With its sun-washed towns and friendly locals, the southern European country of Portugal is a popular tourist destination, particularly for people from England, Germany, Holland, Norway and Sweden. Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, offers the perfect relaxed ambience for travelers visiting to sunbath on the Algarve’s beautiful beaches and dine alfresco in the abundance of chic cafes. Visitors can sail the river Douro, cycle across the Sintra Mountains and explore the lush green landscapes of the Volcanic Azores. While here, make sure you enjoy traditional fresh seafood dishes washed down with the famous Portuguese “Port”.
PORTUGAL TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Castelo de Sao Jorge
São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge) is one of Lisbon’s most emblematic landmarks and located in the freguesia of Santa Maria Maior. This castle can be seen from almost anywhere in the city due to its location on top of a hill. It’s a top tourist attraction, in part due to a major restoration performed in the 1940s. Most parts of the castle are open to tourists and don’t miss the camera installed in one of the towers that projects pictures of the city on the castle walls.
National Palace of Sintra
The Palace of Sintra also called Town Palace (Palácio da Vila) is located in Lisbon’s historic town centre and was inhabited for nearly eight centuries by the Portuguese monarchy and its court. It can be recognized from afar by its huge round chimneys at the top. The palace was constructed in the 14th century and is known to be the oldest most well-preserved palace of Portugal. There are a few intricately adorned floors with different themes and among the most prominent features of the palace is the Sala dos Brasoes, the main hall with a sparkling dome.
Towards the north of Porto lies the Matosinhos Beach that is made of miles of golden sand bordered by a walkway. Enjoy this wide stretch of sandy beach offering surfing, swimming & sunbathing, plus sunset views. This beach is frequented by locals and tourists alike, and it has lifeguards, which means it is great for families with young children. Here you can enjoy a game of soccer or volleyball and plenty of water sports too and when the tides allow, you can go surfing.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is a highly ornate monastery that is situated in the Belem district of western Lisbon. It’s also the most impressive symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. No expense was spared when they built this masterpiece of Manueline and Gothic architecture in 1502. Wander around the walkways and see some monuments such as the tombs of well known Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes and Vasco de Gama.
Regarded as one of the best museums in Portugal, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Portuguese: Museu Calouste Gulbenkian) has around 6000 artifacts on display, ranging from Antiquity to the early 20th century. These belonged to Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, an Armenian national who lived in Portugal and donated his collection to the museum before his death. See paintings by Rembrandt, furniture belonging to Louis XV and XVI and Roman Medallions.
Read more: Top 10 things to do in Portugal
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PORTUGAL TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo
Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo takes place between April and May. The Cult of the Lord Holy Christ of the Miracles, popularly known as Senhor Santo Cristo or Santo Cristo dos Milagres is a religious veneration associated with an image of Jesus Christ, depicted in the events of the New Testament. Five weeks after Easter Sunday, Island of Sao Miguel hosts the best festival of Azores. This six-day party attracts a lot of crowds from all corners of the world as well as followers of Azores to revere the Holy Christ with flowers, lights, music, dance, and food.
Festa dos Tabuleiros
Every four years, the central town draws travelers from different parts of the world for Festa dos Tabuleiros or Festa do Divino Espírito Santo. This takes place every four years in July in Tomar, Portugal. This festival is an ancient tradition and the most important celebrated in the city, attracting people from all over the world. The festival features a procession of girls adorned in tabuleiros that represents the pillar of strength and the Holy Spirit.
New Year’s Eve in Madeira
If you’re looking for an incredible New Year’s Eve party then this is the place to be. Madeira island’s New Years Eve firework display is famous worldwide and in 2006 the fireworks broke a world record for just being really awesome.
Language: The official language of Portugal is Portuguese. You will also find people from some villages speaking Mirandese, which is a local language. English is also widely spoken as many people who live in Portugal are fluent in English due to working in the tourism industry.
Visa: Visiting Portugal will usually require a valid passport and visa for any travelers that are not from the European Union. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Portugal is required, which will depend on the country you are from, and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: In Portugal the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Portugal, if the standard voltage in your country is between 220 – 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Portugal: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN PORTUGAL
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Portugal are listed below. Don’t drool!
Sardines: During summers, the Festo de Santo Antonio takes place in Lisbon. The entire city is absorbed in a party atmosphere, and fresh sardines are the speciality. This is the time of the year when you can find the best grilled sardines served with wine.
Polvo à Lagareiro: Polvo à lagareiro is on most Portuguese menus. It’s boiled-then-baked octopus served alongside baked potatoes, drizzled with Portuguese olive oil and occasionally topped with cilantro.
Read more: Top 5 Tasty Local Treats To Try In Lisbon
Whole Crab: This is a famous Portuguese dish. The innards of a crab are mixed with fat and a sauce made of butter, onions, garlic, peppers, white wine, and chili sauce and served in the crab’s shell. This is considered to be the best way to eat a crab because nothing is wasted.
Pastel de Nata: Also known as Portuguese custard tart, is a Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon. The best places to try this are Pasteis de Belém, Manteigaria, and Aloma.
Caldo Verde: Portuguese kale soup, caldo verde, is something you can experience everywhere in Portugal. The basic traditional ingredients for caldo verde are potatoes, collard greens, olive oil, black pepper and salt.
WHERE TO STAY IN PORTUGAL
Portugal is a reasonably affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Portugal is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Portugal affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Portugal will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Portugal can cost less than 100 euros.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Lisbon, Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Braga or Amadora. Whatever month you choose to visit Portugal, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Portugal is an extremely popular year-round destination with business travelers and backpackers.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Portugal. However, if you are backpacking in Portugal or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Portugal very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT PORTUGAL
The best time to visit Portugal is in May and June or September and October when the weather is reliably sunny. It is also less crowded at these times than the summer months of July and August which are high season and can be very hot, more expensive and extremely crowded, especially during the afternoons.
PORTUGAL TRAVEL BUDGET
Portugal is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Portugal really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 100 to 250 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget at least 250 to 500+ euros per day.
IS PORTUGAL SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety does not need to be a huge concern for women travelers in Portugal which is considered a generally very safe country to visit. As with any country you visit, always be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of Portugal aren’t as safe as other areas so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on many years of travel in Europe I would never leave home without insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Portugal trip.
PORTUGAL VISA CHECKER
PORTUGAL FLIGHT DEALS
PORTUGAL TOURS & ACTIVITIES
PORTUGAL PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Portugal, like most other places in Europe, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Portugal.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
If you’re visiting Portugal during the warmer months it will be much easier to travel light. Pack mainly lightweight and breathable clothing but still be prepared for cold mornings and evenings depending on the month you visit. You’ll need to wrap up warm between November and February. So pack a warm sweater, waterproof coat, gloves, scarves and a wooly hat if you’re traveling during winter.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Portugal include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.