If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in Western Europe, then you really can’t miss Portugal off your agenda. Not only does it have the nicest beaches in the whole continents (my opinion, but I really believe that), it’s a dream to travel. The country is not too expensive in comparison to other places, public transport makes getting up and down the country very easy and the locals are really helpful and friendly. This is not just a holiday destination, spend some time here and you will really value the culture and history.
Places to See
- Palace of Sintra
- Bolsa Palace
- Monument Church of St Francis
- Santa Justa Lift
- Luis Bridge
- Sintra Mountains
- Any beach!
Local Currency- Euro
The price is very similar to those in mainland Spain- which is a bit of a life saver really as this is probably where you’ll be coming from, so no need to adjust your budget.
Big Spender-£40-50 p/p a day. This would include staying in luxury hostels, eating in restaurants at least 2 meals day, visiting all top attractions and experiencing the nightlife.
Sensible Thinker-£35 p/p a day. This would mean staying at good hostels-possibly private rooms, eating out for at least one meal a day, visiting some top attractions and sometimes experiencing the nightlife.
Shoestring-£25 p/p a day. Staying in dorms in okay hostels, cooking your own food the majority of the time and getting local transport.
How to get around
The best way to get around Portugal without a doubt is to catch the train- even more reason to start looking into getting an inter rail pass. The tickets are relatively cheap, and the reservations (if you do get an inter rail ticket) are some of the most budget friendly ones you’ll get in Europe. The trains are easy to book (see link below or just head to the train station whilst you’re there) and unlike many other countries- actually run on time. Make sure you get a window seat if you can; you’re going to want to check out the beautiful coastline.
- Change your time zone
If you’re coming into Portugal from Spain then make sure you out your clocks back one hour. Unlike it’s European neighbours- Portugal is actually the exact same time zone as the UK GMT+0. When I was there I spent 5 minutes arguing with a restaurant owner- the sign said they opened at 7, according to my watch it was 7, but silly me was still on Spanish time.
- It’s not all about the beaches
I cannot stress just how beautiful the beaches in Portugal are; go to Lagos and you’ll know exactly what I mean. BUT, just because Portugal is typically a holiday resort, it doesn’t mean that beaches are all they have to offer. This countries has some breath taking towns and cities; head to Lisbon and more specifically Porto if you really want to experience some culture.
- Take a free walking tour. Like I always say- free walking tours are the highlight of Europe, and Portugal is absolutely not exception. Not many travellers take full advantage of this country, but it’s heritage is so interesting and the walking tour in Lisbon was one of the best I went to.
- Try the local cuisine. Portugal has some of the best food I’ve tasted and each city you visit will have their own local cuisines for you to try- you have to try as much as you possibly can. Most of the time, you will never have even heard of some of the dishes this fantastic country has to offer, and more than likely you’ll never come across it again- don’t miss your chance! Vegans, there are lots of places to get veggie options of meat favourites don’t worry.
- Protect your skin. This tip is REALLY important- the Sun is incredibly strong in Portugal so make sure you protect yourself with a high factor sun cream. It is very windy in this country, especially on the coast so it’s liklely you’ll forget just how hot the Sun is. Joe got so badly sunburnt he couldn’t lay down and didn’t sleep for weeks- you’ve been warned!
Best Time to Visit
Summer is the best time to visit Portugal- even in high summer the heat doesn’t compare to Southern Spain or Italy and the sea breeze is really enjoyable. Throughout the summer months there are also various music festivals all over the country which can be a really good experience. Try visiting late spring to avoid school holidays.
Best Vegan eateries
- Restaurante Gengibre E Canela- Faro
- Jardim dos Sentidos-Lisbon
- Nah Nah Bar-Lagos (previously held the title for best burger IN THE WORLD!)
- Vegana Burgers- Lisbon
- Black Mamba-Porto (one of the coolest places I’ve been)
Yes/No ~ Sim/Não (sieng/naung)
Please ~ Por favor/Faz favor (pòr fah-vor/fasj fah-vor)
Thank you ~ Obrigado/da (o-brie-ga-doe/dah)
Excuse me ~ Desculpe (disj-koelp)
Hello ~ Olá (oh-lah)
Goodbye ~ Adeus (a-de-oesj)
How are you? ~ Como está? (koh-moe sjtah?)
Very well, thank you ~ Bem, obrigado/da (being o-brie-ga-doe/da)
I don’t understand. ~ Não compreendo. (naung kom-prie-èn-doe)
Do you speak English? ~ Fala inlgês? (fa-lah ieng-gleesj?)
I’m sorry. ~ Desculpe. (diesj-koelp)
I absolutely adore Portugal, the beaches are some of the best anywhere in the world and the culture and history is truly fascinating. You must go here.