PORTUGAL TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENTS
At a Glance
Looking for a complete travel guide to Portugal? We got you covered.
Sat on the Atlantic shores in the far South West of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Portugal was the place many travelers set sail from to discover the New World. Centuries on, why not make it the first place you visit on your way across Europe?
With a glistening coastline bathed in the fresh waters of the Gulf Stream and a beautiful interior landscape of mountains and hills, Portugal is a real, natural wonder.
Explore the culture of Lisbon or relax on the magnificent beaches of the Algarve, considered some of the most beautiful in the world.
Sail the River Douro from Porto inland, cycle the stunning Sintra mountains in the South West or explore the wonderfully green hillsides of the volcanic Azores. And when the activity is finished, tuck into some of the worlds finest seafood and an incredible selection of wine and port!
Portugal Quick Information
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Electricity Socket: 230V AC electricity. Power outlets are usually two-prong round sockets. To avoid having to buy a new adaptor every time, be sure to pack a universal travel adaptor so you can still use all your electronic gadgets.
Visa: Portugal is a member of the European Union and the Schengen convention. Nationals from other EU states do not need a Visa to enter and can stay for an unlimited time but should register with a local office if remaining longer than 90 days.
Visitors from certain countries such as the USA, Canada, and New Zealand can enjoy 90 days Visa-free travel within Portugal or other Schengen zone countries.
If you wish to exceed this stay, you must apply for a Schengen Visa, however, Portugal is less lenient on longer stays than other European countries.
Nationals from other countries such as Russia Asian Citizens and South Africa need to apply for a Schengen Visa before traveling to Portugal.
Safety: Like most of Europe, Portugal is a safe country. It is generally safe from natural disasters although its shores can be dangerous due to its Atlantic coastline.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing and mugging is a very real risk, especially in the major cities but it is still in the 20 safest countries in the world. Check out these tips on how to solo travel around Portugal.
However, as always, no matter how safe a country is, we always recommend getting travel insurance. Our go-to insurance provider is Safety Wing. They have affordable monthly plans and competitive coverage.
Language: The official language is Portuguese. Brazilian Portuguese is understood but not used, similar to British English use in the UK instead of American English.
English is often spoken in the major cities and in the tourist resorts such as the Algarve. A local language, Mirandese, is also used in certain villages in the north-east.
Portugal Trip Planning
Best Time to Go
While you can visit Portugal all year round, avoiding the Winter might be smart if much of your holiday plans involve beach breaks or outdoor activities. Best Time to Go: Summer – June to September
Typically, the weather is similar to other parts of Europe and it can be broken down into tourist seasons:
- Low Season (Dec-Mar) – Shorter, rainier days with freezing temperatures at higher elevations. As attractions are open for a shorter time, this season has fewer crowds and lower prices.
- Mid Seasons (Apr-Jun & Sep-Nov) – Mild days and cold ocean temperatures. An ideal time for outdoor activities and hiking, with fewer crowds and lower prices than high season. June is a festival season.
- High Season (Jul & Aug) – Very warm temperatures and warmer ocean temperatures. All attractions are open longer and accommodation prices increase by 30%, so expect big crowds, especially in coastal areas.
Depending on your style of travel, Portugal can be inexpensive to travel around. Based on our experience, accommodation is reasonable and the food is cheap, with transport and nicer accommodation being the largest expenses. When traveling around Portugal, you could budget for as low as €35-45 per day ($40-50), that is if you are staying in hostels, eating local or self-catering, and using public transport. For a guide to different types of travel, here is a rough break down of costs:
Budget: €10-20 ($12-23) dorms / €30-40 ($35-47) budget hotels
Mid-Range: €50-100 ($60-120)
Splurge: €120+ ($140+)
Food (Typical Meal For One)
Lunch at family-run restaurant: €7-9 ($8-11)
Dinner in mid-range Restaurant: €18-25 ($21-30)
Dinner in very nice restaurant: €40+ ($47+)
City Metro: €1.50+ ($2+) per journey
Intercity Trains/Buses: €20-45 ($23-53)
Bicycle Rental: €14+ ($16) per day
Taxi: ~ €12 (~$14) short journeys
What to Pack for Traveling Portugal
For Portugal, you will need a variety of clothes to suit all weather conditions. It’s often best to bring lots of things that you can layer if you’re cold but that would also be suitable to wear alone for the warmer days.
For a complete guide on what to pack for Europe, check out our full article.
Best Things to Do in Portugal
Fall in Love with Lisbon
Portugal’s capital is probably the best-value Western European capital city, so whatever your budget, you need to make your way there and make the most of it!
Teeming with culture and packed to the brim with historical sights, beautiful streets, and friendly locals, Lisbon is a city that will wow you and will have you wanting to come back for more. With amazing food and a vibrant nightlife, this top destination will be hard to leave.
Be Wowed by Batalha
Protected as a World Heritage Monument, Batalha is one of Europe’s most magnificent Gothic Churches and is truly a sight to behold.
Once you pick your jaw up from the ground, walk through its massive gothic doorway and stand in the impressive interior, drinking in all that you can.
Spend some time walking around feeling pretty insignificant and stare up in awe at the impressive 16th-century stained-glass windows. A popular day trip from Lisbon, this site is one to add to your list for sure.
Drink Port in Porto
World famous for its port wine, you haven’t really drunk port until you’ve tried it in Porto! Sample the delicious myriad of port and take a tour of the producers’ cellars to learn about how it’s made and its history.
Apart from boozing, there are plenty other things to do in Porto that you can take advantage of. The beautiful and historic waterfront of the Ribeirinha Promenade, a plethora of cafes and wine bars, and the stunning River Villa de Gaia to name a few.
Once you’ve exhausted the city, why not head to the surrounding Douro Valley to see where the grapes are grown?
Wander the Abbey of Santa Maria
The Abbey of Santa Maria is Europe’s largest building of the Cistercian order and has a lot to offer to every traveler. Whether you love to learn about history or just like to wander around beautiful places, this site won’t disappoint.
With a stunning church, a monastery, five cloisters, seven dormitories, a library, and a kitchen, there is plenty to explore at your own pace.
Experience a Traditional Fado Performance
Traditional Portuguese Folk Music is something that you have to experience while in Portugal. Whether you see the mournful Lisbon style or the more upbeat Coimbra style, you can be sure that the music will move you.
With at least 200 years of history behind the tradition, you can feel the emotion that goes into each performance and it is like nothing else you’ll ever see. To get an insight into the musical culture of Portugal, book your spot at many bars around the towns and cities and enjoy the experience over dinner.
Hit the Beach
Portugal has some stunning beaches along its coastline so it is the perfect destination for those much-needed beach breaks! Southern Portugal’s Algarve region, in particular, has some beauties, as well as Sagres, Aveiro, and the Praia da Adraga – one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches which is not too far from Lisbon.
The best thing about the beaches in Portugal is that you can find one to suit every need. Whether you like swimming, sunbathing, surfing or a secluded spot or a coast by the city, you can have it all in Portugal.
For those interested in getting a little adrenaline action, head on over to Ericeira, Portugal’s surfing reserve known for its world-renowned consistent waves.
What to Eat in Portugal
We absolutely love Mediterranean cuisine so naturally Portugal ticks all of our boxes! Boasting hearty meals with organic ingredients from the mountains in the north and the freshest of seafood from the West and South coasts, you can’t go far wrong anywhere in the country. If you’re only in Portugal for a short amount of time, here are a few dishes that you need to try:
Bacalhau A Bras
The Portuguese have 365 ways of cooking cod, but “Bras style” has to be the best! With shredded cod sautéed in a pan, served with onion, straw fried potatoes, eggs, garlic, and parsley, this dish is full of flavor that you can only imagine.
Arroz de Cabidela
The trick to eating and enjoying this dish is not to think about it or look at it too much! Loosely translated to “chicken blood rice,” this surprisingly rich and delicious dish is made by cooking chicken or rabbit in its own blood to create rice that is full of flavor.
Alheira or “sausage” has a fascinating history behind it and you can find many different kinds in any corner eatery in Portugal’s major cities. Usually enjoyed with a fried egg and fries, it’s the perfect lunch treat.
A lot of European countries are amazing at making soup and Portugal is no exception. A simple mix of potato, onions, and shredded kale, cooked in garlic and olive oil, Caldo Verde is the ultimate comfort food dish!
If you’re looking for a traditional Portuguese dessert to satisfy your sugar cravings, this sweet and creamy egg-based rice pudding will hit all the right spots! Made with caramel custard and a sprinkle of cinnamon, this simple delicacy is really something else.
Pastel de nata
Another must-try dish while in Portugal is Pastel de Nate which is a Portuguese custard tart which originates from Lisbon. A few famous places to try them in Lisbon are Pasteis de Belém, Manteigaria, and Aloma.
Places to Stay in Portugal
Unlike many other European countries, accommodation in Portugal is relatively inexpensive! With a variety of options depending on your budget, you can stay in dorms or private rooms in hostels, budget or luxury hotels, shared rooms or entire apartments via Airbnb, with locals through Couchsurfing, or one of our favorites, pensão (family-run inns).
If you’re traveling during peak season or holidays, it is best to book your accommodations in advance. We recommend checking sites like Booking.com.
Let’s just say, there is no shortage of options here in Portugal and you’ll always find somewhere to stay!