PORTUGAL: WHAT TO SEE IN 1O DAYS
PORTUGAL ON THE ROAD:
our itinerary step by step from Porto to Lisbon
DAY 1: flight from Milan to Porto in the early morning. Visit to Porto in the afternoon.
DAY 2: departure from Porto by train to visit the medieval town of Guimaraes; in the afternoon visit to Pena hill by cable car.
DAY 3: Porto and pick up the car in the evening.
DAY 4: move to Coimbra with visit to the town.
DAY 5: in the morning departure to visit Aveiro, the “Venice of Portugal”and the crazy coloured striped houses of Costa Nova. Arrival in Tomar in the evening.
DAY 6: monasteries itinerary: Tomar – Batalha – Alcobaca and visit to Nazarè in the evening where we’ll stop for the night.
DAY 7: visit to the chracteristc little town of Obìdos; in the late morning move to Lisbon. In the afternoon trip to Cacillhas to visit the famous Cristo Rei.
DAY 9: departure in the morning by train to Sintra and Cabo da Roca in the late afternoon.
DAY 10: departure in the morning by tram to Belèm; in the afternoon visit to the high districts of Lisbon: Alfama and Mouraria. Dinner in a typical restaurant to see a Fado show.
DAY 11: in the morning tour by tram to make the experience on this typical means of transport and relax in Praca do Comercio. In the late afternoon return back to Milan.
DETAILED POSTS ABOUT EACH PLACE ABOVE MENTIONED ARE SLOWLY COMING
WHAT WE LOVED OF THIS TOUR
WHY CHOOSE THIS DESTINATION
There are several and valid reasons:
- it’s a destination in Europe and not far from Italy (2 hours and half flight);
- low-cost travel (Lisbona is similar to Italy in prices, but in the north part are definetely lower);
- it’s difficult to choose what inlcude in such a tour because the area from porto to Lisbon is full of cultural and religious beauties, mediavel towns, lively seaside places and wild places overlooking the sea. This way it’s easy to combine culture, religiosity, nature and life town in one holiday: according to your tastes, you can choose the most suitable path for you;
- temperatures are generally nice all over the year, so you can decide to travel here out of season avoiding summer hot and the terrible queues you find in the places of greatest interest. Obviously this suggestions are valid for this kind of tour I’m talking about; if you want to go to Algarve, for example, to enjoy sealife, the best period is in summer, above all for the sea temperatures that are rather low as we’re near the ocean.
WHICH IS THE BEST PERIOD
As I’ve just said above, the climate is quite good all over the year: thanks to the ocean currents, you can have a warmer weather on the coast, while in the hinterland is colder. North is generally colder with more rain than the South, sunniest and driest. Winter goes from December to February / March and I don’t say that you can’t find rainy days or strong wind. We were in Portugal from 16 to 26 March and was the coldest travel I’ve ever done, even if local people said that it was never been like that for years: probably this was an exception because of the great quantity of fallen snow in the current year, so that the whole Europe suffered from cold temperatures. I found however not too much rain and always in the right moments, such as during transfers or during the night; that’s all! Rain all over the day we found only once in Lisbon but it was so little that we didn’t even need the umbrella.
AROUND PORTUGAL: WHICH TRANSPORTS
- rent a car for 4 days to move from Porto to Lisbon. I suggest you to take a GPS with you even if driving in Portugal isn’t difficult: highways are straight and sliding, and the places described in this tour are not so far one from each other. The longest distance we’ve driven during these 10 days was from Obidos to Lisbon (84 km – about an hour highway). Many people prefer driving on secondary roads in order not to pay, but sometimes highways help you to spare time bacause faster. Driving in towns like Lisbon and Porto instead, is in my opinion something crazy: be prepared with your GPS to enter the towns, go directly to your hotel and leave the car there for the rest of your stay..
- trains to reach Guimaraes from Porto and Sintra from Lisbon;
- metro, tram and bus to move around Porto and Lisbon: here I’ll explain you the use of Andante Card and Viva Viagem to move around Porto and Lisbon by public transports.
HOW WE ORGANIZED
- We booked immediately the flight, about two months before leaving, directly on Ryanair site to find good prices.
- We booked the rent of the car with Europcar, always before leaving, with dropp-off option: we took the car in Porto and left it in Lisbon. This involves a payment, about 80 Euro, because you leave the car in a different place from where you take it, but if you consider that you would return to Porto loosing time and other petrol, it’s worth in my opinion to take the travel easy, as you wouldn’t save so much. Some suggestions if you rent by Europcar:
**check the contract well before leaving your signature: you shouldn’t have extra costs in addition to the ones you choose;
**the only extra costs you should have are that of the highway and of the telepass (sse cost of the travel at the foot of this post);
**I suggest you not to smoke inside the car: people I personally know had to pay an extra amout of more than 50 Euro to disinfect it;
**check and take a photo to the before leaving; controlla e fai una foto al contachilometri e al quadro benzina prima di partire;
**when you return the car, check in Google Map which gas station is the nearest to the place you’ll leave the car: they could ask you to pay an extra amount. As a precaution preserve the receipt of the gasol sation, if they want to check;
**they block on your credit card the amount of 100 Euro they’ll give you back when you’ll return the car and they’ll see there are no damages.
- We booked before leaving hotel and B&B because we don’t like searching for accomodation once on site, not to lose precious time for excursions and visits. Sometimes only room, sometimes also breakfast. For lunch and dinner we chose at the moment where to go according to our budget.
- WI-FI: here I have to say something! We informed ourselves from Italy to know if our contract would have been right also in Portugal and the answer was affirmative because being part of Europe, roaming is so more necessary. The same thing told us the flight assistants of Ryanair: everything like in Italy as regards internet and the callings. It wasn’t so! Callings consumed all our credit and internet didn’t work at all. I don’t know how you’re organizing you travel, but for us internet was necessary, as we had to drive from Porto to Lisbon! There was nothing to do: we had to search for a Vodafone point in Porto and we had to buy their Sim. It was very convenient: only internet 30 GB for 15 Euro total very well functioning for the whole holiday. Giga was also used to post on Facebook, Instagram and Whatssapp private messages and also Google Map: we didn’t finished them.
- To visit Sintra in a day we contacted a local guide, Frederico, who came with us around Sintra from the little station of the town: he explained us all attractions we could see and suggested us which ones to choose (they’re so many!). At the end of the day we visited Cabo da Roca. Having a local guide it’s a very good solution for those who have just a day, but want to have a general idea about the place without skipping some important steps: in a post dedicated to Sintra, I’ll explain you in details all you have to know. We moved around Sintra by jeep with no other people except our local driver, for the price of 35 Euro per person. The price is honest because the same tour by bee gig costs 200 Euro. Remember to book on time to ensure you the availability: he’ll send you an email with your booking; he doesn’t ask you a deposit but you’ll pay on site after the tour. I’ll leave you his mail and address: nice, kind, honest, he tried to make us happy in every way.
Frederico Almeida Santos +351 914 417 515 e-mail: email@example.com
- As regards the visit to the three monasteries of Batalha, Tomar and Alcobaca we bought a cumulative ticket directly on site; 15 Euro total per person. In every monastery there’s the possibility to buy this kind of ticket, according to the beginning of your tour; we bought it in Tomar and lasts a week, maximum time you can use it. We decided to visit all three monasteries in a day for a matter of time.
PORTO (3 nights) – Casa da Figueiroa
- little apartment at about 5 minutes on foot from the centre;
- the owner is a very kind and helpful person: when arrived he explained us what to do in Porto giving us also a map of the town and some suggestions to spare money;
- our apartment was on the last floor of an old building: essential but modern, tastefully furnished and surrounded by the smell of the wood, predominant construction material. Inside the little room, we had a little kitchenette with all necessary, microwave included. What I appreciated more was the kettle to prepare my hot infusions in the evenings. Bathroom is also minimal but private;
- keys don’t exist: you’ll receive a card with a code to deal;
- it’s near to a mini market a a few steps going out the apartment on your right, and to another bigger one at abot 350 mt. going up the steep road on your left, turning then right when you’ll reach a big square: from here always straight ahead;
- for breakfast you can go out the guesthouse and go along the street on your right: at few metres, at the corner on your left, you’ll find a very good pastry making ;
- it has a garage you can book (12 Euro per night) and it’s just in front of your building: the man left us the keys of the garage saying that if we hadn’t found a car park free outside on the street, we would have used his; in the end we found place outside so we could save money;
- WI-FI super functioning;
- WEAKNESSES: wardrobe doesn’t exist, but there’s only a clothes hanger; the apartment is given super clean but nobody comes the following days to clean the room, except if you pay 20 Euro per stay; there isn’t a reception but our owner gave us all useful addresses in case of need;
- PRICE in 2017: about 73 Euro per night for 2 persons, only overnight stay.
COIMBRA (1 night) – Hotel Tivoli Coimbra
- hotel 4* very close to the centre of Coimbra: wide and always clean room and bathroom; comftortable bed. For breakfast they offer a buffet of sweet and savoury with hot and cold drinks; we ate good;
- people at the reception super kind: they explained us what to see in the town and are present 24h;
- the hotel has a garage that you should pay 8 Euro per night, but we didn’t pay anything: we don’t know why; moreover you can unload the car in front of the reception and then the receptionsit take the car into the garage of the hotel for you. In general I suggest you to book a hotel with garage here in Coimbra beacause you’ll find a lot of reserved places, the town is very small and there are a lot of one way roads and restricted areas;
- WI-FI functioning;
- WEAKNESSES: to make the room warmer there was only one radiator that threw air just in a precise point of the room; the rest was a bit colder, bathroom included; even if it’s a 4* hotel it shows old in furniture and style;
- PRICE in 2017: 85 Euro per night, 2 persons, breakfast included.
TOMAR (1 night) – Thomar Story Guesthouse
- very close to the historical centre: really very nice, small but its furniture are vey modern with particulars designs. Rooms are also small but very clean, with every comfort and private bathrooms. With a little supplement of 6 Euro you can have breakfast: pay attention because breakfast is served at 8,30, in my opinion a bit late if your travel program is full like ours! We preferred going to a bar in centre town in order to be at Convento di Cristo on time (it opens at 9:00 o’clock): you can reach this attraction on foot in 10/15 minutes, going up the hill you’ll find at the end of the main little square;
- going out the guesthouse towards left you’ll meet the main street with shops, bars and restaurants even if they’re not so much;
- WI-FI It didi’t work very well: in the end I used my personal connection;
- WEAKNESSES: the guesthouse dosen’t have a garage, but in the nearby you can leave the car in one of the two car parks beyond the bridge: the person at the reception will explain you how to reach them. Don’t worry for the car because it’s a quiet area. During the night you don’t have a working receptionist until the next morning. In the room there are no wardrobs but I think this isn’t a big problem because Tomar is for me a place for a short stay just to visit the Convent!
- PRICE in 21017: 50 Europer night, 2 persons, without breakfast.
NAZARE’ (1 night) – Hotel Marè
- situated in centre town, very close to the beach and to the restaurants for the evening;
- kind poeple at the reception: we could unload the car in front of the hotel and only after we took the car to the car park;
- clean room and bathroom but everything was a bit old: still curtains in the bathroom and separated beds in which we didn’t sleep so well: this hotel is nothing particular but for a night it could be ok;
- normal breakfast;
- WI-FI good;
- WEAKNESSES: the car park. They told us about a free car park at a few steps from the hotel, but it was along a steep street, so it was difficult for us to carry our luggage with us the day of our departure. The hotel has a private garage for 5 Euro per night, but its position is not better than the one of the free car park. Also as regards Nazarè I suggest you to book an hotel with garage because it’s very difficult to find one, above all in summer!
LISBONA (4 nights) – Hotel Ibis Lisboa Centro Saldanha
- people at the reception very polite and helpful, standing 24 h ;
- you can leave your luggage in a room for free;
- with an extra amount of about 8 Euro, if I remember well, you can have a buffet breakfast; we didn’t use it however;
- rooms are very small, like all Ibis rooms, but super clean, equipped and functional; we also found a lot of power sockets to connect GoPro, smartphones, tablet, etc…
- daily cleaning, they change your towels if you’ll leave them on the floor;
- private garage: 8.50 Euro per day;
- without going to the centre, you can find restaurants in the surroundings but we’ve never tasted them;
- WI-FI perfectly working; in other points of the hotel I don’t know: not tasted;
- WEAKNESSES: the position. It isn’t in the centre of Lisbon but at 10 minutes walking from the metro station (stop Saldanha); from here you can arrive to the centre changing the line:
from Saldanha red line, direction airport
get off to the next stop, Alameda
take then the green line, direction Cais do Sodre
get off in Martin Moniz or Rossio: centre town.
For the return take the green line direction Telheiras exit in Alameda – then red line direction San Sebastiao exit in Alameda – then red line direction San Sebastiao exitin Saldanha. Once you are trained, it’s nothing complicated;
- PRICE in 2017: about 70 Euro per night for two persons without breakfast + 1 Euro tax per person, per night.
WHERE YOU CAN EAT
(only places we tasted)
- Chez Lapin: very characteristic restaurant located in Ribeira. We wanted pasta with seafood and I’ll be sincere: fish was super but pasta wasn’t cooked very well. People say this is a very good restaurant if you want to taste the typical portuguese kitchen. Not so cheap: we spent about 50 Euro for two persons, trying to pay attention to what we ordered. We also went to another restaurant in the area of Rua da Flores where we ate very good at low prices (29 Euro for two persons), but I can’t remember its name, I’m sorry!
- Mercado Beira-Rio: it’s a market where you can eat something simple at a very good price; it’s in Vila Nova de Gaia where are the wine cellars beyound the bridge Luis I. We went there for lunch and ordered a nice soup with a hot filled piadina for a total amount of 15,50 Euro for two persons.
- ZeroGraus: it’s just in the central little square: also here we ate two filled piadinas for lunch, a bier and a coke for 15, 50 Euro for two persons.
- Cafè Luca Restaurante in Praca do Comercio: little local with very kind people; the quality of food was so good that we decided to return also for the dinner. Prices are definitely cheap: 15, 50 lunch for two persons, 23,90 Euro dinner for two persons.
- Padaria Confeitaria Coza Nova: it’s along the famous coloured striped houses. It’s an informal local where we ate simple but tasty filled hot dog + 2 drinks; 15,50 for two pax; People kind and helpful.
- Ristorante La Bella pasta e pizza: it’s along the main street of the town (at that time was the only opened). We ate pasta with seafood and a pizza + drinks for 25,30 Euro, 2 pax: dinner was really good! The day after during our monasteries tour we had a packet lunch, as the day was quite warm to stay out.
- Pensao Restaurante Ribamar: situated along the seafront; inside is made of arches and rather elegant. We ate two big portions of pasta with seafood, drinks and cakes for the total amount of 45 Euro for two pax.
- Ristorante Prima Pasta in Rua da Madalena: I’m sorry beacuase this is an italian restaurant and I know I shouldn’t do it when I’m abroad, but that evening we were so tired that Google Map brought us directly here. It’s in centre town but in a hidden street, so not so easy to find: food like pasta and pizza were so delicious that we returned here twice more, noticing with pleasure that the restaurant was always full even if difficult to find. People are nice and kind and we have always spent not more than 30 Euro for two pax.
- Boteco da Fà in Rua do Vigario: small but super characteristic restaurant in Alfama where we ate typical portuguese food with delicious cakes. Moreover we had the possibility to see a Fado show without spending a fortune: this site is considered in fact Unesco heritage. The owner was very kind and helpful. We spent about 56 Euro for two pax eating two plates of rise and shrimps, drinks and cakes; Fado is already included, you don’t have to pay extra. Click here to have a list of Fado locals in Lisbon, from the cheapest to the most expensive ones. (article from an insider).
- Paco d’Agua in Praca do Comercio: central bar, good for a quick lunch. They offer toasts, hamburger, sweet and salted crèpes and salads. We ate two big toasts with drinks before returning to the airport. Very nice beacuse you can eat outside if the weather is good, but cordiality is not their strong suit, and above all they’re not organized: if you are in hurry, this isn’t your right place!
- Fabrica de Nata: place in the central street “Rua Augusta” where you can taste the famous “Pastel de Nata”. You can see all the process of creation of this typical potruguese cake (a pastry filled with cream, served warm) and you can go upstairs to taste it with calm.
- Casa Portuguesa Pastel de Bachalau: always in the central street “Rua Augusta” where they cook super delicious fried cods. I’m not a lover of fried food, but this one is really not so oily and really spacial in taste: absolutely to try. This local is usually full of people beacuse famous: they have the traditional receipt from 1904, so an historical place!
TOTAL COST OF THE TRAVEL(10 days)
about 1100 Euro per person
- Ryanair flight a/r with priority boarding: about 165 Euro per person;
- hotels and B&B for 10 nights, sometimes included breakfast: about 350 Euro per person;
- lunch, dinner and some breakfast for 10 days in the places above mentioned, where we never spent more than 25 Euro per person. Sometimes in the north we had a very good lunch spending a ridiculous amount; once we had a packet lunch;
- rent a car for 5 days: 65 Euro total
+ Dropp-off : about 84 Euro to pay on site
+ telepass for highways: about 7 Euro total (they ask you if you want this service or not: I suggest you to accept so you can drive every roads without probelms. Ps: along the highways I didn’t see any persons to pay)
+ payment for highways deducted directly on our credit card the next month: about 27 Euro circa;
- medical and luggage insurance and cancallation;
- main attractions in the varoious placees of interest. No museums.
- transport cards Viva Viagem for Lisbona and Andante for Porto;
- some souvenirs.
Portugal on the road has never been nor in my dreams, or in my priorities: I’ve never taken it into consideration but only for my ignorance. After looking some photos and info on the web I’ve slowly changed the idea!
I thought it was an anonymous country but this adjective is completely wrong: on the contray is a country in which you can’t get annoyed because rich of different opporunities.
Our tour was mainly a cultural tour, rich of castles, monasteries but also medieval places, thinking for example to the little towns of Obìdos and Guimaraes. Nevertheless Portugal is also a country that offers you breathtaking and naturalistic views like Serra Penha in Guimaraes, a real green lung, or the wild Cabo da Roca with its rocks overlooking the sea and the panoramic view on Nazarè, where the sea meets endless kilometres of golden sand.
Sometimes it was strange finding the nation into the nation: in Porto you find the red phone booths like in England, the Elevador de Santa Justa reminds me for its style the Eiffel Tower in France, but what surprised me more was finding a piece of California and Brasil at the sanctuary of Cristo Rei: here for a while I could live again the intense emotion I felt in front of the Golden Gate in San Francisco several years ago!
The religious feeling is very strong in Portugal: you can feel it at the “Convento di Cristo” in Tomar, in the several monastries and churches around this stretch of country, and surely also in Fatima but we didn’t visit it.
A country at only 2 hours and half from Italy, that offers so much and which can be discovered without big economical efforts: a destination suitable for everyone because absolutely low cost!
I like everything, except that the most famous and beautiful attractions are not so well maintained: sometimes walls are black and dirty and the green areas inside the monasteries weren’t so clean and polished. It’s clear that they don’t do any restorations and it’s a pity because they have amazing cultural heritages whose entries are not so cheap! They coul ddo much more!
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THE MEANING OF TRAVEL FOR ME
In the last years I follow what Dalai Lama says:” At least once a year go to a place you’ve never been before”.
After years of sufferings and sacrifices, I’ve decided that life is too short and too unpredictable to continue waiting to do what I like and what makes me happy.
I like exploring the world where I live, take photos of it in general but also in its details, film it to hold back those subtle emotions that you could forget over time, and in the end share with you what I’ve seen and felt through my articles.
Travel is for me Love – Freedom – Gratitude
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perfect!! thank you for your time
Thanks to you too 😉