Below are some travel ideas around wonderful Portugal. Most hotels mentioned fall between 45 and 55 euros. It’s best to have a car.
1st day of 8 traveling north of Lisboa: Aveiro
Stayed at the nice centrally located private apartment: Casa Pirosa. Other sites: Ruinas Coninbriga (Roman ruins), Aveiro, Museu Santa Joana, Salinas, Costa Nova, Gafanhas. If you have more time, visit Mafra, Obidos, and Coimbra.
2nd day north of Lisboa: Douro Valley
Stayed at the very nice hotel Cerrrado dos Outeirinhos, run by a retired school teacher in the centrally located Cinfães. Also, visit Castelo, Sta. Maria da Feria, Castelo de Paiva, Porto Antigo, Miradouro Teixeiró, Pontes romanas.
If you have more time: visit Porto and take the train up the Douro River to the Spanish border and take the boat back to Porto.
3rd day north of Lisboa: Guimaãres
Stayed at the very central Alojamenti Local F&B. Guimarães is where Portugal was founded as a nation and is one of my favorite places. The medieval town has kept it’s traditional quality with almost the entire center being car-free. It is also a UNESCO site. Other places to see: Castelo Guimaãres, Paço dos Duques, Braga, Bom Jesus de Braga, Sé de Braga, Misericórdia de Braga, Estádio do Braga (arq. Souto Moura), Ponte da Barca.
4th day north of Lisboa: Monção
Stayed at the very pleasant and peaceful winery: Solar de Serrade. Other places to see: Fortaleza Monção, Palácio da Brejoeira (and winery), Vina Nova de Cerveira, Caminha, Mirafouro Sta. Luzia, Viana do Catselo. This is Vinho Verde wine country, usually far superior than what you can find in the restaurants and shops around Lisboa.
5th day north of Lisboa: Viana do Castelo
Stayed at the newly renovated and centrally located Enjoy Viana (Gueste House). Other places to see: Barcelos, Vila Real - Casa Mateus, Lamego, Sao João da Pesqueira, Marialva.
6th day north of Lisboa: Marialva (Vila Nova de Foz Coa)
Stayed at the wonderfully rural and ex-convent Casa das Freiras. This town is very small and there are no restaurants or even shops. What to do here is take a night tour of the wonderful neolthic rock carvings. They are best seen at night with a strong flashlight showing them in relief. Other places to see: Grutas de Foz Coa, Aldeias do Xisto.
7th day north of Lisboa: Xisto
Must see Monsanto on the way to the Xisto region. Stayed at the best hotel and restaurant in the Xisto region: Casa Ti Augusta (pictured). Xisto refers to the whole region where you feel like you have stepped back in time.
This itinerary describes a trip starting from Lisboa going down the Alentejo coast and along the coast of Algarve for 10 days. Setúbal, take the ferry to the Tróio Peninsula. South to Sines, where Vasco de Gama set sail to points unknown, then down the coast staying at any of the pleasant coastal towns, through the National Park, to Sagres, where Prince Henry had his base for the study of navigation that spurred the greatest discoveries of history. You are now in Algarve. Stay a few nights in Lagos, my favorite and most Portuguese city in Algarve. Visit Alvor (great wine), Portimão, and Albufeira (my least favorite and most touristy city). Then, on to Vilamoura (rich tourists with their huge yachts). Faro is the main city of Algarve with the airport and train to Lisboa (two hours). Continue the rest of the coast to the very pleasant laid-back Tavira with its nice off-shore islands. You can now continue another 15 kms to the Spanish border. Return through the center of Alentejo using the E1/A2.
A nice long weekend trip from Lisboa (about 90 minutes by car) is southeast of Evora. Use Reguengos de Monsaraz as your base. It is the largest town with hotels, restaurants, and a night life. We stayed at the very nice and central Hospedaria os Condes for about 30 Euros. Also, I recommend the restaurant across the street: Taberna Al-Andaluz, a very nice southern Spanish restaurant, run by a very hospitable man who is one of the few Portuguese who loves Spain. There are many choices of the meat of failed bulls.
Visit the castle town of Mansaraz, a castle town on a hill overlooking the Spanish border and the largest lake in Europe (I don’t include Russia as a part of Europe). It is a smaller version of Obidos. Coninue across the bridge to the very Portuguese town of Mourão, home of the wonderful restaurant and wine maker Adega Velha. The wait is worth it. We had to wait an hour sitting in the front where the owner and 6 of his friends sang a cappella Alentejo folk songs, drinking their house-made wines. The food is terrific. Surrounding the area are many megalithic sites sitting in fields. On the way back, spend an afternoon in the wonderful UNESCO Roman town of Evora, with its own temple to Diana.
Another excellent long weekend trip from Lisboa (about 90 minutes by car) is to another castle town to the northeast of Evora, Evoramonte. Part of the joy of this trip is staying at The Place in the castle town itself high above. It is owned and managed by a great South African/Scottish couple. They have paid attention to every detail. We stayed in the Suite with excellent views of the horizon below. Eat at the wonderful Restaurante o Emigrante at the foot of the castle hill.
Other places to see: many wineries (by appointment), Estremoz (great farmer’s market), Vila Viçosa (wonderful Ducal Palace). On the way back, if you have already seen the megaliths and Evora, then visit Arraiolos the center for carpet weaving as good as any Turkish or Persian one and they are surpisingly reasonably priced. Visit the carpet museum. Eat great Alentejana food at the Restaurante a Moagem!