Portugal Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Portugal

People enjoying their day on a beach in Setubal
The hidden beaches of Setubal

Why We Love Portugal – Portugal is one of the most manageable and inviting destinations in Europe. The coastal country offers rugged wild beaches, impressive historical sites, and charming cities. Due to its relatively smaller landmass, it’s possible to get the full Portuguese experience in a vacation length of time. So, buckle in and get ready to discover the magic of Portugal. 

Best of Portugal

🏙️ Places to Visit

A father with his kids admiring the view of Nazare
A viewpoint over Nazare as dusk rolls in

Even though Portugal is one of Europe’s smaller countries, there is still so much to see within its boundaries. Let’s dive into the top destinations in Portugal: 

  • Lisbon – The hilly capital city, Lisbon is the first stop for many travelers in Portugal. It comes complete with unique architecture, world-class nightlife, and high-end restaurants. 
  • Porto – Portugal’s second-largest city located in the north. Known for its UNESCO-ranked Old Town and port wine. 
  • Braga – Portugal’s oldest city is located in the far north mountains. A quieter, less-crowded place with impressive religious architecture and castles. 
  • Nazare – A walkable, laidback, beachy town tucked along the shores of the eastern Atlantic ocean. 
  • Setubal – A port city 40 minutes south of Lisbon with lots of delicious seafood and secluded beaches.
  • Tavira – A charming beachside city in the Algarve, with great seafood.
  • Lagos – A popular vacation destination in the Algarve region. With all-night parties, rocky cliffs, and spectacular spots for surfing.
  • The Azores – A picturesque Portuguese island chain featuring breathtaking natural landscapes. Often dubbed “The Hawaii of Europe”.

👉 Read the full list of best places to visit in Portugal.

Things to Do

Portugal is home to a diverse range of activities. Whether you want to dive into the country’s history, spend time in nature, or get acquainted with the local cuisine: 

  • Park and National Palace of Pena – Freely wander this vividly, colorful Romanticist castle. Located atop the Sintra Mountains with photo-worthy architecture and over 165 years of history. 
  • Jerónimos Monastery – Discover one of the most visited sites in Lisbon. An architecturally-gorgeous former monastery in the trendy neighborhood of Belem. 
  • LxFactory – Grab lunch at a textile production complex turned into a buzzing cultural hub with restaurants and shops in the heart of Lisbon. 
  • Porto Cathedral – Get a sense of the region’s religious roots at this intricate Roman Catholic church in Porto’s historic center. 
  • Ponta da Piedade – Snap a shot of this Instagram-famous rock formation along the coasts of Lagos. 
  • Grotte de Benagil – Take a boat tour to this otherworldly sea cave in the Algarve with natural windows to the outside world.

✨ See the full list of best things to do in Portugal.

Overlooking view from the Park and National Palace of Pena
Pena Palace in the mountain town of Sintra

🗺️ Where to Stay

The Belem Tower under the clear blue sky
The massive Belem Tower in the affordable Lisbon neighborhood of Belem

Despite its size, there are tons of places to stay in Portugal. Here are some of the best:

  • The Algarve – A surfer’s paradise in southern Portugal with rocky beaches and incredible food
  • Baixa, Lisbon – The downtown area of Portugal’s capital city is ripe with shopping and restaurants, and one of the best areas to stay in Lisbon.
  • Riberia, Porto – One of the most beautiful and popular neighborhoods in Porto nestled right along the Douro River
  • The Douro Valley – This is the oldest wine-growing region in the world and it has some of the most picturesque rolling landscapes on the planet.
  • Nazare – A lovely beachside town known for its expansive beach and seafood. See our guide to where to stay in Nazare.
  • Aveiro – Lovingly known as the “Venice of Portugal”, the veins of this maritime city are its lively canals filled with brightly painted boats. 
  • Sao Miguel Island – The most popular base for exploring the Azores. See our guide to where to stay on Sao Miguel.

🛎️ Best Hotels

Pool area at the rooftop of NH Collection Avenida Liberdade
Rooftop pool at the Hotel NH Collection Avenida Liberdade in Lisbon (photo: JackKPhoto / Shutterstock)

There are lots of hotels to choose from in Portugal no matter your budget. Here are some of the best hotels in the country:

  • Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa – An ultra-luxurious 5-star resort in the Algarve region that’s earned a spot on the “Leading Hotels of the World” list.
  • Six Senses Douro Valley – An invigorating hotel and spa set way up in the hills overlooking the countryside of the Douro Valley. 
  • Inspira Liberdade Boutique Hotel – An effortlessly cool boutique hotel in the heart of Lisbon
  • Fortaleza do Guincho – An oceanside hotel in Cascais built on the site of a 17th-century fortress. Plus, an onsite Michelin-star gourmet restaurant. 
  • Pestana Alvor Praia – An iconic 5-star hotel in the Algarve that lives on a cliff above one of the area’s most popular beaches. 

🚗 Best Road Trips

Scenic view from The Douro Valley

Taking a road trip is a terrific way to get a more intimate feel of Portugal. These are some of the coolest road trips in the country: 

  • Lisbon to Porto – The Lisbon to Porto route is one of the quintessential Portugal road trips. It’ll take you all the way through the country from south to north.  
  • The Douro Valley – One of the best ways to take in all the natural beauty of the Douro Valley wine region is by driving through it.
  • The Algarve – Beach lovers will have a ball taking a road trip through the rocky seasides of the Algarve in the south of Portugal. 
  • Sao Miguel, Azores – The largest island of the Azores is a magical experience. There are plenty of stunning natural attractions to discover along a road trip. See our guide to things to do in Sao Miguel.

⛱️ Best Beaches

People enjoying their day at a beach in Nazare
The beaches in Nazare are the biggest attraction

One of the things Portugal is most well-known for is its remarkable beaches. While there are many beach options in Portugal, here are some of the best: 

  • Marinha Beach – You’ve probably seen this majestic Algarve beach on a postcard. It’s one of the country’s most famous beaches. 
  • Praia da Nazare – The central feature of the adorable beachy town of Nazare is its enormous beach lined with places to eat and drink. 
  • Praia Nova – A clean cliffside beach in Lagoa that’s more private than other beaches in this popular region.
  • Praia Baleal – A peninsular island beach near Peniche with powerful waves for surfing 
  • Praia da Figueirinha – A chill, family-friendly beach with calmer waters located only 15 minutes outside of Setubal.

⛱️ See the full list of best beaches in Portugal.

⛰️ Best Mountains

Overlooking view of the mountain town of Sintra
The mountain town of Sintra

Portugal is filled with mountains from the northern reaches of the country to the south. These are a few of the best mountains in the country: 

  • Mount Pico – A volcanic mountain with hiking trails that are well over 2,000 feet high. 
  • Serra da Estrela – Located in central Portugal, this is the highest mountain range in the country. 
  • Mount Foia – A mountain peak with views over the Algarve region and the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • Pico Ruivo – The tallest mountain on the island of Madeira has walking paths all the way to the top. 

♨️ Best Hot Springs

The Furnas Hot Springs under the clear blue sky
Furnas Hot Springs in the Azores Islands

Portugal isn’t famous for its hot springs, so you might be surprised to find that there are quite a few relaxing hot springs in the country: 

  • Poça da Dona Beija – 5 thermal pools in the beautiful natural setting of Sao Miguel island in the Azores. 
  • Ponta da Ferraria – A natural hot spring right next to the crashing waves of the ocean in Ponta Delgada

🖼️ Best Museums

View on the inside of the National Museum of Ancient Art
The National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisboa (photo: Zabotnova Inna / Shutterstock)

Europe, in general, is known for its incredible museum collections. But, Portugal’s museums cover particularly unique subject matter: 

  • MUDE Design and Fashion Museum  – Located in a repurposed bank, this museum explores fashion since the 19th century. 
  • The Tile Museum – A museum showcasing the art of traditional Portuguese tilework inside a 16th-century monastery. 
  • National Museum of Ancient Art – One of the most important collections of European paintings and sculptures in Portugal. 
  • Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – Home to a mindblowing private art collection. Featuring over 9,000 pieces crafted throughout history

Portugal Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Portugal has fairly nice weather throughout the entire year. However, there are a couple of distinct seasons that visitors must be aware of: 

  • 🍂 Fall –  September to December. The warmth and sunshine prevail during Portugal’s autumn season with an average temperature of 72 F. 
  • 🌞 Summer –  June to September. Hot, bright, beachy days occur almost every day of the summer in Portugal. This season is the busiest with tourists and has the highest prices. 
  • ❄️ Winter –  December to March. Temperatures drop down and get chilly at night with lots of rainy days. The coldest month of the year is January in Portugal. 
  • 🌼 Spring –  March to May. One of the best times to visit Portugal as the greenery comes back to life in full force after the frigidness of winter.

👉 Read the full guide to the best time to visit Portugal.

🚌 Getting In & Around

One of my favorite things about Portugal is that there are a million different ways to get around the country during your Portugal itinerary

  • ✈️ Airports – There are three international airports in Portugal. These include Lisbon (LIS), Faro (FAO), and Porto (OPO). Between these airports, it’s easy to fly into any region of Portugal. 
  • 🚗 Driving – It’s definitely possible to rent a car and drive your way around Portugal. However, the roads can be tough to drive on and parking is difficult in major cities. Also, you may need an International Driver’s License. 
  • 🚇 Public Transit – You can get all over Portugal by using the country’s comprehensive bus and train system. 
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber, Lyft, Cabify, and Bolt are the main ride-share services used in Portugal. 
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Portugal is a stunning and safe country for cycling. There are also bicycle rental shops in most Portuguese cities. 
  • 🛴 Scooters – Lime, Bolt, Bird, and Frog electric scooters are widely available in major cities like Lisbon and Porto. 
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Walking around Portuguese cities and villages is one of the best ways to get familiar with the area. It’s safe and fun to walk the street of Portugal.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • Order a “Galao” if you’re craving a latte – If you ask for a latte in Portugal, you’ll likely be met with a blank stare. Instead, ask for a Galao. It’s the Portuguese equivalent. 
  • Try the local Portuguese cuisine – My top Portuguese food recommendations are:
    • Bacalhau (dried, salted cod)
    • Caldo Verde (soup)
    • Polvo Grelhado (grilled octopus)
    • And the famous pastel de nata (custard tart).
  • Learning a few key Portuguese phrases can be very helpful – Lots of people in Portugal speak English, but it’s still helpful to know a few Portuguese phrases. Like “Ola” for hello and “Bom Dia/Boa Tarde”, which means “Good Morning/Good Afternoon”. Or, “Obrigado/a” for thank you. 
  • Prices go way up during the high season – Portugal is widely known as one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. However, from June through August, prices in the country will skyrocket. 
  • It’s easy to get around with public transportation – The most efficient way to get around Portugal as a traveler is by utilizing the buses and trains. Public transportation in Portugal is top-notch and can save you a lot of money while traveling.

🧳 What to Pack

  • Comfortable, Casual Clothing – Portugal has warm temperatures and a relaxed atmosphere. Loose-fitting dresses, comfy shorts, and t-shirts are a must. 
  • Sandals and Sneakers – Portugal has both mountainous terrains and beachy areas. You’ll want a reliable pair of sneakers and sandals. 
  • Internationally-Compatible Charging Block – If you’re from the United States, your chargers won’t be compatible with European outlets. Be sure to grab an internationally-compatible charging block. 
  • Sunglasses – Almost every place in Portugal is incredibly sunny. If you don’t pack a pair of sunglasses, you’ll definitely regret it. 
  • Compact First Aid Kit – You never know what’s going to happen, so it’s best to carry a small first aid kit traveling in Portugal. Or, anywhere for that matter.

🧳 See our full Portugal packing list.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 10.1 million
  • Capital – Lisbon
  • Largest Metro Areas – Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra
  • Time Zone – Western European Summer Time (UTC + 01:00 during daylight savings)
  • Airports – Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS), Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport (OPO), Faro Airport (FAO)
  • Colleges & Universities – University of Lisbon, University of Porto, University of Coimbra, University of Aveiro
  • Demonym – Portuguese
  • USPS Abbreviation – 054

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • Mercer Cost of Living Survey Rank – 109 out of 227
  • 3 Star Hotel Room – €40-70/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – €60-80/night
  • Rental Car – €10-30/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~ €1-2 (€4 from airport to center)
  • Take Out Meal for Two – €8
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – €35
  • Draft Beer – €1.92

FAQs About Visiting Portugal

Is Portugal safe for tourists?

Portugal is a very safe country for tourists to visit. Portugal actually ranks as one of the top 5 safest countries in Europe as of 2022. While Portugal is a very safe destination, visitors should still be careful. Use good judgment, do your research, and stay aware of your surroundings. Even in a safe country, tourists can become a target if they don’t use common sense.

What is the best month to visit Portugal?

The best month to visit Portugal is September when the busy high season is winding down, or in April and May, before it begins. The weather is still favorable before the rainy season in November and the crowds thin out. Plus, during this in-between seasons month, the prices tend to be at their lowest.

Is Portugal a cheap place to visit?

Portugal is one of the most affordable countries to visit in Western Europe. However, it’s important to note that the prices in Portugal do rise dramatically during the high season. During the high season in Portugal from June to August, prices across the country can more than triple.

What is the most beautiful area of Portugal?

The southern Algarve region is often called the most beautiful area of Portugal. The coastal area is best known for its abundance of exceptional beaches that are popular with surfers. It’s the most popular vacation destination in the country during the summer.

What is the best way to travel around Portugal?

Public transportation is the best way to travel around Portugal. You can get anywhere in the country solely relying on buses and trains. They run to even the farthest corner of the country. Additionally, riding on buses or trains is the most scenic way to get around Portugal.

Meet Our Portugal Travel Experts

Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional writer from New York with an insatiable craving for exploring the world. After a post-college adventure around 6 Asian countries, she dove head-first into a writing career and travel lifestyle. Sky currently lives in Mexico City with her dog Bear. When she’s not whipping up content for Travel Lemming, she writes for Booking, Zippia, and her blog.

👉 Read Sky’s Articles

📰 Portugal Travel Guides

Have you been sold on Portugal? Well, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is lots of other stuff you should know before visiting this incredible country. For more info, check out some of our other Portugal travel guides:

🗺️ Portugal Map