Portugal accomodations, 2 week trip with no reservations in April

We are going to be in Portugal for two weeks, end of April, and are renting a car. We land in Lisbon and plan on doing a loop up to Porto, then south again towards the Spain border (not going into Spain) as far as Evora, back to Lisbon. We're considering not booking accommodations. Can anyone tell us if we are likely to have any trouble finding openings at that time of year? We're hoping to keep the cost at around $70 a night. We've found lots of places in that price range but wonder if that's only available by booking ahead.
Thanks for your help.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
767 posts

In 2008 we travelled through Portugal in May without reservations and did not have a problem but since then we've been to Portugal twice and have made reservations in advance. We also wonder if it's less expensive to book in advance and really can't tell. It's possible those hotels on booking.com and other such sites cannot offer lower rates but there are also lots of b&bs you can stay in that are not online and may be less expensive. The issue is how much time do you want to spend looking for a place to stay verses the flexibility you have by not having to be in a certain town on a certain day. We decided we'd rather have our hotels reserved in advance and plan our itinerary accordingly. If you travel by the coast on your way to Porto you might stay in Nazare. We can recommend Adega Oceano, which is a family run hotel. You can check it on booking.com and tripadvisor.com. It's right on the sea and while not a luxury hotel they serve breakfast and have a very good restaurant for other meals. If you make it to Porto you might also want to visit Pinhao which is set on the Douro River. We stayed at Hotel Douro which we can highly recommend. http://www.hotel-douro.com/galeria_en.php. You can check them out at tripadvisor.com. From there you can visit some wineries or visit the archaeological site of Foz Coa which has rock drawings from before 10,000BC. Have a great trip!

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

We wander Portugal rather often, usually in the fall or spring, and have not once made a reservation or had trouble finding a place to sleep. You'll probably find that seventy bucks per night gives you a generous average buffer.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3254 posts

Traveled in June 2010 to southern Portugal and had no problem finding rooms without reservations, even beach front. Most were very reasonable, one a little pricey but that was our choice as we could have found something cheaper in the 70 range.

Posted by VS
Palo Alto, CA, United States
687 posts

Hotel standards in Portugal are lower than much of the rest of Western Europe - you can get cheap rooms but the quality may be poor. So I would recommend booking ahead in Lisbon and Porto at a minimum. We did a similar trip in late September 2008. Rick's hotel recommendations were as always great, but I think we paid more in the cities (Porto and Lisbon, closer to $90-100). I see some good deals on Booking.com right now though, so maybe it's cheaper now because of the economy, I don't know. Although you do have to be careful about location, some business class hotels in Lisbon may be a bargain but pretty far from the area of touristic interest. Though on the third hand, the metro is good in Lisbon. The two hotels we chose from another guide book were substandard, though cheap for the towns in question (Tomar and Cascais, two towns not included in Rick's book). We did score a great room within earshot of the lapping waves in Nazare for under $50 by showing up without a reservation (not a private room, this was at a hotel that was 89 Euros per night in Rick's book, but we apparently arrived just after their busy season). You might consider flying open jaw into Porto, then picking up the car there or in Coimbra as we did.