travel in Portugal

Travel in Portugal guide

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(Last updated on: 02/07/2022)

Portugal is a country which is best known for plenty of things, such as its food, music and football! There is so much to do in this fabulous country, so here’s everything you need to know about travel in Portugal and how to make your trip fantastic.

Travel in Portugal- tourism overview

The country was founded in 868 and is one of the oldest in Europe. It has been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times – and was even occupied by the Celts, Romans and Greeks.

Travel in Portugal is very popular as it’s among the top 20 most visited countries in the world and was elected as the World’s Leading Destination in both 2018 and 2019. Tourists come from all over the world to visit Portugal, mainly because of the rich culture, cheap prices, sandy beaches, tasty food – and so much more as Portugal has it all!

The main popular destinations in Portugal are:

  • Lisbon, the capital of Portugal! Lisbon attracts the sixteenth-most tourists out of all the European cities and is well known for its tourist attractions such as the retro yellow trams and Rua Augusta Arch.
  • Cascais, a fishing town known for its clear blue water and for hosting events such as the America’s Cup.
  • Fatima, between 5–6 million people visit Fatima on pilgrimage each year, as it is said to be where Virgin Mary blessed three shepherd children in 1917.
  • Algarve, a region blessed with stunning sandy beaches, idyllic fishing towns and a fantastic climate, as well as over 200km of coastline to enjoy.
  • Madeira, this Portuguese island in the Atlantic offers an all year round summer climate, complete with amazing views and lively towns with music filling the streets.
  • Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, it’s an age-old city and is the birthplace of Port wine – so is great for wine tourism!

In 2019, Portugal had over 49 thousand inbound overnight stays in the country, which is a big increase compared to 26 thousand in 2011! Therefore, it’s evident how much travel in Portugal has grown and is continuing to grow and shows that tourism in Portugal is booming for plenty of good reasons!

Why travel in Portugal?

Why travel in Portugal? If you love warm weather, mouth-watering food, rich culture and friendly people then Portugal is the perfect country for you. Here are my top reasons why you should visit:

Weather in Portugal

When you travel in Portugal, one thing that can be guaranteed is that the weather will be amazing! Portugal is one of the warmest countries in Europe and is also said to have over 300 days of sunshine a year – so make sure you don’t forget to pack the sunscreen! Portugal is almost always picked as a sunny destination for people to visit when wanting to escape to in the winter!

Mainland Portugal has a Mediterranean climate, with an average temperature of around 16-18 °C. Whereas Madeira and Azores, tend to be wetter and hotter due to their geographical location – and being more at sea.

July is often the warmest month, with an average temperature of 33°C, and 19°C being the lowest. January is normally the coolest month, as the highest average temperature is about 16°C and the lowest is around 6°C – which is still quite warm if you’re from a country like the UK!

The food in Portugal

travel in Portugal

If you travel in Portugal, then you need to make sure that you try some of these famous Portuguese foods:

  • Pastel de Nata – these sweet tarts may be the most well know Portuguese food all over the world! They are a very creamy, egg-based custard tart, often dusted in cinnamon, and are offered everywhere in Portugal. They were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks in Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Lisbon. Pastel de Nata’s are great as a delicious breakfast, dessert or simply as a mid-afternoon snack to feast on.
  • Bacalhau à brás – when you travel in Portugal, you’ll be sure to find more variations of this famous staple than you’ll manage to eat. It’s salted shredded cod, mixed with lots of fresh onions, fried potatoes and an egg to give it a wonderful flavour. It is then topped with parsley and black olives – making it taste amazing.
  • Caldo Verde – this Portuguese food is very simple but also very comforting. It’s a combination of onions, kale, potatoes, garlic and olive oil and is usually accompanied by cornbread to dip in. The recipe originated in the Minho region in north Portugal, where the wine Vinoh Verde also originated from.
  • Francesinha – an unusual but iconic sandwich, originally created in Porto – meaning if you travel there, you have to try it! Many restaurants offer their own take on this classic dish, but usually, it has layers of ham, sausage, cheese, roast meat and other local delicacies. It is often served with a side of fries to dip the melted cheese from the sandwich in.

Saftey in Portugal

Portugal is a very safe country, making travel in Portugal a very good idea! Here are some safety statistics to help convince you to travel in Portugal:

  • According to the 2017 Global Peace Index, Portugal is the world’s 3rd safest country.
  • The most common crime that tourists need to watch out for is petty theft such as pickpocketing – so don’t forget to bring this great travel belt to help deter that!
  • Natural fires are the most common natural disaster, however, they rarely affect tourists in major touristy places.

Famous Portuguese People

One major reason to travel in Portugal is that the people there are so friendly and helpful. Here are some famous Portuguese people that you might know:

  • Christiano Ronaldo – One of the most famous footballers in the world, Ronaldo had his humble beginnings in Maderia. If you’re a big football fan, then it’s definitely worth a visit to see where he grew up on.
  • Fernando Pessoa – Very well known in Portugal as well as globally for his brilliant writing. During his lifetime, he published few books, three of which are in English. One of his most famous works is ‘Poesias do Alvaro de Campos’.
  • António Guterres – Best known for advocating for social equality, he was also voted as Portugal’s best Prime Minister and was in charge from 1995 to 2002. He is currently working as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Secretary-General. 
  • Carmen Miranda –  She was a Portuguese-born Brazilian samba singer, dancer, Broadway actress and film star from the 1920s onwards. She was best known for her big, colourful, signature fruit hat outfit that she wore in her films.

Travel in Portugal tips and tricks

travel in Portugal

If you travel in Portugal, you’re going to want to remember these top tips and tricks to make your holiday go as smooth as possible:

  • Book hotels and flights to Portugal in advance. As Portugal is so popular, it’s a good idea to book in advance to make sure that you get the best deals to suit you the most!
  • Make sure that your accommodation has AC – it gets very warm in Portugal and one fast way to ruin your stay is if your accommodation doesn’t have any AC, so do yourself a favour and make sure you’ve checked if it does.
  • Renting a car is a great way to travel around Portugal if you want to visit more than one place. It’s perfect for getting off the beaten path and is also another fabulous way to find quieter areas if you’re travelling in the peak season.
  • Bring some cash with you. There are lots of buskers and street artists that you might want to give a donation, so carrying cash is a good idea. Many shops also have a minimum amount that you must spend if you want to pay by card, so this will help avoid situations like that.
  • Many museums are free on the first Sunday of the month. If you’re looking to save money, then this is a great tip to remember, of course, this depends on each museum so be sure to check in advance.
  • The bread and olives are usually not free! If you decide to eat any of them, you’ll be charged for it, so if you don’t want to pay for them, just kindly ask the waiter to take them away and you won’t have to pay.

Travel in Portugal packing essentials

When you travel in Portugal, you’re going to want to remember to pack these travel essentials:

  • CUPSHE Women’s Bikini – Look stylish and colourful, with this gorgeous CUPSHE Bikini that will definitely make you stand out from the crowds! It comes in a wide range of colours and sizes, so there is something to suit everyone.
  • Lonely Planet Portugal – This handy little guide will tell you the most unmissable places in Portugal that you should be sure to check out. You’ll want to carry it everywhere with you when exploring Portugal.
  • Comhats Ladies Summer Hat – Keep the Portuguese sun off your face, whilst still looking as trendy as ever with this lovely summer hat, which is even luggage friendly as it doesn’t crease or get crushed.
  • Hawkers Women’s Sunglasses – Avoid people trying to sell you sunglasses on the street by having your own! These sunglasses are great quality and perfect for keeping the sun out of your eyes.

The best places to stay when travelling in Portugal

Portugal is amazing for lots of unique places to stay for all budgets and needs. Here are some of the best places to stay if you travel in Portugal:

Booking.com

Budget

YMCA Camp Alambre Bungalows – This homely bungalow features a comfy double bed, private bathroom, living area and a fully-equipped kitchen, as well as an outdoor dining area for guests to socialise on. There is also a breathtaking mountain view from all the rooms. Breakfast is delivered at the door and meals are available upon request, which makes everything so much easier for you.

Supertubos Beach Hostel – Right next to the beach, this hostel is great for you if you love surfing. The hostel provides guests with surfing lessons, scuba diving and tours all at a reduced price! Each room has a flat-screen cable TV, a balcony and sea views. Breakfast is included and served each morning for all guests, and there is a kitchen if you wish to make your own food.

Mid-range

Quinta dos Bravos – Located on the pretty São Miguel Island, Azores this hotel offers a 3000 square meters garden with a big outdoor swimming pool to cool down in. Every room has a TV, balcony and a patio, as well as a private bathroom with free toiletries. Guests can enjoy both sea views and pool views from their rooms.

Miradouro da Papalva Guest House – Set in the amazing Azores region, this guest house provides free WiFi, a flat-screen TV and a private en-suite bathroom with luxurious toiletries and a bath to soak in. In the kitchen there is a microwave, a toaster and fridge as well as a coffee machine, so you’ll feel at home.

High end

Hotel Rural Vale Do Rio – This modern hotel is surrounded by the rolling hills of Palmaz in the Aveiro Province. It’s thoughtfully designed and inspired with the 4 elements in mind. It is an eco-friendly property, so is perfect for those who are passionate about sustainable tourism. Rooms are fitted with designer furniture, and all have a flat-screen TV, a lounge with a sofa and work desk, as well as a big balcony with amazing views.

La Venus de Lisbonne – Just outside of Lisbon, this rustic guest house features an outdoor swimming pool, bar, a shared lounge and a garden filled with flowers. There are BBQ facilities, as well as a patio to enjoy what you’ve cooked up on in the sun. Each room comes with a private bathroom, desk and super fast WiFi. Every morning, a continental or à la carte breakfast is on offer to get you ready for the day ahead.

The best things to do when travelling in Portugal

travel in Portugal

When you travel in Portugal, you definitely want to experience some of these amazing things to do, only in Portugal:

  • Private Shrine of Fátima and Aljustrel Religious Tour – Learn all about the interesting history of Fatima and let yourself feel a connection in this special place of worship and history. The tour includes transport in a luxury vehicle, with onboard Wi-Fi, bottled water, and refreshments, whilst you will be guided around Fatima with your knowledgable local guide.
  • Porto to Douro Valley Wine Tasting and River Cruise with Lunch -Explore the vast valleys and vineyards, thriving with bounteous produce. Later on, sip and sample the best of the region’s local delicacies on this full-day tour from Porto which also includes a relaxing boat ride on the Douro River. Round-trip transport from hotels in Porto is included on this small-group tour, so all your needs will be met.
  • Lisbon to Sintra and Cascais Small-Group Tour with Pena Park – Discover one of Portugal’s most iconic castles and pose for beautiful photos in Sintra. On this insightful tour, you’ll experience all the wonderful flora and fauna that Sintra Natural Park has to offer. You’ll later go on to explore the hidden trails and caves at Pena Park and the immaculate Pena National Palace, followed by a scenic drive along the Atlantic Coast to Cascais for some downtime on its scenic beaches.
  • Lisbon Private Sightseeing Tour by Tuk-Tuk – Utilise your time in Lisbon with this fun-filled private half-day sightseeing tour by tuk-tuk. This is the best eco-friendly way to explore the historic centre of Lisbon whilst saving your energy and having a chance to relax. You even get to customize the itinerary to what you want to see or you can just check out top landmarks such as the Jerónimos Monastery, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, and so much more.
  • Albufeira Beach BBQ with Caves and Coastline Cruise – This is a luxury all-inclusive tour for an amazing price! Starting in Albufeira, you’ll cruise along the southern coast to a beach only accessible by boat. Here you’ll enjoy a chill beach BBQ, complete with unlimited alcohol and soft drinks. You’ll even get to use the watersports equipment on offer, which included paddleboards, tennis sets, and even snorkelling equipment!
  • Vip Dolphins Luxury Whale Watching – If you love animals, then this tour is perfect for you! Sit back and enjoy a boat ride specifically to spot magnificent whales and dolphins. Head to the marina and board the boat, where you’ll get to sip Champagne, cocktails, soft drinks, and luscious snacks like local bread and olives. Afterwards, you’ll also be able to go snorkelling at Cabo Girao before returning to the harbour.

Sustainable travel in Portugal

travel in Portugal

Sustainable travel in Portugal is becoming increasingly popular as the year’s progress. As Portugal is one of the sunniest destinations in Europe, the amount of solar power they are able to generate is huge! The government’s goal is to make the country run solely off of this kind of renewable energy in order to eliminate the use of fossil oils, all by 2027.

Lisbon won the title of ‘European Green Capital’ in 2020, and rightly so! They have an amazing public transport system, as the bus and tram routes are cheap and cover the whole city. They also have a great bike-sharing scheme, with electric bikes comprising two-thirds of the fleet, as Lisbon is very hilly.

Due to all of this, Portugal is a great place to visit if you are interested in sustainable tourism. If you’d like some further reading on sustainable tourism, click here.

Travel in Portugal – conclusion

I hope you’ve learnt something useful about travel in Portugal and this guide will help you out if you travel there! What place in Portugal is your favourite? What new thing did you learn about travel in Portugal? If you’d like some further reading, this is what I’d recommend:

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