Portugal - Day Trips from Porto and Lisbon without a car

Hi All, My husband and I are traveling to Portugal for 9 nights total in early November with 4 in Porto and 5 in Lisbon. We love wine, food, art, architecture, and history and try to balance spending time in a place vs going to a new place every day during our vacations. In Porto - we planned to take a day trip to Douro Valley. Does it make sense to travel on our own to Guimaraes and/or Braga while we are in Porto also or just spend three full days in Porto? Some books and reviews make those towns look interesting but the towns don't even seemed mentioned in Rick Steve's Portugal book.
For Lisbon - we planned to take a trip to Sintra and are having difficulty deciding what else we should do. Is Belem an absolute must do also with 5 nights and basically 5 days in Lisbon? What about Evora either as an independent day trip or an organized tour? I know Rick Steves books mention Coimbra and other places in between Porto and Lisbon as well. With only 9 nights we realize we will not see anywhere near everything but hope we will get back some day. Any suggestions for Lisbon trips are appreciated.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4763 posts

Belem is a short distance from central Lisbon (I'm not even sure if it's a separate city or still within city limits), so it's easy to see on even a short trip. With 5 days, it's a "no brainer." I split my 2002 trip to Portugal as follows, connected with trains: Lisbon 4 nights (saw Belem and Sintra from there), Santarém 2 nights (saw Tomar as a day trip), Coimbra 1 night, and Porto 3 nights. None of these places are big (even Lisbon), so I didn't feel rushed. Porto was a disappointment, as I didn't take day trips and am not interested in port wine; except for the Museo Serralves, I found the city quite underwhelming (with the disclaimer that it has been 11 years). So, I'd highly recommend looking into day trips. The one thing in Lisbon that I missed, but wish I'd seen, is the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon; friends who visited after me raved about it. Do look into a day trip to Santarem; it's only a hour from Lisbon and gets very few visitors. It has great views over the Tagus, a church with absolutely amazing azulejos, and a great vibe.

Posted by Frank
Pineville, NC, USA
35 posts

Belem is just a 20 minutes tram ride from the city center of Lisbon so I agree that it is a no brainer. Lots to see and do there. It filled up one of our days. If you can make it I would not miss Obidos. Very charming town about an hour outside of Lisbon.

Posted by Bill
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
21 posts

From Porto, you can take boat trips up into the Douro Valley - it's quite impressive wine country. But if you don't like port . . .

Posted by Bill
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
21 posts

Oh, from Belem take a ferry ride across to Porto Brandao, and have lunch at one of the restaurants there - fantastic seafood!

Posted by Christy
Laguna Beach, CA, USA
271 posts

agree with others...belem is a no brainer. i think the tram runs there. see the monastery and eat the best custard in town! i recommend evora. i went alone and just took a bus down there and back. i thought it was worth it and would do it again.
take the train to cascais/estoril. pretty 30 min ride right along the coast. i don't think there is a ton to do in either place and may not warrant a full day...could be a 1/2 day trip out of lisbon.