1. Portugal travel tips: 10 things you need to know before you go
1. Go out of season
Autumn is a lovely time to visit – the sea is at its warmest (the Algarve average water temperature in October is 21˚C) while the sun still shines for an average of seven hours a day.
Most Portuguese assert that the sea is far too cold outside the self-imposed “swimming season” (usually just July and August), leaving the beaches more or less empty in the shoulder seasons.
2. Venture off the beaten track
In Portugal it pays to get off the tourist trail. Head inland to the border region, where fortified castle towns such as Marvão and Estremoz loom over the surrounding plains, and storks nest in spring above the olive and orange groves.
In autumn, go north to the Douro vineyards, where the vines are bursting with grapes – you can even join in with the harvest and grape-stomping at some wine estates.
If you just want some sun and swimming, head to the coasts of the Alentejo, the Centro district or the west coast of the Algarve, where the long sandy beaches are still relatively undeveloped.
3. Eat and drink like the locals
Portuguese food and drinks are usually excellent quality and very good value, so stick to ordering what is grown, caught or made locally. You’ll find a fine array of fresh fish and seafood everywhere, while Portuguese pork and local cheeses are hugely underrated.
The local house wine will almost certainly be excellent. Local beers and spirits will cost around half the price (and taste pretty much the same) as the branded international equivalents.
4. Be prepared to walk
The Portuguese can be very reluctant to venture far from their vehicles, which is why you’ll see often a roadside lay-by full of families picnicking next to their cars. So, you don’t have to walk very far up a track or away from the car park to have the beach, woodland or beauty spot completely to yourself.
5. Don’t assume the starters are free
Most Portuguese restaurants will bring you a selection of starters to enjoy while you peruse the menu. These can be as simple as a bowl of olives, a basket of bread with butter, local cheeses, tuna or sardine paste, though smarter restaurants may serve prawns, crab paté, a variety of sausages, or even a selection of seafood. Don’t assume that these are free – anything you eat will be added to your bill.
Some menus show a cover charge per person which usually includes bread and butter, others will charge for everything individually, even the bread rolls. But don’t get too hung up on this – usually the simple starters are pretty cheap, so if you fancy some bread and cheese to start, go for it. Just be aware that anything fishy is usually expensive so only tuck in if you really want it. And don’t be afraid to check the price of anything, and say “no thanks” to the waiter if they bring you dishes you don’t want.
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2. 25 Essential Tips For Your First Trip To Portugal
If you’ve never been to Portugal, you’re in for a treat. You might even fall a little bit in love, especially if you know what to expect. My insider Portugal travel tips can help you prepare and make your first trip go as smoothly as possible.
Knowing a little about local customs, especially in restaurants, will help you feel more confident and avoid that nasty suspicion that you’ve been ripped off. Read on for advice on planning a trip to Portugal including what to bring, what to expect when eating out and how you can save money on accommodation, transport, food, shopping and activities.
Before you book your first trip to Portugal
1. Try to avoid the hottest, busiest and most expensive months of July and August if possible. You’ll find great deals, good weather (most of the time) and less crowds if you travel to Portugal off-season.
Weather-wise, May, June and September are usually hot but not unbearably so and although the risk of rain increases from October to April, and it does get cold at night, it’s possible to get lovely sunny days any time of year.
Get the full low down on the best time to visit Portugal in this post.
2. Check travel times and distances between places if you’re considering visiting more than one region. It makes far more sense to take your time exploring one area properly and come back again to see another place than to spend half your holiday travelling between destinations.
If you feel you must cram as much as possible into one trip, you can save a few hours by flying between Faro and Porto. There are flights between Lisbon and Porto but when you factor in getting to and from the airport and security checks, I don’t think you save much time.
3. If you’re making your own travel arrangements, find out how to get from the airport to your accommodation before you book your flights. If you’re relying on public transport for transfers, you could get caught out if services finish earlier than you expected or don’t run at weekends.
Discounts on Portugal travel
4. More and more destinations in Portugal offer a tourist card, such as the Lisbon Card and Porto Card, which give free or discounted public transport and discounts on all manner of typical holiday expenditures. Check the local tourist information website before you travel to see what’s available and start saving money from the moment you step off the plane.
My ebook, Money Saving Tips for Travel in Portugal is packed with practical tips including getting to and from the airport, transport and tourist cards and where to find great deals.
My favourite sites for saving money on accommodation and car hire are here: Where To Find The Best Portugal Travel Deals. Note that major destinations have introduced a tourist tax of €1-2 per person per night to cover the increased pressure on the local infrastructure. You pay this at your accommodation so budget accordingly.
Documents to bring on your Portugal trip
5. Double check that your passport is in date – you may need at least 6 months if coming from outside the EU – and bring a couple of photocopies with you. By law, you have to carry photo ID when in Portugal but won’t want to risk losing your precious passport so leave that in your hotel safe and keep a photocopy with you and carry some alternative form of photographic ID like a driving licence.
6. If you live in the EU, apply for and bring your European Health Insurance Card. It doesn’t substitute full travel insurance but will reduce the costs of emergency treatment. If you’re coming from elsewhere, you should make sure you have insurance to cover health emergencies as the costs can quickly soar. Get a quote from World Nomads
7. The good news is that you don’t need any vaccinations for visiting Portugal unless you’re coming from a Yellow Fever zone.
8. If you have an EU passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Portugal. Other passport holders should check Visit Portugal’s guidelines although American, Canadian and Australian citizens can travel visa-free for 90 days (total) within the Schengen area.
9. If you plan on renting a car, don’t forget your driving licence – if you’re coming from outside the EU, you may need an International Drivers’ Permit so check with the rental company and if necessary, get one before your trip. You need to have your licence with you when driving in Portugal plus the paperwork for the car and your ID.
Money matters in Portugal
10. I always like to have some local currency on me when I arrive in a foreign country but if you do land in Portugal without euros, there are ATMs (look for Multibanco signs) in all international airports and towns so you can withdraw euros directly from your bank account or top up your cash if you run out.
11. Although credit cards are accepted in many places, smaller outlets, including some restaurants, only take cash. Note that if you pay by credit or debit card you will probably be charged for each transaction so check with your bank before deciding how to pay for purchases.
12. If you exchange money before travelling to Portugal, try to avoid bringing large bills, i.e. bigger than 50 euros. If your currency exchange provider has given you a stack of 100, 200 or worse, 500 euro notes, take them into a local bank when you arrive to get a stash of smaller notes.
Read More……….. juliedawnfox.com
3. 15 Stunning Places You Have To See In Portugal
Portugal is a gorgeous country to explore and much more than cork products, gorgeous sea and yummy port that it has become famous for. It’s one country that just seems to draw me back time and time again with shed loads of historic cities, gorgeous National Parks and enough bacalhau to satisfy even the hungriest of tummies!
One of the things I love most about Portugal is how unique each of the places feels. You can literally travel 30 minutes up the road and feel like you’re in a totally different country – it really is very special. If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, make sure you
take me with you and see some of these gorgeous places.
Take a look at the map I’ve made that shows off some of the very best places you must see on your next trip. You’re going to love Portugal! Então, o que você está esperando?
1.) Wander around Braga
A city perched pretty close to Porto and Amarante, it’s the perfect place to see some of Portugal’s most impressive buildings and history. Make sure you visit the stunning Bom Jesus do Monte… ohh, and take a bottle of water – the many steps will make even the best Olympian out of breath.
2.) Explore the town of Amarante
Not too far from Porto in the north of the country, Amarante is a great place to explore some of the histories of this beautiful region. Look out for the gorgeous arched bridge of Ponte São Gonçalo and wander the riverside route where there are lots of independent restaurants and cafes that line the route. You won’t be able to resist the sweet treats!
3.) Grab a tipple in Porto
Porto is one of the country’s largest cities that sits in the north of the country. This hilly is one heck of a place to visit, think cobbled streets, fresh seafood and copious amounts of port that’ll keep you sozzled all evening! On our last visit, I kept forgetting that port was much more alcoholic than ‘regular wines’… as you can imagine an almighty hangover and bouts of feeling sorry for myself ensued.
Make sure you haul yourself up to Torre dos Clérigos, discover the Ribeira area of the city and chow down at the Ode Porto Wine House who creates an amazing 3-course pairing menu that’s out of this world!
4.) Visit the Medieval village time forgot, Sortelha
Sortelha is a tiny village that is dominated by one of its most imposing residence, the castle that overlooks the region! Make sure to wander the castle grounds, though you’ll need comfy walking shoes for this ramble.
The whole village feels like you’ve been thrown back into Medieval times. A town that time forgot!
5.) See the village built around a rock
Monsanto, a small village close the border with Spain, is one of the most unique towns you’ll ever come across. With less than a 1,000 residents, it’s a rural and quaint little place that has to be seen to be believed. Head over to Adega Tipica O Cruzeiro for a tasty bite to eat and some incredible views across the region.
6.) See the beauty of Sintra
It’s hard not to fall head-over-heels in love with Sintra. Perched within the Sintra Mountains, this region has some of the prettiest castles in all of Europe (shhhh, don’t tell the others). Around 30 minutes from the centre of Lisbon, it’s pretty easy to visit for a day trip (or two).
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4. 10 of the most beautiful places in Portugal
With its cities fast becoming chic hotspots and gorgeous coastline where you still can escape the crowds and surf world-class waves, Portugal is entering a new era of cool. So what are you waiting for? Here are ten of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal:
Being the capital of Portugal, Lisbon is an obvious place to start. It receives around half the fuss of other European capitals, but can easily equal them in beauty and charm. Besides, how often do you find a capital that receives consistent swell throughout much of the year and has world-class waves? Wintertime sees Carcavelos produce heavy barrels, making it one of Portugal’s best beach breaks. Being only a fifteen minute train ride from the city center, the lineup does get crowded.
A lot of Lisbon’s attraction probably lies in its deep-rooted history, coming second only to Athens in the oldest European capital stakes. It’s actually a beautiful mix of old and new, and alongside the city’s endearing old-fashioned qualities, there is also plenty to please the boutique crowds.
Visit the Gothic cathedrals, historic cafes, vintage trams and narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets and don’t forget the vibrant coffee bars and fabulous restaurants. The city is built on a series of hills, meaning that everywhere you venture within Lisbon you are practically guaranteed to have a gorgeous view.
Lord Byron’s favourite Portuguese haunt is this exceptional village, ripe with richly coloured buildings and breathtaking architecture. Palaces, turrets, a romantic Moorish castle and a misty dense forest are all part of this sweet little village. The vegetation is lush and exotic due to the microclimate. There are a host of historic buildings to take a look at, as well as clusters of leafy mansions with immaculate lawns and stunningly decorative features.
Sintra’s Praia Grande beach break is probably the most consistent in the Lisbon area, with slow rollers at low tide and a fast, fun shorebreak appearing with high tide.
With its 14th century walls, medieval winding streets, colourfully picturesque houses, bell tower and ornate tiles there is much to see in the newly fashionable city of Porto.
Sit under the arches at Placa da Ribeira (the riverfront square) and watch the boats float past. Most apartments in the area have terraces that overlook the tranquil waters. Declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it’s a combination of old worldly charm and bustling metropolitan culture, making it a very intriguing travel destination.
4. Douro Valley
The river Douro winds through Spain and Northern Portugal. It was once a wild turbulent river, but the clever introduction of eight vast dams has tamed its spirit and it is now is very tranquil and peaceful.
The beauty of the area isn’t limited to these still and shimmering waters, though. Bordered by stunning sweeping hills and expanses of delicate almond blossoms, it really is a beautiful part of the world. The area remains, for the most part, unspoilt, with roads zigzagging through the mountains and cruise boats softly pressing through the water.
The Douro Valley is famed for supplying grapes to the best Port companies. In fact, you can see all of the major names proudly displayed on the hillside vineyards, which change colour through the seasons as the vines mature.
This is an ancient fortified town located in the Estremadura Province. In the 13th century, Portuguese Queen Isabel was so enchanted by the village of Obidos that her husband, King Denis I, gave it to her as a present. This prompted a tradition of Portuguese kings buying this picturesque village for their queens, which lasted for many centuries.
When you visit this beautiful spot, you’ll understand exactly why Isabel fell in love with it.
Once a sleepy little fishing village, Cascais is now a chic coastal resort famed for its glorious beaches, sophisticated nightlife, water sports and adventure pursuits. Always popular with artisans, writers and artists, due to its exquisite scenery, it boasts a remarkable selection of art, proudly displayed in The Conde de Castro Guimaraes Museum.
Another of the town’s attractions is the smart new marina filled with yachts which shimmer and glisten in the bright sunshine.
Surfers, too, love Cascais. Praia do Guincho is a consistent beach break with beautiful surroundings, and though it does get windy, waves are always pumping here. And with the train line running between Cascais and Lisbon, you can also surf your heart out on the Estoril coast!