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Atlantic coast Portugal

10+ tips that will help you discover Portugal

Portugal is loved by many travellers from all over the world. But what you can do once you’ve arrived? And what is there to see? What should I know about the country, and how can I travel around easily? In this article, I’ll help you on your way! Read on for information, tips and tricks about Portugal.

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Table of Contents

How to get to Portugal

Most of us will fly to Portugal to start our holiday. The locations of the airports are Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport, Porto and Faro. It is well worth checking and comparing ticket prices before you book. But the best way to do so is with Skyscanner. You can see if you have any stopovers and which airline flies to which airport in Portugal. The Azores has an airport in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel, and Funchal International Airport is located on Madeira.

Tip: for a trip around the country you can start, for example, in Porto and end your holiday in Faro. This way, you can comfortably discover most gems in Portugal without returning to the same airport you arrived at.

TAP is Portugal’s national Airline and has scheduled flights to more than 75 international destinations worldwide. TAP also offers domestic flights between Porto, Lisbon, Faro, Madeira and the Azores. SATA also has scheduled flights between the mainland and the islands, and Aerovip has flights between Bragança, Vila Real, Viseu, Cascais and Portimão on mainland Portugal.

Where to stay

There are numerous places to stay in Portugal, and something special is available for each budget! Where you like luxurious accommodations, a family apartment, a hostel or a quirky place in nature. Please note: renting and letting apartments through Airbnb that are not registered as tourist accommodations is prohibited, so please be mindful when booking your accommodation through this website.

Booking.com

Renting a car in Portugal

Portugal has a fantastic network of roads, train tracks and bus connections. Renting a car will give you all the freedom you want during your holiday! It’s the best way to discover hidden beaches and picturesque towns and enjoy wild nature reserves.

At the airport, you might find the best deals and the rental companies are open 7 days a week. Please note that parking in the bigger cities can be expensive or complicated. Is someone helping you park your car on the busy streets? They are looking for a tip! This is extremely common in Lisbon and the Algarve, so please be aware!

Buses and trains

All Portuguese cities are well connected by trains and buses. You can sit back and enjoy the beautiful views from the window! The bus services are public and private companies depending on the region. Flixbus and Rede Expressos are the most prominent players on the market, and the prices are overall low.

There are several train connections between Portugal and the rest of Europe, and this option to travel to Portugal is a sustainable option. Within the country you can travel easily between the cities and tickets and train information can be found on the Comboios de Portugal website. To buy tickets you can use the Omio App to discover the best deals.

Within cities like Lisbon and Porto, you’ll enjoy an extensive metro network, and you can quickly get around town by public transport. Please be aware you should buy your tickets before entering the metro, bus or train.

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Climate

Portugal has a beautiful climate all year round. The sun shines 290 out of 365 days a year, and the weather is mild. April can be pretty rainy, and July and August can be sweltering! The best time to travel to Portugal is probably during spring and autumn. If you happen to be in Lisbon, and it rains, check out this complete guide of things to do with not-great weather! Or visit Lisbon in spring and discover all the beautiful flowers in the city.

The climate in mainland Portugal varies from region to region. In the north, it can get colder in winter, whereas the winters in the Algarve are mild. There can even be some snowfall in the Serra da Estrela Mountains! The Madeira and Azores archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean have very different climates, and it can rain here much more.

What to do in Portugal

Whether you come for the paradise beaches, the fantastic food, the castles or the many sites, you’ll undoubtedly have an unforgettable holiday in Portugal. Besides, the country is one of the safest in the world and is a hotspot for solo travellers, families and couples. Check out the most famous spots in Portugal that you shouldn’t miss!

Portugal is surrounded by water, and the coastline is an immense 1,794 kilometres long! The beaches draw millions of tourists to the country each year to enjoy a beach holiday of a lifetime!

Portugal also has impressive cities such as the capital of Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Faro and Coimbra. Are you looking to discover charming towns instead? Óbidos, Aveiro, Évora, Ponta Delgado, Tomar and Guimarães are loved by many. From azulejo-covered churches to castles, vineyards and stunning nature parks, Portugal has it all!

Population and language

The current population of Portugal is just over 10 million people. Portuguese is the official language, and aside from Portugal, Portuguese is the official language of 9 other countries. Portuguese is spoken by 250 million people worldwide and is the 5th most spoken language in the world. Most people speak English, and communicating is usually not a problem when travelling around the country.

Geography

Portugal is the most western country in Europe. The Atlantic coastline of Portugal is a whopping 832 kilometres long. Cabo Da Roca is the most western point of continental Europe and lies directly on Atlantic Coast in the Lisboa district.

Portugal has 7 provinces or regions: Northern Portugal, Central Portugal, Lisbon, the Alentejo region, the Algarve, Madeira Island and the Azores Islands. The mainland of Portugal is further divided into 18 districts. Examples are Aveiro, Braga, Castelo Branco, Évora, Santarém and Vila Real.

In the north and east, Portugal borders neighbouring country Spain, and in the west and south to the Atlantic Ocean. And although Portugal is not a large country, the landscape in the north is very different from that in the south. Portugal is divided by the Tagus river, which you’ll most likely meet in the city of Lisbon. The highest point in the country can be found in the Estrela Mountains. The Torre is a whopping 1,993 m/6,539 ft tall!

A very short history of Portugal

Portugal has a vibrant history and was at the forefront of European discoveries. Portugal’s colonial empire lasted over 600 years, so Portuguese is still spoken in many countries. Think of Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Macau and Cape Verde. During a history tour in Portugal, you’ll regularly hear names like Vasco de Gama, Bartholomew Diaz, and Álvares Cabral. If you’d like to learn more about the explorations and slave trade, this 3 – hour walking tour is highly recommended.

Lisbon is also one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s been a Portuguese city since 1147 but is older than Rome, and Lisbon has been continuously inhabited for the past 3,000 years! You’ll find ancient archaeological sites throughout the country with remnants of its past!

In 1755 a big earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 on the Richter scale struck Portugal. It destroyed many buildings, and many lives were lost. The earthquake impacted Portugal, the Northwest of Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula. It happened on the 1st of November, which was also the Feast of All Saints. Due to its impact, it’s known as the Great Lisbon earthquake, and during your time in Portugal, you’ll hear many stories about the earthquake.

Some fun facts about Portugal

Extra tips for your holiday

Safety

Although Portugal is known as one of the safest countries to travel to, use common sense, and it’s advisable to always be mindful, especially in the bigger cities. Ignore the drug dealers on the streets; a simple no should suffice.

Travel insurance is desirable as it’s better to go prepared for anything that can happen. Keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially in crowded and touristy spots. If you need an ambulance or police, the emergency number in Portugal is 112.

Travelling

Using a GPS will quickly get you from A to B. But please note that the Portuguese highways are toll-heavy, and the cost will add up. If you want to avoid spending the extra money, the gorgeous backroads will do the trick!

Also, be aware that suitable footwear is not a luxury! Lisbon, for example, is built on 7 hills and you’ll probably walk a lot! When it rains, those cobblestones can get slippery!

The electric current in Portugal is 230/400 volts at a frequency of 50 hertz. The plugs are compliant with European standards. If you travel from outside Europe, you might need a 230-volt transformer and an adaptor.

Spend your money wisely

There are plenty of tourist traps in Portugal where restaurants and hotels cost much more than the average. Also, in the summer, prices are often higher than in the spring, autumn and winter. Overall, Portugal is a budget-friendly destination, and with the help of this blog, you’ll discover Portugal like a local in no time!

Look after our planet

Last but not least, be mindful of nature! The waves and currents can be strong, and forest fires quickly happen. Portugal’s countryside invites you to enjoy it, but please pick up your trash and maintain proper precautions. On the beaches, you’ll find plenty of trashcans and plastic cones to dispose of cigarette butts. If you’re out in the wild, please take a bin bag and leave the place spotless.

I hope this article was helpful for your preparations to visit Portugal! Do you have any questions, tips or recommendations? Please leave a comment below!

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

5 Responses

  1. I may have the opportunity to visit Portugal next year so greatly appreciate this guide. So many cool and beautiful places to explore. Love the fun facts!

  2. Portugal looks like a dream! I’ve never been but it’s pretty high on my bucket list. Saving for a future visit!

  3. I never realized how diverse and how much Portugal has to offer! Everything from the history to the landscape looks so dreamy and I can’t wait to visit next year! I will for sure be using this guide, thank you for putting it together!

  4. Great overview on Portugal travel! Your site is one stop shop to Portugal but its always nice to have a general handle of things. I had no idea there were archaeological sites to visit and the tip on being mindful about nature is key! The waves are crazy out there!

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