Portugal / Spain: Santiago De Compostela vs. Algarve

We're going to be spending ten days in Portugal in early October, and the itinerary we're planning is this: Fatima, Nazare, Alcoba Coimbra, Porto, Douro Valley Obidos, Lisbon During the gap, would you rather go north to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, or head south to the Algarve? Any other comments on the itinerary would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Bill Nelson

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5764 posts

The question is, what would you prefer? I haven't been to either Santiago or the Algarve, but they certainly seem like apples and oranges. With only 10 days, I personally would just go to the places you've already listed. When I went to Portugal for 10 nights in 2002, I saw Lisbon (4 nights, with a day trip to Sintra), Santarem (2 nights, with a day trip to Tomar), Coimbra (1 night) and Porto (3 nights). I certainly didn't feel the need to add extra places to "fill time." Your trip seems similarly full (not overly so, mind you, but certainly there's not a need to add places, as you'll be on the go as it is). On the other hand, if either the Algarve or Santiago are calling to you, you can see them. If you do this, however, I'd cut something else, as it takes some time to get to either one from the places in Portugal you've listed.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

No contest in my mind. The Old Town of Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its cathedral - housing the remains of St. James - is magnificent. The history is unmatched - it was probably the greatest of all medieval pilgrimage destinations. You'll see pilgrims arriving every day as they finish walking the famous "Camino". If you want to spend the night and splurge, do what we did and stay at the beautiful Hotel Dos Reis Catolicos, supposedly Europe's oldest hotel, right adjacent to the Cathedral. I think Santiago is one of the great destinations in all Europe.

Posted by Martine
Ottawa, Canada
587 posts

Hi Bill, I am not sure if you have 10 days in total, or if you have extra days after the itinerary you mentionned. I was in Portugal this summer, really loved it. I definetely would not go back to the algavre, too out of the way, there are better/or as nice, cheaper and closer beach, like the Silver Coast (Nazare)
If i had 10 days i would spend 4 in Lisbon, 3 on the Silver Coast, you can go to Nazare, Obidos, Caldas da Raina from there all 20 minutes drive and last 3 nights in Porto/Douro. If you would like some recommendations of where i stayed pm me.

Posted by JS
Bay Area
2365 posts

I have not been to Santiago.. but the Algarve was alittle disappointing to me. It has some small coastal villages that are quiet and very local in flavor but a little boring IMO. The big seaside towns are very touristy and packed during peak season w/ loads of UK visitors.So not so Portuguese authentic anymore.
Of your proposed itin Fatima, Nazare, Douro V , Obidos, Lisbon are tops IMO.