Portugal may be a geographically small country, but its rich history, culture, and beauty shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are some tips to make your visit to mainland Europe’s westernmost country a trip to remember.
When to visit
July and August are the busiest, hottest, and most expensive months. Try to visit during the off-season: May, June, and September are hot, but not unbearable. October through April are good choices, too, if you don’t mind rain.
Intercity trains and buses are less expensive than taxis. You can rent a car, but be sure to have your driver’s license handy at all times. Prior to departure, request an international road sign system card from your local auto club. Rail passes aren’t worth the investment if you’ll only be traveling within the country.
Portugal offers accommodation for all tastes and budgets. There are plenty of international chain hotels throughout the country, but you might want to check out local residências and pensões. These simple accommodations located in private homes are popular and affordable; they usually provide breakfast and a private bath. Surround yourself in history and stay at a pousada—a former castle or palace. Other options include apartment rentals, villas, or direct home exchange.
It’s customary for restaurants to place bread on the table, but there is a charge. You’re not obligated to eat it; politely send it back untouched straightaway. When choosing a restaurant, look for the moderately priced and unassuming; they usually have the best food. Don’t forget to carry cash in the event the establishment doesn’t accept credit cards. It’s customary to leave a 5%-10% cash tip for service in cafes, hotels, and restaurants; however, don’t feel obligated to tip for poor service.
Don’t miss: fado
This longstanding Portuguese musical tradition features a soloist performing songs marked by the themes of mourning and loss. Hear fado at restaurants during dinner.
Pacific Holidays Escorted Portugal Package
Experience Lisbon, Óbidos, Fátima, Porto, Aveiro, Amarante, and Tomar. This nine-day tour departs from Lisbon to explore the country’s central and northern regions. Tour highlights include the medieval walled city of Óbedos, the Sanctuary of Fátima, Santa Clara Church, and Santiago de Compostela. Rates are per person, based on double occupancy, and include roundtrip airfare, accommodations, daily breakfast, guided bus tours, and entrance to select landmarks and monuments.