Portugal - 8 days end of March 2023

Old Nov 13th, 2022, 10:49 AM
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Portugal - 8 days end of March 2023

Hiya - I need help with an itinerary for 8-9 days in Portugal (March 17-25, 2023). We are 2 adults and 3 kids (17/14/11). We all love being active and are comfortable outdoors, hiking, and with nature. We enjoy historical sites but tend to shy away from museums. We have never been to Portugal and I am overwhelmed with all there is to do. Was thinking fly into Lisbon and 4n Lisbon (day trip to Sintra), fast train to Porto 2n, Algarve 2n back to Lisbon for flight home. But what about Coimbra and Evora, Obidos? Should we stay in Lisbon 5n and do day trips to those other spots, then 3n in Porto and skip Algarve? Or maybe skip Porto and just focus on the South with Lisbon and Algarve? We realize the water will probably be too cold for swimming but the cliffs, caves, hiking, sightseeing in Algarve look exciting. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 11:08 AM
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I have been to Lisbon and Sintra but not to the other places you mention. Although I haven't been to the Algarve, I would not recommend going there for 2 nights. Based on what I have read about the Algarve on this forum and other places, it's too far away from Lisbon to warrant going there for only 2 nights. I think it might also be very quiet, possibly too quiet, in March.

If you have 8 nights, I recommend 5 nights in Lisbon with a daytrip to either Sintra or Cascais, or possibly Evora, and then 3 nights in Porto. We visited Sintra in April 2018 as a daytrip, and it was not horribly crowded. But if you read trip reports from 2022, both Lisbon and Sintra have become more crowded. More people recommend staying in Sintra for at least one night. So that would be an option. But perhaps March won't be as crowded as April onwards. So perhaps 4 nights in Lisbon, one night in Sintra and 3 nights in Porto. Or 5 nights in Lisbon with a daytrip to Cascais and 3 nights in Sintra to visit all the castles. This would also be a more relaxed trip. I think there is hiking in the area, too.

Or if you don't go to Porto, perhaps spend a night or two in Evora. I've read that Evora is very, very hot during the summer months so March would have cooler temps, more ideal for sightseeing.

I am sure Maribel will respond. She has been to Portugal many, many times and can give you better advice based on first-hand experience in all of these places than I can.

Last edited by KarenWoo; Nov 13th, 2022 at 11:10 AM.
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 11:10 AM
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This is such a fast itinerary that you need to make a physical chart on a sheet of paper. Start with your minimal itinerary (Lisbon/Porto/Algarve) and make a box for every day of your trip, then graphically fill in the amount of the day that will be consumed by the travel times between where you want to go - - include both the train/bus/flight times, as well as the time it will take to get to and from the stations, as well as breakfast and other essentials - - one trip can sometimes take most of a day, and there might not be much time left for seeing things. If you do that, and see how much time is left over (by looking at the remaining white space left on the virtual calendar you have made) then you can shift places/and priorities to create more calendar 'white space' (free time).
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 01:43 PM
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Tough to do Porto and The Algarve with Lisbon sandwiched in between. Lot of distance between Porto and the Algarve. Lisbon and Porto are both large cities so I think the kids would enjoy Lisbon and then a break from the city for the spectacular beaches and exotic rock formations of The Algarve. Extending your stay in Lisbon and omitting Porto gives you plenty of time for day trips from Lisbon, especially with fewer crowds in March.
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mike1728 View Post
Extending your stay in Lisbon and omitting Porto gives you plenty of time for day trips from Lisbon, especially with fewer crowds in March.
Also, mid-to-late March is the most beautiful time in the Algarve. It's green, flowery, the weather can be just right (temps in the lower 60's, plenty of sun). Tourists don't really show up till Easter, so very easy and open. No matter where you go then it's super nice.
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 03:45 PM
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jbenitez,
With your relatively short amount of time, I would be inclined to skip the Algarve and go north of Lisbon for beaches instead.
Why?
As mike says, there's a great distance between Porto and the Algarve, and it's a 3.5 hour drive down from Lisbon alone. In addition, in March it will be very quiet there, the Atlantic water is extremely cold (too cold for swimming), and there is so much more of even greater beauty and far more historical interest in Portugal.

The Algarve is similar to the well (sometimes over)-developed Spanish Costa del Sol with its purpose-built resorts and is all about the beaches, water sports (in March dependent on the weather conditions and wind) and golf, lots and lots of golf. The Algarve comes alive after Easter and in March will be inhabited primarily by locals and snow birds from Northern Europe and Canada.

We've had sun and warmth on the east coast (Tavira) and wind and rain on the west coast (Lagos). The west coast has the cliffs and caves and hiking. But again, I see this as a logistical problem with the short amount of time you have.

I am thinking like KarenWoo (no surprise there!) and would recommend 4 nights in Lisbon, an easy 40-min. by train day trip to Cascais (beaches and wonderful sea promenade walks to Guincho or to Estoril but no swimming), perhaps a night in Sintra (getting harder to do by day trip unless one lowers expectations by doing just 2 palaces given the March crowds), and 3 nights in Porto, which I think your kids would really like. It's quirky and full of surprises, and there is a lovely beach walk in Foz, where the Atlantic meets the Douro. That's 8 nights.
But... you have to be back in Lisbon for your flight home. So....can you possibly do this open jaw, reversing the order, flying into Porto and out of Lisbon so as not to backtrack? This is what we do.

Definitely use the very comfortable, inexpensive, high-speed Alfa Pendular train between Lisbon's Santa Apolónia station and Porto-Campanhã. Book train tickets in advance for great savings at cp.pt.

Just some thoughts.

Last edited by Maribel; Nov 13th, 2022 at 03:47 PM.
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 05:37 PM
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Agree with all. Maribel, I was looking at 7399s post and saw they were flying in and out of Lisbon. So why go North to Porto unless you could change flights. We have done the in flight to Lisbon and out of Porto several times. Always worked out great. But if return from Porto is not doable, I recommend Lisbon and maybe Algarve. Of course you could do numerous day trips from Lisbon in a 7-9 day trip to satisfy everyone. Sintra, beaches of Cascais, Evora, Ericeira (my personal fave), Tomar, etc. But yes, Porto is spectacular.
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 05:43 PM
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I love Ericeira and things north on the Silver Coast and almost suggested that as an addition, but I thought that it just might not fit in the relatively short time frame.
Or as you suggest, you could do a 7-9 day trip just with Lisbon and all that you mentioned above without going north.
So many wonderful things to see in Portugal. And it does take more time than one would think.
The optimal solution, perhaps, would be to do an open jaw Lisbon-Porto or Porto-Lisbon, if flights haven't already been booked.
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Old Nov 14th, 2022, 05:17 AM
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thank you everyone for your help! sounds like we will skip the algarve region for this trip and try for an open jaw trip. appreciate the suggestions. looking forward to exploring Portugal!
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Old Nov 14th, 2022, 04:25 PM
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Just got back from 10 days there. I would say 3 nights in Lisbon is enough with kids. You will see what you want. Then take a taxi to Orient station and carch a train to Albufeira, 3 hours south, a fun ride, grab some sandwiches eat on the train kids get a kick out of it, see the countryside in a relaxing train ride… super cheap! Rent a car in Albufeira. Very touristy hub town but probably off season lots of rooms stuff for kids and beaches and cliffs galore. Take little day trips with the car to cool little towns and attractions. Eat good food. Take train back after 4-5 days, last nite in Lisbon near the airport and out you go. It will be a good time. Minimal running around. My thoughts.
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