Porto to Lisbon
September 12, 2007 6:02 AM   Subscribe

I´m in (O)Porto, Portugal currently and will have five days to pootle down to Lisbon next week, can anyone make any recommendations as to what we should see?

We´ll have a hire car.
posted by biffa to Travel & Transportation around Lisbon, Portugal (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I was just in (southern) Portugal this summer and rather enjoyed using my Rough Guide book to get around. Fortunately for this question, its entire contents are available for free online. Check out the highlights for Coimbra and the Beira Litoral and Porto and the Douro.

Coimbra sounds like a good bet, where you can wander old streets, visit its 16th century university, and listen to live fado at dinner. Around Porto you can go on a wine-tasting tour of Porto's signature port wine or take a river cruise up the Douro River.
posted by driveler at 7:11 AM on September 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by infinityjinx at 7:43 AM on September 12, 2007

I also say Sintra!!!!

My favorite part of my trip to Portugal.

Also see some Fado, and go to the Belem Pasteleria.
posted by lampoil at 7:46 AM on September 12, 2007

I love Lisbon! Here are two days in Lisbon for you:

Food & Music: Fado seconded! Get yourself some reservations at A Baiuca in the Alfama bairro for sure. I went out for fado every night I was in Lisboa, and this is the one I would recommend to you. Very small, very local, very friendly. You must have reservations! The restaurant seats about 20. The Belem Pasteleria is, of course, delicious. Buy about 6 of their Nata do céu (Nata de Belém). The little sandwich shop about two doors away is nice for the meal after your dessert.

Old Stuff: Make sure to visit the Castelo São Jorge for good views and good exercise, and the Monasterio Jeronimos in Belém. Both of these things should be done first thing in the morning to avoid tourists. Ride the iron elevator from the Baixa to Alta Bairro. Whee!

Museums: The Gulbenkian Museum (art) has very nice highlights covering all types of art, a nice couple of hours. When I went earlier this year, there was a Tiffany glass exhibit showing the whole process from design sketches to final product. (It sounded "whatever" to me at first, but I was impressed by the end. Each part of the museum felt that way to me.) While you're at Belém and seeing the monastery at Jeronimos (which you will want to do first thing in the morning), also visit the Coach Museum. So much decadence and such a specific type of exhibit, but again, wow, you come out feeling like you really had a glimpse of why they were made and what it may have been like to need them.

Things I would pass on if I were to go again were the National Archaeology Museum and the Fado Museum. The first because it didn't stand out as being amazing relative to others I've been to, and the second because though what was there was good, I don't feel it was a particularly good value.

Other thoughts:
* Spend a lot of time just walking around and enjoying the city and its hills, rough streets, and mixed cultures.
* Park your car for the time you're in Lisbon, and get a 2-day (or 1 or 3) Lisboncard good for all local travel. It also gets you discounts or free admission at a lot of the museums.
* Bring a good map or you will do a lot of extra hill-climbing.
posted by whatzit at 12:20 PM on September 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You have a car, you'll be heading down HWY A1 to Lisboa.
You don't really give any details of what you'd like to do (sightseeing, nature, eating, visiting museums?) but anyway, from North to South:

What every Portuguese person does: stop by Mealhada and have the traditional roasted piglet at Pedro dos Leitões. I bet you won't find many tourists there. Nearby is Bussaco, a beautiful park with a neo-manuelin hotel.

I find Coimbra kind of boring. Aveiro, by the seaside is a beautiful town (it was also voted as one of the best towns to live in Portugal). Get stuffed with ovos moles, the local delicacy.

If you're into DaVinci code kind of esoterical stuff: go to Tomar and check out the Templar Castle and the eight sided chapel. Go to Igreja de Santa Maria do Olival and ask Francisco (the caretaker) to show you the Graal carving on the stone floor under the benches on your left side. One of the best meal you can have in Portugal will be at Chico Elias, just a couple of km away.

If you're interested in religion or in religious kitsch: stop by Fatima (where the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared to 3 children in the 1910's) and watch the pilgrims paying up their promises by going around the sanctuary on their knees. Other than that, it's a pretty ugly town totally oriented to religious tourism. Which can be an interesting cultural experience.

is great for church visiting. Many gothic churches and cute museums. But it's not touristy at all. A great view from Porta do Sol over the Tagus river.

Seconding Sintra. Mostly, you shouldn't miss Quinta da regaleira or the National Palace. And, most of all, whatever you do, don't forget to eat a travesseiro at Piriquita.

If you're going to drive to Sintra, take the coastal road(Marginal), not the highway (A5 or IC19). That way, you can go by Estoril and Cascais which also deserve a stop. Great restaurants there. It's also a beautiful ride. Stop by Casa da Guia or go the beach at Guincho.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 3:20 PM on September 12, 2007 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great tips. Sorry I didn't provide much detail, I had a queue of people wanting to use the internet after me. We stayed in Porto an extra day then did the weekend in Barra, near Aviero, which was lovely, did some kayaking and some beach. We didn't manage to get any Ovos Moles unfortunately, the only place that was open in Aviero and selling them was chocker and we wanted to get on, but everything else we've eaten has been great. We decided on Luso, in the Mealhada district, for our last 2 days, its peculiarly alpine-ish and we'll go for a walk in the Bussaco forest tomorrow if the weather holds. The place opposite does roast piggy and we'll try it tonight. I'm really wishing we were staying until at least the weekend.
posted by biffa at 10:54 AM on September 17, 2007

Response by poster: We popped in at Santarem on the way down to Lisbon airport and accidentally found the Porta do Sol garden where we had a pleasant little lunch. Thanks again for the tips.
posted by biffa at 8:51 AM on September 20, 2007

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