We will be traveling to Portugal in June for two weeks, with our 2 grade-school children. During this trip we will be interring my father-in-law's ashes in his hometown and introducing our children to their heritage. We want to follow Rick's itinerary pretty closely, but Portugal being Portugal, we need to save two days to be near Santarem in case there is a problem with the ashes and be flexible about a return to the area just in case. So what to cut out? Coimbra is essential due to family history. Geographically it makes sense to skip Salema, Tavira and Evora. Alternatively we could skip Nazare, or we could make Coimbra our northernmost stop and skip Porto and the Douro Valley. It all sounds so gorgeous and full of wonderful sights that I hate to cut any of it. But I am sure that the business with the town & church about the ashes will be more complicated than it should be despite prior planning, so we need those days. Advice?
Portugal being Portugal .... besides your possible problem, we have always found that we end up wanting to spend more time in each town. You don't mention how many days you plan to spend in each area or if you will be driving. Do you have 14 days in Portugal or does the two weeks include travel time? While you are in Santarem do you plan to visit Lisbon? Tower of Belem, Coaches Museum, Jeronimos, and Castelo de Sao Jorge would be fun to see. Also, two weeks is not very much time to visit so many areas and rushing from place to place will be exhausting and tiring for the children. Agree that it would probably be best to skip Salema, Tavira and Evora. We love every area you mentioned but with children Nazare will be fun and there are so many sights close by as Alcobaca, Batalha, and the coast. We loved Coimbra; climbing all those stairs and visiting the University would be great fun for the children, too. From the Douro Valley we visited an archaeological park called Foz Coa. You have to reserve in advance to be taken to sites with 15,000-30,000 year old rock carvings, interesting to adults and children but don't know if there's an age limit. It's about a one hour drive from Pinhao. We stayed at Hotel Douro, great family run small hotel across the street from Rio Douro where you can ride the train along the river or take a boat ride. You might be able to squeeze in Porto. It seems that those three areas are enough for the time you have. So many places, so little time! Have fun planning and enjoy your trip.
It depends on your priorities. With two young kids you might want to go to Nazare as it's main feature is a lovely wide beach. Evora is mostly about history and collloquial architechture with the Roman temple being the highlight. If I had to choose between Salema, Tavira, Evora and doing the Douro/Porto I would recommend the latter. We found them to be a unique and interesting area to visit.
Thanks for the advice! We do plan to spend two days in Lisbon before we get the car and head to Santarem. I'm sure we will have a wonderful visit and will just have to hope we can return in a few years.