We (two couples) spent 3 weeks in Portugal May 14-Jun 4 and had a wonderful trip. We flew SEA/AMS/CDG/OPO, and because AMS is so efficient we even made our connection in less than one hour. I won’t go into too much detail on Porto or Lisbon, because those have been covered by a lot of others. Here is our itinerary:
Porto (daytrip to Coimbra)– 5 nts
Sabrosa (Douro Valley – 15 minutes from Pinhao) – 2 nts
Chaves (NE corner of Portugal) – 2 nts
Ponte de Lima (North of Porto) – 3 nts
Evora – 2 nts
Lisbon (daytrips to Sintra and Cascais)– 7 nts
I was very pleased with the itinerary, although I would move one night from Lisbon to Evora. I should note that we like to travel slow.
Porto – We stayed in an Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/18914284 which was clean and nice. The second bath was tiny and only a half bath, and the living room had a couch that could fit only 3 people, so the 4th person had to sit on a stool.
One week on Solares de Portugal – Gastronomy Tour https://www.solaresdeportugal.pt/en/itineraries/2 (I should mention that they are very slow to respond, but we had plenty of time; if you are in a hurry, you may need to call.) – This type of travel suited us perfectly. The “gastronomy” made me think that the food would be exceptional; it was good, but not exceptional (I would say the meals in Chaves were very good). The solares are basically country manors that have been modified to rent rooms. All our rooms were clean, comfortable, and with a private bath. The properties were all very nice if you like the quiet, vineyard beauty (we did). We met other travelers at each solar from many places (several were on walking tours that they really loved and I will be looking into that for a future trip). Sabrosa – Casa de Vilarinho de S. Romao – The owner was very pleasant and efficient, but not as warm as the other two locations. Before checking in we visited the town of Pinhao, which is very quaint. The next day we visited Lamego where we visited the Santuario do Nosso – beautiful. We also took a one-hour cruise up the Douro – nice scenery, but no one told us what we were seeing. Chaves – Casa de Mata – The owner was super friendly and proud of his solar. The food here was the best and the wine the most interesting. We loved this part of Portugal. It is definitely off the beaten track and we felt as though we were the only tourists around. On the way, we stopped at the Mateus Palace (yes, the one on the label of the wine I used to drink in my younger days when I wanted a step up from Annie Green Springs), which has lovely grounds. The next day we drove to Mirandela, where we had a nice lunch. Ponte de Lima - Paco de Calheiros – The owner is an actual Count, that is warm, interesting and proud. The property is almost 50 acres, and it is spectacular grounds and view. Loved this property. He makes his own vinho verde, that we enjoyed. He joined us for dinner both nights that we ate there. On the way, we stopped at Guimaraes, which is a great town. We visited the coastal town of Viana Do Castelo, which is cute with a pretty church atop a hill, the town of Ponte de Lima, the Parque Nacional de Peneda Geres (not too exciting), Linosa with interesting structures for drying corn, and drove across the Spanish border just to say we were in Spain. We spent quite a bit of time walking the grounds of the manor and sitting on the lovely patio. Overall, it was a relaxing and enjoyable week. Then we drove to Evora via Fatima and Tomar (one of these towns is enough).
(See part 2...)