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Portugal Travel Guide: Tips for your adventure

Need a Portugal travel guide? Here's a complete guide that will help you through your trip to enjoy the most of it!

Julio Osuna

September 27, 2023

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If you are traveling to Portugal soon, chances are you need to find information about how to manage yourself there. Having a guide comes as a handy option for many travelers, especially those who are traveling to the country for the first time! So for sure, a Portugal travel guide will help you a lot!

So for those who have plans of visiting Portugal in the future to connect with their culture and everything they offer to travelers, this is the perfect place for you to prepare for that trip! Then, keep reading to know all about what to expect from the country!

General information about visiting Portugal

For people who want to visit Portugal, the very first thing to do is to know all about the basic information about the country. So, let’s begin with this.

Before people travel to a place like Portugal, there’s some general information for them to keep in mind. So, let’s give some general details about Portugal!

  • Weather: The weather in Portugal is quite diverse. Depending on where people are traveling, chances are they find temperatures raging from -10° during winter to up to 40° in the most arid areas of the country.
  • Language: Portuguese is the most common language in the country. In the area of Terra da Miranda, people can come across some locals speaking Mirandese.
  • Currency: Just like many other European countries, Portugal uses the Euro as its currency.
  • Time Zone: Depending on where people are when traveling to Portugal, they can either find a GMT+1 or GMT time zone.

By knowing this, the main thing for people to do is to get to know where they are traveling. For those traveling to the mountains of Portugal, taking proper clothing is a must, and the same goes for those who are visiting the warm areas of the country. Other than this, it’s also important to note that all seasons occur in the country!

Other than this, people traveling from other places of the world need to keep in mind the currency used in the country is Euros. There are many ways to get them while in Portugal, but it’s always good to keep this in mind before traveling.

Porto, Portugal. Source: Unsplash

Things to prepare before traveling to Portugal

For people who want to travel to Portugal, there are many things to know. The first thing we need to talk about comes with the Visa. But that’s not all for travelers to keep in mind, because other things such as local culture, internet connection in Portugal, and some others need to be clarified.

While people have this information in mind, preparing themselves for the trip is something easier to do! So, let’s give detailed information about the different things travelers must have in mind while visiting Portugal!

Visa to visit Portugal

Just like it happens in many different countries around the world, it’s important to check the Visa requirements to enter Portugal without issues. This information is a must-know for travelers, and more especially, to travelers who must get a Visa to enter the country!

As for now, there’s an important thing to know about the Visa to enter Portugal. As the country is part of the “Schengen Area,” it’s important to know that the following countries can enter the country without a Visa for a short period of time:

  • Austria.
  • Belgium.
  • Czechia.
  • Croatia.
  • Denmark.
  • Estonia.
  • Finland.
  • France.
  • Germany.
  • Greece.
  • Hungary.
  • Iceland.
  • Italy, Latvia.
  • Lithuania.
  • Liechtenstein.
  • Luxemburg.
  • Malta.
  • Norway.
  • The Netherlands.
  • Poland.
  • Slovakia.
  • Slovenia.
  • Spain.
  • Sweden.
  • Switzerland.

Even though it’s easier for travelers from these countries to get a Visa, they will get an answer directly at the airport. If approved, they can stay from 90 to 180 days in Portugal!

On the other hand, many third-world countries must possess a Visa to enter the country. More information about who needs to apply for a Visa can be found on the official government website.

Safety within Portugal

Being one of the safest countries in Europe, there are certain things to keep in mind while traveling to Portugal these days. One of the best things we can recommend, even before talking about some safety tips, is to get travel insurance; you never know when you will need one!

Other than this, let’s talk about some safety tips for people traveling to Portugal!

  • Overall, there’s no need to worry about thieves in Portugal. But do pay attention to pickpocketing, as this is quite common to see.
  • During summer, pay attention to high temperatures as it can get pretty hot in some areas of the country.
  • Don’t leave your stuff in places where you can’t see them. Always keep your belongings in places where you can look at them!
  • Keep in mind that there are “Red Areas” all around the country. Once the night has fallen, avoid visiting these places!
  • If you are planning on going out for a party, don’t drink too much if you are traveling alone!
  • As a visitor, double-check the prices of whatever you get from any restaurant you visit. It’s common to see scams happening by giving false information!
  • Don’t trust people who come to you at nightclubs or in the streets. Always keep yourself safe by avoiding getting in touch with people who you don’t know!
  • If you are using local transportation, try to keep your things in safe places, as here is where most pickpocketing occurs!

Local culture in Portugal

For people who want to visit Portugal, it’s important to keep in mind how their local culture works! In this case, one of the main things to know is the fact Portugal is mostly a Catholic country, so there’s no need to worry about breaking the rules like it can happen in other places while traveling, such as in Bali, where there’s more than one religion!

What you do need to know is that, around the country, there are remains of different cultures. Celtic, Germanic, Jewish, Visigoth, and of course, Lusitanian remains can be found all around Portugal. So, we advise you to treat these with respect at all times to avoid issues with locals!

Other than this, getting along with the local culture won’t be something complicated to do. The only thing we could tell is always to check what’s near you to see if there’s a different culture in the place you are visiting!

Alfama, Portugal. Source: Unsplash

Internet connection in Portugal

When talking about internet connection in Portugal, there’s a lot for visitors to keep in mind. Staying connected in Portugal is not something complicated to do. As a matter of fact, there are different alternatives for travelers to use while visiting the country, which makes it a lot easier!

In this case, when talking about the available alternatives, the most common comes with roaming. But there are other options too, such as Pocket WiFi devices and even free WiFi found around the country.

But for us, one of the best alternatives to stay connected while in Portugal is eSIMs. These are an improved version of traditional SIM cards and have become the go-to alternative for many travelers due to everything it offers. For example, do you need unlimited data or data sharing? A Portugal eSIM is your best alternative to use then!

As for which company to use, we highly recommend relying on Holafly as the eSIM provider. They offer a high-quality service, and the only thing people will need is to have an eSIM-compatible device to use the virtual SIM card for Portugal!

Lastly, if you prefer to use other alternatives, one thing to keep in mind is not fully to rely on free WiFi connections. Even though these sound like a great option to save some money, it’s actually a dangerous thing to use!

Get an eSIM for Portugal with 5% OFF. Code: MYESIMNOW5

Portugal shares borders with Spain, so it is quite common for many to visit the Spanish-speaking country. In that case, you have the eSIM options for Spain with unlimited data from Holafly.

Best dates to visit Portugal

As it happens in other countries from around the world, it’s clear that there are better dates to visit a certain place. When it comes to talking about a country where all seasons happen during the year, it’s even more important to pick a proper date to travel there to enjoy the trip as much as possible.

For people wondering what are the best dates to visit the country, spring comes as the best season to meet Portugal. As the country is starting to come back to “life” after winter, it becomes a colorful place to visit and get to know travelers!

During fall, which takes place from September to October, Portugal is still a great place to visit. Temperatures are still great for those who aren’t adapted to cold weather, and there are fewer travelers too!

Now, don’t get us wrong. Summer and winter are still great seasons to visit Portugal, but the places to visit during these months are totally different from what people could be looking forward to meeting in the country!

When is the cheapest to travel to Portugal?

Depending on when people are traveling, chances are the trip can be somehow cheaper compared to other times of the year! During summer, most travelers visit beaches located all around the country, so it’s for sure these areas become more populated and, therefore, become more expensive to visit.

On the other hand, during spring and fall, prices aren’t as high as compared to other seasons. Due to winter being relatively friendly compared to other countries, travelers do visit Portugal during these months in order to explore the country as much as they can!

So, head over to Portugal during spring or fall if you want to save some money to use it while traveling there!

How to travel to Portugal?

Let’s talk about how to travel to Portugal. In this case, it’s fair to say this is an easy-to-access country thanks to it’s location. People will get the chance to enter the country either by sea, land, or air, which is great!

So, before moving on with the guide, let’s get to know more about the available methods to travel to Portugal!

Traveling to Portugal by air

Portugal is a place where a lot of people travel year after year. And this is something possible thanks to the different airports there are all around the country. But, it’s fair to say that the most common places where people land are either Lisbon or Porto.

In either of these cities, there will be international airports waiting for people to arrive. So don’t worry if you plan to visit Portugal by air from a different continent or from a different European country.

As for what airlines people can use to visit Portugal, there are some great alternatives like British Airlines, American Airlines, Lufthansa, and many others!

Traveling to Portugal by sea

For people traveling to Portugal, one of the alternatives to make this possible is to travel by sea. It is not something so common to see, that’s true, but it’s not something impossible to find!

People can travel to Portugal either on cruises or with ferries. Cruises are more common to find in terms of international travel, while ferries are most commonly found inside the country, so keep this in mind!

Traveling to Portugal by land 

Visiting Portugal by land is something possible to do, that’s totally true. But there’s a little detail to mention here. This is something possible to do for travelers who are in Spain. This is due to the fact the country that’s next to Portugal is Spain.

Overall, traveling to Portugal by land is a more complicated thing to do. People will surely spend more money; they will need more documentation and much more. But if you are willing to live the adventure, go for it! It’s something unique to experience due to the landscapes and places you will visit!

Food in Portugal: What do Portuguese offer to travelers?

When it comes to talking about food in Portugal, it’s important to be prepared to enjoy a combination of flavors on all the dishes around the country! It’s important for people to know that in the country, there are all types of dishes with meat, fish, poultry, pork, and much more waiting for them to try these!

It’s also important to note one thing. Portuguese cuisine is also a combination of other major cultures. The influence of East Indies, Africa, and American cuisine is present in most dishes, especially when it comes to talking about spices used in the food!

Also, if you are willing to try Portuguese cuisine, be prepared to taste a lot of herbs, garlic, and onions! These are the main parts of most dishes, and it’s something important to keep in mind for travelers.

But overall, you won’t need to worry about spicy dishes or strange flavors. It’s all quite common to see but unique in the same way!

Restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal. Source: Unsplash

Top 5 things to visit in Portugal

When talking about where to go in Portugal, it’s fair to say there’s a combination between cities and iconic places. For us, these are the must-visit things in Portugal:

  • Lisbon: The capital of Portugal. Telling people to visit the country without going to Lisbon is a sin. With many museums, castles, galleries, and a rich nightlife, this is the perfect location for travelers to visit!
  • Setúbal: The Setúbal Peninsula, located south of Lisbon, has become one of the main destinations for travelers to visit. Beaches, cliffs, and beautiful landscapes await travelers! And thanks to how close it is to the capital, it’s easy to go visit Setúbal and go back!
  • Porto: If you want to go and enjoy urban exploration, then you need to head over to Porto. For those who like to walk and get in touch with the story behind a city, Porto is one of the best destinations to enjoy!
  • Douro Valley: With a unique combination of hillsides covered with vineyards all around, Douro Valley is a go-to option for those visiting Porto. Located in the east of the city and being easy to access, it’s the perfect place to either spend a whole day there or to spend a night to get to know more about the local story!
  • Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela: If what you are looking for is to connect more with nature and, depending on the time, find some cold weather, your best call is to visit Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela. For hikers and outdoor lovers, this is the best option in the country!

What are the best holidays to enjoy in Portugal?

Just like what people can find in other countries, there are local holidays that are worth living. So, let’s get to know a bit more about these:

  • Dia da Liberdade: Since 1974, Portugal has celebrated their freedom. After a coup d’état back then, this has become a major celebration around the country. Celebrated on April 25th, it is one of the most important holidays in the country due to what it means to locals.
  • Dia de Portugal: The national day, the “Dia de Portugal,” not only celebrates one of the main holidays in the country, it also commemorates the Luís de Camões death. For visitors, it’s the perfect time to see locals commemorate their roots in unique ways all around the country.
  • Assunção de Nossa Senhora: For religious people, this holiday celebrated on August 15 is one of the most important holidays in the country. For travelers who are part of the Catholic religion, this happens to be a great chance to enjoy a unique celebration in Portugal.
  • Carnaval: For people who want to enjoy a colorful carnival, visiting Portugal during this holiday is something unique. Carnaval is celebrated throughout the country, even in the autonomous regions in Portugal, making it a major holiday that travelers can enjoy quite a lot!
  • Dia de São João: Celebrated in most regions of Portugal, the Dia de São João is a must-see celebration in cities like Porto and Braga where, year after year, there’s a huge festival and fireworks! In other places of the country, the celebration takes place by building a bonfire which they later jump to get protection for the rest of the year!

What to do to enjoy the local culture of Portugal?

For people visiting Portugal, connecting with the local culture is something important to do. Therefore, getting to know some activities to achieve this is important, so let’s talk about it:

  • Museums: There’s no doubt museums all around Portugal are a great way to connect with local culture. By giving locals the chance to get to know more about the story of the country and seeing some unique pieces of art, museums around Portugal feel like something unique.
  • Local castles: For people visiting Portugal, one of the main things they can do to connect with local culture is to visit local castles. There are castles all around Portugal, but in some areas, there are more, so if you have the chance, visit them to connect with the ancient history of the country!
  • Local holidays: Even though we already mentioned some, it’s important to note the fact that staying during local holidays happens to be a great way to connect with local culture while in Portugal. There are more holidays than people could have thought, so check your calendar before traveling!
  • Pay for a full day: If you have the chance, getting a full day to get to know places like Lisbon is a great chance to get to know more about local culture. That way, you can get to know the full story behind places like Fátima, where back in 1917, there was an apparition of the Virgin Mary.
  • Visit the Douro Valley: Even though we already mentioned Douro back in where to go in Portugal, it’s important to note that this is also a great way to connect with local culture. Being one of the most important places in Portugal, with many vineyards and rich stories behind them, it is a must-go for visitors. 

How to practice ecotourism in Portugal?

Nowadays, one of the main practices travelers like to do is ecotourism. In a place such as Portugal, this is not something complicated to do. So, let’s talk about what people can do in the country in order to practice some ecotourism!

  • Walk around cities: One of the main advantages in Portugal is the fact that everything is relatively near. Of course, there are things far from where you are, but in most cases, walking will get you to all the places you want to visit, and that’s a great ecotourism practice!
  • Rent a bike: If you want to move around Portugal and enjoy the views and not spend a lot of money to move around, renting a bike is a great alternative to make this possible! Also, it is a great way to support ecotourism in the country.
  • Practice eco-activities: Portugal happens to be a diverse country in terms of landscapes. People can practice different eco-activities by visiting local beaches and going hiking in Portugal mountains, and that’s just the beginning!
  • Join local activities to clean public spaces: If you have time on your schedule, there are a lot of groups doing some great activities to clean up public spaces in Portugal. So, if you want to know the country and make an impact, this is a great way to make it happen!
  • Stay at eco-hotels: Do you want to reduce your impact while traveling to Portugal? Well, staying at eco-hotels is a great alternative to make this happen. There are a lot of alternatives around the country, so find them, and you will get your chance to practice ecotourism in a different way.

Moving around Portugal: What are the options to use?

For people visiting a new country, getting to know how to move around is surely the most complicated thing to do. In this case, there are different alternatives for people to use, so let’s get to know them:

  • Train: Portugal has a fantastic train system that allows people to move around cities in an easy way. So, this one happens to be a great alternative for visitors who want to move fast and cheaper.
  • Bike: Thanks to Portugal being a great way for adventurers, moving around by bike is not something weird to see. It is also a great way to reach places visitors would like to visit in less time!
  • Taxi apps: As Portugal is such an important country in terms of visitors, there’s no doubt people will find different taxi apps to move around. Of course, these are a bit more expensive than other methods.
  • Bus: If you want to feel like a local, moving around by bus is the best alternative for you to take. There’s no doubt it might take a bit of time to comprehend how the bus system works, but this will allow you to feel like a local and connect more with the local culture!
  • Boats: Depending on where people are traveling, chances are they can get to use a boat to move near the area where they are. This will allow people to do sea activities and reach some locations around Portugal.
Lisbon, Portugal. Source: Unsplash

What to buy in Portugal?

When traveling to Portugal, it’s important for people to know what they can buy there. There are different things people can buy while traveling here, but here are some recommendations to consider:

  • A Vida Portuguesa: One of the most important local stores for handicrafts and other souvenirs, this happens to be one of the main alternatives where people can buy something while traveling to Lisbon and Porto.
  • Portuguese Ceramics: Portugal is known for giving people the chance to get unique ceramics. With colorful designs, travelers will get the chance to take a beautiful souvenir back home!
  • Cork products: Portugal has become one of the main cork producers around the world, and thanks to this, they have also become one of the main places where people can get unique cork products in the world. So, if you want a long-lasting gift or something for you to use, a cork product is a great option!
  • Religious products: If you are a religious person or want to give a religious gift to someone, getting the chance to buy something related to Nossa Senhora de Fátima in Portugal is something unique.

What’s the cheapest thing to buy in Portugal?

When traveling to Portugal, finding places to buy won’t be complicated for visitors. Now, on the other hand, talking about where it is cheaper for travelers to get things is a totally different thing.

Local stores are a great option for people to consider, as well as local markets, which happen to be great alternatives to buying souvenirs and more. But places like Loja Portugueza and A Vida Portuguesa are also great options!

FAQs for traveling to Portugal

Is Portugal nightlife safe for travelers?

Nightlife in Portugal is safe for everyone. But it’s important to keep in mind the fact that it is a must to enjoy parties with responsibility and avoid accepting drinks or drugs from strangers to stay safe.

Is there an e-visa for travelers to get before visiting Portugal?

Yes. The Portuguese Government recently added an e-visa which people can request before traveling. To get to know more about the requirements to get one, you can visit their official site.

How easy is it for travelers to change their currency to Euros?

There’s no need to worry about exchanging one currency for another. In many places around Portugal, people will find places they can exchange the currency they traveled with for Euros, which is the local currency.

How common is English in Portugal?

Even though the mother tongue of locals is Portuguese, it’s fair to say most people will understand someone who speaks English without any major difficulty. 

What other places are worth visiting in Portugal?

Aside from the places we mentioned in the guide, places like the Algarve, Madeira, Braga, Nazare, and some others are a must-visit for travelers to consider visiting when going to the country.

How much money is required to visit Portugal?

The budget will depend on each person. But it’s fair to say Portugal is not as expensive as some people might think it is. For a whole week, traveling with a bit more than $1,000 is more than enough for most travelers!

Can people practice surfing in Portugal?

Yes. Portugal is a great place for people to practice surfing, and if you want to have a unique adventure, chances are you prefer to visit Nazaré!

Are there places to practice hiking in Portugal?

Yes. Not only in the mountain region of Portugal but in general, Portugal has some mountains that will allow people who love hiking to have a unique adventure. And, on the highest parts of the country, landscapes are simply breathtaking.