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Lisbon to Porto 15 day itinerary advice or comments please.

Hello,
We will be going to Portugal in September this year for 15 days. I've been doing my research (seems the more I do, the more confused I get!). We are not beach people, we like the culture (urban and rural), cuisine and scenery of a country. I've decided not to do the Algarve from my research as it sounds beautiful but is a beach. I don't mind moving some but think it would be better to have some bases and do day trips. We will be renting a car when leaving Lisbon so we can drive to the sights. . Any advice or suggestions on my planned itinerary? Anything would be greatly appreciated.

Days 1 - 5 Lisbon with day trips to Sintra, Cascais on 2 of those days
Day 6 - Evora
Day 7 - Sao Martinho do Porto - day trip to Obidos, Alcobaca & Batalha
Day 8 - Coimbra
Day 9 - 10 - Douro Valley (not sure which town)
Day 11 - 14 Porto with day trips to Guimaraes & Braga.

Day 15 - Fly Home

We could shorten Porto or Douro Valley by a day and add onto Coimbra with a day trip to Tomar, Agueda and/or Aveiro. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
568 posts

I have only been to Lisbon and Sintra, so can comment only on this part of your itinerary.

Is Day 1 the day you arrive in Lisbon? Are you arriving from North America? And what time do you arrive? I don't think you will do a lot of sightseeing on Day 1 if it is your arrival day because of jetlag. So, do you have 5 full days in Lisbon, or 4.5 days, and the half day is your jetlag day? Just be aware that, depending on what you want to see and do in Lisbon, you might not have time for 2 day trips from Lisbon. If you plan on going to Sintra and Cascais on your own, and don't pre-book a tour, then you can decide when you are there if you have the time for 2 day trips. If you only have time for one, I would definitely choose Sintra.

If you like fish and shellfish, I highly recommend Cervejaria Ramiro, recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain. And Bonjardim Restaurant for delicious fried chicken. And the Time Out Market for lunch or dinner. There are many food stalls and small restaurants you can choose from. It's a lot of fun!

Posted by
913 posts

I count three - one night stays - which is way too many for me. If you drive from Evora to São Martinho, you could stop at Obidos on the way but I can’t see having time for both Alcobaça and Batalha. Not to mention, this includes a lot of driving and not much actually seeing several of the places you mention.

I would suggest cutting out São Martinho and staying in Coimbra for another night. You could potentially see either Alcobaça or Batalha but likely not both.

You can also do a day trip to the Douro from Porto rather than staying in the valley - to cut down on hotel moves.

One of the wonderful things about Portugal is the slower pace of life. If you can spend some time having a long lunch, or a glass of wine watching the sunset, you will have more of a feel for the country than rushing from place to place.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you both for the great suggestions.

kmkwoo - Yes, we are arriving from North America (western Canada) and will be jet lagged that first day so will just take it easy. I agree that we should maybe just see Sintra for our day trip. Thanks for the restaraunt and food recommendations - I will definitely try them.

kathryn - I am with you - I really don't like the idea of too many hotel stops so great idea for skipping Sao Martinho and staying Coimbra, I'm changing Day 7 and 8 to Coimbra. I will also change day 9 - 10 to day 9 - 14 in Porto and do day trips to Douro. We're 60 years old (in good health) and that sounds like my idea of a vacation - long lunch, glass of wine and relaxing. Thanks again.

Posted by
13896 posts

I'll be the contrarian (as I often am). While a string of 1-nighters is often/usually a poor decision, when you have a car, it's not at all a bad idea.

Days 1-5. Consider going straight to Sintra for 2 nights. It's as easy to get there from the airport as the center of Lisbon. Take Uber (cheap) or a taxi (not quite as cheap) to and from Sintra. It's much better as an overnight stay. I loved spending a relaxing half day in Cascais.

Day 6 - there are 2 possible "excursions" - cork factory and megaliths. I chose the Corticarte Em Arte cork factory tour and found it very interesting, they also have a shop with a wide selection of quality products at good prices. It's about a 1/2 drive from Evora.
Day 7 - Obidos either early or late. The walled city is small and is often crowded with tours from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. I saw Batalha and Alcobaca on separate days, but you could easily see both in one day with a car. I'd allow about 2 hours for each. That should also give you time for Obidos in the morning if you get an early start. Or maybe stop in Obidos late afternoon on the way from Evora to San Martinho.
Day 8 - The RS walk is very good and the fado performance near the end of the walk was enjoyable and educational.
Days 9-10. I spent 2 nights at Quinta de Maroccos just outside Regua. Wonderful! dinners were great, wine was excellent.
Days 11-14. You do not want to have a car in Porto. Best is to return the car at the airport and take the metro to the city. Guimaraes and Braga are possible as a day trip from Regua, or leave early on your last day and see them before dropping the car.

I liked both Tomar and Aveiro, but my trip was 9 days longer than yours. I think you've chosen well.

Car rental. Take the toll reader option. It is well worth the time (and trouble) saved. I used Europcar and booked the rental 3-4 months in advance. For some reason, I went back a month or so before my trip to check prices and they had dropped considerably. I ended up booking and cancelling several times before I got the best price just a couple weeks ahead. I was planning to schlep out to the airport to save €50, but then the price from Oriente station in town dropped and the price difference was negligible. It was easy to drive out of Lisbon around 11 am. Even in morning rush hour it probably would have been okay, since most of the a.m. traffic is into Lisbon. I brought my own Garmin and had some trouble with routes, ended up comparing it to google maps often. Also pick up a Central Portugal paper map at a TI, it will help as well.