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Nine travel tips to Portugal you won't find in any guidebooks

Yes, the nata is all the rage.. and yes it is delicious. But what do the Portuguese love to have with their tea? Big crusty toast and wonderful Portuguese butter. The torrada is a Portuguese tea-time classic, and much preferred over the nata.


Port wine? Porto? Tea, Portuguese don’t really drink it much – it was an English invention, and they where the ones who bought the stuff. Yes, it is good, but the average Lisboeta will take a nice sip of ginja any day over Port.

The best view in Lisbon? São Pedro de Alcantara? Castelo de Sao Jorge? Nope, try taking a humble cacilheiro boat across the Tejo for one heck of view.

How to pick a menu? See a guy outside trying to get you to come in? Keep on walking… . Ready to order? Don’t use the menu – Portuguese don’t they look for the specials. Ask for the ementa do dia- menu of the day – and get ready for some fresh cooking.

How to order wine? Sure, look at the wine list – but here’s a secret – just try the vinho da casa – the house wine might event come in a (don’t freak out) a glass pitch, but it is usually local and very good – plus super cheap!

Get to know Portuguese coffees – ordering an Italian coffee in Portugal is not cool… save that for Italy – get to know and love Portuguese coffee, and order them like a Portuguese.

Take the train. Rail travel in Portugal is cheap, efficient, and fast – It is often cheaper to take that train from Lisbon to Porto than to drive –and it gets you there a hour faster – what is there not to love!

Tipping? If you tip like an American people will love you for your exorbitant generosity. In Portugal, the norm is to leave a few Euros, not 15% or even 10%.. Now that said, leaving 8-10% is a good reward for excellent service. But ask first, the service in some high traffic areas may already be included. And all that bread and cheese at the start of the meal – it is extra, but not a lot.

Good shoes, good grips – a good idea! So calçada portuguesa is so lovely to look at – but on a rainy day – look out! Those black and white squares get very slippery… So be aware and bring good shoes.


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