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One week in Portugal - After Lisbon, north or south?

One week in Portugal - After Lisbon, north or south?

Old Jul 19, 18, 10:28 pm
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One week in Portugal - After Lisbon, north or south?

We will be in Portugal for one week at the end of September/beginning of October. We will spend five nights in Lisbon and are having difficulty deciding where to head for the remaining three nights - either north to Porto or south to the Algarve region. Maybe even nearby in Sintra.

We are interested in seeing historic, beautiful, and cultural sites and areas (including local festivals or events if there are any then), some museums, experiencing great Portuguese food, a little shopping of local handicrafts, and relaxing to local-watch. We plan to use train, uber, and subway to get around (no car hire).

We plan to stay at Starwood and Marriott properties. Our choices are the Pine Cliffs Hotel (Algarve), Villa Monte Moncarapacho (Algarve), the AC Marriott Porto, the Sheraton Porto, Praia D'El Rey Marriott (an hour north of Lisbon), Penha Longa Resort (Sintra), and Santiago Hotel Cooking and Nature (Santiago do Cacem). I suppose the Conrad Algarve could also be an option.

The resorts look beautiful; yet there is something that is pulling me slightly more towards the perhaps grittier Porto with its medieval district, UNESCO world heritage sites, vineyards, and city life (plus wondering how those resorts would work without a car). However, I am still open.

What are your thoughts on this?

Also, while in Lisbon, we had planned to stay at the Sheraton Lisboa as I had read here on FT that the location is excellent. However, there is the Altis Belem or the thought of staying all the way in Sintra at the Penha Longa Resort during our "Lisbon" time. Is that just silly? We ultimately want to move hotels only once.

Thanks for any advice! It is our first time to Portugal and we are rather excited.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 4:01 am
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I'd say head north - rent a car and do Lisbon to Porto, making stops in Nazaré, Batalha, Óbidos, Coimbra, Aveiro etc. That can be done over one or two days. If you want to do it by public transport - trains are always an option.
Sintra is a nice day trip from Lisbon.
Porto is no longer gritty thanks to tourist euros. Some of the hotels you're considering are far from everything.

Sheraton Lisbon is in a decent location, Altis Belém is also in a great location right on the river. It's also smaller than the Sheraton.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 6:01 am
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Originally Posted by Palal View Post
I'd say head north - rent a car and do Lisbon to Porto, making stops in Nazaré, Batalha, Óbidos, Coimbra, Aveiro etc. That can be done over one or two days. If you want to do it by public transport - trains are always an option.
Sintra is a nice day trip from Lisbon.
Porto is no longer gritty thanks to tourist euros. Some of the hotels you're considering are far from everything.

Sheraton Lisbon is in a decent location, Altis Belém is also in a great location right on the river. It's also smaller than the Sheraton.
There is nothing in the immediate area of the Sheraton, but it's a very quick walk from a subway station on the direct line to the airport. It's also easy to walk/subway to most tourist spots in that section of Lisbon.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 3:44 pm
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Originally Posted by 7Continents View Post
There is nothing in the immediate area of the Sheraton, but it's a very quick walk from a subway station on the direct line to the airport. It's also easy to walk/subway to most tourist spots in that section of Lisbon.
If you're staying at the Sheraton, you may as well take an Uber or a cab to it
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Old Jul 20, 18, 6:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Palal View Post
I'd say head north - rent a car and do Lisbon to Porto, making stops in Nazaré, Batalha, Óbidos, Coimbra, Aveiro etc. That can be done over one or two days. If you want to do it by public transport - trains are always an option.
Sintra is a nice day trip from Lisbon.
Porto is no longer gritty thanks to tourist euros. Some of the hotels you're considering are far from everything.

Sheraton Lisbon is in a decent location, Altis Belém is also in a great location right on the river. It's also smaller than the Sheraton.
I won't say much about choosing north or south, each has much to offer. Just two other thoughts: The OP should not miss Evora, east and not far from Lisbon. And on accommodations, I recommend that he look into staying in a couple of Pousadas. They are generally historic, focus on regional Portuguese cuisine, and quite comfortable if not luxurious.

And if he heads north, a highlight would be a stay at the Bussaco hotel. It's an unforgettable experience in many respects. Details on their website and other sites.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 6:55 pm
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We stayed at the AC Porto in June. The hotel is fine but it's not near much and you'll need to take an Uber/taxi to get to the city center or riverfront.
We loved the Fontecruz in Lisbon. Eclectic decor and convenient location. About a 10 minute walk to the riverfront.
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Old Jul 20, 18, 11:25 pm
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Thanks for all of the responses!

So:

Consider Altis Belem or Fontecruz Lisboa in Lisbon instead of Sheraton or Marriott: Will do. We were thinking of using up some points and the Fontecruz did not offer a rewards points rate, but Altis Belem did, and I will double check to see if Fontecruz opened up.
Stop on the way up to Porto to see and enjoy Nazaré, Batalha, Óbidos, Coimbra, and Aveiro. Consider cutting one night from Lisbon or Porto to stay at the Bussaco hotel: Wow! These all look stunning and charming! Can I get to Bussaco by rail?
Take a day trip to Evora from Lisbon: We can do that. The historic sites look exactly our style.
Drop the AC Porto: Done.
Look into pousadas (which sound absolutely intriguing): we absolutely will. We had never known about these before but they sound exactly like something we would love.

Has anyone stayed at the Intercontinental in Porto?

These are very helpful! Thank you! The help of the FlyerTalk community enhances our travel in so many ways.
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Old Jul 21, 18, 12:17 am
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Originally Posted by sinfonia View Post
Consider Altis Belem or Fontecruz Lisboa in Lisbon instead of Sheraton or Marriott: Will do
When I was in Lisbon in September 2016, I stayed at both the Tivoli Lisboa on Avenida Liberdade, which is not too far from the Fontecruz Lisboa, and the Sheraton Lisboa. While the Tivoli is closer to most tourist attractions, the the hotels are not that far from each other, perhaps a 10 to 15 minutes walk; the Sheraton could not have been more than half an hour's walk from the Praça do Comércio. But then, I love to walk and experience places when I travel, so I rarely take public transportation, taxis or Uber when I am in cities the size of Lisbon.

Originally Posted by sinfonia View Post
Consider cutting one night from Lisbon or Porto to stay at the Bussaco hotel: Wow! These all look stunning and charming! Can I get to Bussaco by rail?
The Mata Nacional do Buçaco was one of my favorite places in Portugal. The setting of the Palace Hotel do Buçaco is nothing short of spectacular. However, we had a rental car and I don't recall seeing any railway stations within a reasonable proximity to the forest. According to this website, there is one 11 km (~6.5 miles) away at Mealhada; there is also one in Pampilhosa do Botão, which is about the same distance away.

Last edited by TWA884; Jul 21, 18 at 11:04 am
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Old Jul 21, 18, 7:32 am
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Originally Posted by sinfonia View Post

Has anyone stayed at the Intercontinental in Porto?
The IC Porto is very nice indeed, and in the centre of the city. But nicer still if you have status with IHG or are willing to buy up to the better rooms. I think there's still no club lounge there, if that's your thing.

As for the rest, international chains might not be the way to go. Portugal has developed in terms of hotel accommodation, and there are a number of quirky places of interest and luxury "boutique" style places which offer a touch of Portugal rather than corporate brand standards. Tripadvisor has pitfalls, but it can be useful in identifying potential stars.

Pousadas, as already mentioned, are generally safe bets. They're not quite as they were, but they still offer the national touches, are often brilliantly located, and carry the security of a significant degree of comfort.
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Old Jul 21, 18, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by sinfonia View Post
Thanks for all of the responses!

Can I get to Bussaco by rail?
To get the most of your journey, on leaving Lisbon you should travel by car. The roads are excellent, and with GPS guidance you will have no problem finding your way (I used to do it with paper maps, using small country roads to see the villages and find hidden treasures). Driving gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace, stop in unexpected places, find typical restaurants along the way, and in general get a much more full experience Portugal and its friendly, welcoming people.
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Old Jul 22, 18, 12:48 am
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Originally Posted by sinfonia View Post
Can I get to Bussaco by rail?
You can get to Coimbra easily and quickly by rail. Coimbra's certainly worth a visit. Getting to Bussaco would probably mean a taxi - i'm guessing the 30km or so would cost EUR30+

Or just pick up a car in Coimbra
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Old Jul 22, 18, 10:37 am
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I did my study abroad semester at Coimbra in 2012, it is a charming college town with quite a bit of history, you should be able to get to Coimbra from Lisbon using public transport quite easily, I did that multiple times when I was there. The train station is ~10km from the town square.

If you do go to Porto certainly try Francesinha, which I believe is originally from Porto and something I remember most about my semester in Portugal.
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Old Jul 27, 18, 4:09 pm
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Thanks for all of the great tips - from car rental (you have convinced us and we will), hotel location and the IHG to Coimbra and Bucaco and francesinha! We are making note of all of these things and all of these will only enhance our trip. Thanks again!
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Old May 5, 19, 12:57 pm
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Just returned from Portugal on May 4. Quick view of our itinerary: Madeira, Lisbon, Porto, Cascais/Estoril. Three nights at Belmond Reid's Palace in Madeira. Very unique place, and the best dinner of the entire trip at William restaurant. Wife loved all the flowers, some are always blooming as it is the island of eternal spring. . Three nights at Hotel O Artista in Lisboa in the Rossio area. Recently opened boutique apartment hotel where you can make breakfast in your room or go to their restaurant. Did a day tour to Evora and agree with earlier poster. Have lunch at Cafe Alentejo there, wife loved the pork cheeks. Took train to Porto and stayed at Intercontinental for 4 nights. Booked the duplex suite, Very nice, great location. Be prepared for a lot of uphill and downhill walking. Also did day tour of Douro valley by car which include a 1 hour boat trip. Train back to Lisbon and then hired car to Intercontinental in Estoril for 4 nights. Nice, but the one in Porto was better, although great ocean view. Easily walk to Cascais. Also day trip to Sintra and Pena Palace. Also arranged other tours here and there. Did not rent a car.
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