a VirtualTourist member from Ohrid
I'm trying to figure out how to spend two weeks in Portugal. Arriving late at night in Lisbon and leaving early in the morning from the same airport, we have 12 full days to see as much as we can. So we would appreciate any suggestion on how to distribute the days around Portugal. From what I have read til now, our plan was to spend 3 days in Lisbon, the rent a car and explore places around Lisbon for 2 more days (for now we have Cascais and Sintra as destinations for 1 day, for the second we need your help :)) while again returning to Lisbon to sleep. On the morning of the 6th day our plan is to head along the coast to Porto, while spending one more night somewhere along the way. Arriving at Porto on the 7th day and spending 2 nights there. Then we have 9,10,11,12th day to return to Lisbon that we really don't have any plan were to go. We were thinking about stopping again to sleep in some town along the way, maybe going to the Algrave region,but...
Any suggestion will be appreciated, no matter if its about the time spent in Lisbon and Porto, or about the stopping points along the way... Thank you!
just to add, we want to spend few days on a different beaches too (maybe spending half day on one beach then going to another, for 3-5 days) not just touring buildings and castles :) please keep that in mind ;)
I'd combine Lisbon and Porto; from both cities, day trips:
- Libon: Cascais, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Evora, then, north to Porto including Batlha, Nazare, Obidos, Coimbra.
Once in Porto: Guimaraes, Braga, barcelos, Vila Real, Viana do Castelo, Aveiro....
Why missing out on visiting the famous Portuguese wineries?
I wouldn't combine Cascais and Sintra, to be honest. Sintra has such a lot to see, and is so lovely, that it really deserves a whole day to itself.
So you might nip out to Cascais, spend a morning or afternoon wandering there (it's a very nice place, imo) before exploring the coastline to the north. There are some cracking sandy, dune-y beaches .....perhaps you might go as far as Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of the European mainland?
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With your two weeks you can see a lot of Portugal especially that you'd have your own transport. It's a small country and distances are fairly short so it's doable to cover a few towns in one day...tho it won't be such a good idea to rush yourselves thru to so many gorgeous little gems of villages along the way.
If your plan is to start out your first week from Lisbon itself, covering the must see places nearby i.e. Cascais, Cabo da Roca, Sintra, the beaches of Costa da Caparica and/or Ericiera, are easily done using the most efficient public transport there are which with negligible cost make renting a car rather unnecessary and even economical. I'd go ahead rent the car then after Lisbon or during your second week stay.
Your second week can be aportioned well enough between the northern part and the farm belt region of Alentejo and even a decent part of the Algarve. Obviously the notable and most historic parts of the north are places like Tomar, Batalha, Alcobaca, Obidos, Coimbra, Porto and beautiful old towns of Guimaraes, Braga, Braganca, Vila Real, Ponte de Lima to name just a few - if you have time. From here you can turn back and head towards the fantastic Roman city of Evora by cutting thru Estremadura. Evora itself deserves a day or two and her surrounding towns ancient and historic as well are not to be missed: Monsaraz, Beja, Vila Vicosa, Estremoz, Elvas, Portalegre, Castelo de Vide and the amazing cloud-touching village of Marvao. And since you mentioned loving to experience the beach too, the coast of Alentejo has some of the country's outstanding coastline starting from near Lisbon the spectacular nature reserve of Arrabida Peninsula, Troia and Sesimbra. Then you have the beaches in Porto Covo, Vila Nova de Milfontes and the most spectacular of them all the isolated craggy outpost tiny village of Zambujeira do Mar. From here it's just a short drive into Algarve continuing along its gorgeous coastline where if you haven't had your fill of beach life surely can now be assuaged with more incredible sandy beaches starting from Aljezur (two of Portugal's best beaches are here - Monte Clerigo and Arrifana. The inland town of Aljezur itself is worth an overnight stay. Driving onwards towards Lagos (a bit more touristy from here til Albufeira), the coast of Sagres and Cabo de Sao Vicente are interesting and full of history. Nearby the fishing village of Salema is quaint and has plentiful of excellent seafood restaurants. If you still got time, make a speed-up drive after Lagos and spend a day in Tavira, another charming little historic town with beautiful beaches all her own.
Hope these would be of help to you. I'd suggests you do further research on these places for better footing. You'll have absolute fun.
Thank you all for your replies!! Now it's time for me to do the research on all these places you've mentioned and make the final plan! Cheers!
A small word of caution if I may.
The original post doesn't say when this trip is going to happen. If it it going to be in July or August then it may be quite difficult to find accommodation in the Algarve region. Those two months are the peak holiday season and all the best / cheapest places to stay will have long gone. It won't be so much of problem at other times.
no worries then, we are traveling at the end of May! We will book our stay in Lisbon and Porto the new few days, and hoping to find other places to stay along the road!
Check www.morethantours.com this is a new company and will keep you away from any tourist trap.
Have a nice time in Portugal!
If your are coming at the end of may, probably you will not have nice weather to enjoy the beach, unless you went to the Algarve region. With luck, you can went to the beach at Cascais zone, or Tróia (Setúbal region) This two zones are protected from the cold wind that blows from northwest. Setúbal is an interesting city to visit, with lots of fresh fish to eat (but a little expensive). The small city of Peniche it's not so beautiful and large, but have lots of fresh fish too and more cheaper than Setúbal. If you visit Peniche, you can catch a boat to the nature reserve of Berlengas Island (got a beach too). Check here: viamar-berlenga.com/uk/horar...
Once in Porto I would recommend a visit to one of the Porto Cellars, to understand some of our wine culture! check here: cavesvinhodoporto.com/eng_ca... I recommend Ferreira, Offley Forrester, Real Companhia Velha, and Sandeman.
You can do a boat or a train trip along the Douro River. Along the river you will identify several different vineyards belonging to the wineries that you'll see at Porto. Check here the routes and differents programs:
You should consider a visit to the Aveiro city. At north Braga, Guimarães and Vila Real are good options too.
I can recomend some small cities at the north of the country, but i think you would not have time for all.
Don't forget to come back for the next year and visit Madeira Island and Porto Santo Island (if you are looking for good beaches and weather, you will find here the top of the top! ;)
Check some fotos on my profile page: flickr.com/photos/ can see lots of Portugal pictures, and i placed some in the Portugal map.
Enjoy. Any question, be my guest :)
As for visiting Sintra upwards of Lisbon (take the quickest and most direct that of Lisboa-Sintra-Lisboa train out of the Rossio station)...do your utmost to make a full day here - there's much to see and a leisurely musings would reward you with ever-memorable visit.
The beaches on the coast of Sintra is worth checking out (Praia das Macas and Praia Grande), since you infer wanting a beach moment, and a quick bus ride from the hills. Once done with your sightseeing, turn back towards the train station from where you can catch a bus to the coast winding down a most gorgeous terrain of pine-clad villages, one being the wine-producing village of Colares (with some brilliant award-winning reds!) which is worth a stop for wine tour and tasting and Colares' upper medieval walled part is a total gem. With the same bus fare/ticket, you need only to continue your journey by hopping onto the next bus which ends up eventually in the rock-perched sea fronting village of Azenhas do Mar. A stunning view and location which is why it's one of Portugal's most photographed place. Before getting up here to Azenhas do Mar, you have the choice of stopping in at either of the beaches I mentioned.
All the info to these and any place in and around Sintra you can further obtain and probably in more details thru a quick visit at the tourist office inside the train station itself. Get a map here and bus schedule. The buses to all towns nearby are parked just a few meters away from the station.