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Drive to Lisbon from Salema or Drive to Sintra from Salema?

We are traveling in both Spain and Portugal in May. We (two couples) fly into Barcelona and fly out of Lisbon. We're spending two days in Salema, then our original plan was to drive to Lisbon where we'll drop our car. This will leave us with only two nights in Lisbon.

The other couple wants to leave Salema early in the morning and drive directly to Sintra (4 hours) where we would spend the afternoon. Then we'd drive to Lisbon and drop the car.

We prefer to drive directly to Lisbon (3.5 hours), drop the car, then take train to Sintra the next day and spend the day in Sintra. Or . . . we skip Sintra. Although, we'd enjoy the sites, we've already seen lots of castles. We're already tired from two weeks of traveling in Spain and Portugal

Thus, the great debate. Leave Salema and drive directly to Lisbon? Or, drive to Sintra?

Posted by
3993 posts

It depends on what you want from your 2 days in Salema - are you going there direct from Barcelona and then heading north?

Salema is OK for a beach resort, but has been in my opinion been rather ruined by the scale of development that has been allowed to happen over the last 6 years, which has doubled the size of the village, so although it is still very pleasant, it is not the "authentic" Portugal that it once was. There is nothing here except the beach, apart from some cliff-top walking, but you could do this anywhere along the Algarve coast.

It depends when in May you are visiting - at the start of the month, the weather may be OK, but it may also still be a little cool for sitting on a beach. Nearby Lagos is bigger and busier and will have more to offer early in the season. There are relatively few restaurants Salema, so their prices are c 30% more expensive than in Lagos. The end of May will certainly be beach weather.

There is plenty to keep you occupied in Lisbon for 2 days. You could always decide when you are there to do a day trip somewhere. I am not sure how the Portuguese road tolls would work with a Spanish registered car, as the system electronically reads your registration plate - you do not feed coins into a pay station, but I am sure that you have sussed this out.

Posted by
1157 posts

Sounds like you are set on Salema. Two nights in Lisbon is really 1.5 days. If you go to Sintra first you will have only 1 day in Lisbon. Sintra is beautiful but 1 day is not enough for Lisbon so I suggest you spend the time in Lisbon and enjoy the city. This is a problem we all face - what to do in our limited time in another country.