late in the evening to Sintra. The distances are deceiving, so plan for 30-60 minutes longer than Via Michelin or whatever you are using to estimate driving times.
And, the traffic in Lisbon during rush hour can be pretty awful!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi,
I am Portuguese, from Sintra, so I admit my advice is biased. First, I agree with others that you are trying to do too much in the time you have. The distances are short, but traffic in Lisbon is legendary and very anxiety-inducing if you are not used to it. Try to avoid driving in Lisbon if you can.

Your choices really depend on what you enjoy doing the most. I personally think that one day in Sintra is not enough. You will get to do the "typical" touristy things there, but much of the charm of this town is in visiting the less travelled sites, like Convento dos Capuchos, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Chalet da Condessa D'Edla. Also, last time I was there (last Spring), one of the locals told me that they are opening more of the grounds of the Palacio da Pena for horseback riding and hiking. So, you could either spend two days in Sintra and do the typical sites on the first (Castelo dos Mouros, Palacio da Pena and Palacio da Vila) and then the less visited sites on the second day, or spend one day there and skip the typical sites in favor of seeing the less visited sites.

For Evora, you need more than one day. It will take several hours to get there and the town and ruins are definitely worth more than a few hours. I agree that going from Evora to Sintra is going to be taxing. I would skip Evora and the third option on your list for at least this visit, and stick to the sites around Lisbon and north. Obidos would be an option, though I find it a bit touristy. It is a quaint walled town that gives you some of the flavor of the old walled villages you would see if you went East or to the Alentejo. Also, not far from Coimbra is Buçaco Palace and gardens, a luxury hotel in the midst of an old growth forest of cork, cypress and oak trees. There are hiking trails and the ruins of a Carmelite monastery accessible from the hotel grounds. To the west of Porto is the town of Aveiro, which is distinguished for its canals and colorful architecture--you can see it in a few hours if you have the time. As the medieval capital of Portugal, Coimbra is definitely worth visiting, and it's on your way north from Lisbon to Porto.

--Marta M

Posted by
312 posts

I say 1 night in Sintra. Couldn't finish everything that I wanted to see and do there. I like the Costa Nova area by Aviero. Evora is a one night stay in my book. A stop at the monoliths by car is the best option.

"Pedras Salgadas Park and spend the night in a forest tree house before getting to Porto" sounds so cool. I am going to check that out.
Have a great adventure!

Posted by
80 posts

I am also Portuguese (from Porto) and I say Sintra is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal... I believe that one day is not enough if you want to fully appreciate this town - there are places you can't miss like Sintra National Palace, Pena National Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, Monserrate Park and Palace and others. It's not by chance that Sintra's cultural landscape is listed by UNESCO as World Heritage.

Lisbon is also beautiful and you should spend at least two to three days exploring it... You can make Lisbon your base for one of these two day tours Évora or the beautiful town of Tomar - the distance is more or less the same and these are also great destinations!

As a possibility, you could visit and stay in Coimbra (even though it's not in the coastline) for three nights and from there go on day tours to Tomar, Batalha, Alcobaça, Piódão or Aveiro - these are all beautiful places and relatively close to Coimbra.

You can explore the beautiful historic centre of Porto in one day (and enjoy the nightlife) and then go on day tours to places like Douro Wine Region, Guimarães and Braga ;)

Enjoy your stay in Portugal!