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9 Travel Tips to Learn Before Traveling to Portugal


With its timeless charm and unique landscapes, a trip to Portugal is sure to enchant. Whether you want to explore the colorful capital city of Lisbon, tour the palaces of Vila Viçosa, sample wine on the vineyards around Viseu, or enjoy a sunny afternoon on an Algarve beach, there’s truly something for everyone here. No matter if your trip takes you to the city, countryside, or coast, these tips can ensure you get the most out of your trip.


  1. Cash is Good


Even in big cities like Lisbon and Porto, not all places accept cards. The best and authentic cuisine is often found at small, local eateries, but these are also the most likely to be cash-only. Carry around euros to have the freedom to eat anywhere, from food stalls to farmers’ markets. And, you need it for tipping. When withdrawing cash, avoid Euronet ATMs and opt for those labeled with an “MB” (standing for MultiBanco) to avoid withdrawal fees. And then, don't take the immediate currency exchange rate-get it in euros.


  1. Practice your ‘Obrigado’ 


Learning a bit of the language will take you a long way in Portugal. Though you won’t have a problem communicating in cities, just knowing a few words in Portuguese shows respect and gratitude toward the culture. The basic greetings are Olá for Hello, Bom dia for Good Morning, and Boa Tarde for Good Afternoon. And Adeus for Goodbye (and Tchau is Brazilian, not Portuguese) . Simple phrases like Por favor (Please) and Obrigado/a (Thank you) will be appreciated by locals.


  1. Be mindful of the weather


Overall, spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) are the best times to visit Portugal. The crowds and accommodation rates are lower during these seasons. These periods are also ideal for hiking, as the weather isn’t as hot as in summer (June to August) or as wet as in winter (November to March). However, if you’re headed to Portugal for just a beach trip, plan your trip during the summer months.


  1. Wear comfortable shoes


Packing comfortable shoes is a must for any Portuguese trip, whether you’re planning for city tours or trekking adventures. Portuguese cities are very walkable, but there are many steep streets of uneven cobblestone. To prepare for long days of sightseeing, pack a sturdy pair of sneakers or sandals. Especially when walking uphill, the rain can make the walkways slippery, so shoes with a good grip will come in handy.


  1. Pack clothes accordingly


Be mindful of the local customs and climate when packing. Portugal boasts very cool monasteries and churches, but you may be denied entry if not dressed properly. Modest dress is advised for both men and women. As a general rule of thumb, cover your shoulders and knees at religious sites. Along the coast and in the evening, Portugal can get chilly even during the summer months, so bring a light jacket to stay comfortable into the nighttime.


  1. Don’t pay for what you don’t eat


At Portuguese restaurants, it’s common for waiters to bring small dishes of olives, bread, and cheese at the start of the meal called the couvert. These appetizers will come even if you don’t order them, and they will appear on your bill even if you don’t eat them.To prevent unnecessary fees, it’s best to send the dishes back if you don’t want them.


  1. Know how much to tip


At high-end and tourist-oriented restaurants, a tip of 10% may be expected, but otherwise, a simple rounding up of the check will do. Most locals don’t tip, especially at cafes or bars, so whatever you leave will be appreciated. Some fine dining establishments include a service charge on the bill, so check to see what’s included before leaving extra.


  1. Embrace the Portuguese lifestyle


The Portuguese way of life is very laid-back, with an emphasis on enjoying life and its simple pleasures. Though it may be tempting to plan every moment and meal, leave room for relaxation and spontaneity on your trip. Take some time to watch people at a café and absorb the local scene. Hidden gems can be discovered at every corner, so don’t be afraid to wander the winding city streets. Venturing off the beaten path, you may stumble upon an antique flea market or open-air party in the square. And take your time! Don't try to see the whole country in 10 days.


  1. Coordinate your trip with local festivals


Every month, there’s a festa happening somewhere in Portugal. Many of these festivals find their roots in Portuguese history or religious tradition, so they’re a great way to experience the country’s culture. Occurring in February, Carnival is the most popular festival, with celebrations ranging from block  parties to ancient Pagan rituals. Street parties, parades, and food and wine festivals take place all summer, so check online calendars to learn about events. And, get ready to enjoy traditional pima music! Even the holidays are a wonderful time to visit, with festive markets in city squares, live concerts in parks, and bonfires at the start of the New Year.


Learning about a destination beforehand is the best way to maximize your trip and save money along the way. Advanced preparation allows for relaxation later. An unforgettable vacation awaits in Portugal, and knowing the local customs assures you a smooth trip full of extraordinary experiences. 


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