Welcome to the most colorful country in Europe – a long and narrow country that is full of color, festivals, wine, castles, natural wonders, and glorious beaches.
The Portugal Travel Hub has everything you need to know about Portugal – where to go, what to eat, where to stay, best times to visit, and all the practicalities of currency, time zones, and how to get around.
We love Portugal and we are supported by a team of local writers from all over the country so you can be sure you are getting up-to-date information about what’s happening in this diverse country.
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where to go? Portugal highlights
Portugal receives over 27 million tourists each year. Like many other parts of Europe, visitors come for the history, culture, food, and wine. The stately architecture of the cities, the terracotta-tiled roofs, and the stunningly ornate castles are a large part of the appeal of the cities.
However, the whitewashed beaches of the Algarve, with its golf resorts and holiday accommodation, are another major reason for Portugal’s popularity. And finally, there are the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores Islands with some of the most spectacular scenery and beautiful hikes in the world.
Top Portugal destinations
The most visited destinations in Portugal are:
Lisbon (Lisboa) is the capital of Portugal. It is in the Alentejo region and the number one must-see city in Portugal. The country’s second city, Porto, has its own unique architecture and food. It is the gateway to the picturesque Douro Valley and its wineries and river cruises.
Braga, Coimbra, Fatima, and Obidos are popular as bases for visits to smaller villages and towns. They are themselves historical, and unique and give travelers a genuine sense of the rhythms of Portuguese life.
There are many more wonderful cities and regions in Portugal, including its islands. But if it’s your first time in Portugal and you can fit these four destinations into your holiday, you’ll get a great sense of the variety of food, history, and culture of Portugal, and the unspoiled beauty of its national parks, and beaches.
How long should I spend in Portugal?
The two most popular types of holiday in Portugal are beach holidays and sightseeing visits. Many visitors add Portugal to their Spain itinerary, often for just a week or two.
Beach lovers head to the Algarve region, Madeira, and the Alentejo Coast to soak up the sun on some of Europe’s best beaches. Beach holidays can be as short as a weekend getaway or as long as you can spend sitting in the sun!
Sightseers visit the major towns of Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Braga, and Sintra, charming villages and historic sites like Fatima, or spectacular natural areas such as the Douro Valley, Sintra Cascais Natura Park, and the Azores.
If you want to see both Lisbon and Porto and do a couple of day trips to key regions nearby, allow at least 14 days. For a quick trip to these two main cities, then you could cover quite a lot of ground with 3 days in Porto and 3 days in Lisbon.
when is the best time to go to Portugal?
The weather in Portugal differs between the north, central, and south parts of the country, and again in Madeira and the Azores. As you would expect for the northern hemisphere, it rains the least in July and August, and most from December to February.
If we had to choose a perfect time to visit Portugal, we would suggest you plan your trip from mid-May to mid-June or mid-September and the first week of October.
Check out more detailed seasonal temperature average highs and lows and rainfall in each of the major regional centers of Braga, Porto, the Douro Valley, Lisbon, the Alentejo region, the Algarve, Madeira, and the Azores in our Guide to Weather in Portugal.
Types of Portugal Itineraries
The first type of Portugal Itinerary we call “See Portugal” itineraries. These vary in length from one month touring the entire country to one or two weeks, usually centered on visiting Lisbon and Porto but also a few days taking day trips from these bases.
The other itinerary visits to a specific area such as the Algarve, the Alentejo Coast, Madeira, or the Azores. Day trips, experiences, and sightseeing tours are popular additions to these regional itineraries that are ideal for trips of more than a week.
Experience-focussed holidays are also very popular, especially hiking, golfing, beach and water activities, or nature parks and wildlife tours. Whale and dolphin watching are popular activities in the southern Algarve region and in Madeira and the Azores.
Experience-focussed holidays are often 7 to 10 or 14 days, while sightseeing around Portugal is generally 10 days to a month. Sightseeing holidays commonly involve choosing a few places as ‘bases’ with day trips and road trips or short hiking and camping stays included. You can find the most popular itineraries on our itineraries page.
Simple Portuguese words & phrases for travel
- Want a room upgrade for free?
- To find a local restaurant that only serves one dish and only locals know about it?
- How about a taxi driver who goes out of their way to help you when you’re lost?
- And how about being given the number of a trusted family doctor when you’re ill?
These situations have arisen for us in dozens of countries. We know that learning just a tiny number of phrases will make your trip to Portugal more fun and maybe even safer or cheaper. You’ll get more smiles and more help from strangers just because you bothered to learn a few basic words of Portuguese.
If you speak Spanish, Portuguese is easy. If you speak French, you’re partly there and there are lots of Portuguese words that have recognizable English equivalents. We’ve created a simple list of the Top 22 words and phrases to help you make friends with the locals, get around, and let people know what you need.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Hi/Hello Oi/Olá
- Good morning Bom dia
- Good evening Boa noite
- Bye Tchau
- Excuse me Com licença
- I’m sorry Desculpa
- Do you speak English? Fala inglês?
Of course, these words and phrases are only a tiny number of those used in everyday greetings and conversations. But depending upon which other languages you speak, it can be easy to pick up a lot of Portuguese quickly.