|Subject: Re: Portugal in September/October|
I spent one month in Portugal back in 1998.That was the last
(for the moment)of three vacations in that beautiful
I think you have an adequately long time to get more than a
glimpse of the main aspects of portuguese life and culture,
so that you can fall in love, after quite a number of other
travellers, with the country.
My remarks on your itineraries:
Although Lisbon is a gem of a town, as also is Porto, in my
opinion you're giving this two cities too many days ( 10 out
of 33). Real old Portugal is in small towns. Since you're
planning to go north I would stretch your itinerary a bit
farther north to include the Minho region.
My idea would be : arriving in Lisbon head immediately north
to the Fatima area. One night in this area is really very
tight; I would stop here for 3 to 4 nights taking it easy
just to recover from your flight and visiting, perhaps by
bus, at least Tomar, Batalha, Caldas da Rainha and
Alcobaça(and Fatima for reasons of faith, not for
sightseeing).Two nights in Porto are adequate to catch the
peculiar atmosphere of the town, but you can stay more if
you daytrip to the Douro valley, Lamego, etc.
After that you can rent a car and drive north to visit at
least Guimaraes, Braga, Barcelos, Viana do Castelo and
possibly pushing up to the northern border region especially
the upper Lima valley with the villages of Lindoso and
Soajo as farthest points. This could take you 5 nights. By
the way, food and wine are terrific in Minho.
Then drive south stopping for 2-3 nights in the area
immediately north of Coimbra ( Aveiro and especially Costa
Nova on the seaside, and Mealhada, Luso, Buçaco forest in
the interior). Next stop, the coastal area northwest of
Lisbon: from Nazarè, via a quick visit to Obidos ( nice but
hypertouristy) to Azenhas do Mar, Sintra( touristy, but
astonishingly beautiful), playa do Guincho, Cascais and
Estoril. Count 3 nights in this coastal area.
Leave the car in Lisbon,Visit the capital city for 3 days/4
Take a train ( alas, I don't know anything about trains in
Portugal or elsewhere, I myself would keep the car even in
Lisbon and beyond; if you drove in Italy tou can drive in
Portugal) to Algarve where you can spend a quiet week and
still have 2- 3 nights to be devoted, before returning to
Lisbon, to the fantastic region of Alentejo ( to me it's
much more interesting than Algarve, where the really nice
sight are the cliffs but they've built a whole lot of real
estate around them and some places like Albufeira are now a
perfect paradise for 7-days inclusive tour vacationers from
northern Europe). In Alentejo you can stay in classic and
fully satisfying Evora and enjoy the elegant and relaxed
atmosphere of town and the beautiful surroundings ( for
instance there are great prehistoric sites if you care for
this kind of things). Chances are that the climate will
still be a sort of late summer in mid November down in
Alentejo, which is the dryest and hottest part of the
country ( and to me maybe the best, even if I was there in
the 41°Celsius of mid-August). This stop in Alentejo will
surely be enough mouth-watering to have you planning a more
complete visit next year.
Let me know of your impressions, and if you need hints on
accomodation and restaurants, please feel free to ask. Don't
forget to consult the Zine archive first, anyway.
Have a nice trip planning and a nice vacation!
Leonardo Besana in Brianza, Italy