We spent 5 days in Portugal in April 2001. Our visit was part of a 3 week vacation in Spain and Morocco.
We are very ‘focused’ travelers, arriving in each city with a list of places to see, and we’ll move along fast if something doesn’t grab us. Especially in a 3 week tour of 3 countries, we didn’t spend much time soaking up atmosphere in cafes. A second note: We had terrible weather in Portugal. We believe the sun came out a few times in Lisbon, but it was very dreary. That really didn’t help our overall experience. Finally, our chosen guidebook is the "Let’s Go". Overall, we’ve found this to be the most trustworthy guidebook, and has lots of tips for vegetarian eating.
Despite all the warnings otherwise, we entered the country in the south by taking a bus from Seville. Although research and planning that bus trip in advance was a little difficult, it didn’t prove to be a problem booking it once we got to Seville. We had to make a connection in Huelva (Spain), and the bus from there to Faro was very slow, but we eventually made it.