Portugal has so much to offer as a destination — beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, interesting culture, delicious food and wine, and friendly people. And best of all, it is affordable compared to other popular European destinations! Planning a trip to Portugal isn’t hard, but if you want to scratch below the surface, you will want to read these Portugal travel tips first.
I fell in love during my first trip to Portugal, but it wasn’t until I recently had the opportunity to spend a few weeks traveling through the country that Portugal really got under my skin and I developed a deeper appreciation for this special country.
Read on for my Portugal travel tips about getting to Portugal, when to visit Portugal, how long to stay in Portugal, and Portugal travel tips, and get started planning your dream trip.
If you aren’t sure where you want to go in Portugal, I have put together four sample one-week Portugal itineraries that you can choose from.
If you would rather have someone else plan your trip and put together an amazing journey through Portugal with unique experiences, I’d highly recommend working with my partner EPIC Travel. EPIC will consult with you and then create a custom Portugal itinerary, designed especially for your interests.
Just mention that you read about them on We3Travel to receive a free VIP welcome gift or upgrade on arrival. (As a partner I will receive a small commission if you book a trip through EPIC Travel but I’ve traveled with EPIC twice and can’t recommend them highly enough!)
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.
Tap Airlines, Portugal’s flagship carrier, offers direct flights to Lisbon or Porto from many US cities including Boston, Newark, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco. Known as being an inexpensive option for flying to Europe, TAP Airlines really maximizes its free stopover program to encourage visitors to spend time in Portugal. When you book a stopover with TAP Airlines, you can stay from one to five nights in either Porto or Lisbon for no additional charge.
After flying TAP twice (note: my flights were complimentary as part of a media trip), I find them on par with other national carriers such as Aer Lingus or the old Alitalia. As part of the Star Alliance, you can also bid on upgrades or use miles to upgrade to Executive class or EconomyXtra. EconomyXtra seats offer spacious legroom and a generous recline, while Executive class seats deliver a full lay-flat bed for comfortable transatlantic flights. (See a full review of TAP Airlines Executive class.)
The best times to go to Portugal really depends on the region(s) you plan on visiting, but in general, the shoulder seasons of May-June and September-October are going to be ideal. April and November are known to be rainy throughout the country and while winter temperatures in Portugal aren’t frigid (usually in the 40s and 50s), you will enjoy more time outside during those shoulder season months.
Portugal is actually a fairly small country, not even as large as Indiana. But don’t underestimate how much time you need to properly explore the country! I hear so many people talking about doing Spain and Portugal in one trip. Well, I can tell you that I have spent two weeks in Spain and altogether three weeks in Portugal and I have not come close to seeing everything that I’d like to see in either country.
If you can spare the time, I’d recommend spending at least two weeks in Portugal and exploring three to four regions in each trip. I have created four different, one-week Portugal itineraries in a separate post, but some possible 10-14 day itinerary ideas are:
Planning a basic trip to Portugal isn’t hard, there is a lot of information available to help you decide where to stay and things to do in Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, and Cascais. However, if you want to venture beyond the ordinary, you may want some help planning your trip. Full disclosure, my recent trip to Portugal was hosted by Epic Travel and its travel partners so that I could experience an EPIC Portugal itinerary.
EPIC Travel is a boutique agency that specializes in travel to Portugal and Morocco. Its travel planners live in-country and have close relationships with hotels, guides, drivers, and tour operators on the ground. EPIC specializes in planning custom itineraries for clients that want to journey deeper and enjoy adventure and cultural experiences along the way.
In my experience working with EPIC both in Portugal and when I hired them to help me plan my Morocco trip, there are a wealth of reasons to work with an agency like EPIC to plan your trip to Portugal, including:
If you would like help planning and booking your trip to Portugal, please reach out to EPIC Travel and let them know that you read about them on WE3TRAVEL and you will receive a VIP Welcome Gift as a thank you!
Traveling through Portugal is really quite easy, especially as an American. English is very widely spoken, although learning to say Bom Dia (good morning) and obrigado/obrigada (thank you in Portuguese) is a good idea [note: Duolingo only supports Brazilian Portuguese and the languages have a lot of differences.]
It is also a fairly cashless economy, with most restaurants and shops accepting Visa and Mastercard with a tap and pay chip, and many supporting Apple Pay. Just make sure you are using a credit card that doesn’t charge international transaction fees and contact your bank in advance to let them know about any international travel so they don’t block your transactions for fear of fraud (unless you have a travel card that doesn’t require this.)
However, you will find the few holdouts so it pays to either get some Euro from your local bank (be sure to order it at least a week ahead of your trip) or take some money out of an ATM (watch out for ATMs that charge high fees) when you arrive. Not all banks/ATMs will accept cards from other banks so it might be worth it to exchange some money before you arrive in the country for small purchases and tips (always request small bills.)
Before you go, be sure to check out my post on how much a trip to Portugal costs. In recent years, hotel and other expenses in Portugal have begun to creep up, so you have to search a little further for deals.
Tipping at restaurants isn’t customary and if you do leave a gratuity, it should be a small amount using just a few coins you have on hand. I always think it is a good idea to tip guides that provide great service, and those are usually happily accepted.
The food in Portugal varies from high-end, fine dining with Michelin-starred chefs to casual tabernas serving up inexpensive, authentic dishes. Some dishes you will see frequently include:
Eating out in Portugal can be very affordable compared to other countries. If you are eating at a casual taberna, you can often get a full meal for under 10 euros, 15 with a glass of wine to go with it. One thing to look out for is the “couvert” which is typically a small basket of bread and dish of olives brought to the table at the beginning of the meal. This is sometimes listed on the menu and needs to be ordered, but other times it is brought automatically (but that doesn’t mean it is free.) If you don’t want it, or don’t want to pay for it, just turn it away.
Getting from place to place in Portugal isn’t hard and in most cases, it is easy to self-drive throughout the country on a well-established highway system. I say that with a few caveats!
I would also very highly recommend hiring a driver or taking a tour when visiting vineyards. Not only do you not want to drink and drive, but some can be a bit tricky to find. Also, some of the roads in the Douro Valley, especially on the north side of the river are gravel, narrow, and closely grip the edge of the cliffs.
You can also fly from Lisbon to Porto or the Algarve, but honestly, the drive isn’t that long so I find it is easier to just drive. If you fly into one city you can pick up a rental car (if from outside of the EU you may need an International Driver’s Permit, check with your rental car company) outside of the city and drop it off outside of the city on the return. Uber is fairly easy to find in the cities and trams are also available for getting around town (although often full because they are popular with tourists.)
Choosing what to pack for Portugal will vary depending on when and where you are going, but there are a few items you need to put on your packing list:
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The post Everything you Need to know when Planning a Trip to Portugal (2024) appeared first on We3Travel.2023-01-05T04:08:11Z dg43tfdfdgfd