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Mother-daughter Portugal trip/recs?

My mother, who is active and fit, turned 70 this year. She hasn't really ever enjoyed a fun vacation abroad, and so I offered to take her anywhere in the world she wanted to go - she chose Portugal (I've never been). We have one week (e.g., arriving early in the morning on a Saturday and departing the next Saturday, though dates are flexible) and I'm trying to come up with a realistic itinerary for someone who loves food/wine, beautiful scenery, and hopes to get an authentic feel for the country (e.g., fado, tiles) in lieu of tourist attractions. Mostly I'm trying to balance a somewhat relaxed pace with making the most of this trip for her. Lisbon is a definite, though other options to squeeze in include Porto, Sintra, Obidos, Coimbra, and Fatima (she's Catholic). From reading, I'd be inclined to do a few days in Lisbon with an optional day trip to Sintra, perhaps spend a night or two in Coimbra, and go on to Porto to finish, acknowledging that this will be a lot and keep us hopping. I think she's intrigued by Fatima, and this is the 100th anniversary of the apparition, but I get the sense that it's touristy and she may leave disappointed. (Likewise, Obidos nearby sounds lovely but small and perhaps not worth the diversion on limited time.) Any advice? Any and all experience/advice welcome, particularly w.r.t. Fatima/Obidos/Coimbra. Many thanks!

Posted by
5934 posts

In Lisbon visit the Tile Museum and the Monasterio Jeronimos in Belem area. We spent ten days in Lisbon and don't see how you'll see every place you list. You are right about Obidos, cute village, but very touristic. Coimbra is more interesting as, of course, is Porto. Coimbra has the old university with it's incredible library. Porto is on the Douro River, nice waterfront areas, Port houses are across the river. Go to Sintra from Lisbon, easy by train for the day. You have to make some dexisions, limit your trip to two locations with only a week to explore;hard choices in this lovely small country.

Posted by
2359 posts

I'm not Catholic but found our brief visit to Fatima very moving. Yes it gets many tourists and there are the requisite shops, but that is not what you are there for. Wander onto the plaza, see the church, hopefully they will be celebrating mass, have lunch, move on. I think Lisbon with a day trip to Sintra a visit to Fatima and onto Porto. With the time you have I think Obidos, Coimbra, Evora, etc. are out and I say this wishing you had more time and could visit these places.

Posted by
180 posts

I highly recommend going to the Douro Valley. Amazing scenery, just stunning. We stayed in Pinhao at the Vintage House Hotel. My favorite stop on the 12 day tour. At least take a boat tour up the Douro Valley.

For Fatima be prepared for tacky stores and lots of people. Very commercialized and very touristy. Probably my least favorite stop..

Porto is a nice finish.

While in Lisbon check out We Hate Tourism Tours. Lots of great reviews on Trip Advisor. I took them to go to Sintra and the coast and towns in between. Highly recommend and great stops, etc..

Posted by
45 posts

Based on your trip length, I would probably exclude Porto and Obidos. Lots of sights in Lisbon and to really enjoy it I would say - 2 days in Lisbon (traditional Lisbon and modern Lisbon), 1 day in Belem. Sintra is worth at least a day - half day at the Castelo dos Mouros and half day at Pena Palace.

I highly recommend taking your mom to Fatima as this pilgrimage site is special for Catholics. It is only 90 minutes by bus from Sete Rios bus station (accessible from the airport on Aerobus for €4). Most pilgrims are there for the 11am mass and the 11p procession. So if you go between those times it is quite manageable.

The sanctuary is about a half mile walk from the Fatima bus station. There is a modern church (Holy Trinity) where your mom can pray, hear mass, go to confession, sit for Eucharistic adoration, etc. The older church is also lovely.

Finally, I would also recommend a side trip to Nazarre (also by bus) from Fatima. It's a lovely oceanside town with a breathtaking overlook.