My wife and I and another couple went on holiday to the region of Porto in north Portugal this June and despite the weather being somewhat changeable, like it was in the UK, we had a great time. We booked on line through Newmarket Holidays and everything went extremely smoothly. Even the flight with the budget airline Easyjet was surprisingly pleasant. The cabin crew were very friendly and helpful and the service was great. The holiday was advertised as ‘Hidden Portugal’ and we were taken to some lovely places that one would probably not see without the help of a guide.
We stayed in a small and friendly hotel called Santo Andre, on the outskirts of the town of Porto. The hotel had recently undergone some renovation and improvements and there was some minor work still being done, I think it was to add a new emergency exit but work was only carried out after we had gone out and stopped when we returned, which we thought was thoughtful. The dining room was arranged with large round tables for 10 people that encouraged integration, so we soon got to know people. The hotel manager and his wife introduced themselves and their staff and gave us a complimentary glass of port on our first night. Breakfast was a buffet but dinner was served and this is the only hotel we have been in where they come round and ask if you want seconds. Breakfast was a somewhat limited for choice. Scrambled eggs and continental sausages on one day and boiled eggs and bacon on the next, toast, continental breakfast and fruit, with of course tea and coffee. The fruit juices were very watery and we stopped having them. The food at dinner was excellent and there was a lot of it and if you wanted more they brought it on request. Sangria and water was also provided free and regularly topped up.
Entertainment was just one man every night who sung and played a keyboard but he was very good and played requests and encouraged sing-a-longs and dancing of all types.
The hotel provided one computer that was free to guests and free WiFi in the lounge and reception area. There was a large outdoor swimming pool and sundeck area that was well maintained and an enclosed sundeck area as well as an open sundeck with seats. The hotel is right on the lovely wide and long sandy beach that seems deserted.
There is a long boardwalk on one side of the hotel providing access to a little village and more beach and there is a restaurant and pub on the other side that provide tea, coffee, snacks or cooked meals if required. The people in this region of Portugal are extremely friendly and helpful and seem to love tourists. The hotel bedrooms are reasonable although the carpeting throughout the hotel was a little tired and our room (211) was at the end of the corridor with two outside walls and was very cold and we got the impression of being damp. The double bed was hard and uncomfortable and we did not sleep well, however, our friends said that their room (305) was warm enough and the beds comfortable so perhaps it was just us. Generally, it was quite quiet in the hotel with just a little noise one night when a delayed flight of visitors arrived. The local town has a new railway (Metro) which links to Porto and the tickets are cheap. We bought a visitors ticket for €7.50 that covered all rail fares, all the buses and the funicular railway, which we thought was very good value.
Newmarket Holidays provided 3 coach tours within our programme and we had the option of booking 3 additional trips and we chose 2. We had a knowledgeable guide who accompanied us on all the visits bar one and then we had another equally knowledgeable guide. Prices are very competitive in this region of Portugal and at no time did we feel that we were being ripped off. The only advice that I would give is that when you sit down in a restaurant they immediately bring you rolls and nibbles that you have not ordered. If you start to eat them, you are charged for them but it you don’t eat them or send them back you are not charged, but we have found this happens in other European countries to which we have visited.
The hotel, however, was rather isolated from any nightlife and for this you would have to get a taxi into the local town about 20 minutes away but to be honest, after a full day of excursions and dinner from 8.00 – 10.00, we were just ready to relax for a while before going to bed.
If you want to sit on the beach all day and relax and sunbathe in peace and quite, this is the place for you. If you want to hire a car and do your own thing, this is it place for you, If you want to go out on sightseeing trips with Newmarket Holidays, this is definitely the place for you but if you want lots of life and nightlife, stay in Porto town; there is plenty to do and plenty of life there. I would definitely go back and hire a car; the roads are excellent and well signposted. Have fun.
Rooms in the middle of the hotel overlooking the pool seem to be the best. They are warmer and have...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC