10 DAYS TOUR THROUGH PORTUGAL
For this tour it is necessary to hire a car. We travelled from Porto airport to Faro airport but you can decide to do it reversed.
To check the flights from your departing city try this website: http://voli-lowcost.zingarate.com/
DAY 1-2: Porto
We stayed at the Star Inn Hotel in Porto, http://www.hotelstarinn.com/es , it’s a low cost hotel but with modern design, spacious rooms, free WIFI, free parking lot. The service was really good. We recommend having breakfast outside, there’s a wonderful pastry shop “Docinho” in Rua Montes do Burgos/Rua do Padre Rebelo do Costa. The hotel is not in the city center but in 5 minutes driving you can get there easily. Try to park not in the city center because usually there are people asking you illegally some money for the parking. It’s better, in that case, to give them always some coins.
Below a practical guide I made for you with the help of the official website of Porto: http://www.visitporto.travel/Lists/PDFTemp/f3f3bc5d-610d-470c-8d8b-b3b4b74df635.pdf
The afternoon of Day 1 can be spent on the Terreiro da Sé visiting the Cathedral and enjoying the beautiful view. After that you can go down the hill, stopping at San Bento Station and looking at the wonderful azulejos.
We spent the evening of Day 1 having a glass of Porto Wine in the Ribeira district just in front of the River looking at the wonderful sunset. We had a great dinner at Churrascaria Do Infante (28, Rua Mozinho da Silveira), usually there’s a line but it really worth waiting. It’s cheap and the fish is fabulous!
During DAY 2 we visited the main attractions of the town: we started with the Bolhao market in the morning (we parked there). After that take the Rua Formosa, arrived at the huge square of the new City Council (Aliados). Reach the Praça da Libertade and take Rua dos Clerigos. There take the chance to do some exercise by going up the stairs of the Clerigos Tower where you get a complete view of the city.
The street named ‘Rua Cândido dos Reis’ is located near the Clérigos Tower and the Lello Bookshop. This area is known for its night life, offering several bars and restaurants. Different kinds of shops can also be found throughout the surrounding streets.
Take the Rua Sao Felipo Neri and reach the Praça Do Infante where you can visit The Stock Exchange Palace (we just got inside the hall, it’s free), The Borges Market (it’s a nice place to get original souvenirs), St. Francis Church and St. Nicolau. After that we suggest you go inside Casa do Infante – Museum, it’s a cheap museum where you can learn a lot about the origins of the city and its history, a part of the museum is also dedicated to the history of Porto Wine.
To have lunch go over the other side of the river. We ate at the Bar Sores on the Avenida Ramos Pinto.
With your stomach full you can enjoy the visit of a cellar. There is a plenty of choice: we decided to go inside Sandeman’s cellars. There is a guided tour and a wine tasting.. But generally they all offer the same. If you are interested they offer a card with whichyou can visit up t 3 cellars.
To go back take Luis Bridge, have a look at the old walls and visit the Church of Santa Clara.
A little parenthesis about highways in Portugal. You’ll always have to pay tolls. There are usually tollbooths but in this part of the highway there are cameras that take a picture of your car. In case you have a foreign number plate you don’t have to pay; but in case you hire a Portuguese car you’ll have to go to a post office and pay the tolls. Don’t worry at the Faro Airport, before you leave, there is a post office where you can pay it without getting a fine, that the car hiring company will charge on you.
Before reaching Coimbra we stopped for lunchtime in Aveiro, the Portuguese Venice. It’s a small town, perfect for a short stop. The municipality offers for free bicycles that you can rent by simply leaving you ID card. We took the chance to go inside a Portuguese supermarket (Pingo Doce) that is located near a shopping mall in the city center of Aveiro. Before leaving you have to go inside a pastry shop and try Aveiro’s sweets!
We reached our hotel near Coimbra, Casa Morais, that is located in Fornos, a small town 5 km far away from Coimbra. It’s a wonderful Rural House, well restored, with nice rooms and a good breakfast. It’s in a very peaceful area. The owners are two sisters that are very kind and helpful (http://www.casamorais.com/). We had a short siesta at the hotel and then we head to Coimbra. We left our car in a parking lot that was free in Rua Olímpio Nicolau Rui Fernandes and from there we reached the top of the hill on foot. We had a guided tour of the University of Coimbra and then reached the city center. We had a drink in the historical bar in the Praça Velhaand then had a delicious dinner at Restaurante Adega Paço do Conde at 1, Rua Paço Conde.
DAY 4: Coimbra-Sintra-Lisbon
For this day we recommend if you have an extra day to sleep over in Sintra or Cascais. Sintra is a magic town that seems it was drawn by Walt Disney. There are a lot of palaces and castles to visit, for this reason it’s proper to spend here at least 24h. Since we had just little time we decided to visit the Royal Palace in the city center, so famous by the shape of those huge chimneys of the kitchen…impressive!
There we had for lunch the best chicken ever at the Casa dos Frangos, next to the train station.
After lunch we took a nap on the beach of Cascais. From there we took the N6 road and reached Lisbon by driving on the coast. If you like, you can have an extra stop to see the Estoril Moto circuit. Through this road you reach Lisbon from Belem district, it’s a good chance to visit it since it’s far away from the city center. We took wonderful pictures during the sunset. It’s compulsory here a stop to see the Monastery of Belem and have a snack with the famous sweets.In Lisbon we stayed at the Sete Collinas hotel (http://www.setecolinas.com.pt/es/hotel-overview.html) it’s a low budget hotel but in a perfect location. Next to Anjos metro station and very near a stop of the famous Nº28 tramway. It’s a very good hotel, free WIFI, rich breakfast and modern design. We spent the night in the Barrio Alto, famous for its nightlife. We had dinner in a small place called Bar Artis (Rua Diario de Noticias, 95) the dinner was really good and cheap. Enjoy there the nightlife; it’s a place full of bars and pubs. DAY 5 Lisbon Since Lisbon is a very difficult city to walk through (too many hills!!!) we decided to do something really tourist!! We took the nº28 tramway and got on and off to visit the main spots of the town: the cathedral, the castle (lose yourself in the district around the castle it’s so peaceful and quiet!). We had a small snack at Baixa district and had a little shopping time around there. We had dinner in the Alfama district, the famous one for the Fado shows. The restaurant is Malmequer Bemmequer (rua de S. Miguel, 23- 218876535), I think it’s better to call and book a table because it’s really small. Good food and low price. DAY 6 Lisbon-Lagos Take the highway by driving on the 25 April Bridge, it’s so impressive and for a while you feel you are in St. Francisco or Rio de Janeiro.
We highly recommend you exit in Ourique and drive through the Monchique Mountains, the road is in a perfect condition and the landscape is gorgeous! We had a wonderful lunch stopping at a restaurant on the road before reaching Monchique. If you have an extra day or you prefer mountains instead of seaside you should spend an extra night here (there are baths in Monchique). Once in Algarve we stayed in Lagos, in a nice apartment we found through the Montemar (the hotel is not good, we suggest having breakfast in the apartment). The apartment is really basic, but has a nice terrace and there is a swimming pool too.
If you don’t like crowded places and an overbuilt coast we suggest you stay in the area around Lagos. Here there are the best beaches of the Algarve, and the town is nice. Portimao or Albufeira are towns with huge hotels, and really really lots of people. It’s also the wildest part of the coast where you can surf.
Before leaving we spent some hours in Faro, it’s a small town famous for the islands in front of its coasts. If your flight is in the night you can take a boat to go on the excursion to these paradise places.