Portugal is one of our favorite European countries and travel destinations! It has a great combination of beaches, cities, hiking trails, coastlines, an excellent food scene, and, of course, amazing wine. It also happens to be one of the more affordable European travel destinations.
In this ultimate Portugal travel guide, you’ll find all the reasons we love this country, what you need to know before you go, and tips for planning your next getaway!
Find out more about why you need to visit Portugal, when to visit, where to go, Portugal travel tips, and more in the ultimate Portugal travel guide.
For all my fellow wine lovers, Portugal is known for their famous Port wine. Port is a fortified red wine that is commonly enjoyed as a dessert wine because it is rich and sweet. However, we enjoyed it along the Douro Valley river with cheese and snacks during our visit.
There is an abundance of different wines from the regions across Portugal. We were pleasantly surprised by the variety of wines. We were often able to find a really good bottle of local wine for 12 – 30 Euros.
Learn more about the Portugal wine region and our recommendations for your next Portugal getaway:
During our trip to Portugal, we spent a day in the most popular Portuguese wine region, the Douro Valley. We spent the day visiting a variety of wineries in the region and went for a boat ride down the river.
The Douro Valley is the oldest wine region in the world and is most famously known for the production of Port Wine. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site and has unbelievable natural beauty. The river winds between small mountains.
Although we only spent a day here, we would recommend finding a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast to explore the area and spend more time enjoying the wine and the breathtaking views.
When planning your trip, once you have visited Porto, consider heading out to Douro Valley for a night or two. There are a few boutique hotels in the Douro Valley region that have incredible pools with wonderful views that give you more time to enjoy the wine.
This is the largest of the Portuguese wine regions in northern Portugal. Although the name translates to “Green Wine,” the wine is not actually green; it’s white. However, it is best consumed close after production—when it’s fresh or “green.”
The region is known for light, refreshing and clean wines.
Much to my surprise, Portugal’s capital region is also a wine region. When visiting Lisbon, be sure to include a wine tour. This region was known in particular for its delicious table wines. Lisbon is a great city to explore with diverse activities and truly has something for everyone. There are fabulous beaches, city tourism, site-seeing, and wine experiences.
In southeastern Portugal, you will find the wine region of Alentejo, known for producing some of the finest wines in Portugal. The wineries focus on creating more full-bodied red wines.
If you have been looking at the Portugal travel guide, you will have heard about Madeira. This is one of the must-visit locations, not only because it’s known as the European Hawaii. You can take a local tour around the island and explore the fascinating place the Portuguese way.
There are many boutique hotels and eco-tourism spots in the region that are off the beaten track and provide a more authentic and intimate experience. You may have to wander onto some rural roads to reach some of the wineries.
One of our favorite places to visit is the MORGADO DO QUINTÃO. Be sure to plan in advance to be able to get a spot for lunch and a wine tasting or find accommodation on site to continue to enjoy a dinner and tasting.
In north-central Portugal, there is a cute region called Dao. This underrated region is one of Portugal’s hidden gems. This area produces incredible wine and provides beautiful views. If you are looking for a quieter area to visit in peak season, this is the place for you.
Across Portugal, there is great food. While visiting Portugal, you will want to be sure to try authentic Portuguese tarts (Pasteis de Nata), codfish, sardines, octopus, and cured meats! I was impressed while we were visiting by the affordability of the food.
Everywhere you go in Portugal, the locals will tell you that that region or bakery is the best known for its tarts and has the most authentic Pasteis de Nata—it always seems to be their grandma’s original recipe.
I tried these delicious pastries everywhere we went and loved them all.
If you want to visit one of the most famous locations in Lisbon, you will want to check out Pastéis de Belém. Be prepared to wait in line for a fresh pastry, especially in high season! We were visiting in September, which is shoulder season, and the wait was less than 20 minutes in the morning.
We tried seafood every opportunity we had. Although we tried a few popular destinations for seafood, like the fish market in Lagos, it was the restaurants we stumbled upon that truly amazed me. Along the western coast of Portugal, we stopped at a restaurant near the beach in Comporta, Dona Bia, which had some of the best fish and rice dishes (try the cuddle fish)!
People also commonly recommend trying the codfish cakes (Bolinhos de Bacalhau) and grilled sardines! I found the grilled sardines did have a lot of bones but were enjoyable.
Don’t forget to try octopus while on your trip. Octopus is a traditional Portuguese food and is often served with roasted potatoes. It is typically cooked in Portuguese olive oil and is nothing like you have ever tried before.
There are many variations of the famous sandwich, which you will hear talked about as you travel through the country. You can add many ingredients to the sandwiches or stick with the traditional fillings, which include marinated pork, white wine, and spices. They’re served on crusty white bread.
World-famous Portuguese chicken is a must-have during your Portugal trip. Often served with french fries and salad, it is the Portuguese national dish.
You can’t go to a country with incredible wine without also trying the cheese. There were a variety of artisanal cheeses that we enjoyed along our travels. From the northern regions to the southern regions, you can find excellent Portuguese cheeses, often designated with the origin labels (PDO).
There are beautiful coastlines and beaches throughout the country. We were able to find quiet, pristine beaches and busy, bustling beaches. There is truly a beach for everyone.
There are several natural parks and multiple UNESCO world heritage sites, including Peneda-Gerês National park, which is often recognized as one of the best in Europe.
Portugal is great for hiking and road trips, both of which we did during our most recent trip. In the Algarve, we were able to find many hiking trails that took us along the Atlantic Ocean and were a great city break.
While in Porto, we discovered there is part of the Camino de Santiago hiking trail that goes along the beaches and is a famous hiking trail that follows the clam shells from Portugal to Spain.
Portugal has a rich history and is known as the oldest country in Europe. It’s home to 17 World Heritage sites that are beautiful sites that delight travelers and photographers.
There are many historic villages, cities, and small towns that are worth taking a stroll through.
During our road trip, we found cute historic cities like Sintra, which had many historic buildings and gorgeous gardens.
Portugal is listed as one of the safest countries in the world, and you can feel how welcoming it is as soon as you arrive. That being said, you should always be cautious around new surroundings.
We had a great experience and found people very welcoming to tourists during our time in Portugal.
Yes, generally, Portugal is a safe place to travel and was ranked as the 13th safest country in the world by the Global Peace Index in 2020. We have outlined some helpful travel tips in the Portugal travel guide below.
During the pandemic, Portugal was able to vaccinate 87% of people (as of September 2022), making this one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. Nearly all COVID restrictions have been lifted, and there are currently no special requirements for travel. If you are planning to go, please review the newest travel alerts here.
Like most popular tourist destinations, travelers in Portugal are at risk of petty theft and pickpocketing.
When you are traveling, remember these tips when you are in crowded areas or on public transit:
- Carry only your essentials and leave your important items locked at your accommodations
- Be mindful when you are in crowded areas
- If you carry a purse or bag, wear it in front of you
- Keep your phone or wallet close to you and in inner pockets
- Use a portable lock safe to store your important belongings
Portugal is a popular destination for travelers, especially for females on their own. The country has low crime and harassment rates. Catcalling is also illegal in Portugal, which does not eliminate it, but it is taken seriously by enforcement in the country.
Whenever you are traveling in Portugal, you won’t need to worry about filling up your water bottle as the tap water is safe to drink throughout the country.
Although Portugal is in an earthquake zone, you won’t need to worry, as the country has not experienced an earthquake since 1980. There are minimal hurricanes or tropical storms, so you won’t need to worry about those while visiting the beautiful beaches. It is always a good idea to do additional research on weather forecasts before you go.
Throughout the country, there is reliable and safe transportation. You can use public transit in cities, such as the yellow trams in Lisbon. For longer trips between cities, the train lines are affordable and safe. We took the train from Porto to Lisbon and were able to easily book the high-speed train online.
In case you do find yourself in an emergency in Portugal, our travel guide has the important numbers you need to know below.
- Emergency Services (police, ambulance, firefighters) = 112
- Forest Fires = 117
- Health Line (24/7) = 808 242 424
- Maritime Police = 210 911 100
Now that you know why you need to plan your next trip to Portugal, we are going to tell you some of our favorite locations.
On our trip to Portugal, we flew into Porto to start our trip and flew home from Lisbon. If this isn’t possible, I would suggest flying in and out of Lisbon. TAP Portugal, the national airline, has a lot of opportunities for layovers in both Lisbon and Portugal.
As the capital of Portugal, flying in and out through Lisbon is very easy. Public transportation is easy to use in Portugal, and we were able to get from cities and towns using the trains.
Lisbon, the vibrant and historic capital city of Portugal, is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of European culture, cuisine, and architecture.
Lisbon has a range of options for travelers, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Make sure to book your accommodations well in advance to ensure availability, especially if you’re traveling during peak season.
We stayed at a hostel in Lisbon, but I would recommend finding a hotel or Airbnb in the city with air conditioning. It is more expensive to be in the city center but is worth it considering all of the hills.
When it comes to exploring the city, there are several must-visit attractions in Lisbon. These include the historic Belem Tower, the Alfama district with its winding streets and Fado music, and the stunning Jeronimos Monastery. You can also take a ride on the iconic Tram 28 for a scenic tour of the city’s historic neighborhoods.
The nightlife in Lisbon is fantastic, and if you are interested in going out for the night, then you check out Pink Street for a fun night out. We also really enjoyed going to Musicbox Lisboa.
If you’re looking for a sun-drenched vacation that combines stunning beaches with charming towns and cultural experiences, a trip to Lagos and the Algarve region of Portugal should be on your list.
Lagos and the surrounding area offer a wide range of accommodations, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts.
Lagos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, such as Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo, and Meia Praia. Be sure to also visit the beaches in the surrounding areas, such as Praia da Rocha and Praia do Vau.
We took a boat ride for a half day, and we really enjoyed the relaxing way to explore the coast.
Take a day trip to Sagres, a historic town at the westernmost point of Europe, or visit the Ria Formosa Natural Park to see the region’s diverse wildlife.
Portugal is known as a great place to visit. Among Europeans, it is an especially well-known summer (June to August) travel destination. The summer months are busy with people enjoying their holidays.
For those of us coming from North America, the spring (March to June) or fall (September to mid-October) are ideal times to visit as there are fewer crowds, prices are lower, and there is still great weather.
We spent two weeks during mid-September and would recommend this time. There were thinner crowds, but many restaurants and attractions were still open. We were able to find our ideal accommodations for a much lower price than available over the summer months.
Throughout the winter, you can expect fewer crowds and shorter opening hours (some resorts even close down for the winter months). Lisbon, like other European cities, is known for its wonderful Christmas markets and decorations.
I would recommend traveling with a carry-on only. This is not only a money-saving tip but also makes traveling through the winding streets much easier.
During our trip, we used a wash and fold service in Lisbon for just 18 euros between the two of us.
Although many places take cards, there were a few places that would only accept cash. There are a lot of ATMs if you aren’t able to exchange cash before you go.
Money Saving Tip: I don’t go anywhere without a water bottle, but you can save a lot of money by bringing a water bottle and filling it up with tap water rather than buying bottled water.
Money Saving Tip: When you are at restaurants in Portugal and you ask for water, you will need to clarify that you are asking for tap water (unless you would like bottled water)—otherwise you will have to pay extra for the bottled stuff.
Although everyone wants to look good for their Instagram post or their TikTok, you will regret not having comfortable shoes on this trip.
Most of the cities have cobblestone paths, stairs, and hills that make it challenging and less enjoyable if you aren’t wearing comfortable shoes.
When packing light, don’t forget to pack an e-reader for your travels. I love having the e-reader for the beach or when we were taking train rides between cities.
If you like being active, I would recommend looking up hiking trails before going. We used All Trails to find a few nice hikes that took us along the coast.
Sintra is a picturesque town with stunning castles and palaces like the Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle, and Quinta da Regaleira.
While you are in Lisbon, plan a trip to visit Sintra. We took a Jeep tour from locals that we loved, but it is even nice to spend the day walking around the castles and gardens.
Explore the Azores, a group of volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and go whale watching or diving if you have the time!
Go surfing in Ericeira, a popular surf destination with world-class waves.
Take a boat tour of the Ribeira do Porto, a scenic riverfront district in Porto.
Stop and visit small towns while taking a road trip. We loved visiting Comporta and Vila Nova de Milfontes.
We stayed in a small town nearby at an eco-tourism lodge called Tres Maria.
Especially seafood dishes such as grilled sardines, codfish, and seafood rice.
Attend a Fado music performance, a traditional Portuguese music genre known for its melancholic tunes and heartfelt lyrics.
Try some wine in Douro Valley.
Make sure your phone is always charged.
Locals and fellow travelers are all very friendly!
Portugal is known for its lively festivals, especially during the summer months. The most famous festival is the Festa de São João in Porto, which takes place in June.
Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. However, the weather can be unpredictable.
Along the western coast, there are strong waves and a lot of great places to surf. Along the southern coast, the beaches were better for relaxing and swimming.
The official language in Portugal is Portuguese. While many Portuguese people can speak English, it’s always helpful to learn a few basic Portuguese phrases to help you get by.
Many visitors come and work in Portugal as digital nomads!
Portugal has a well-developed public transportation system, including trains, buses, and subways. Taxis are also readily available in most cities.
Portuguese people are generally friendly and hospitable, and visitors should reciprocate this kindness. It’s also customary to greet people with a handshake or a kiss on each cheek, depending on the region.
Visit the city walls and castle of Guimaraes, which is often known as the birthplace of Portugal.