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Every little thing you Must know when Planning a Journey to Portugal


Portugal has a lot to supply as a vacation spot — stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, fascinating tradition, scrumptious meals and wine, and pleasant folks. And better of all, it’s inexpensive in comparison with different in style European locations! Planning a visit to Portugal isn’t arduous, however if you wish to scratch beneath the floor, it would be best to learn the following tips first.

I fell a bit of in love throughout my first journey to Portugal, however it wasn’t till I just lately had the chance to spend a number of weeks touring by means of the nation that Portugal actually received underneath my pores and skin and I developed a deeper appreciation for this particular nation.

waves crashing around rock formations off the coast of Lagos, Portugal
Lagos, Portugal

Learn on for my Portugal journey recommendations on attending to Portugal, when to go to Portugal, how lengthy to remain in Portugal, and Portugal journey ideas, and get began planning your dream journey.

If you happen to aren’t certain the place you need to go in Portugal, I’ve put collectively 4 pattern one-week Portugal itineraries that you may select from. If you happen to would quite have another person plan your journey and put collectively a tremendous journey by means of Portugal with distinctive experiences, I’d extremely suggest working with my associate EPIC Journey. Point out We3Travel when contacting EPIC Journey and obtain a free VIP welcome present whenever you arrive in your EPIC journey to Portugal.

Attending to Portugal

TAP flies direct from Newark to Porto

Notice: This submit might comprise affiliate hyperlinks. If you happen to click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I could obtain a small fee. All opinions are my very own.

Faucet Airways, Portugal’s flagship service, provides direct flights to Lisbon or Porto from many US cities together with Boston, Newark, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco. Generally known as being a reasonable possibility for flying to Europe, TAP Airways actually maximizes its free stopover program to encourage guests to spend time in Portugal. While you e-book a stopover with TAP Airways, you possibly can keep from one to 5 nights in both Porto or Lisbon for no extra cost.

After flying TAP twice (be aware: my flights have been complimentary as a part of a media journey), I discover them on par with different nationwide carriers resembling Aer Lingus or the previous Alitalia. As a part of the Star Alliance, you can even bid on upgrades or use miles to improve to Government class or EconomyXtra. EconomyXtra seats supply spacious legroom and a beneficiant recline, whereas Government class seats ship a full lay-flat mattress for comfy transatlantic flights. (See a full evaluation of TAP Airways Government class.)

When to Go to Portugal

woman walking on a beach at sunset
Comporta, Portugal

The very best occasions to go to Portugal actually is determined by the area(s) you intend on visiting, however normally, the shoulder seasons of Might-June and September-October are going to be superb. April and November are recognized to be wet all through the nation and whereas winter temperatures in Portugal aren’t frigid (often within the 40s and 50s), you’ll get pleasure from extra time exterior throughout these shoulder season months.

The cities of Lisbon and Porto are at all times going to be busy, particularly in the course of the summer time and vacation breaks. However let’s discuss a number of the different areas:

  • Douro Valley, and northern Portugal: late August by means of October are superb within the north. Wine harvest sometimes runs from late August to late September, though once we have been there in early October a number of vineyards have been nonetheless harvesting and it was a good time to go to to see the grape stomping in motion.
  • Inside Alentejo: this dry area will get extraordinarily sizzling in the summertime, with temperature hovering above 40-45 levels Celsius (above 100 levels Fahrenheit.) The perfect time to go to can be in September or early October in the course of the wine harvest when the temperatures are excellent for spending time exterior or stress-free by the pool. Might and June would even be nice, however July and August sound a bit insufferable to spend a lot time exterior of the pool or air-con, and local weather change is just making this extra excessive. It additionally makes temperatures a bit much less predictable. After I visited in October, the temperatures have been within the excessive 70s or low to mid-80s, though that is unusually heat.
  • Coastal Alentejo: if you wish to benefit from the seashore, it is best to go to between Might and October. Whereas the seashores shall be extra crowded with locals coming down from Lisbon, simply stroll a couple of minutes down the seashore and you’ll have loads of house to get pleasure from this space’s beautiful large sand.
  • Algarve: the Algarve is de facto hopping in the summertime when the vacationers flock to the coast, however it actually could be pleasurable year-round. You might not be swimming within the winter, however you possibly can get pleasure from mountain climbing the cliffs and exploring the caves and shoreline. Plus the cities is perhaps a bit of quieter in the course of the low season.
  • Azores: the best time to go to the Azores is Might-July, when the hydrangeas are in full bloom and the islands are bursting with shade and plush greens. It should even be essentially the most crowded. However fortunately, the Gulf Stream retains the waters across the islands pretty heat 12 months spherical. It doesn’t matter what time of 12 months that you just go to, the climate within the islands may be very temperamental and may change at a second’s discover so it’s best to be ready for solar, rain, wind, and fog — all in in the future!

How Lengthy to Spend in Portugal

Douro River Valley with terraced vineyards and mountains
Douro River Valley

Portugal is definitely a reasonably small nation, not whilst giant as Indiana. However don’t underestimate how a lot time you could correctly discover the nation! I hear so many individuals speaking about doing Spain and Portugal in a single journey. Nicely, I can inform you that I’ve spent two weeks in Spain and altogether three weeks in Portugal and I’ve not come near seeing every thing that I’d wish to see in both nation.

If you happen to can spare the time, I’d suggest spending at the least two weeks in Portugal and exploring three to 4 areas in every journey. I’ve created 4 completely different, one-week Portugal itineraries in a separate submit, however some attainable 10-14 day itinerary concepts are:

  • Porto (3 days) + Douro (2-3 days) + Lisbon (3 days) + Sintra (1 day journey) + Cascais or Comporta (3 days)
  • Lisbon (3-5 days with day journeys) + Algarve (5 days)
  • Porto (3 days) + Alentejo (5-7 days) + Lisbon (3-4 days)
  • Azores: São Miguel (5 days) + Pico (3 -4 days with day journey to São Jorge) + Terceira (3 days)

Planning a Journey to Portugal

Rainbow over green cliffs in Sao Miguel
São Miguel Island, Azores

Planning a fundamental journey to Portugal isn’t arduous, there’s numerous data accessible that can assist you determine the place to remain and issues to do in Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, and Cascais. Nonetheless, if you wish to enterprise past the abnormal, you might have considered trying some assist planning your journey. Full disclosure, my current journey to Portugal was hosted by Epic Journey and its journey companions in order that I might expertise an EPIC Portugal itinerary.

EPIC Journey is a boutique company that makes a speciality of journey to Portugal and Morocco. Its journey planners dwell in-country and have shut relationships with lodges, guides, drivers, and tour operators on the bottom. EPIC makes a speciality of planning customized itineraries for shoppers that need to journey deeper and revel in journey and cultural experiences alongside the way in which.

In my expertise working with EPIC each in Portugal and after I employed them to assist me plan my Morocco journey, there are a wealth of causes to work with an company like EPIC to plan your journey to Portugal, together with:

  • Distinctive experiences — EPIC can organize experiences that you just couldn’t even suppose up by yourself since you didn’t know they existed. These are sourced by means of shut relationships on the bottom and taking the time to essentially perceive tradition and have interaction with locals. Examples embrace cork trekking, bridge climbing, personal tram excursions with chef’s tasting menus, customized farm visits and cooking courses, and a lot extra.
  • Boutique, upscale and luxurious lodges — EPIC goes out of its option to discover fascinating lodges that provide excessive contact customer support as an alternative of going with the everyday choices you discover on tour itineraries. And greater than that, they will completely match particular person vacationers with an acceptable lodge primarily based on journey type and price range. As a result of EPIC stays in shut contact with lodge administration, they will additionally pair you with the perfect room sort and have sought out lodges that provide nice facilities for households together with villas with kitchens and kids’s actions.
  • Excessive-touch service — the EPIC group works carefully with shoppers to design a customized itinerary primarily based in your journey tastes and pursuits. They’re additionally on-hand to assist alter on the fly or deal with any issues that come up. They even went as far as to greet us upon arrival at our lodge and organize our COVID assessments for the Azores.
  • Save tons of time — Might you discover these distinctive experiences and lodges by yourself? Possibly with sufficient digging. However why spend hours and hours researching and nonetheless not ensure if you’re making the appropriate selections. It’s so a lot of a time and psychological power financial savings to work with an knowledgeable. And never somebody who’s simply outsourcing it to a third-party, however somebody with direct relationships in your vacation spot.

If you need assist planning and reserving your journey to Portugal, please attain out to EPIC Journey and allow them to know that you just examine them on WE3TRAVEL and you’ll obtain a VIP Welcome Present as a thanks!

Cash & Language Issues

Sunset on the hills of Alentejo dotted with cork trees
Sundown in Alentejo

Touring by means of Portugal is de facto fairly straightforward, particularly as an American. English may be very broadly spoken, though studying to say Bom Dia (good morning) and obrigado/obrigada (thanks) is a good suggestion [note: Duolingo only supports Brazilian Portuguese and the languages have a lot of differences.]

Additionally it is a reasonably cashless financial system, with most eating places and outlets accepting Visa and Mastercard with a faucet and pay chip, and plenty of supporting Apple Pay. Simply be sure to are utilizing a bank card that doesn’t cost worldwide transaction charges and phone your financial institution prematurely to allow them to learn about any worldwide journey so that they don’t block your transactions for concern of fraud (until you might have a journey card that doesn’t require this.)

Nonetheless, you will see the few holdouts so it pays to both get some Euro out of your native financial institution (make sure to order it at the least per week forward of your journey) or take some cash out of an ATM (be careful for ATMs that cost excessive charges) whenever you arrive. Not all banks/ATMs will settle for playing cards from different banks so it is perhaps value it to alternate some cash earlier than you arrive within the nation for small purchases and ideas (at all times request small payments.)

Earlier than you go, make sure to try my submit on how a lot a journey to Portugal prices.

Tipping at eating places isn’t customary and when you do depart a gratuity, it must be a small quantity utilizing just some cash you might have available. I at all times suppose it’s a good suggestion to tip guides that present nice service, and people are often fortunately accepted.

Meals Issues

Picnic table set with glasses and plates and hats on the benches set in a vineyard in Alentejo
Picnic in Alentejo

The meals in Portugal varies from high-end, high quality eating with Michelin-starred cooks to informal tabernas serving up cheap, genuine dishes. Some dishes you will note ceaselessly embrace:

  • Pastéis de bacalhau – salt cod fritters or croquettes
  • Pastel de nata (or Belem) – basic egg custard tarts
  • Caldo verde – kale or cabbage soup (typically served as a starter)
  • Sardines – sometimes grilled
  • Contemporary seafood – from shrimp in garlic butter to seafood rice to sea bass, monk fish, and octopus
  • Bifana – the everyday beef or pork sandwich
  • Francesinha – sausage sandwich slathered in cheese and gravy present in Porto
  • Piri piri rooster – roasted or grilled with spices from Mozambique
  • Iberian black pig – acorn-fed and just like Spanish jamon iberico however served each cured and as a grilled tenderloin
  • Orange juice – don’t miss out on attempting a few of Portugal’s glorious oranges and different fruits
  • Native honey – whenever you see native honey on the breakfast buffet, ensure to get pleasure from some!

Consuming out in Portugal could be very inexpensive in comparison with different nations. In case you are consuming at an off-the-cuff taberna, you possibly can typically get a full meal for underneath 10 euros, 15 with a glass of wine to go along with it. One factor to look out for is the “couvert” which is usually a small basket of bread and dish of olives delivered to the desk originally of the meal. That is generally listed on the menu and must be ordered, however different occasions it’s introduced routinely (however that doesn’t imply it’s free.) If you happen to don’t need it, or don’t need to pay for it, simply flip it away.

Getting Round

Yellow tram 143 in Porto
Tram in Porto

Getting from place to position in Portugal isn’t arduous and typically, it’s straightforward to self-drive all through the nation on a well-established freeway system. I say that with a number of caveats!

  • Don’t try to drive in Lisbon or central Porto until you might be an skilled metropolis driver and you’ve got a spot to park at your lodge
  • Portuguese drivers could be fairly aggressive and wish to tailgate and don’t essentially keep inside the strains
  • Driving by means of small cities is usually a little nerve-wracking because the streets are extraordinarily slender (and infrequently one-way so you will have a very good navigation system)
  • There are numerous roundabouts/rotaries so be sure to are comfy with easy methods to enter and exit

I’d additionally very extremely suggest hiring a driver or taking a tour when visiting vineyards. Not solely do you not need to drink and drive, however some is usually a bit difficult to search out. Additionally, a number of the roads within the Douro Valley, particularly on the north facet of the river are gravel, slender, and carefully grip the sting of the cliffs.

You can too fly from Lisbon to Porto or the Algarve, however actually, the drive isn’t that lengthy so I discover it’s simpler to simply drive. If you happen to fly into one metropolis you possibly can decide up a rental automotive (if from exterior of the EU you might want an Worldwide Driver’s Allow, verify along with your rental automotive firm) exterior of town and drop it off exterior of town on the return. Uber is pretty straightforward to search out within the cities and trams are additionally accessible for getting round city (though typically full as a result of they’re in style with vacationers.)

Packing for Portugal

Woman standing in front of yellow and blue tile wall in Lisbon
Tiles in Lisbon

Selecting what to pack for Portugal will range relying on when and the place you’re going, however there are a number of gadgets you could put in your packing checklist:

  • Comfy, non-slip sneakers: the tile sidewalks are beautiful however they’re worn clean and slippery, particularly on the numerous hills in Porto and Lisbon and much more so when it rains;
  • Journey umbrella and rain coat: talking of rain, you possibly can count on to come across some, particularly if visiting the northern a part of the nation or between October and April;
  • Sunscreen, sun shades and a hat: when the solar does come out, it may be sturdy, even in October! Be ready with a very good sunscreen and a hat if you may be spending numerous time exterior;
  • Bug spray or lotion: if you’re visiting the Alentejo area, particularly round farms or rice fields, you’ll encounter some flies and mosquitos, so greatest to be ready;
  • Journey-safe bag: Lisbon is thought to have pickpockets, particularly round crowded squares and scenic overlooks. Don’t lose your valuables, carry a bag that provides theft-protection. I convey my Travelon locking sling bag with anti-theft and anti-slash options.
  • Movement illness meds or bands: if you’re driving by means of the Douro Valley or the winding roads within the Azores, it would be best to be ready when you undergo from movement illness.

So are you able to plan a visit to Portugal? I’d suggest reaching out to EPIC Travel to see how they might help and studying a few of my different articles about Portugal.

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Planning a trip to Portugal

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