Plan a trip to Portugal
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, the 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.
Where to go in Portugal
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 reason for Portugal’s popularity.
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.
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 is 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.
Essential Portuguese Phrases
- 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.
Essential Travel Info
Essential planning information so that you can have a hassle-free holiday!
Passports and Visas
In order to enter Portugal, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the day you plan to leave Portugal. They may ask you for proof of funds to provide for your stay, but this is increasingly unlikely.
Visas are not required for passengers entering Portugal from the EU, the U.S., U.K, and Australia
If you are coming from a Schengen region of the EU, your passport must be valid for 3 months after the day you are planning on leaving and you will need to show your Identity Card to enter the country.
Changing almost monthly, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest COVID-19 restrictions and entry requirements. Entry requirements vary for travelers from different countries. You may require (a) to quarantine, (b) Proof of vaccination status, (c) to complete a Passenger Locator form, (d) evidence of recent negative COVID-19 tests, (e) masks, (f) social distancing.
The Visit Portugal website has a section for the latest Coronavirus regulations.
Customs Regulations and Airport taxes
There are no airport taxes to pay when you arrive in Portugal. However, there are maximum limits to the amount of alcohol, cigarettes, and currency you can bring into the country. This amount is higher for passengers who have purchased the items in EU countries. You can find out more about import limited at www.dgav.pt.
Portugal has two time zones and observes daylight saving time. Continental Portugal and Madeira use UTC+00:00, while the Azores use UTC–01:00.
Money in Portugal
The official currency of the Portuguese Republic is the euro, (EUR). One euro is divided into 100 cents (centavos). You may only be able to get 200 EUR from an ATM at one time.
Keep your belongings safely stored, close to your body, and be extra alert around tourist sites, including beaches, castles, and cruise docks. Like anywhere, avoid dimly lit places at night. Bag snatching, car burglaries, pick-pocketing, drink spiking, and accommodation scams all occur in Portugal, as they do in almost, if not all, other countries.
Portugal Clean and Safe a website by the Portuguese government has created to help visitors travel safely and healthily.
Tipping in Portugal
Portugal’s wages, while high by global standards, are amongst the lowest in Western Europe. Tipping is not mandatory, but it is very common and usually in cash to make sure your waitstaff receives it.
Tip between 5-10% or round up the bill. If a 10% Service Charge is added to the bill, then there’s no need to tip.
For tour guides, tip €5-10 for a half-day, €10-20 for a full day. On free tours €5-10 is the norm.
SIM cards and Public Wi-fi
If you’d like to phone home and keep in touch while you’re on holiday in Portugal, you’ll need a Portugal SIM. There are areas of public Wi-fi, but they are not extensive, especially outside the downtown areas of the major cities and towns.
MEO, Vodafone, and NOS are the three mobile providers, with MEO the largest.
You’ll see Vodafone shops in the major airports. It’s a cheap and simple solution to staying in touch. It’s also possible to pre-purchase a SIM and an e-SIM.
Portugal Travel Cards
City Cards such as the Lisbon Card and the Porto Card give you free transportation and some also offer discounts on activities. They can even be used for day trips, such as a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra.
These cards can be combined with hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses. See the range of all Portugal cards here.
Portugal’s standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Depending on where you are traveling from, you may need to purchase a travel adapter. The correct adapter type for Portugal is Type F.
Weights & Measures
Portugal uses the metric system – so, for example, kilograms and not pounds, kilometers rather than miles, as well as the Celsius (rather than Fahrenheit) temperature scale.