Ultimate Portugal Travel Guide (Travel Tips & Itineraries)

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Portugal travel guide

Ultimate Portugal Travel Guide

Filled with incredible landmarks, gorgeous sandy beaches, and vibrant cities, Portugal has so much to offer. If you are planning a vacation to Portugal, this Portugal travel guide provides essential information to know before you visit including travel tips and in-depth Portugal travel itineraries!

Portugal is located in Southern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula and borders Spain. 

Nearby countries include France, Morocco, Ireland, Scotland, and England.

Portugal Travel Guide - Porto Douro River

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Portugal Travel Guide Tips

As mentioned, this is an in-depth Portugal guide. This first section provides a short version filled with useful information such as popular restaurants, cities to visit, safety precautions, and more!

Portugal Language:

The official language in Portugal is European Portuguese. This is different than Brazilan Portuguese. The Memrise app is a good way to practice Portugal Portuguese. Duolingo only does Brazilian Portuguese.

While English is widely understood, it is best to have Google Translate. It is not recommended to try and speak Spanish to locals.

Portugal Population:

Portugal’s population has around 10.33 million people.

Lisbon Population:

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. The population is around 2.9 million people. 

Credit Cards and ATMs in Portugal:

In Portugal, credit cards are often accepted, along with the use of tap and pay and Mobile Wallets. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. Discover and AMEX are not as widely accepted. Make sure to bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

Some major banks are Millennium BCP, Novo Banco, and Banco Portugues de Investimento. There are places where you can exchange your local currency for Euros.

Portugal Currency:

The currency used in Portugal is the Euro. 

Tipping in Portugal:

There is no real tipping culture in Portugal, therefore, it is not expected. If you tip, leaving a couple of euros (5-10%) is ok.

Portugal Airports:

There are multiple airports across Portugal. The most popular airport is the Lisbon International Airport also known as Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS).

Other popular airports include Francisco de Sa Carneiro Airport (OPO) in Porto, and the Fara Airport (FAO) in Faro. The most popular airline in Portugal is TAP Portugal. Find the best flight prices here.

Portugal Safety:

Portugal is considered a safe country to visit. In most areas, crime rates are low. That being said, keep in mind petty crimes like pickpocketing in populated areas like Lisbon – especially on public transportation.

Cell Service in Portugal:

Cell phone service is very good in Portugal. You can buy a local sim card in Portugal or go with an Esim if you have a smartphone.

We use the Holafly esim when traveling abroad, this way we have cellphone service when we land.

Power Outlets in Portugal:

There are two plug types used in Portugal. Those are plug type C and plug type F. Plug type C has two round pins, and plug type F has two round pins and two earth clips on the side. Portugal operates on 230V and 50Hz.

This is the Travel Converter I use that works across the Globe.

Popular Places in Portugal:

Portugal has so many incredible places to visit, but some of the most popular cities to visit in Portugal are Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, the Algarve, Braga, Coimbra, and Évora.

Additionally, the Islands of Madeira and the Azores are popular and beautiful places to visit.

Famous Dishes Across Portugal: 

When visiting Portugal, make sure to try some of their most iconic dishes. This includes:

  • Pastel de Nata or Belem de nata– Portugal’s most famous sweet egg custard treat.
  • Caldo Verde – A smokey cabbage soup with barbequed sausage.
  • Bifana – A sandwich with thinly sliced pork marinated in garlic and wine.
  • Alheira De Mirandela – A sausage stuffed with chicken and bread. Often served with fried egg and fries.
  • Francesinha (Little Frenchie) – Toasted bread, cheese, slices of beef, spicy tomato sauce, and an egg on top.
  • Bacalhau – Dried and Salted Cod – the National Dish of Portugal
  • Grilled Sardines
  • Polvo à Lagareiro – Octopus, potatoes, olive oil, and garlic.

Getting Around Portugal:

You have a multitude of ways to navigate Portugal. Renting a car and taking road trips is very popular in Portugal – especially between smaller towns and the Algarve.

Public Transportation is also widely available, including some fast trains. The official rail service of Portugal is CP.

Rideshares like Uber and Bolt are also available and affordable.

Portugal Visa

If your stay in Portugal is less than 90 days within a 180-day period, you can currently obtain a visa on arrival for the majority of passport holders.

You will require a Schengen visa if your stay is more than 90 days.

Most travelers, including US citizens, will need to apply for ETIAS starting in 2024 when they travel to 30 different European countries. Visit ETIAS to learn more about the application. It costs 7 euros to accomplish this and needs to be done before your travel.

Elevador da Bica in Lisbon

Weather in Portugal

Portugal is known for having pretty great weather year-round. The country experiences hot summers and relatively mild winters.

Even though the weather does get cooler in the autumn and winter, it’s not extremely cold and does not snow. Northern Portugal is usually around 10 degrees colder than the more southern parts of the country.

The month with the warmest temperatures is usually August, and the coldest month in Portugal is usually January. 

The Spring season in Portugal begins in March and ends in May. This is a great time to visit. Everything starts to bloom, and the temperature usually remains around 68°F (20°C) by mid-day. You can expect it to be cooler in the morning and at night, so bring a jacket.

The summer months in Portugal start in late June and end in late August. The temperatures usually range from 78°F (26°C) to around 84°F (29°C). The Summer receives the least amount of rain.

The fall season in Portugal is during September and October. This is when temperatures start to drop from the extremes of summer, but the weather is still warm – especially in the South.

This is also a great time to visit Portugal if you want to enjoy exploring with fewer crowds. The temperatures average around 66°F (19°C) to around 78°F (26°C). It does start to rain more by October, however.

The winter season in Portugal is temperamental. Sometimes you can have fairly warm days (especially more south), and other days will be filled with rain. It tends to rain more in the North. The temperature stays around 57°F (14°C) by mid-day.

Portugal Fun Fact: Port Wine comes from Portugal and can only be grown in the Douro Valley.

Portugal Travel Guide - Porto
Porto

Popular Things to Do in Portugal

Portugal is renowned for its gorgeous beaches, but the cities and towns of Portugal also have so much to offer.

Some of the most popular things to do in Portugal include:

10 days in Portugal itinerary

Portugal Fun Fact: Fernão de Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, was the first to circumnavigate the globe from 1519 to 1522.


The Best Time to Visit Portugal

When planning to travel to Portugal, considering the season can change the type of trip you go on. If you want to enjoy the beaches in Portugal, avoid visiting during the winter months. This is when it will be the rainiest, and it gets considerably cold. However, if you are looking to avoid crowds or you’re on a budget, winter can be a great month to visit Portugal.

The end of spring or the start of summer (May/June) are arguably the two best times to travel to Portugal. You’ll find fewer people and lovely weather in Portugal at this time.

Portugal’s summer months will offer excellent weather, but they will also see the most visitors. Booking all of your hotels and special tickets far in advance is crucial if you intend to travel during the summer. The summer is best suited for visiting the beaches, however, since it can be too hot to explore the cities.

September is another great month to visit Portugal because the weather will still be very nice and warm with fewer crowds. While fall (October, November) can be nice, this is when you start to get into the rainy season.

Park of the Valley Hike from Marinha
Aveiro in Portugal

Portugal Travel Guide: Budget Tips

Portugal used to be one of Europe’s most affordable destinations however, as Portugal’s popularity increased, so did the prices. That being said, Portugal is still a fairly budget-friendly trip. Plus, there are always ways you can make your trip a little less expensive. 

In more popular areas in Portugal you can find hotel prices between $100-$200 per night if you visit in the early spring or in the fall. Prices tend to be higher in the summer, and Lisbon is generally on the higher end compared to other cities.

Street food is approximately $3-$10 USD a person. Restaurant food is more expensive and can cost closer to $15 and up per person – especially if you’re ordering seafood. In local areas, you will find more affordable food options.

  • Beer: 2-5 Euros
  • Wine: 5-10 Euros
  • Pastel de Nata: ~ 1 Euro
  • Sandwich: 5 – 8 Euros

Portugal Travel Tip: If the restaurant is trying to pull you in and eat, I’d suggest avoiding that place.

Attractions are pretty inexpensive, ranging from a couple of euros to 10 eruos. Boat cruises and tours will be on the higher side, and the Tuk Tuk rides are actually quite expensive $80+ per person. This is because they know people might have difficulty walking up and down the hills, and will just opt to pay.

Some Money-Saving Tips include looking into the City Passes. The Lisboa Card and Porto Card offer free entry into many attractions, discounts, and free public transportation. The Lisboa Card works well if you are planning on doing day trips and want to use public transportation and trolleys. I used it and liked it.

The Porto Card is not as worth it unless you plan to take a lot of public transportation, but the city is small, so you likely won’t.

Belem Tower is a must on your Portugal Itinerary

Where to Stay When Visiting Portugal

Portugal has so many wonderful places to stay, but you can use this list as a general guide of some of the more popular areas to stay.

Santuario de Nossa Senhora da Peneda
Santuario de Nossa Senhora da Peneda

Portuguese Words to Help You Get Around Portugal

English is widely spoken in Portugal, but the locals always enjoy it when tourists try to speak their language. That being said, Google Translate can always be used. I always suggest first always asking, “do you understand English?” This is a more respectful way to start communicating before just assuming they do.

Common Portuguese Phrases:

  • Ola– Hello (Saying good day is used more often than saying Ola)
  • Adeus – Goodbye
  • Bom Dia – Good Day
  • Sim (Cee) – Yes
  • Não – No
  • Por favor – Please
  • Obrigado (male)/ Obrigada (female) – Thank you
  • De nada – You’re welcome
  • Boa Tarde – Good afternoon
  • Boa Noite – Good Night
  • tchau – (ciao) – Bye
Porto Portugal colorful buildings

Portugal Travel Guide: Planning a Portugal Itinerary

When at Portugal travel guides, it can still be hard to determine where to go as there are so many incredible places in this country. Or, for that matter, how many days to spend in each place. Here is a suggested amount of days to visit popular cities.

If you can, spend at least 10 days in Portugal. Exploring the country for 2 weeks or more will allow you to visit more towns.

  • Braga: 1-2 Days
  • Douro Valley: Day trip or 1-2 days if you’re a wine enthusiast
  • Porto: 3 Days
  • Aveiro & Costa Nova do Prado: Day trip to 1 day
  • Nazaré: Day trip to 1 day
  • Coimbra: Day trip – to 2 days
  • Tomar: Day trip to 1 day
  • Óbidos: Day trip to 1 day
  • Cascais: Day trip to a couple days
  • Sintra: Day trip to 1 day
  • Lisbon: 3-4 days
  • Evora: Day trip to a couple of days
  • Fátima: Day trip to 1 day
  • The Algarve: 3-5 days (Lagos, Sagres, Albufeira, Ferragudo, Faro, Tavira)
  • Azores: at least 3-5 days, but can easily spend a week
  • Madeira: 4-6 days. You can get away with 3, but it may feel rushed.
Marinha Beach in Portugal
Marinha Beach in Portugal | Portugal Itinerary

Brief Portugal History

Portugal has a very rich history, and there are traces dating back to over 400,000 years ago. The Romans and the Moors ruled much of the country until the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques I, in 1139. You can still find Roman ruins and climb Moorish Castles throughout the country.

In 1373, the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance formed the oldest military alliance, and these countries still have a strong alliances to this day.

Portugal prospered for many years. However, this country, like many others, has a dark past. Portugal was one of the most active countries in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and it is believed the first slave market was in Lagos. In 1496, King Manuel I also banished those of Jewish and Muslim heritage. Portugal was also one of the first to then abolish slavery – way before England or the United States.

Portugal then fell under Spanish rule and didn’t become independent until 1640. Portugal also has been hit with dozens of earthquakes, but one of the most devastating was the Earthquake of 1755. Lisbon was destroyed along with most of the Algarve. Tsumianis and fires broke out.

Fast-forward to the present day, Portugal has a ton of culture, history, incredible food, landmarks, and landscapes to offer.

The Moorish Castle in Sintra Portugal

Portugal Travel Guide Related Articles

For more in-depth info about planning a trip to Portugal, check out these additional articles I’ve written for visiting Portugal.


Portugal Travel Guide Wrap-up

This concludes my Portugal Travel Guide. Remember to check out the additional Portugal Travel Guide itineraries, which go into even more depth about visiting Portugal, travel tips, and detailed itineraries.

Do you have any questions about your Portugal trip? Or, if you think I have missed something, below!

Found this Portugal Travel Guide Helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below.

Portugal Travel Guide
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Sam Opp

Sam Opp is a New Yorker based in Raleigh, NC. She is a travel writer and content creator who loves traveling, photography, coffee, and pizza. When she's not traveling, you can find her cuddling with her pup, Marley

2 thoughts on “Ultimate Portugal Travel Guide (Travel Tips & Itineraries)”

  1. What a terrific website! I am meeting my wife in Porto in October after she walks the Camino de Santiago and your blog is perfect! We are planning a 10 day trip starting in Porto and working our way down to Lisbon with various day trips along the way. So glad I found you!

    Reply

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