Portugal Travel Guide
- Everything you need to know for your trip to Portugal-
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a lovely country in southwestern Europe. If you want to experience a combination of exquisite art, fantastic culture, mouthwatering food, exceptional beaches, extraordinary landscapes, beautiful cities, and colorful festivals, you need to put Portugal in your bucket list and visit this remarkable European country at least once in your life.
Why Visiting Portugal?
Portugal is probably one of the best destinations in Europe for having a great trip. The reasons are countless, but some of them, like amazing beaches, breathtaking landscapes, pleasant weather, mouthwatering food, etc., are among the highlights. Let’s take a closer look at the main factors for convincing you to visit Portugal at least once in your life.
The first remarkable element about Portugal is its fantastic beaches. Interestingly, Portugal has awarded for the higher percentage of blue flag beaches around Europe. It has made Portugal one of the best destinations for beach breaks around Europe. Most beaches in this country are located on the southern side of Algarve, filled with resorts, villas, and restaurants. Besides Algarve, Azores and Madeira also have beautiful beaches.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and historic palaces, castles, and architecture are fantastic in this city and even Portugal. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and its palaces, castles, and fortresses are remarkable. You will be amazed by Palácio da Pena’s romantic architecture and its beauties.
Food lovers will have a fantastic experience in Portugal. Travelers will enjoy different kinds of seafood in this European country. Besides food, Portugal is one of the world’s major wine producers, and you can enjoy one of your best experiences of drinking wine ever! Interestingly, despite having great wine and food, their costs are notably reasonable! Also, there is a fantastic tart in Portugal called custard tarts, which any traveler must try!
The weather in Portugal is fantastic for traveling, with hot summers, warm spring and autumn, as well as cool (not cold) winters. There is an average of 2,799 hours of sunshine in a year in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. It shows that travelers can enjoy visiting the country during the year, no matter it’s winter, summer, spring, or autumn.
Portugal Top Destinations
Best Time to Visit Portugal
Temperature: 10 °C (50 °F) – 21 °C (69.8 °F)
In late February, the spring begins in Portugal. In the north, the weather is rainy, helping you to enjoy eye-catching flowers growing on the hillsides as well as almond blossoms around the regions. During spring, the number of tourists is low than in other seasons.
Accommodation and other costs in spring are notably low compared to other seasons. There are many events and festivals in spring, like the chocolate festival in Óbidos, a flower festival in Madeira, Iberian Mask Festival, FIMFA, and Bracara Augusta.
Summer (June – August)
Temperature: 15 °C (59 °F) – 28 °C (82.4 °F)
June can be considered a great month for visiting Portugal, with 10 hours of sunshine during the day. Since the first days of summer, the rainfall reduces and the daylight hours increases. In coastal areas of the ocean, the weather is still cool. However, on islands, long swimming can be impossible due to the cool ocean breeze. In Beja and Evora, especially, the day weather is scorching in summer.
Despite hot days in Portugal, evenings can be a bit cool. Therefore, pack some sweaters as well. Summer is the peak season in Portugal, so you need to book in advance. There are also many festivals in summer, such as cherry festivals and Festival Med in Loulé,
Autumn (September – November)
Temperature: 11 °C (51.8 °F) – 27 °C (80.6 °F)
In early autumn, the weather in the daytime is warm, and it begins to drop to the pleasant circumstance. However, in the evenings, you should expect chilly weather. Generally, autumn is a great time for visiting Portugal, but if you have no problem with some rainy days!
Have you ever heard of mega waves’ tales in Portugal? Autumn is the best time for visiting that! Many festivals are held during the autumn, like Miscaros, the mushroom festival near Fundão.
Winter (December – February )
Temperature: 8 °C (46.4 °F) – 15 °C (59 °F)
The weather in winter is usually dry and delightful with blue and sometimes cloudy sky. Although the weather is usually pleasant, it can also get cold. The weather might snowy in some areas, but there is only one ski resort, Serra da Estrela Mountains.
As mentioned, the weather can get cold. Therefore, you need to bring your warm clothes, scarves, gloves, etc. However, you will rarely face the snow around the country, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
Best Portugal Tours
Things to Do in Portugal
Portugal is a country with cities that are pretty to look at and explore. Wherever there are no cities has a nature that is enchanting because of its beauty. All in between, there are numerous outdoor and indoor possibilities that will keep you entertained as you travel. No matter what you prefer, all possible things to do in Portugal are worth a try, at least once. Discover the history, and bring good walking shoes for hiking and exploring everything about this place.
Start with Exploring Lisbon and Visiting Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
The lovely Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. The city itself is pretty enough for just exploring and having a good time with its historical textures. But having explored the city, it vital to also see the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, which is like the prime of their architecture. Walk in the streets of Lisbon and fall in love with the cute buildings and structures, and marvel at the magnificence of Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. When visiting the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, make sure to spend enough time there and fully enjoy all the decorations and the interior design.
Enjoy the Architecture and Interior of Torre de Belem
The second highlight of Lisbon is the Torre de Belem, another must-visit UNESCO Heritage Site of Portugal. Torre de Belem is relatively near the marvelous Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, and therefore, it is best to visit both of them on the same day. These structures date back to the 16th century and are among the most picturesque sites in the city. Another popular thing to do is climb to the top of Torre de Belem to view the surrounding area. The fortifications and the history behind Torre de Belem are also worth discovering while feeling the atmosphere of an important defensive structure.
Discover the Marine Life of Oceanario de Lisboa
One of the things that will be amusing for everyone, especially families, is going to the Oceanario de Lisboa. The vast aquarium holds numerous forms of life, even several species of birds and mammals, in a suitable and educational environment. While in Oceanario de Lisboa, it is possible to see the sea creatures and marine life of more places than just Portugal and discover the life under the water. It is also worth mentioning that Oceanario de Lisboa is the largest indoor aquarium of all of Europe, which is another good reason to check it out. Just be careful when you go to the Oceanario de Lisboa, as it can get really crowded. Timing for this visit is important, as it is a top and busy site in Lisbon.
Leave One Day for Exploring Sintra Before Leaving Lisbon
Most travelers and tours visit the beautiful town of Sintra, which is not very far from Lisbon. All of Sintra is worth exploring with its parks and waterfront as well as the historic texture and center of town. While planning to explore, make sure to visit the Palacio Nacional de Sintra as it is famous for being the signature building of Sintra. It is a highlight and signature building of the town as it is one of the oldest, still standing palaces of Portugal that dates back as far as the 14th century. Be sure to pack a camera, hike around the town and also visit the coastline, all in one tour day of Sintra.
Hike Along Cabo de Roca
Cabo de Roca is a very famous trial in all of Europe, located in the western areas of Sintra. Cabo de Roca is part of the Sintra Cascais Natural Park, but you should plan for this trip as a separate thing to do in Portugal since visiting it may take too long. The view over the beaches, rocks, and cliffs with the floral elements all over the path make this place one of the favorite places for adventurers. Cabo de Roca is also suitable for birdwatching as one of the side activities for travelers to Sintra. It is generally a great and scenic trail with a lot of similarity to the California coastline, as is usually said by American travelers.
Go on an Adventure at Furnas Lake
One of the best places to enjoy the beauties of the earth in Portugal is the area around Furnas Lake. What most people do in this part of Portugal is hiking and canoeing on the green waters of Furnas Lake. The color of the water is something unique, and as you explore the different sections, you will also find the pools of water that are warm all year long! Let your inner adventurer loose in this part of the country and discover volcanoes and other natural elements. Hiking and canoeing at Furnas Lake is a good thing to do there, but any kind of outdoor activity is suitable in these parts, just get there and have fun.
Go on a Pilgrimage in Bom Jesus do Monte
The entire city of Braga is a significant place for history enthusiasts, especially its Bom Jesus do Monte. The religious sanctuary called Bom Jesus do Monte is a bit to the east of the city, but it is a must-see site sitting among lush green trees. This place is only one of the several buildings that make Braga an important religious city. One of the beauties of the Bom Jesus do Monte is its great staircase that will leave pilgrims along a spiritual journey. There are also gardens that add to the already enchanting appearance of the entire place. Visit all the buildings of Bom Jesus do Monte, feel its calm and peace, and walk the pilgrim’s path during an unforgettable visit.
Walk in the Beautiful Streets of Coimbra
Undoubtedly another marvelous city in Portugal to explore is Coimbra, with numerous Heritage sites, such as the Biblioteca Joanina. All of Coimbra has places from the 12th to the 18th century with unique styles of architecture. One can say the whole city is a huge Heritage Site with all kinds of highlights all over the place. If walking and sightseeing is something you like, you will never get bored as Coimbra is the best place for a long walk in the streets. Other than the architecture and appearance of Coimbra, there are several things to do. One such activity is listening to the traditional music of Portugal. Discovering the beauties of Coimbra will not take so long, but do not plan to leave this city soon, as it attracts people and forces them to stay.
See One of the Largest Collections of Art and Historical Items at Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
Filled with the vast collection of Calouste Gulbenkian, the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is a place to see more than 6000 artifacts and items from all over time and history. It is said that the entire collection that is displayed in Museu Calouste Gulbenkian belonged to him as this Armenian man collected them all his life. It would be a mistake to miss the opportunity to see such pieces of art and history while in Portugal. Therefore, make sure to visit the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian with items from all over the planet and all of history.
Visit the Ria Formosa Natural Park
Ever since 1987, Ria Formosa has become one of the most beautiful national parks of Portugal. The coastline alone can get you hooked on the view of the sea but other enjoyable natural elements. It is filled with different terrains and wildlife, making it ideal for visiting the environment but more than that, it is a suitable place for relaxing. Having biodiversity and a vast area makes visitors come in numbers for birdwatching. Alternatively, people come and search the landscape for their ideal spot or seek the sands of the Ria Formosa coastline.
Local Transportation in Portugal
You can find urban buses in almost all cities. However, the network in Lisbon and Porto is more extensive and more efficient. You need to buy tickets at the bus stops and from kiosks.
Porto and Lisbon have a great metro system. In Lisbon, there are four lines, which are easy to navigate and very efficient. You can easily buy the ticket at the stations.
In Lisbon, you can also take a tram, a lovely way to see and get around the city. It can be a fun and fantastic experience in the capital of Portugal.
Taxis in Portugal are usually Beige and sometimes green or black. They are very affordable in Portugal. However, you should only trust in taxis that have an official taxi sign on the roof and driver’s ID in the cab.
Uber is also available in Portugal. The prices are not significantly less than regular taxis, but they have fixed costs, and you don’t need to worry about it.
Intercity Transportation in Portugal
There are three major international airports in Lisbon, Faro, and Porto. Also, many airports are serving domestic airlines. Traveling by air is always the fastest way of getting around.
Train plays a crucial role in the transportation of Portugal. There are both regional and inter-regional trains, helping travelers to easily reach wherever they want around the country.
There are both domestic and international coaches in Portugal. There are both express and ordinary ones, helping you to reach almost all cities of the country. Some operators include InterCentro, InterNorte, and InterSul.
Flight Deals to Portugal
Portugal Travel Costs
|Budget||€19 – €37|
|Mid-Range||€45 – €89|
|High-End||€99 – €198|
|Average Daily Costs|
Best Hotels in Portugal
Find the best hotels in Portugal using our best price search engine, or go with one of our All-inclusive tours with 4 Star hotels included. You can book our guaranteed hotels for your extra accommodation; before or after your tour days.
Portugal Travel Tips
Portuguese is the official language in Portugal. Generally, you won’t face any problem regarding languages since there is a large number of English-speaking people in Portugal. However, learning some basic phrases will be helpful.
Portugal is not a crime-free country but generally is considered very safe. However, you need to be aware of pickpockets, especially in Lisbon. Don’t carry valuable objects or too much cash. Also, use an appropriate handbag or backpack, and keep an eye on them.
In July and August, Portugal is packed with both local and international tourists. Therefore, the prices are high, and you will be confused by the number of people you see in tourist areas.
If you are going to visit Lisbon or Porto, public transportation is highly recommended due to the huge traffics around these cities. Rechargeable metro cards are very efficient since you can use them in other means of public transport (except for taxis)
Portuguese are people who take things easy and don’t do their tasks in a fast manner. It might be irritating for people who are living in countries like the United States. Try to enjoy the slow pace of life in Portugal.
Tap water in Portugal is considered safe. However, the bottled water tastes better than the tap water
There are not so many options for vegetarians in Portugal. In larger cities, the vegetarian culture is growing, but in rural areas, you can’t expect to find vegetarian food (not to mention vegan food).
There are not so many options for vegetarians in Portugal. In larger cities, the vegetarian culture is growing, but in rural areas, you can’t expect to find vegetarian food (not to mention vegan food).
Tipping in Portugal is not obligatory but appreciated. The amount of tip for appreciation would be up to 10%.
Plugs and sockets in Portugal are F types, and the standard voltage is 230 V. Also, the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
|112||Emergency Services (medical service, fire service, or police)|
|808 200 520||Environment SOS (GNR)|
|808 201 855||Transit SOS (GNR)|
|214 401 919||Sea rescue|
|210 911 100||Maritime Police|
|0808 24 24 24||Non-Emergency|
|213 619 542||Cancer Healthline|
|0800 202 669||Suicide/crisis helpline|
Currency & Money Tips
The official currency in Portugal is the euro with denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500. There are also coin denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as 1 and 2 euro coins.
ATMs are the best means of getting cash in Portugal, which can be found easily in almost all cities and towns. However, it’s better to have some cash in rural areas since they may not have ATMs. Most banks’ ATMs have English menus, accepting Visa, Access, MasterCard, Cirrus, etc. You just need your card and PIN. There is also a limitation in withdrawing money from ATMs, which is €200 per withdrawal. Also, most banks charge a foreign transaction fee, which is usually 2% to 3%.
Banks and exchange offices (bureaux de change) are also available if you prefer to exchange your money in the offices or banks. However, they can set their own rates.
Most hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. However, if you will stay in smaller hotels or guesthouses, make sure to have some cash.
Food & Drink (Portuguese Food)
Eating and drinking in Portugal are some of the most pleasant parts of traveling to this country. The flavors of their healthy and tasty seafood as well as their Wine, along with their sweet desserts, are irresistible. Keep an eye out for their magnificent national and traditional dishes as they are the best, and then go for anything else Portuguese.
Bacalhau is a staple food of Portugal and a dish with numerous recipes and ways of preparation. Some say Bacalhau has as many recipes as the year has days, but that may be an overestimation of the possibilities until you actually see it for yourself. It is a national dish and has several traditional ways of making it. You can find Bacalhau at sit-in restaurants, as sandwiches in the street, or as a stew with tomatoes. Traditionally, fish is salted and dried in the sun, and then it is made into Bacalhau with its various ways of making.
Traditionally, this dried codfish is grilled and served with vegetables and on top of potatoes. You can also see a version of Bacalhau on top of chips, which is a newer recipe. The homemade version is always better, but no matter which kind of this food you find in Portugal, it is always an amazing thing to try.
Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de Nata is a dessert that can only be ever found in Portugal. This is a delicious and sweet snack that must be tried as the best thing to have after a meal. They are like small tarts and can only be acquired from certain shops like the famous Pastéis de Belém, but since they are very popular, they are almost found all over the country. The original recipe is a secret that has lived on since the mid-19th century, but there are egg yolks, sugar, and cream in the Pasties de Nata. If you like them as much as the people of Portugal, make sure to give them a try as an evening snack or as breakfast as well. And when shopping for Pasties de Nata, be sure to buy as many as possible. You will not regret it.
Francesinha is a famous dish from the Porto region, only found in the northern sections of Portugal. It is worth the trip, but be sure to exercise after having the Francesinha as it is full of calories. The idea of this food comes from the French Croque Madame with minor modifications for the locals. Francesinha is a sandwich of sausage, ham, and steak wrapped in cheese, topped with an egg, and then dipped in a sauce. It is quite the process to make this food, but the trouble is worth the result. When the Francesinha is ready, it is served on top of a mountain of fries.
It is very tasty and heavy, therefore make sure to work out the calories after having this food. Share the Francesinha sandwich with a friend, and then try hiking in the beautiful landscape of Portugal.
Another part of cuisine in Portugal that can only exist in this country is the Porco Preto which is a special kind of pork found only in this country and Portugal. This unique Iberian pig is first raised on a diet of acorns and then cooked by professional chefs to create an amazing flavor. Porco Preto should sound like an expensive and rare food to find, but in fact, it does not cost that much, and it is easy to find. There are two ways of making Porco Preto, and both of them are must-try foods. The taste of a Porco Preto and its texture is something unique as compared with other grilled meat dishes. This difference is mostly said to be due to the diet of these special pigs.
Sopa da Pedra (Stone Soup)
If you are feeling sick, weak, or need something amazingly healthy, order the Sopa da Pedra AKA “Stone Soup” while in Portugal. It’s the richest soup you have ever had, which oddly enough, has roots in poverty! The legend is that a poor monk was so hungry that he began boiling a stone into a soup. The people felt sorry for the monk and began adding local ingredients such as beans, potatoes, meat, and various vegetables. Then Sopa da Pedra was placed over a fire, and it became a traditional part of Portugal’s Cuisine.
Sopa da Pedra is very healthy as it is full of ingredients that will quickly restore you to your best condition. It might be an over-exaggeration, but you could almost say that Sopa da Pedra per day keeps the doctor away!
Piri Piri Chicken
Piri Piri Chicken of Portugal is a very famous dish of this country that is quite spicy. Since it is too hot, even many of the locals do not eat it, but it is a famous food of this country in any case. The best of the Piri Piri Chicken is found in the Algarve region, but it can be found all over the country. If you like chicken, there are various kinds of chicken in the country, but Piri Piri Chicken is something to try at least once, even if you do not exactly like spicy food.
If you are looking for drinking options, Port Wine is the number one choice to try after having your meal. It is exotic, found in the Porto region, and it is something that does not cost so much. Additionally, if you want to make the most of the Port Wine, try the Port Wine tour where you can taste this drink, learn about it and walk in an amazing environment. Just note that you should not try Port Wine along with your meal. It tastes good and has low alcohol, but the experience of having this drink is better when you try it after the food.
Polvo à lagareiro
Portuguese people love having octopus as part of their seafood, but the dish with an octopus that every traveler must try is the Polvo à lagareiro. Polvo à lagareiro is a whole octopus that is first baked in an oven with lots of olive oil and garlic. When the meat gets crispy and absorbs the tastes, it is ready to be served with potatoes that are baked with lots of olive oil and garlic, just like the meat. While trying new foods in Portugal, be sure to have Polvo à lagareiro at least once.
Mobile & Internet
Wi-Fi is widely available in Portugal. However, it’s not available everywhere. The good news is that you can buy SIM cards in Portugal easily and quickly. There are three main operators in Portugal, including MEO, Vodafone, and NOS. MEO has the best coverage, unlike NOS, with less coverage. However, Vodafone is recommended since the coverage is similar to MEO with lower prices.
Where to buy it?
There is a Vodafone store in Porto and Lisbon airports. The person behind the counter speaks English fluently and explains the packages depending on your preferences. You can choose if you want only data or need text and data as well. Besides airports, you can find Vodafone stores downtown Lisbon and other major cities.
A Vodafone package with 500 SMS or national call minutes as well as 3GB of data costs €17. If you need more data, pay €20 for 5GB. Also, if you need only data and want to stay for a longer time, pay €15 for 30GB.
Holidays & Festivals
|Name||Date 2021||Date 2022|
|New Year’s Day||1-Jan||1-Jan|
|Labor Day / May Day||1-May||1-May|
|Assumption of Mary||15-Aug||15-Aug|
|All Saints’ Day||1-Nov||1-Nov|
|Feast of the Immaculate Conception||8-Dec||8-Dec|
|St. Stephen’s Day||26-Dec||26-Dec|
Shopping in Portugal
Portugal is the major port wine producer in the world. This kind of wine, also called Vinho do Porto, is a fantastic fortified dessert made from vineyards of Douro Valley, near Porto. Make sure to bring some bottles of wine back home.
Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world, especially in Alentejo province. Main products from corks include wallets, shoes, and even umbrellas.
Azulejos is a kind of ceramic tile with the colors blue, yellow, green, and white. The patterns of these ceramics are traditional. You can buy these ceramic tiles around the country and bring them back home.
Portugal is one of the most famous producers of pottery products. Handmade potteries like cups, bowls, etc., can be found around the country, especially in João Mértola.
Roosters and Sardines
The rooster and sardines are two of the symbols of Portugal. You can pick up colorful roosters and sardines anytime around Lisbon, but it can be found especially during the Festival of Santo Antonio in Lisbon in June.
Ginjinha is a very popular cherry liqueur, which is the specialty of Portugal. You can find it all over Lisbon. You can find this tasty drink everywhere in Lisbon, whether it’s a local home, restaurant, or even streets. You can buy a small glass for 1 euro.