Customer reviews: Holidays in Mainland Portugal
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop and, where necessary, improve our services and ensure our all holidays continue to be the best they can be.
Eveyone who travels with Headwater will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assesment of all aspects of their all holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their all holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
By Mrs Barr on 29/11/2016
The website does not make it clear that a lot of the cycling is in built up areas ,which was disappointing and unlike our many previous Headwater holidays.Although all the hotels ,apart from the one in Curia ,were outstanding, I would not recommend this area for cycling.
By Mr Plant on 29/11/2016
Very positive experience.
Interesting series of landscapes/urbanscapes travelled.
Excellent birdwatching along the way.
Very good hotels selected.
By Mrs Collins on 29/11/2016
Our 9 days on the Porto to Coimbra cycling holiday was overall a very enjoyable experience. For those who are not regular cyclists, the first 4 or 5 days, the cycling is along very quiet cycle tracks and mainly flat. The weather was not especially favourable for the first half of our stay, but good cycling temperature. On the other hand, it only rained on the day off and not for long, or at night. We were near the Atlantic coast most of the time, so we didnt get to see the beaches bathed in warmth and sunshine. We cycled along a lot of lagoons and saw flamingos which was exciting and one of the other couples doing the same holiday, was an avid birder and apparently crossed off most of the birds on his list.
Porto is a charming town and the first restaurant that Headwater booked us in for our first evening meal was terrific. Furodouro, the 2nd night's accommodation, hasnt that much to offer, apart from a nice beach and a most welcoming Manager and a lovely indoor pool. The accommodation itself is very
light and spacious.
Aveiro is also a pleasant town, a miniature Venice. The reception recommended a fantastic fish restaurant on the opposite side of the canal, called Mare Cheia, very regional. Excellent hotel, and next door to the Art Nouveau Museum, which is a bit quirky.
The Macarico Hotel in Praia de Mira has a lovely pool on the rooftop. The restaurant, for which you are given Vouchers is good, once you know how and what to order. Not many of the waiters speak English.
The Curia Palace Hotel is extremely grand though not quite as luxurious in its features as we have become accustomed. However there is a huge pool and on the other side of the pool wall, a field with fairly tame fallow deer. The hotel dates back to 1926 and is very much a heritage hotel, with swing music playing in the background at breakfast which is held in a vast ballroom or banqueting hall.
The last hotel in Coimbra is very modern, and you virtually have your own personalised lift. We encountered the only mosquito of the whole trip there! Lovely pool, and it is about a 20 minute walk to the train station, and probably less up to the main part of Coimbra.
The weather and the scenery improved vastly once we headed away from Mira. There are some quite steep hills on the last leg to Coimbra, but we saw electricity pylons layered with nesting White Storks.
By Mr Mathias on 11/11/2016
Good .Poor room in the hotel Carrie Porto small room small window looking across a narrow ally straight into a derelict building.This room should not be let in this state.
By Mr Aston on 11/11/2016
Lovely holiday - the northern Portuguese seemed very friendly and welcoming of tourists.
By Mrs Dillnutt on 09/11/2016
The cycle tracks in Portugal were good and holiday would suit people new to cycling holidays
By Dr Adams on 31/10/2016
This was a lovely part of Portugal which luckily for us is not spoilt by too many tourists. Well thought out and planned. Very remote locations so do not expect to pop into town for anything.
By Mr Marsh on 31/10/2016
Everything was well thought though, GPS, local mobile and bike equipment. Very relaxing and enjoyable holiday
By Mr Levitch on 31/10/2016
We have always found Headwater to be a most professional company in their approach and this holiday proved to be the same. However, due to both of us coming down with a nasty cold virus virtually from day one, we also found a caring and flexible company in the Local Agent who offered helpful suggestion's and bike transfers on bad days. Now in our September, years this was important and will bring us back to Headwater in the future.
By Mrs Jones on 12/09/2016
Cycling was mainly along flat cycle ways and quiet roads although some of the cycle track surfaces were a little bumpy. The hotels were a very good standard, meals, whether taken within or outside the hotels, were very good, especially the fresh fish dishes. Porto was well worth seeing and an interesting city. A bus trip to Costa Nova from Aveiro is worth doing to see the pretty painted houses. The cycle along the estuary and nature reserve was very enjoyable watching out for flamingoes and other seabirds and we were lucky to be doing this at low to half tide when the wading birds and lots of local fisherman, digging for cockles and clams, can be seen. On the beach at Praia de Mira we were lucky enough to see the local fishermen hauling in their nets full of sardines. The final cycle from Praia de Mira along the water canals was a lovely cycle too.
By Mrs Clark on 30/08/2016
Wonderful way to see a country on a bike, real sense of achievement when you arrive at a new destination by bike. A fair amount of exercise - not too strenuous, but much better than sitting on a sunbed all week.
By Mr York on 30/08/2016
We've done several similar cycling holidays in Europe and this was up there with the best.
By Mrs Malone on 17/08/2016
We cycled 5 out of 7 days. Joanna met us on arrival and got us on track. The trails were very easy to manage - the GPS was a superb tool. The scenery was magnificent, and we really saw the hidden Portugal. The cycle lanes were completely segregated from the roads and this made for a relaxed and peaceful experience. Each evening we arrived at our hotel to a warm welcome and our luggage in our room. The standard of all the hotels was extremely high and they were all in beautiful locations. The printed maps and route descriptions were also helpful, and the level of difficulty ultimate ascribed to the cycle was accurate.
By Mrs Hoskins on 17/08/2016
An unforgettable experience travelling in rural Portugal, getting to see sights other holidays don't offer, off the beaten track, just the right amount of effort for cycling. Excellent choice of hotels, although not the best views! Very good help from rep and good support offered. Nice to know the baggage was taken care of although we arrived before it at one location and it was 5.30pm before they arrived! We could cycle the route at our own pace and felt secure in the knowledge that we were being taken care of and knew where we were going with very good instructions and maps.
By Mrs Whiteley on 25/07/2016
Very well organised holiday - excellent helpful Portuguese reps looked after us well throughout. GPS was a very successful means of not getting lost en route. Hotels all good, although 2 out of 4 gave us rooms looking at blank walls. Some time is spent riding on roads, though we used footpaths where available, and there are dedicated cycle paths for the majority of the route. Some interesting coastal scenery. Riding through the lagoon wasn't as spectacular as we'd hoped as much of the the cycle path was rocky and potholed and you had to concentrate on the path surface immediately ahead to avoid falling, rather than enjoying the scenery and wildlife. All in all though, a very enjoyable holiday.
By Mr Allin on 22/07/2016
Excellent holiday. The bikes were quite heavy but the cycling was flat and the electric bike was modern and excellent.
By Mrs Garth on 15/07/2016
Thoroughly enjoyed my holiday on my first visit to Portugal. Excellent service from local reps. Great hotels. Ebikes fun. Delicious food, wine and port. Loved the routes.
By Mrs Griffiths on 16/06/2016
Excellent cycling along the Atlantic coast, lovely hotels, interesting area to explore. The Furadouro Hotel was outstanding - welcome, food, swimming pool, rooms all superb.
By Mrs Cronin on 14/06/2016
A very well organised holiday giving us the chance to visit places we would not have otherwise seen.
By Mr Kilby on 07/06/2016
We enjoyed our cycling holiday but the weather was terrible which marred our experience. We also thought some of the cycling was a bit monotonous, going through residential areas, particularly at the beginning and would have preferred not to have had to get the train, although it proved invaluable in the end due to weather. The lagoon part was generally nice however towards the end, the path had completely disintegrated and the little bridge had been washed away. It certainly needed two people to carry the bikes down and across. We informed the guide at the end of the holiday. I dont think this holiday would be suitable for families in summertime as the roads get very busy and there were more roads than we had expectred. We thought the route tracking on the garmin was an excellent idea and the best part of following the route. Totally reliable. The hotels were all good though not all were properly equipped to accept bikes, namely the one in Porto and the Hotel Moliciero.
By Dr Smith on 03/06/2016
Very poor because of the Herdade do Touril experience.
By Dr Goldberg on 10/05/2016
This was an excellent holiday. The cycling was along very flat routes down the beautiful Atlantic Coast and around the pretty lagoons. Porto and Aveiro were great places to have days off. The hotels were good or very good. We ate some delicious fish and everyone was very friendly and welcoming.
By Mr Spiller on 09/05/2016
The pleasure of Headwater is that they do everything to make ensure your experience is exceptional - so it is!
By Ms Pitt on 06/05/2016
This was a wonderful week in a magical place - very remote in the beautiful hills of the Alentejo. Frank and Daniela made us so welcome and comfortable. They really put themselves out to make our stay a success. It was like staying with old friends. This is the perfect holiday for those who like to get away from it all and learn more about birds, with good company, good food and a truly beautiful spot. The early starts [eg 5am] were tough but well worth it, as dawn is the best time to see the greatest number of birds. I definitely plan to return. Many of our fellow guests have been back several times.
By Dr Hodgson on 31/10/2015
A holiday in two parts ...the rural hills with lake, birds, flowers and superb hosts followed by clifftop walks, beaches,birds, Going in October we did have a bit of rain but this only stopped one day's walking and we were still able to fully enjoy this unspoilt part of Portugal.
By Mr Hodgetts on 15/09/2015
Walking in the Alentejo (Costa Vicentina) provided the contrast between Fabulous Frank's creation of paradise in the interior - 4 miles off the nearest tarmac road - and the most stunning cliff top walking I have ever done. The latter is definitely not for the vertiginous but if you're OK with sheer drops on one side the views are fantastic. The walking on the coast, on the Rota Vicentina sometimes felt like a mini-Sahara as some parts are through deep soft sand but we came back fitter with thighs that can shell brazil nuts!
The walking in the inland section was delightful through cork oak and eucalyptus forests - hardly saw a soul all day - and the lake swimming at the Quinta was heaven at the end of a hot days plodding.
By Mr Morrison on 11/06/2015
From butterfly filled valleys to dramatic cliff tops with storks soaring overhead - this fabulous holiday certainly showed us the 'Contrasts of the Costa Vicentina.' Every step of the way was a delight. Would definitely recommend it. As for Frank's Barranco da Estrada ... what a magical discovery!
By Mr Allen on 21/05/2015
It was a great holiday, in a friendly and relaxed country, thank you. Having gone from the tranquil hills & lakes to the sparkling cliffs & sea we understand the full significance of 'Contrasts..' in the title. Particular thanks to Nelson the taxi driver who looked after our transfers in a very helpful and reliable manner.
By Mrs Reynolds on 29/04/2015
An extremely enjoyable and informative birding experience, enhanced by the warm hospitality of our hosts, Frank and Daniela . I would thoroughly recommend this holiday for 'old hands' and new birders alike!
By Mrs Bowen on 27/10/2014
I have put fair for value this time, our 9th Headwater holiday, as the standard of the notes was poor and this is what we are going on the holiday for. I have written a separate email to explain. Also the Cerca do Sol was situated too far away from the coastal route and the 4km walk back on the 2 days was long and boring. The room was disappointing after the other 2 places as small and no terrace to sit out or put boots etc. Lovely helpful people though and ate there on the second night which was excellent. One other point at the Herdade the first night we were expected to eat octopus for our main course so I declined and was offered a dry and tasteless pasta dish cooked for the children which was inedible so I went hungry. The second night however the meal was delicious and enjoyed by all.
By Mr Williams on 23/10/2014
This holiday is suitable only for keen birdwatchers or, maybe in the spring ,for those interested in flowers. There are kayaks and a sailing dinghy available. Local walking is limited. There is no opportunity to leave the hotel to visit local towns. No television or DVD service. Bring a book or use extensive library. The bird watch trips involve leaving very early , 5.30am , and driving on very rough ( and deserted) dirt roads. It is not comfortable and nervous passengers will not be relaxed. That said , the quality of the guiding and information received about the bird life is superlative. The hotel itself has character and the ambiance is one of a house party. Meals are communal around a large table although individual tables will be available if preferred. My wife and I loved it.
By Mrs Jackson on 23/10/2014
The prime activity of the holiday (birdwatching) was very good and Frank actually included additional opportunities (e.g. close to Faro Airport after he picked us up). However, the subsidiary activities were somewhat uninspiring. The walks offered were not very interesting and the water activities were minimal. We would have been prepared to pay for a visit to an historic site, if this were possible (realising that the location made this difficult). However, we did enjoy the holiday overall and we were well looked after by Frank, Daniela and the staff.
By Mrs Thompson on 11/10/2014
We enjoyed this holiday andwere pleased with our choice as we had excellent weather (contrasting with rain every day in the Austrian Lakes last year!) - but we do have a major reservation about the coastal walking (the days 2 & 3 'inland' walks were fine). On day 4, the coastal walk takes you away from the coast over the last section (south of Cavaleiro). This is a wide flat, rather boring gravel/sand track with little of interest - partiularly at this time of year when crops have either been harvested or burned off by th sheat of the sun. You are too far from the cliff top to be able to see the beautiful coast. We were then invited to re-walk this route (with only minor variations and in the opp. direction) on Day 5 as part of the Touril Loop. We thought this was a bit silly and walked up the coast path to the lighthouse, and back the same way. We could of course have stuck to the coastal path on Day 5 and we would suggest you specify this in future, omitting the (unnecessary) 'Touril Loop'. You could then perhaps introduce a further day's walking south of Cerca do Sul or - if that proves impracticable, just make the holiday one day shorter.
We thought that Day 7 contained by far the best of the coastal walks because you were able to see so much more of the beautiful coast from the trail. On days 5 and 6, quite a bit of the walking seemed to be just that little bit away from the cliff top and the path a bit flat and tedious at times. (When you do get the view though it is certainly spectacular!).
The Cercada do Sul is a bit of a dull treck away from the coast path - again on a flat, rather boring path and, again, repeated on Day 7. We accept there's probably not much you can do about this if there's no other suitable accommodation.
And, finally, we would suggest you build meals at the Cercado do Sul into the holiday. There didn't seem to be much to offer in Brejao....and it's a bit of treck down a dull flat paved road to get to the village from the Cercado. (We did have a look but didn't fancy the walk back in the dark so ate both nights at the Cercado).
Wouldn't want you to think we didn't enjoy our hol. It was fine and the orgabisation / admin was faultless as ever. No problems at all with travel arrangements.
Just a bit disappointed with some of the walking (lots of it was good!).
By Mr Smith on 07/10/2014
We have used several walking holiday companies and you are thus being compared with your peers. The booking process was poor, uncertain and had to be regularly prompted by me. It took ages to get any proper confirmation. You continually tried to send out documents by email and not by post - good for you, rotten for me - I am not going to print them - you should do so. Your walking notes were a disappointment. We often felt that they had been written by someone whose first language was not English. They were lacking in detail, imprecise and sometimes confusing and wrong.They are flabby in size with small print. On walk number 5, where we had been deceived and delayed by your directions, this section had to be repeated the following day. Fellow walkers at the hotel had given us their notes for the same section from Inntravel, so on that second day we had both sets of notes with us. We would never have made the mistakes that occurred if we had been using the detailed, better formatted and more user-friendly notes of Inntravel. The last point that I want to make concerns your suggestion in the main brochure that after the walk on Day 5 we should 'have a paddle at Praia do Tonel.' The 'beach' there is about 75 feet vertically below you at the foot of steep cliffs. The only access is by a narrow, loosely surfaced and almost vertical gulley created by rain erosion. Ropes have been fitted at a couple of points meaning that one would have to abseil down and haul oneself up again. It would be dangerous on a mountaineering holiday but simply lethal for many people. I am an experienced walker but would only attempt this if suicidally inclined. There is a notice there warning to stay clear because of possible rockfall. There is only one explanation: the person who wrote the notes has never seen the beach!
By Mr Lipscombe on 01/10/2014
The hotels were stayed in were all quite different and we enjoyed the variety of style and locations. The walking, particularly along the coastal sections, was excellent.
By Mrs Donaldson on 17/06/2014
Our 3rd Headwater holiday, some wonderful places and characteful hotels. Everything good except:
Brochure implies more opportunities to get down to sea level for paddle or swim. In fact there wee only a couple of places an the notes did not make it clear that if you went on there wold be no other place to get to the sea.
Some of the terrain (cliff pathways that were rather a 'scramble') were a challenge fo a 2 boot walk.
One days route took us away from the coast and along a boring road for miles when we could have been following the spectacular coastal footpath. This was presumably so we could do that coastal section on a loop walk the next day. This was misguided though because we would much prefer the coast route in two directions than 5 miles along tarmac road inland with little of interest either side!
Lack of communication with last hotel over one of us being vegetarian (though fish eating). Hotel wasn't aware and with no local shops it was difficult to put new meal together.
By Mr Joseph on 08/05/2014
This is a unique holiday. You are welcomed to the Quinta like a family guest. It is a place of tranquillity and peace, where you can relax in their beautifully landscaped garden and enjoy the views and the lakes, or take local walks. Meals show the benefits of locally sourced produce and Daniella's home cooking.
I went for the bird watching. Here you get the benefit of Frank's 25+ years of study of the wildlife of the Alentejo. Not only does he have amazing knowledge he has an infectious enthusiasm that he so much wants to share with you. He doesn't rest until you have had not just a view, but the best possible, of the huge variety of species that are in this little-known, and quite unspoilt, region. The care he took over planning each excursion was outstanding. I returned refreshed in body and spirit and recommend this holiday as strongly as possible to all bird lovers
By Mrs Dewar on 06/05/2014
A really good holiday, much enjoyed.
By Mrs Lugg on 24/04/2014
Perfect location for birding with knowledgable guides who tailor trips according to individuals needs.
Excellent accommodation and meals.
By Mr O'Hara on 22/04/2014
Beautiful scenery, some challenging aspects to the walking, helpful staff and interesting locations.
By Mrs Naylor on 20/06/2013
fantastic! it really was paradise in Portugal! And Frank was a wonderful guide and took us to places we would never have visited on our own. All staff were so friendly and welcoming, including the dogs!
By Ms Horner on 17/06/2013
I have had many Headwater holidays and never been disappointed.
By Mrs Probett on 13/06/2013
Frank was brilliant, extremely knowledgeable and able to help us improve our bird id skills. We really felt part of the family in a beautiful setting.
By Ms Owsley on 07/06/2013
The location was fantastic for a place out of the way and quiet. Superb for bird watching and the owners professional knowledge in that area.
By Mrs Riley on 06/06/2013
The holiday was excellent but a bit of a shock for novice bird watchers when some morning starts are 4.30am!! Frank was an excellent guide and very knowledgeable. We were made very welcome by everyone at the Quinta and nothing was too much trouble.
By Mr Pittam on 30/04/2013
The Quinta is an excellent base for anyone wanting to get away from it all! Peace quiet beautiful surroundings friendly people relaxing etc walking great & spring v good time for flowers & birds.
By Mr Mitchell on 00/00/0000
We enjoyed our holiday, hotels and food were good, people very friendly and helpful, not a particularly scenic route but pretty good for non-cyclist as very flat.