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Initial Portugal itinerary help

Hi! This will be our first trip to Portugal and we want to relax and not rush. For example, we went to Italy last year and did 3 nights in Venice, 2 in Cinque Terra, and 3 in Florence. That was relaxed, and left more Italy to do later. We like to eat, and walk in interesting cities. Not into a lot of day trips which take us from, say, our time in Lisbon and Porto.

So we can fly into Lisbon and out of Porto. I have my sights possibly on Aviero, SIntra,and Obides (Guimaraes?) I'd like to spend 3 nights in Lisbon to start. WE DO NOT have to see all the north, and not all of the above cities.
I guess the first question is whether we drive or not. Aviero looks fun. Which of the cities above, other than Lisbon and Porto, are must sees? Beautiful cities where we could spend a night between Lisbon and Porto?

Should we, for example, spend 3-4 nights in Lisbon, then stop for a night in Obides and another in Aviero the on to Porto? Is it easy to do this in trains or do we need to rent a car? How much of a hassle is that--driving, parking, etc? Or should we spend an extra night in Lisbon and do Sintra and/or Obiedes as day trips? We have never done organized tours but is that the way to do the day trips? Thanks!

Posted by
16826 posts

How many nights do you have in Portugal, and what time of year are you going?

The Deutsche Bahn website is good for checking train schedules. It's always a good idea in Portugal to check the bus options as well. For that, start with Rome2Rio.com and follow the links to individual bus websites if the bus seems faster than the train.

Sintra is a pretty easy day-trip from Lisbon, and that's how I'd handle it if I had limited time in the country. Changing hotels is rather time-consuming.

Watch your spelling when checking transportation schedules. It's Obidos and Aveiro.

Between Lisbon and Porto (which is about 3 hours by car or rail) I think Coimbra is the most common stopover, but there are many interesting cities you could see if you opted for a car. I think this or a similar question came up quite recently, and a number of posters had specific suggestions. Check the forum for posts over the last month and see what you can find.

Posted by
19 posts

We'll probably stay for 8 nights. Is it easy to drive outside of Lisbon? Should we just plan on renting a car when we leave Lisbon?

Posted by
271 posts

Portugal is easy to drive in, but if I had only 8 nights and liked cities, I might consider just doing Lisbon and Porto and catching the train between the two. Because it probably will be a bit of a hassle picking up and dropping off the car. We stayed 4 nights in Lisbon and actually 2 nights in Sintra, which we quite enjoyed, there is a lot to see there and it has a very different feel. We ate in Sao Pedro when we were there which is a town about a mile or two from Sintra.

Lisbon is a great town for walking and eating, with lots of hills. We found a few nice viewpoints to sit and enjoy a drink at.

Posted by
19 posts

OK, that helps. So maybe Lisbon and Porto, and one city for a night on the way via train just to add a little something extra. And if we want to do a day trip from Lisbon or Porto we have that option. How about a night in Aveiro? It looks interesting. Or Obidos? Which of these would you choose for an overnight? Or a night in each on the way to Porto from Lisbon via train?

Posted by
271 posts

We didn't do Porto or Aveiro when we went. We had longer but stayed to the south half of Portugal. Obidos is very pretty, can also be very crowded in daytime. We did as our last overnight, but we had a car. I'm not sure a train goes to Obidos. I don't think the train system is as reliable as Italy, people tend to recommend buses more. But I do know there is a fairly fast train from Lisbon to Porto and I think to Coimbra. You might want to consider a stop in Coimbra.
One town we loved was Evora, but it is a little out of the way for then getting to Porto.

The other thing I'd mention is to plan ahead a bit for your restaurants. We were lucky enough to have several good ones recommended, they were reasonable and delicious, but the ones in the busier areas ( I think the area is called Baixa) are not that great. Our two favourites were both up near the castle Clara's em Castillo ( need reservations because so small) and Le Petit Cafe

Posted by
16826 posts

Obidos is accessible by either train or bus, both apparently around 2 hours, give or take. I haven't dug deep on the internet, but Rome2Rio.com indicates that buses are more frequent. The train seems to be a local making 23 stops. For what it's worth, the town name is pronounced "OH be doosh".

Posted by
4153 posts

Plan on spending a couple of nights for sure in Porto. It is a wonderful place. Highly recommend the InPatio Guesthouse, the best B&B we have ever found, anywhere.

I suggest at least two days to see Lisbon, take a day trip to Evora. You can take a day trip to Sintra, or catch it in route to Porto, if you rent a car. Not sure how to see it via rail. Obidos is great in route to Porto. Three hours there is good. Battla Cathedral is impressive. There is a fast train from Lisbon to Porto, and reverse.

The highways are good, but parking in Sintra is something to check out if you have a rental car.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks all. At this point, I'm thinking of starting in Porto, spending 2-3 nights there, then rent a car and mosey down coast, one night in Coimbra, one night in Obidos, and 3 nights in Lisbon. And stop in Sintra for an afternoon on the way between Obidos and Lisbon, or just go to Lisbon, turn in car, and take a day trip to Sintra.

Posted by
16826 posts

Research Sintra to see how much you want to see. There are a number of sights there, and you may want more than an afternoon on the way from Obidos to Lisbon.