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Portugal 18 days over Easter 2020

Hi, looking for recommendations for spending 15 days April next year 2020 in Portugal.

We are arriving in Lisbon on Good Friday so not sure how we will go spending time in Lisbon over Easter was thinking of staying 5 nights and spending 2 days doing day trips one to Sintra and another one possibly Cascais or somewhere else.

From there looking for recommendations we will be traveling by train and not hiring cars so have to stick basically to the train route.

Never been to Portugal before so looking forward to it but been reading so much im so confused now. Only definite destinations in Portugal are Lisbon, Porto and Douro Valley but not sure how long at each and where else to go.

Much appreciate any advice :).

Posted by
269 posts

We have been to Portugal twice in April, once we rented a car, the second time we took trains. I have to say I missed a bit of the flexibility we had with the car the second time. It definitely puts some restrictions on your itinerary. You may want to take a look at buses as well to give you more options.

The simplest itinerary with trains will be Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto, and Douro with a combination of train and boat perhaps. I would also put a plug in for Evora, which is accessible by train, but I think you will then have to simply take the train back to Lisbon to go elsewhere. Coimbra is probably worth two nights, Porto perhaps 3 or 4 if you daytrip out to Guimares. You could also consider staying a night or two in Sintra, as there are a lot of sights, and it is a lovely location, ( and more peaceful after the day trippers leave).

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks Lisa for your feedback some good advice.

I think staying in Sintra for 2 nights sounds like a good idea also the other areas you mentioned sound good too.

My only concern is Easter not sure what to expect if we will be limited to what we can do during that time.

Posted by
56 posts

My wife and I made our second visit to Portugal last Easter. We had a great time in Lisbon and the weather was great. Porto, on the other hand, was wet and cold (got caught in a brief hail storm coming back from the port cellars). Our AirBnB host told us that early April is still considered to be Winter by those who live in Porto. Pack accordingly.
BTW, while in Lisbon,be sure and have lunch across the river in Cacilhas. There is a regular water taxi from Cais do Sodre (near the Mercado da Ribeira). Restaurante Faro is right by the ferry landing. While not cheap, it was the best meal we had in Portugal

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you so much for that information, didn't realise the weather in Porto is like winter and will definitely checkout the restaurant in Lisbon you advised.

Great getting info from other people whom have had experienced a country you haven't traveled to before. :)

Posted by
13930 posts

For the best weather info, go to a site like to "past weather" where you can find daily historical data for your cities for any given month for the last 10 years.

Decide whether you are flying open-jaw Lisbon/Porto or round-trip Lisbon, the first would be marginally better, but doing a loop isn't bad, though Easter may complicate things a little. Also how many nights will you have in Portugal? 15 days might be from home, so only 13 in Europe, which is 12 nights.

One of our regular forum members, Kathryn, lives in Cascais and I'm sure she'll be along soon enough to fill you in on what you should know for Easter weekend.

How much time you spend in each place depends on your pace. I'd say Sintra 2N, Lisbon 3-4N, Porto 3N, Douro Valley 2N. You may want more in Lisbon or Porto for day trips. Coimbra is a good overnight on the way north.

Posted by
8 posts

Hi Chani, we actually arrive in Lisbon on the 10th April and leave Lisbon on the 30th April so not including the arrival date and departure date we are actually there for 18 days.

We wont be flying internally only using the train as transport so be starting is Lisbon but will need to return at the end to depart.

Ive been compiling a list of places to visit, so just need to work out which we can do as day trips and which ones we stay for a few nights but this isnt a definite list just a list of places recommended or Ive seen online:

Aveiro, ,
Lagos algrave,

Posted by
485 posts

My only concern is Easter not sure what to expect if we will be limited to what we can do during that time.

I would expect that various venues to be closed not only on Easter, but also Good Friday and some may even be closed until the Tuesday following Easter. My wife and I found that to very true in France and Switzerland in 2017.

Posted by
112 posts

Glad you started this—I’ll follow along. We are arriving April 5 and starting the RS Portugal tour on the 13th. Am interested in closures. I’d also like to find out more about Cascais.

Posted by
915 posts

Regarding Easter weekend. You won’t find much closed that weekend except for some on Sunday. Then, all the restaurants will be open. The palaces should be open. I’m pretty certain most of the big stuff only closes on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The big thing about Easter is the large number is Spaniards visiting. For some reason a lot of Spanish people come to Portugal for their Easter break, as do other Europeans. Schools have Easter break the week before or after Easter. So, the tourist numbers are up. If you haven’t made your accommodation reservations yet, you should likely do that pretty quickly.
Your list of places to see is good, IMO, with the exception of Nazaré and Lagos. Going all the way to the Algarve is not worth the time it takes, especially if you want to get to the other places. I know RS loves Nazaré, but the only reason to go IMO is to see the giant waves when they occur. And, the giant ones usually have gone by April.

Posted by
104 posts

I would suggest Tomar as very worth a stop for a day, or day + night. There are multiple direct trains daily from Lisbon to Tomar, and it is easy to get from Tomar by train to Coimbra, Aveiro, or Porto. For any of these, it is fastest from Tomar with a change in Entroncamento, I believe.

On holiday closings, I was surprised to find my nearest metro station in Lisbon closed in June on Corpus Christi day because that, as well as Easter and Good Friday, is a public as well as religious holiday. However most stations and tourist sites were open. In Porto, many, many places were closed for Sao Joao day. In both cases, my B&B hosts were helpful on what would be open or closed.

Posted by
13930 posts

I'm with Kathryn, I went to Nazare for a few hours and that was the only place I can say I wish I hadn't bothered and didn't enjoy at all. My trip was in May-June this year, 23 days, and I skipped the Algarve, still didn't get to all the places I wanted to, though I did have a car for over a week, mostly for the eastern side of the country.

I have enjoyed many days along the northern California and Oregon coastline. After that, the bits of Atlantic coast I saw in Portugal didn't awe me. I did enjoy walking out to Boca da Inferno while I was in Cascais and watching the sea pounding the cliffs.

Sintra is much better if you don't try to day-trip there from Lisbon. It's worth 2-3 nights. You can day trip to Cascais from Sintra or Lisbon. I went from Sintra because the hotel there was a lot cheaper than in Lisbon :-). I took Uber back at the end of the day and it was not expensive, well worth the price.

Consider doing Evora as a day-trip from Lisbon. It's about 1.5 hours on the train. If you make it an overnight, you have to go back to Lisbon anyway to get a train to Tomar or Coimbra. I used Tomar as a base to visit the beautiful monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaca. I believe there are day tours from Lisbon, but Tomar is a lot closer. There may be tours or bus service from there. If so, you could spend 2 nights in Tomar and see a bit of the old town as well. 2N in Coimbra gives you a full day there, which is enough. I spent a night in Aveiro on the way from Coimbra to Porto (by train) and enjoyed it very much.

I stayed 2N at Quinta de Maroccos in the Douro Valley and absolutely loved it, the place ,the decor, the staff, the dinners, the winery tour and especially their wines. I had a car so I can't tell you how easy it is to get around without one.

Lastly, I'd recommend at least 3N in both Lisbon and Porto, more for day trips.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks everyone for your advice, but can I please have some advice on my itinerary below noting WE only have Train transportation no CAR.

*Already Booked :*

Arrive and stay in Lisbon - 5 nights
Sintra - 3 nights (visiting Cascais one day)

Not Booked Yet But thinking the following:

Tomar - 2 nights
Coimbra - 2 nights
Porto - 3 nights
Douro - 2 nights (also any suggestions on where to stay???)
Aveiro - 2 nights
Lisbon - 1 night
Depart back home next day.

Keeping in mind, Im not a real history person don't mind a bit but not my whole holiday do like more the Portuguese life today and food and scenery.

Any advise is much appreciated, Thanks everyone :) :)

Posted by
1528 posts

we actually arrive in Lisbon on the 10th April and leave Lisbon on the
30th April so not including the arrival date and departure date we are
actually there for 18 days.

So you actually have 20 nights

If your bookings can be changed you might consider going to Sintra first on arrival- put all your Lisbon nights at end, one less hotel change.

Sintra 3
Train to Tomar 2
Train to Coimbra 2
Train to Porto- then go right to Douro- 2 nights or consider just a day trip to Douro- pretty sure you'd have to go thru Porto to get to Douro from Coimbra anyway
Porto 3
Train to Aveiro 2
Train to Lisbon 6- might take 1 night from here and add to Porto. especially if you opt for day trip to Douro- or you could add a day trip to Guimaraes/Braga

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks Christine but I cant change the first two already booked and really don't want too.

The last day is Lisbon was just a chill day before a bit flight home to Australia.

Main concern is spending 2 nights in Tomar and 2 nights in Combria.

Could it be possible to stay in just one and explore both any suggestions im really struggling to put an itinerary together.

We leave in April so need to make final decisions asap.

Also need to book our hotel in Douro which we decided on Casa Do Romezal in Regua.

Posted by
13930 posts

I like the idea of 2N in Regua, wouldn't change that. I would add a night to Porto and take it from Aveiro. One full day in Aveiro and you'll see everything. 3 full days in Porto and you scratch the surface plus there are day tours/trips possible.

Posted by
915 posts

Without a car, you are going to spend a lot of time getting to Tomar, then to Coimbra. I would suggest skipping Tomar and adding nights to Porto - or someplace else. I agree with Chani about Aveiro. Two nights is likely more than you need. If you add nights to Porto, you could do a day tour to Guimarães or Braga.

Posted by
8 posts

thanks Kathryn

So revised itinerary:

Arrive Lisbon 10/4 - 5 nights - definite no change

Sintra 15/4 - 3 nights (vist Cascais whilst in Sintra if time) - definate no change

Coimbra 18/4 - 3 nights (possible do a day tour elsewhere on one day - not sure where yet) or is this too many nights here ?

Douro 21/4 - 2 nights

Porto 23/4 - 6 nights (is this too many nights ???) was thinking of going to Aviera, Guimarães, Braga - 1 day each by train

Lisbon 29/4 - 1 night

30/4 back home

Posted by
915 posts

If you spend three nights in Coimbra, you would have time to go out to Conimbriga - a Roman site outside of town. I don’t know how expensive an Uber or taxi would be. But, especially, if you haven’t seen Roman ruins before, it’s quite impressive. I don’t know about the train from Coimbra to places like Alcobaca and Batalha, but they would also be good.

With six nights in Porto, you could definitely do the day trips you mention. I’m a slow traveler, preferring to spend several nights in one place, so I don’t think your revised itinerary spends too long in one place. But, admittedly, to some people it might be too many. But, please yourself. Have long lunches enjoying the views and savor your experiences. The pace in Portugal is much slower, so you will be experiencing it in the Portuguese style.

Posted by
8 posts

thanks for your input much appreciated, all ready to go now just need to book some tours for day trips.