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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 18 August 2009
Compared to all the other Lonely Planet guides I have used in the past, the Portugal edition is basically useless! I regularly use LP guides as I find that their recommendations are usually fantastic for things like hotels and restaurants (as a foody this is particularly important), as well as getting inside tips on unseen sites off the tourist trail.

Firstly, this edition was published in April 2009, and I traveled in August 2009 and at least 1/3 of the restaurants they recommend are no longer there! So... either Portugal has a big turn over of restaurants, or more likely they haven't been checked for this edition. For example, in Porto we looked for a restaurant recommended on the water front. After eventually finding it we discovered that all that was left was a shell which could not possibly have housed a functioning restaurant for at least a year, possibly longer! In Lisbon, a recommended pizza restaurant is now a bar - and has been for 2 years because we asked the barman! When we did find a recommendation that still existed, we wondered why it had been recommended because they were not very good. We often found better restaurants/hotels just looking further up the street, and regularly did this because we quickly lost faith in the book!

As another example, they recommend a "lush oasis" of a tropical botanic garden in Belem. Well, maybe it was a lush oasis when the first edition was written back in the early ninties, but it is now a rundown, empty dive of a place with no one but crickets!

On a positive note, they get most of the prices right for things like train times and museum entry. And their history section is useful for something to read while on a train.

But, there are no colour maps at the back (I thought this was a LP standard?) and no maps of the public transport systems of Lisbon or Porto. The black and white maps of Lisbon that are present overlap and don't fit particularly well with the individual areas that you might visit in one go. And, their recommendations for beaches and walks are often in places that are extremely difficult to get to by public transport.

Overall, I would recommend a different travel guide if you are going to Portugal, even if you are normally a loyal LP devotee like me!
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on 8 August 2010
I've been using Lonely Planet guides almost since they appeared and used to find them good despite their increasingly politically correct lectures on issues like gay rights, racism, corruption etc.

I've just returned from a visit to Portugal during which I visited Lisbon, the Setubal Peninsula, Algarve and Evora and would like to make a few points about this latest guide which would make me reluctant to recommend it.

First of all, the road maps are not up-to-date and the city maps are not user friendly. This edition was published in March 2009 i.e. less than 18 months before I travelled yet only a tiny part of the A2 highway appears and the A22 highway does not appear at all, even though they are the main links between Lisbon and Algarve and within the Algarve, either on the main map of the country or regional maps. This may be because the roads have been upgraded since then. However, a Portuguese version of "The AA Keyguide: Portugal" with maps from 2007 does feature them. This caused me some navigational problems and I switched to the AA guide.

I feel Lonely Planet is shortchanging readers by presenting out-of-date maps like this.

The city maps are OK if you are planning ahead in your hotel but not when you are walking around you. Many streets are not named and you have to keep flipping through pages to check the reference numbers of sights. Even then, the references are not in numerical order but by interest i.e. hotels, restaurants etc so that the numbers are all over the place.

A final criticism is the condescending tone of many of the comments which treat the reader like a halfwit. History is dumbed down (presumably because the writers feel we readers are too stupid to understand it) so that the English Crusaders who fought the Moors are "hooligans", the great navigator Vasco da Gama is a "superstar", people who like visiting museums and art galleries are "culture fiends", food is a "belly filler", people who want to access their e-mail are "netheads". We even learn that Evora "got is groove back" at one point and that "seaports became sexy" at another time.

Such sloppy writing is an insult to the reader's intelligence.
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on 26 March 2013
Navigating through Lisbon's old town and Alfalma district with this guidebook was one of the most frustrating experiences I ever had with a guidebook. The maps are completely useless on all levels - the country map is printed in such bad quality that you cannot even recognise rivers, the city maps for Lisbon are pale and laid out in a overlapping sections in different scales, with sights and landmarks not marked clearly, or numbered according to different keys that are freqently found on another page. Worse still, only one in seven streets or so is labelled (if at all) so that you will often find yourself at intersections without being able to tell from any of the maps where you are. By the way, mocking back-cover advertises "clear, easy-to-use maps" as one of the selling points of the book - with a picture of the woefully bad walking tour map as an illustration!

I tried to follow a walking tour suggested in the book (Lisbon from view to view, the first tour suggested) and got lost even before reaching the first lookout - the directions are so brief that one cannot possibly follow them (how much use do the authors think directions such as "stroll north" are to someone not familiar with the city, who has just got off a tram that wound through Lisbon's lovely narrow streets?). I could not actually complete the tour due to the abysmal directions. On two occasions did I meet parts of the Lonely-Planet-suggested itinerary again, only to find that again, I could not rejoin the walk as the directions both in the text and the map were hopelessly unclear. On one occasion, I actually found myself in a square mentioned in the text - the guide book reads, "go west along Arco Grande da Cima until you reach Largo de Rodrigues de Freitas. Take the Costa do Castelo fork, continuing west" Now, you will find neither the Arco Grande da Cima nor the Largo de Rodrigues de Freitas on the map that accompanies the walk. I would say "imagine my surprise when I neither found the 'Costa da Costelo' (I can only imagine this is a street as the guidebook does not explain what it is) on any of the street signs around the Largo!" - but of course this was already after a frustrating hour trying to make sense of the useless directions and the sketchy map, so I had lowered expectations.

I have no doubt that I would have been much better served with buying a cheap guide for 2 or so locally, or printing an itinerary of TripAdvisor.

How one can publish a guidebook priced at £15.99 without a tram and underground network map for Lisbon is beyond me. The advice to get a free map from a kiosk is of little help to a tourist who certainly could have figured this out themselves but bought a guidebook in order to have all information in one handy place! There is a noticeable scarcity of city and town maps throughout the book (and as outlined above, the ones that are included are of extremely poor quality); there are no floorplans for museums, churches etc.

That said, I did find the general information about Portugal helpful in preparing for the trip, which was the first time I visited the country. It contains suggestions for films to watch, music to listen to, and novels to read before you go (or while you're there), which I found very useful. The history section too is well-written, informative and accessible. I therefore will give 2 stars - however please be advised that you will find the book entirely useless once you are in the country.

(This review refers to the 2011 edition.)
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on 29 November 2013
We could open a shop with the amount of Lonely Planet travel guides we own! Always clear, easy to negotiate and provide the sort of information we require. Have tried other guides but like the format Lonely Planet offers.
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on 15 June 2012
During our travels in Portugal we found a lot of tourist offices do not have much information in English, so this book was invaluable
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on 22 February 2013
This book is fantastic full of useful information and tips. This book takes the mystery out of travelling around this country makes it interesting and and easy to accomplish. Very well written and put together.
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on 11 September 2013
We bought this for our roadtrip around portugal. And like all other lonely planet books, it did not let us down!. It had very useful and up to date information and really helped us plan our adventure.
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on 17 December 2012
Maybe not as good as other LP guides but still one the best travel guides around especially because the 2011 edition has improved a lot compared to previous LP Portugal guides, overall good value for money
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on 24 October 2011
The lonely planet Country guides are easy to read and follow. They have places to visit, stay or eat and drink in them. In the past I have found some information to be out of date eg prices or change of venue.
Over all the book is very good and will be in Portugal next year.
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on 13 February 2014
I find paper guides helpful in some way, but I've been playing more and more with services like which connect you for free with local experts. They have cover Portugal very well and their reviews are also very positive.
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