Portugal Tourism

Continent: Europe

Region: Southern Europe


Ideal duration:

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Best time: Summer (July-August) (Read More)

Budget: Cheap to Moderate

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"The best of Europe"

Portugal Tourism

With a rich culture, eccentric cities and an exquisite countryside, Portugal is among the best value destinations in Europe. The landscape is exceedingly diverse as one can see it changing as they travel from green mountains in the North to rocky cliffs and waterfalls in the Centre to the desert-like landscape in Alentejo and laidback beaches in Algarve. Recently named the "Best Golf Destination", Fourteen of Portugal's golf courses are among the top 100 in Europe. Surfing is another activity Portugal is sought after for. Portugal is the place to be if you desire the best of European landscapes and culture in one spot.

Tourist Places In Portugal

Regions in Portugal

Northern Portugal: rich historical tradition; considered the birthplace of Portugal nation; home to Porto – the second largest city.
North Central Portugal: covers the region from Atlantic coast to the mountainous interior-area.
South Central Portugal: important places include - Portugal's capital Lisbon, Estremadura - a traditional province and the Upper Alentejo.
Southern Portugal: home to Algarve and its beaches and Lower Alentejo
The Azores: A group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
Madeira: A sub-tropical archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

Best time to visit Portugal

Summer (July-August) is the best time to visit Portugal

The Best time to visit Portugal is during spring and fall seasons as they have a balmy weather, summers are long and hot, while winters are wet and cold. However, the country does not have a particular holiday season - it is an all year round destination, and everything depends on what the visitor wants to see and how they want to spend their time in Portugal. July and August are two of the busiest months in Portugal, as it is the time when many Europeans take their summer holidays. For those who want to enjoy the beach, the ideal season is from June until the end of September. However, for seasoned surfers, a good time to travel is between November and January. Even though the air and sea temperatures are not the warmest, it is during these months that the waves are the most magnificent. Late spring or early autumn is considered as another good to visit the country, as it is less crowded, and the weather is beautiful. It is best that travellers on a budget avoid major holidays like Christmas and Easter. Since these seasons come with long weekends and vacations, flight and hotel prices soar. For those seeking a cost-effective holiday, the early months of spring and autumn, are the best months to travel. As for exploring the historical sites and cultural aspects of Portugal, it is a favourable destination all days of the year.

Holidify's Opinion

  What's Great?

  • Beautiful beaches - surfing, sun-bathing and water sports are big during Summers
  • Magnificent and diverse landscape
  • Year- round festivals to keep tourists busy

  What's not so Great?

  • Might be difficult to travel within the country as options are limited
  • Language barriers

For Whom

For sea fanatics who love spending time at beaches, go surfing and indulge in water sports.

Stay options in Portugal

Staying options in Portugal include youth hostels, camping grounds (where you can pitch your tents) and hotels. A unique option, for those who want an authentic Portuguese experience on a budget, is Residencial – a range of home-like hostels where you can easily get a double room for €25-35. A more luxurious option is 'Pousadas de Portugal' – palace and castle type buildings that offer excellent services throughout the country. In the countryside, an affordable option is “Casas de Campo” – a range of comfortable B&Bs. Adventurous travellers can also rent a fully-equipped, comfortable campervan from an organisation called “Soul Campers”.

More on Portugal


International cards widely accepted in shops, hotels and restaurants: VISA, Mastercard and American Express cards. However, all these places have a Chip and PIN device now, so cards that need to be swiped will not work. Also, many small shops/eating outlets only accept Portuguese Maestro, and Visa Electron cards so always keep some cash handy. Euro is the primary and only acceptable currency.

Best places to buy/exchange currency: Cambios (Bureaux de Change or Change Shops), hotels and shops (banks do not offer foreign exchange anymore). It is advisable to exchange currency from bureaux in larger towns as they give the best rates whereas airports and hotels offer very poor rates of exchange. However, ATMs or Cashpoints are the best places to exchange currency.ÊCambios or Change Shops do not go by commercial bank rates and impose some hidden costs. ATMs accepting international cards can be found everywhere, and currency conversion booths are easy to locate in tourists spots. Most bank branches, supermarkets, and shopping areas also have Multibanco or automated cashpoints.

Lisbon is the party capital of the country with a number of traditional nightclubs and bars. Club Lux is a popular, premium nightclub owned by Hollywood actor John Malkovich. The interiors are retro and funky with a huge dance floor for those willing to shake a leg and a separate floor with a mellower vibe. Other hotspots include Queens nightclub, Stylish Bar and Super Club - all have great music and cheap drinks. In terms of bars, Atelier in Porto and The Second Bar in Areias de Sao are popular places to kick back and relax. Algarve also offers a wide variety of bars and clubs for all sorts of audiences - from families to wild stags. These range from music bars and all-night clubs to beach clubs and lounge bars. Some popular places include The Black Stove Alvor, On the Rocks Bar, The Beach Bar, NoSoloAgua Club Restaurant and BJ's Oceanside.

Often referred to as a mecca for shopping enthusiasts, Portugal has a range of markets, boutiques, shopping malls and other shopping outlets for its tourists. Some popular places in Lisbon include the Amoreiras Shopping Center, El Corte Ingls (for premium, high-end brands), The Atrium Saldhana, Colombo Centro Comercial (Portugal's largest shopping centre) and Armazens do Chiado.Forum Algarve Shopping Mall and The Marina shopping complex are huge shopping complexes in Algarve with all kinds of goods from souvenirs to everyday items.

Carnaval (Feb-March): Dance, music, street parties and other fun events take place all over Portugal.Lisbon Fish and Flavors (April): Lisbon's gourmet seafood festival that pays tribute to Portugal's excellent, high-quality seafood.Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo (April-May): Most important festival of the Azores on the island of Sao Miguel; six-day-long party.Festa da Coca (May): Takes place in Mono; parades and processions to the local church; knighted St. George battles a painted dragon.Festival de Sintra (May/June): Music festival in Sinatra.Portos Festa de So Joao (June): Celebrated in Porto with beer, barbeques, music and plastic hammers.Festa de So Gonalo and So Antonio (June): Fertility rituals that take place in Amarante and Lisbon, complete with cakes, music, dance and processions.Noite Branca (August): A festival in Loul to bid goodbye to the summer.Feira de Outubro (October): Bull-running and bull-fighting are the main attractions; takes place in Vila Franca de Xira.Celtic Christmas (December): A unique, two-day fiesta in Trs-os-Montes region to celebrate the winter solstice. New Years Eve in Madeira (December): One of the largest New Year's fireworks show in the world.

900 years old, Portugal has played a crucial role in world history, remaining the oldest country in Europe with the same borders throughout. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal transformed the existing history of the world with the New World Discoveries ("Descobrimentos"). It was the first to establish a sea route to India, and colonise areas in Africa, South America, Asia and Oceania. The Republic was established in 1910 and the monarchy was abolished. This Republic, however, was very fragile and was replaced by a military dictatorship, which remained for 46 years. The country therefore stagnated. Portugal finally became a free democracy in 1974, and further joined the current European Union in 1986, of which it still is a part.

  • Medical and emergency facilities are available in all the key cities (national emergency number Ð 112); public hospitals are maintained by European standards.
  • Tap water is drinkable, but bottled/spring water (‡gua mineral) is recommended.
  • EU citizens are covered by Portugal's National Healthcare System as long as they carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

  • Appropriate clothing should be worn when visiting churches or religious monuments.
  • It is now allowed to smoke in enclosed public places like shops, malls and taxis.
  • Topless sunbathing is permitted on the beaches of Portugal.
  • While Portugal is largely a gay-friendly country, rural and smaller areas aren't very as accepting of LGBTs.
  • Tipping is an option in both restaurants and in availing various services (taxi drivers, hotel staff). It is seen as a token of appreciation rather than an addition to one's salary. A euro or so would do.

  • Certain areas of Porto and Lisbon should be avoided at night as pickpockets here (and everywhere else for that matter) usually target tourist areas and tourists frequently. Railway stations, metro stations, shopping complexes, crowded buses are amongst some popular areas frequented by pickpockets and thugs, many of whom are under 18 and aren't subject to harsh laws.
  • It is advisable to wear a money belt or a fanny pack to contain valuables (like money, important documents) or keep them in the inside pocket.
  • On empty trains and buses, sit with other passengers or avoid such journeys altogether.

Regarding culture, Portugal is a reserved, conservative nation where too much excitement in visitors can be perceived as rude. Formal and respectful greetings with titles like Senhor and Senhora are used to address people, accompanied by a handshake for strangers and a hug/kiss for friends. Punctuality is appreciated when meeting someone, and thoughtful gifts should be taken when invited to someones house. Further, since they are so reserved, Portuguese do not go out to socialiseÊafter work during theÊweek,Êand entertain only at the weekend. Christianity or Catholicism is the dominant religion in Portugal. While 81% of the population is Catholic, only 19% people attend Mass and perform other rites and rituals. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. While English is spoken in many tourist places, it is hardly universal/widely-spoken. Words in Portuguese for common phrases - Ol (Hello), Porfavor (Please) and Obrigado (Thank You).

The origin of Portuguese cuisine can be traced back to a combination of main ingredients which include the meat of cows, goats and pigs; seafood and hearty peasant food. Every Portuguese meal begins with a soup, the most popular being caldo verde. Another staple is bacalhau (salt cod) that can be cooked in a thousand ways. Fish dishes are also common and delicious they mostly revolve around sole, sardines, salmon, trout, mackerel, frogfish and a variety of turbot. These are boiled, grilled, fried and served in a number of sauces. Fresh seafood is also easy to find with lobsters, mussels, oysters and clams being the main attractions. Portuguese grilled chicken is world famous, and so is Mealhada's suckling pig roast specialities enjoyed widely by tourists. Red wine, white wine and port wine are the most famous beverages in Portugal and should not be missed.


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