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October Itinerary advice 10/5-10/20

Hello,
I am flying into Lisbon and traveling by myself. (I am fully vaccinated) and planning on only booking refundable accomadation. I usually booked trains in advance but not knowig the Covid situation was going to wait until mid Sept at least - if I should book any route in advance please advise.
I planned on taking the train up to Porto and working my way back to Lisbon with stops and day trips along the way using trains and buses.
Here is what I was maybe thnking, but would appreciate any advice!
10/6 Land in Lisbon, train to Porto, stay in Porto
10/7 explore Porto
10/8 Porto
10/9 day trip to Braga
10/10 train to Aviero
10/11 Coimbra stay the night there maybe 2nd day teip to Bussaco forest?
10/12 train to Lisbon
10/13 day trip to Evora
10/14 day trip to Obidos
10/15 sintra - maybe stay one night or day trip
10/16 Sintra/Lisbon
10/17 Lisbon
10/18 Marvao day trip?
10/19 Lisbon
10/20 fly home
Any good hotel/airbnb suggestions for 1 person are appreciated as well.
Thanks for your help!

Posted by
4888 posts

Good plan, however, you are not exploring the Douro River Valley, which is amazing. We did a week long river cruise. If you don't do that, consider taking the train up the river and visit places like Pinhao and Peso da Regua.

Also, for a wonderful place to stay in Porto, the InPatio Guesthouse is a five room B&B that is fantastic. In a great location, great breakfasts and helpful owners.

Posted by
169 posts

Great plan! We are hoping to get over in late Sept. Have not been to Portugal but in researching our trip I did a lot of map/travel time/location research.

Unless you are going to take day tours from Lisbon (so others do the transport and give information) you might want to:
on 10/12... Visit Obidos.. It's between Coimbra & Lisbon. (maybe stay the night?). I think you can connect to Obidos through Caldas da Rainha by either train or bus (info from Rome2Rio site).
evening of 12th or early 13th... Continue on train through Lisbon "directly" to Evora and stay the night (or 2). That way you can do the day trip to Marvao from Evora. It's nearby and might save a lot of time backtracking.

Then head to Lisbon and finish your time. Think I'd just park myself in Lisbon and day trip to Sintra - after lots of hotel moves it might feel good to have a home base.

If it were my choice - I might skip Obidos and use the extra day for Lisbon or Coimbra area or a day for Douro exploration.

But - you know best what you like and want to experience and how - each one of us has different wants and expectations.

No matter where you go or what you see - Have a great trip.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you for the suggestions - very much appreciated :). I was only able to get 2 nights at InPatio - any other suggestions for 1-2 nights in Porto! - Must be good since it's already booked up!

Posted by
169 posts

After spending much time checking and rechecking... (InPatio was always booked for dates I needed too) - I booked our 5 nights - 10/18 - 23 in the RS recommended Pao de Acucar Hotel. On booking dot com they have singles from @ $47 (USD)/nt or you could splurge and get a deluxe double w/balcony for @ $115. It is not down by the river - but more city center. I know my DH will have fun with the decorations. You may find a better price by booking direct.

Posted by
252 posts

This is a lot of moving around, even if you are traveling solo. Here are my thoughts based on our current trip.

I’d pick Braga OR Aveiro. Both nice towns, but this plan shortchanged Porto. If you’re a photographer, this is a wonderful city for that hobby.

If you’re going to spend only one day in Evora, get there as early and you can and stay as late as you can. Nice, not many tourists. If you’re interested in cork, or carpets, scenery, or seeing the stars through an amazing telescope (out of town (allow at least 3 hours), Arriolos and Monsaraz) you’d need an extra day.

IMHO, Obidos is a total waste of time. There are a few pretty side streets, but inch for inch it is the most tacky, crowded fake town in all of Portugal. And the food is terrible. It didn’t help that there was a medieval festival in town the day we went, and we spent a couple hours escaping being impaled by 6 year olds with sharp wooden swords. I’d suggest you find a way to add Batalha, Fatima or Alcobaca instead.

Coimbra will require a full, busy day. You can do Sintra easily in a day. Many people like it, but other than the two castles there’s not much to see. I wouldn’t stay overnight. Use that overnight plan to see Belem instead, but buy your ticket online to avoid their ridiculous system of having everyone wait in line to buy tickets from a machine that requires a staff member standing beside it explaining to each person how to use it.

Give Lisbon at least another day. Even if you're just doing the outlined walking tours, you can’t do it any justice in such a short time. We didn’t get to Marvao, but I’d forgo it on a just jam-packed schedule. Make time for the Gulbenkian. An excellent, wide ranging collection and beautiful garden where you can have a little lunch. The in-house cafeteria is not bad.

The Douro is great, but a full day is necessary to do it right. If the scenery isn’t important to you, but learning about Port and production is, the Taylor house in Porto is a good use of time. Take an Uber up there. It’s a tough slog, and not an efficient use of time. In fact, I’d use Uber everywhere. Cheap, fast, and it can be fun if you get a driver with personality.

Of course no one knows what October will bring to the COVID world, but right now, I’m impressed with the serious attention in the form of masks, hand sanitizer and distancing (most of the time at sites, but not on the streets) and their rates show it.

I think you’ll love Portugal. We have found it to be one of the easiest European countries to enjoy a variety of experiences and climates in one place.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you for your detailed reply! I will relook at my itinerary as I normally dont like to have any 1 nighters at a hotel, but haven't had time to look at the train and bus schedules.

Posted by
16 posts

Ok all, you have been so gernerous with your trip advice, I have a couple of additional requests, I am cutting out Obidos to allow for a Day trip and night in Douro Valley - I have seen there are many tours etc- does anyone have any recommendations for a tour co with/without place to stay for the night in Douro Valley? (looking at the 10th) .

I am planning on 6 nights in Lisbon are there any suggestions for accomadation that is convenient for day trips (train/bus stations) or is it better to pick a good lation for the neighborhood and just Uber to transportation?

Thanks again for your help,

Updated itinerary
10/6 Land in Lisbon, train to Porto, stay in Porto
10/7 explore Porto
10/8 Porto
10/9 day trip to Braga
10/10 Douro Valley
10/11 train to Aviero, stay Aviero
10/12 Coimbra stay the night
10/13 Coimbra, stay night, (maybe 2nd day trip to Bussaco forest?)
10/14 Train to Lisbon
10/15 Explore Lisbon - Museum - Gulbenkian
10/16 Sintra/Lisbon
10/17 Lisbon
10/18 Daytrip Evora
10/19 Lisbon, stay at hotel near airport since early flight out.
10/20 fly home

Posted by
6624 posts

A few tips- Visit Guimares instead of Braga.
At least take a week day trip by train or boat up the Douro River
Stay over night in Evora. Obidos is good for a few hours, no more.
Sintra-day trip.
In Lisbon visit both the Tile Museum and the Gulbenkian Museum.

Posted by
10 posts

I saw your note on the trains. I just booked our Lisbon to Porto train about a month out and it was less than 15 euro a person, so I don't think that you need to worry about them getting crazy expensive.

Posted by
16 posts

Oh thank you - may I ask how you determined the time?

I arrive at 8:20 am assuming we are on time but was unsure how long to allow for customs etc and to get to the train station.

I see there is an 11:30 to Porto but the trains after are not direct and would take an additional 2 hours to get there.

Do you have any idea if booking the 11:30 from Apolonia to Campagna would be doable?

Or is there a different train starion you were going out of? I m unable to discern the best route from my Rick steves portugal book and any suggestions would greatly be approectiated :)

I was guessing I need to take a taxi or Uber to the train station from the airport - q on that as well - will my regular Uber app work in Portugal?
Again I am grateuful any information. :)

Posted by
64 posts

When we took the train from Lisbon to Porto last month, we did the route you mentioned. The hard part about taking the train the same day you fly in is the grab bag called Customs/Immigration. When we went last month, we were through in 10 minutes. Other travelers that came through in the following days took a few hours from what we heard.

But you have the right stations for the train. And yes, your Uber app will work just fine in Portugal and rides were inexpensive when we used it.

Posted by
3 posts

Wondering if geovagriffith would share how they traveled on the river cruise in the Douro....company, price, whether you found many choices of companies/prices/etc. Would also love some narrative if you're willing to share why you loved it!

Posted by
10 posts

We're planning to use this experience from Airbnb for a full day Duoro trip (to/from Porto). It gets good reviews and seemed simpler than figuring out our own logistics.
https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/160799?s=67&unique_share_id=60ac04ff-3825-41a9-8a3b-7c3a3d7c1850

And on the train timing, we're spending a few days in Lisbon first before we take the train, so we had flexibility on the booking times. I wonder if you could just book your ticket sameday after you get through customs and have a better idea of what time train you can make?

Posted by
6 posts

We're heading there next week -- also arriving in Lisbon and taking the train up to Porto, then working our way back down. We're also doing the Douro River/Valley winery jaunt, but doing it more "on our own" and with a much smaller budget. (Estimated about $120 for two, lunch included, versus the $150 each for the AirBnB-hosted one, though that does look amazing....)

There's a train from Porto that runs right along the river (departures at 8:20 and 9:20), which get you to Pinhao in 2 hours and 20 minutes. It costs just 11.15E. The return is at 6:14. There are three wineries (quintas) within walking distance of the train station in Pinhao: Quinta de la Rosa, Quinta do Bomfim (Symington the parent), Quinta das Carvalhas (Real Companha Velha the parent) and their tours/tastings run from 12-20E.

The town has some cute restaurants from $ to $$$$. (If you're a foodie, there's a James Beard-nominated celebrity chef with a pop-up at one of them right now, but it doesn't even mention the price, so I suspect it's super spendy!) The marina is also right there, from which you can get either a one- or two-hour boat tour.

They all have websites but vary to the degree it takes email back and forth to book, rather than doing directly online. (In fact, we'd chosen Bomfim based on the reviews, only to have them email us they had no availability on their chosen day. But we WERE able to get in via getyourguide.com. It was 5 more each, but alas.) Getyourguide was a good place to book the boats as well; the company that runs most of those doesn't have direct booking.

We felt a bit safer COVID-wise being on the train; figured we could keep our distance more easily than if packed in a van with strangers. (Though that is admittedly a bummer, as it can be quite a fun way to meet fellow travelers...)

Have read on other blogs that this is a good way to go if you're on a budget!

Good luck on your trip! I'll certainly chime back in if it winds up being a "fail," but I can't imagine it won't be a memorable day!

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you so much for the information and detail - I lean towards the train thing myself so I have more flexibility, and I wouldnt have thought about reservations.
Keep me posted I will love to hear about your time there!

Posted by
1013 posts

You have received some very good advise, but I will add a couple of things. I agree with everything Wanderlust wrote.

The train station you want to use after arrival at the airport is Orient. It’s just 2-3 stops from the airport on the metro or a quite cheap Uber ride. If you catch an Uber at the airport, you have to go upstairs from arrivals. They can’t come to the taxi area. It’s also easy to do a taxi, but go up the escalator to the departure area to catch it. There is usually a very long line at the arrivals area. Santa Apolónia is much further from the airport. And, you can definitely use your Uber app in Portugal but will need to change the location the first time you use it. Mine usually gives me the prompt to do so.

If you can book your train ahead of time, it will be cheaper. The long lines at passport control last month were due to strikes, but I’d plan an hour to be safe, but you should have no problem catching the AP train.

Re:COVID-19 - October 1, most of the restrictions are being lifted. You will still need a mask on public transport and a few other places. But, they are discontinuing the need to show a negative test or Covid certificate for restaurants and hotels.

The first part of October is usually wonderful weather, but be prepared for a bit of rain here and there.