We are planning on meeting friends in Lisbon on July 4th and staying until the 15th. We plan on staying one or two nights in Lisbon on the front and back end of the trip, would like a couple nights of relaxing Beach time somewhere, and a couple nights elsewhere without spending more than 2-3 hours travel between stops. So ideally Lisbon, beach time, and ideally 1 certainly not more than two other places, then a night or two in Lisbon before departing. We're pretty relaxed travelers, we prefer to spend time seeing and absorbing a place more than running around like crazy trying to see everything. My philosophy is that if you try to see everything you end up seeing nothing! What would you good people advise as options?
I've moved this thread to the Portugal section.
I liked Coimbra quite a bit.
If you want beach time fairly close to Lisbon, you might want to do some research on Ericeira, Peniche or, closer to Lisbon (and more crowded), Cascais. Or Tróia and Caparica on the other side of the Tejo.
Cities without beaches to consider would be Evora and Coimbra.
All of these would be with around two hours from Lisbon. If you decide on Coimbra or Evora, I would suggest picking up the car after you arrive at your destination outside of Lisbon. The trains to Evora and Coimbra are less expensive than driving and much less stressful than driving out of the Lisbon area.
Sesimbra is nice - good beach, close to Lisbon
Thank you for the ideas. We do not really plan on renting a car. Is that a mistake? We were able to travel without one in Spain last year with a similar time frame using trains, buses and cabs. Will that not be the case in Portugal?
Regarding renting a car - you can definitely do without one if plan your trip accordingly. Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Évora, Sintra, and Cascais can easily be visited without a car. The other places I mentioned in my earlier answer, not so much.
We love Portugal. Lisbon deserves 3 days. Also, Sintra, Obidos on you way to Porto. The Douro Valley is fantastic. Spend a couple of days there and then do a cruise on the Douro. The valley is special.
Not sure where you are from, but if you are from North America, the beaches in Florida or the Caribbean are better than any in Europe, including Portugal.