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Portugal Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Portugal in 2022

Welcome to Portugal

Portugal is a southern European country on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. Its coastal location has influenced its culture, bringing salt cod and grilled sardines that are considered national dishes. In addition to the Algarve's beaches, you can explore the country's rich history, as well as its stunning landscapes.

Welcome to the ultimate Portugal travel guide, perfect for every traveler who wants to see Portugal. This guide will provide you everything you need, such as destination information, travel documentation requirements, COVID-19 restrictions, and much more.

COVID restrictions in Portugal

Document checklist for Portugal

  • Visa (if applicable)

  • Valid passport

  • Proof of accommodation

  • Proof of sufficient funds

  • Insurance

Essential Portugal travel information

  • Currency - Euro (€). $1 is equivalent to approx. €0.98.

  • Daily budget for 1 person - Allow a daily budget of €139 ($145).

  • Languages - The official language in Portugal is Portuguese. Still, due to the tourist affluence and the similarity of some languages, you can sometimes get by with Spanish, Italian, or French.

  • Socket type - In Portugal, the common voltage is 230 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. The plugs and sockets are type F.

  • Time zone - Central European Time (CET): ET +6.

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Lisbon, Porto, and Aveiro.

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Pena Palace, Sintra, and the Clérigos Tower.

Visa information for Portugal

Portugal has different visas depending on the traveler's needs. Citizens from the European Union can cross the border without a visa. Other visas include:

Tourist visas for Portugal

ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is a visa waiver part of the new EU travel agreement. It's designed to help European border authorities monitor travel within the Schengen area and improve the level of security within the EU. You are able to travel freely between the 26 Schengen countries while your ETIAS is valid.

The Portugal ETIAS will be available, and mandatory, from May 2023 for all nationalities who are currently able to visit the Schengen area visa-free.

If you are not eligible for the ETIAS permit, the option will be to apply for the Schengen visa. This type of visa allows you to stay for 90 days within 180 days.

Other visas for Portugal

  • Work Visa: With a Schengen Visa or ETIAS, a traveler can enter for business purposes for short periods, but you are not allowed to work in Portugal. If you want to work in Portugal, you can apply for a work visa at the Portuguese embassy or consulate.

  • Study Visa: When you intend to study in Portugal, you must apply for a student visa.

  • Residency Visa: If you are not from the European Union, and you would like to live and work in Portugal, you must apply for a residency permit.

Typical costs and budget for Portugal

This travel advice gives you an idea of how much you can expect to spend on a trip to Portugal. Plan your trip taking this information into account.

Daily spending - Around €139 ($145)/per person/per day on a budget vacation. This includes:

  • Meals - You can spend between €10 and €35 ($12-$38) per person depending on the type of food and restaurant you choose.

  • Transport - Public transport costs up to €6 ($8) within a city per day and private transportation such as taxis can cost up to €20 ($22).

  • Hotel - For a backpackers hostel, you can find prices from €35 ($38) euros per night for two people, and for those looking for a bit more comfort you can find great and affordable hotels up to €120 ($135) per night. A trip for two, for one week, will cost on average €1,200 ($1,350).

Transport and best ways to travel around Portugal

There are different ways to move around the country. Here are the most common ones.

Tram

There are some who say the tram in Lisbon is more of a tourist attraction than a means of transportation. However, that doesn’t make it less fun! As for the price, the ride costs €2.85 ($3.20).

Elevator or funicular

Lisbon has three elevators: The Lavra elevator, the Bica elevator, and the Glória elevator. These three elevators operate as funiculars powered by electricity, which can also be found in other cities. The average price is €3.60 ($4) for a return ticket.

Bus

Buses are a good and affordable option for long journeys. The schedules are quite reliable, although it is best to check the website of the bus company for more information.

Metro

Comfortable, fast, and cheap, everything you can ask from the metro in a big city like Lisbon and many others. A single metro ticket costs €1.40 ($2), and a daily ticket costs €6 ($7).

Train

The train serves to connect cities where the metro does not reach. The prices of the journeys depend on the different zones into which the railway system is divided. You can find more info on the Comboios de Portugal official website.

Taxi

Most cities in Portugal have a taxi system. We recommend asking the hotel for a taxi or transfer as most have a recommended service that they work with. Uber is now also available in most of the bigger cities in Portugal.

Safety in Portugal

In general, Portugal is very safe for travel. Transportation and taxi services are very reliable and safe in Portugal.

There is a risk of encountering pickpockets in the country, as this is a top tourist destination. Therefore, you should be very careful with your personal belongings when walking around tourist attractions. Simply keep them in a safe spot at your accommodation.

Muggings are not common, although like anywhere, you should avoid empty, deserted, or poorly lit streets at night and by yourself.

As in any tourist destination, there is a certain risk of scams. Double-check your receipt, never hand over money before receiving the service you are paying for and use certified companies.

Local authorities are always present for any emergency services. They will send you to the nearest police station or health facilities depending on what the emergency is.

If you are a woman planning to travel alone in Portugal, don't worry. In general, this destination is very safe for women traveling alone. If something happens you should go to one of tourist police stations.

Weather in Portugal

The Portuguese climate is relatively mild due to the presence of the Atlantic Ocean. Rainfall is more frequent in autumn and winter. Portugal's climate varies from region to region, influenced by altitude, latitude, and proximity to the sea.

In the northern part of Portugal, the climate becomes almost oceanic, and can get cold in winter, a period in which sometimes snow also falls in mountainous areas. On the other hand, the southern part of the country region gets very hot and dry in summer, especially inland and in the Algarve region.

Popular cities and towns in Portugal

Take a deeper look into the history and culture of Portugal by visiting these popular and lesser known towns and cities.

  • Sintra - Portugal's Sintra is one of the most beautiful and unique places to visit. You'll be captivated by the enchanting gardens and fairy tale castles that are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

  • Lisbon - Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is known for its mountainous sites and valuable architectural heritage dating back more than 600 years. Enjoy the beach, art galleries, and amazing restaurants.

  • Porto - Porto is known as the city of wine, and it is in this small city that one of the most precious, sweet red wines in the world is produced: Port. Walking through the streets full of ancient cobblestones and bridges is an experience you will not forget.

  • Guimaraes - This is a famous destination known for its castle and the Penha viewpoint, from which you get a spectacular view of the city and the surrounding area. One of the most popular things to do in this city is to stroll through the old town and watch daily life go by.

  • Aveiro - It is known as the Portuguese Venice. The most characteristic of the city is to observe its network of canals and the traditional moliceiro boats.

Must see and do in Portugal

  • Visit the heart of the Algarve - Located atop truncated cliffs, Praia do Camilo is reached by a stairway involving 200 steps. Take in the stunning natural surroundings before starting your descent.

  • Stroll the streets of Lisbon - Enjoy the sunsets over the rooftops, the castle of St. George presiding over the city, and countless other famous sights.

  • Go back in time at Piódão - Piódão's village is arranged harmoniously in an amphitheater shape, making it resemble a crib. This picture is particularly stunning at night when the lights of the village are turned on at night.

  • Wine tasting in the Douro Valley - While Portugal is well known for its alcoholic beverages, port and wine tasting in the Douro Valley is a must while you are there. The area’s terraced landscapes are one of the most famous sights in Portugal.

  • Surf the biggest wave in the country - Ok, maybe just check it out from the safe shore. Nazaré is a small town where some of the largest waves of the century have been surfed. On the north side of Nazaré, close to the lighthouse (Fort of San Miguel Arcanjo), is the best place to observe them.

Typical Portuguese food to try

Portuguese gastronomy is delicious, affordable, and in general, extraordinary. Among the best-known dishes are:

  • Pastel de Nata is a puff pastry custard tart filled with egg custard, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. It’s baked at a blazing hot temperature until the tops are scorched.

  • Queijo da Serra is Portugal's oldest, most traditionally produced cheese. A cheese market was opened by the king of Portugal in the 13th century in Celorico da Beira, in the Serra da Estrela mountain range, where this cheese is still produced.

  • Golden Cod consists of, as you can imagine, cod or bacalhau in Portuguese. The name comes from the golden color that the egg and the fried potatoes give the frankly delicious dish.

  • Caldo Verde is a soup that is particularly popular in winter. It is green in color and made with dark green cabbage, which is not widely available outside of Portugal.

  • Bifanas are Portuguese sandwiches made of marinated pork served on crunchy white bread. The marinade is made with spices including paprika, garlic, and white wine.

Vaccine information for Portugal

Keeping your official vaccination schedule up-to-date is always a good idea. In addition, other vaccinations may be recommended, which should be prescribed on an individual basis. Visit the website of the CDC for accurate and up-to-date health information for Portugal.

About Portugal’s famous Pastel de Nata

Whether you are looking for the freshest seafood or sweet desserts, Portugal is a foodie's dream destination. Anybody who's been to Portugal will tell you to tuck into a pastel de nata, Portugal's famous custard tart. That's why they're so good and worth learning more about.

The Jerónimos Monastery in Belém began selling pastel de nata as a means of survival in place of surplus egg yolks. Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém is still operated by the descendants of that original merchant - and the original tart recipe is carefully guarded.

The only downside is that you will have to stand in line for at least 30 minutes, since it is a very popular place among tourists and locals alike. It is worth the wait, however, based on reviews.

Fun facts about Portugal

Among some of the country's curiosities are the following:

  • More than 236 million people worldwide speak Portuguese as their native language. It is spoken in more than nine different countries, including Brazil.

  • In November 1755, coinciding with the celebration of All Saints' Day, the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, was struck by an earthquake that almost destroyed the city.

  • The oldest bookstore in the world is in Lisbon, called the Bertrand bookstore. It is an obligatory stop on your trip. It was founded in 1732 by Pedro Faure on Rua Diereito do Loreto.

  • Portugal experienced the longest dictatorship in Europe. The authoritarian regime remained in power from 1926 to 1974 under Antonio de Oliviera Salazar.

  • The Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe. It is more than 12 kilometers long.

  • Almost 70% of the country’s energy is produced through hydraulic, wind, and solar resources.

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