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Portugal in October, mostly Lisbon and Porto

Hi

After much juggling of schedules and discussions with the Finance Committee, we are planning a trip to Portugal from October 1-15, 2016. We have 13 nights in Portugal (1 in London) and our tickets are booked roundtrip to Lisbon, most economical flight times and cost. My guidebook is on order and hopefully it will arrive next week. I am starting to work on a draft itinerary while waiting for it.

Our plan is to spend most of our time in Lisbon and Porto with daytrips from these cities. We also want to visit a smaller town to give us a break from the cities (similar to our enjoyable Tuscany break between our time in Florence and Rome). We are seeking your input on our initial thoughts:

  1. Arrive LIS at 11:05 and take the 14:09 train to Porto for 4-5 nights (day trip on Douro), Coimbra(or other) for 3-4 nights, and end with 5 nights in Lisbon.
  2. Similar to above but rent a car in Porto and spend the time in the Douro Valley, not sure of towns yet. Return car in Porto or Lisbon?
  3. Arrive LIS, rent a car and head to Evora or Coimbra (or other) 3 nights, Porto 5 nights, Lisbon 5 nights. Perhaps we should rearrange this by heading to Porto first and rent a car upon leaving.

Thanks for any advice you can provide.

David

Posted by
4151 posts

David,
I have been to Portugal twice, once in August and the other time in May. I expect October would be similar to May, perhaps a bit more chilly. Still, it would be nice.

We find the people in Portugal to be especially friendly. Even more so than the Spanish, and the Spanish are friendly.

There is much to see in and around Lisbon, Evora, Sintra, Obidos and Batila. Haven't been to Coimbra, but we loved Porto and the Douro River valley. We did a river cruise for a week and it was wonderful.

You can visit the valley by train, car or boat.

Here is my review of the trip.
http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=535267

In Porto, I highly recommend the InPatio Guesthouse. It is a B&B in a perfect location. It is simply the best B&B that we have encountered.

Posted by
916 posts

Any of your plans will definitely work, it really depends on your interests. Renting a car right off the the plane might be dicey unless you are one of those lucky souls who actually can sleep on a plane.

You can easily take the train from Lisbon to either Porto, Coimbra, or Evora. And you can take day trips into the Douro without a car - either by train or tour group. We did a small group tour into the Douro and really enjoyed it - then rented a car after we left Porto and turned it in before we arrived in Lisbon.

I really enjoyed my three days in Evora but have only done a day trip to Coimbra. If you stay in Coimbra you could visit either Alcobaca or Batalha, both of which are lovely. But, Evora has lots of megalithic sites which are fascinating, as well as lots of wineries to visit. The Alentejo is the biggest wine producing region, if you prefer wine to Port.

I would suggest you read your guide book to see which smaller town most interests you. Either are lovely. The weather should be great the first two weeks of October..

Posted by
312 posts

Hi David,
I have gone to Portugal three times and have truly loved each visit.

Here is my suggestion.
3 full days in Lisbon ( one of these days for a day Belem )
1 full day in Sintra (from Lisbon)
1 day in Cascais and Estroil (easy from Lisbon) beachy, fishing villages.

Train to Coimbra for 2 days
Train to Porto for 3 days
1 day tour of Douro Valley
1 day visit to Aviero. Train from Porto. Cute town, go to the beach area for cute striped houses nice surrounding.

Now if you are renting you can add a few places, like Evora and Obidos. Possibly go to Braga.
I haven't gone to Braga yet, but its on my wish list for next time.

I think once you have your guidebook, you'll feel better with you planning.
Have a terrific Adventure!
-Olga

Posted by
104 posts

Hi again:

We have AirBnB apartments booked in Porto (2 Oct - 6 Oct) and Lisbon (10 Oct - 15 Oct). Now we need to fill in the middle four days/nights. While in Porto we plan to visit Braga and Guimarães as day trips. We will visit Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon.

After Porto the plan is to spend a night or two in the Douro Valley. The towns or routes are not yet chosen. We may rent a car for this portion of the trip. After Douro we are considering Coimbra. We need suggestions for the Douro and Coimbra portion of our vacation if you can help. Coimbra is not yet finalized and we are open to other options.

Thanks,

David

Posted by
80 posts

Hi David,

We had a car during our Portugal trip, we left Porto (quick trip to Guimaraes) and drove up the 'north' side of the Douro river and back the 'south' side. We crossed at Pinhao. The views were amazing, and there were many wineries (quintas) along the way to stop- some had tastings, some were full restaurants or inns (overnight stays). The driving is much slower than you would think, due to the very twisty roads (and the stops you'll want to make). We spent a day, and wished we had spent another day- maybe consider an overnight along the way?

Coimbra is delightful, we spent 2 days/nights there (on the way to Porto). The university area is gorgeous (wow- library!!)- it's a super hilly city, but certainly walkable, with good food, cheap beer, nice shopping/wandering on pedestrian-only streets. The university students wear gowns- we were told that the gowns were an inspiration for JK Rowling- can't verify the veracity of that statement. You'll have a great trip.

Robert in Montreal

Posted by
104 posts

Olá Robert!

We are planning to rent a car and spend at least one night in Pinhão before returning the car and spending two nights in Coimbra. We still have one night to account for. I would like to stay a second night in Pinhão if there is enough to do. I think we could tour places from there without changing hotels (We are planning to stay at Hotel Douro). Another option would be to stay in a different town - Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Lamego, or other location? Suggestions are welcome.

Obrigado,

David