Douro Valley viewpoint

Portugal travel guide: everything you need to know before your trip

Table of Contents

If you’re looking for a Portugal travel guide that covers all the basics of Portugal, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss everything from how to get there to what you can expect from Portuguese food. We’ll also give you some tips on things like what the best itinerary is and when the best time to visit is. So whether you’re just starting to plan your trip or you’re almost ready to go, read on for information that will help make your Portugal journey unforgettable!

Praia da Nazare, Portugal

General travel information Portugal

Portugal at glance: Portugal is known for its stunning beaches, rolling hills, and beautiful landscapes. Its temperate climate, long history, and modern infrastructure make it a great destination. The cuisine of Portugal is renowned around the world too and features some delicious traditional dishes. No matter what interests you, Portugal is sure to have something for everyone.

Popular destinations in Portugal: Portugal has plenty of amazing places to visit, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular destinations below. This is only a fraction of what Portugal has to offer, but it’s a great starting point for planning your trip!

  • Lisbon: Lisbon is Portugal’s vibrant capital city. It’s a great place to explore with its winding streets and colorful buildings that date back centuries.
  • Porto: Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and is situated on the country’s north coast. The historic center of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so be sure to walk around and explore its cobblestone streets.
  • The Azores: the Azores are a group of nine volcanic islands located off the coast of Portugal. The islands are known for their stunning landscapes with rolling hills, beautiful lakes, and waterways as well as diverse wildlife.
  • Algarve: along Portugal’s southern coast lies the Algarve region, which is known for its beaches and stunning coastline. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal and offers a variety of activities such as surfing, snorkeling, and other water sports. Lagos is one of the places to stay in the Algarve that is ideal to discover the Algarve.
  • Douro Valley: the Douro Valley is a stunning region located in northern Portugal. It’s known for its vineyards and winding river, which make it the perfect destination for wine lovers.
  • Madeira: Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal located off the coast of Morocco. The island is known for its lush landscapes, stunning coastline, and vibrant culture.
  • Sintra: Sintra is a small town located just outside of Lisbon. It’s known for its many historic palaces and gardens as well as breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Coimbra: Coimbra is a small city in central Portugal. It’s home to one of Portugal’s oldest universities and has lots of historical sites and attractions to explore.
  • Evora: Evora is a city located in southern Portugal. It’s known for its well-preserved Roman ruins as well as its many churches, palaces, and other attractions.
  • Braga: Braga is a city located in northern Portugal. It’s home to many Baroque monuments as well as some of the most beautiful churches and cathedrals in the country.

Currency in Portugal: The currency of Portugal is the euro (EUR). It’s important to note that not all establishments accept credit cards, so it’s best to have cash on hand for smaller purchases. ATMs are widely available throughout Portugal and are a convenient option for withdrawing cash.

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Tipping in Portugal: Tipping is not as common in Portugal as it is in many other countries. However, it’s still customary to tip for excellent service in restaurants, bars, and taxis. A general rule of thumb is to leave around 5-10% of the bill as a tip or round up the fare for taxi drivers. It’s also polite to leave a small tip for hotel staff, such as cleaning and laundry personnel. In general, the Portuguese are known for their hospitality and friendliness – so a smile or kind words of appreciation go a long way!

Religion and culture in Portugal: Portugal is a predominantly Catholic country, with around 81% of the population identifying as Catholic. As such, Catholicism has had a huge influence on the culture and traditions of Portugal. This can be seen in the many religious festivals and holidays that are celebrated throughout the year.

Portugal also has its own traditional music, dance, and cuisine which make it a unique country. Traditional music can be heard in cafes and bars throughout Portugal, and traditional dances like the fado are still practiced across the country today. Portuguese cuisine is also known for its variety of seafood dishes as well as stews, pastries, and desserts.

Transport in Portugal: Portugal has an excellent public transport system, making it easy to get around the country. The most common way of getting around is by bus and train, both of which are fast and reliable. Taxis are also widely available in major cities and towns, although they may be more expensive than other forms of transport. You can buy public transport tickets upfront via the link.

If you’re traveling by car, Portugal also has an extensive network of highways and roads connecting all the major cities. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car and explore new destinations. They’re effortless to book with, making traveling a piece of cake.

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Ponta da Piedade

Best time to travel to Portugal

The best time to travel to Portugal depends on what you’re looking for. Generally speaking, spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) are the most popular times to visit Portugal due to pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. During these months, the weather is mild, making it perfect for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

Summer (June-August) is also a popular time to visit Portugal, although it can be very hot and humid during this period. It’s best to plan your visit for early June or late August if you want to avoid the hottest temperatures. Winter (December-February) is the least popular time to visit Portugal, although some visitors come to enjoy the cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.

To conclude, the best time to visit Portugal depends on your preferences and what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you’re looking for mild weather and fewer crowds, spring or autumn are the best times to travel. For warm weather and beach days, summer is the best time to visit. Those looking for a quieter experience may prefer winter in Portugal. No matter when you decide to visit, you’re sure to have an amazing time!

Sunset Monsanto

Is Portugal safe to travel to?

Yes, Portugal is a safe destination for travelers. It has low crime rates and the Portuguese police are very friendly and helpful to tourists. However, it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautionary measures when traveling, such as not leaving valuable items unattended or overly exposing yourself to potential pickpocketing. If you need help or have any questions while traveling in Portugal, don’t hesitate to ask the locals! They are usually happy to help.

Travel insurance

World Nomads travel insurance policies offer coverage for more than 150 activities. Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.

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Alfama Lisbon
3 day Lisbon itinerary Portugal 1

Best things to do in Portugal

Of course, the best things to do in Portugal depend on personal preference. However, some of the most popular activities include visiting historical sites like castles and monuments, exploring natural parks and gardens, and enjoying Portuguese cuisine.

Enjoy the many historical cities in Portugal

A visit to Lisbon and Porto is a must when traveling to Portugal. In the historical city of Lisbon, you can find many castles with beautiful views of the Tagus River. Porto holds an impressive historical center with several old churches.

But also smaller cities like Coimbra are worth visiting. In Coimbra for example you can see the oldest university in Portugal.

Coastline of Portugal

The coastline of Portugal is one of the most beautiful in Europe and a great place to explore. With over 800 miles of stunning beaches, you can find everything from hidden coves to bustling resorts. There are also plenty of activities available such as surfing, kite-surfing, sailing, and boat trips. We explored the south beaches of Portugal from Lagos.

Wine region

The Douro Valley is one of the most beautiful wine regions in Europe. Located between Porto and the Spanish border, this region offers some of the best Portuguese wines. The Douro Valley is known for its stunning landscapes, breathtaking views, and charming villages. You can explore vineyards, taste local wines, visit wineries and try some of the region’s traditional dishes.

Hike in the mountains

Maybe you do not expect it but you can go hiking in the mountains of Portugal. The most famous national park is Peneda Gerês National Park. This park offers breathtaking views, stunning waterfalls, and plenty of hiking opportunities. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a bit of adventure and some unspoiled nature!

Villages in the countryside

Portugal has a lot to offer and many visitors forget the villages in the countryside. These small villages are often off the beaten path and they can surprise you with their beauty, charm, and hospitality. From small fishing villages to quaint mountain hamlets, there’s something for everyone. These are some of the best villages to visit in Portugal: Nazaré, Obidos, and Monsanto.

Things to do Douro Valley

Best itinerary Portugal

While it would be lovely to explore every corner of Portugal, that’s unfortunately not realistic. So, if you’re planning a trip there, narrow down your must-see sights in advance.

We have gone on a journey through Portugal and, from our experience, we have created a Portugal itinerary. You can see the whole planned trip below or read more information about specific parts of the journey via the link provided.

Food in Portugal

Portuguese cuisine is known for its unique flavors and ingredients derived from the country’s historic ties to the sea. Many of the dishes are delicious and worth trying if you travel to Portugal. Here are some of the most popular Portuguese dishes:

  • Bacalhau: Bacalhau, or salted cod, is a national dish of Portugal. It’s usually served with boiled potatoes, eggs, and olives.
  • Cozido à Portuguesa: Cozido à Portuguesa is a stew made with various types of meat, such as pork, chicken, and beef, along with vegetables like carrots and potatoes. This hearty dish is often served with white rice.
  • Pastéis de Nata: Pastéis de Nata are Portuguese custard tarts, which are usually served with cinnamon sugar and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. They’re sweet and delicious!
  • Caldo Verde: Caldo Verde is a traditional soup made with potatoes, shredded kale, and chorizo. It’s usually served with bread and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Sardinha assada: Sardinha assada is grilled sardines, and it’s often served with boiled potatoes and a side salad. This is a popular dish in Portugal, especially during the summer months.
Retiro do Gerês

What budget do you need for Portugal?

On average, travelers spend $80 to $120 per day. It is possible, however, to travel through Portugal without spending as much money. In our article discussing the cost of a trip to Portugal, we share all of our tips for saving money while traveling. We also detail how much our own trip through Portugal cost us in total.

Accommodaties in Portugal

In Portugal, it’s essential to book your accommodations in advance to get the best value for your money. We’ve created an overview of our favorite accommodations in Portugal so you can easily find and book a place to stay that fits your budget. This article is easy to follow and provides clear, step-by-step instructions on how to find and book the perfect accommodation for your trip.

What to pack for a trip to Portugal

The items you pack for your trip will depend on the time of year, location, and planned activities. If you plan to follow our travel route through Portugal, we recommend packing the following items.

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • A light jacket or sweater for cooler days and evenings
  • Swimsuit for beach visits or pool days
  • Hat and sunglasses for sun protection
  • Lightweight daypack for carrying snacks and water
  • Travel adapters and power bank to charge your devices
  • Camera/GoPro (optional) to capture beautiful photos of your trip
  • Additionally, it’s important to bring cash with you as not all places accept credit cards.
  • Other personal items like toilet bags with stuff, ‘normal’ clothing medication, and personal belongings.

More Portugal travel guide tips

  • Learn some basic Portuguese. Even if you don’t become fluent in the language, picking up a few phrases will go a long way with locals.
  • Plan your activities in advance and book your accommodation ahead.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as much of Portugal is hilly and you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and stay hydrated!
  • Respect the local culture, customs, and traditions of Portugal.
  • Bring a map or use GPS navigation like the app Maps.Me with offline maps to help you get around.
  • Ask locals for recommendations on where to go, what to see, and where to eat.
  • Bring a bag for day trips.

And of course: enjoy your journey! Portugal is a beautiful country to travel through, with stunning natural scenery, authentic villages and cities, and lovely people.

What do you think of our Portugal travel guide? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: the prices mentioned in this article may differ from the current situation. We regularly update our articles. Would you like to help us to provide to best possible insights to help other travelers leave a comment with the latest information. Thanks!

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Hello, we are Cynthia & Alexander, the team behind Travel Your Memories! Traveling is our passion. When it comes to exploration, we love sharing our tips and adventures to inspire you. Welcome to Travel Your Memories, where we share our love for travel with you! Read our story.

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