Portugal Travel Guide
Portugal is a land of glittering contrasts. From the rolling hills that line the Douro Valley to Roman ruins and medieval cobblestone streets in Porto, to the vibrant cosmopolitan spirit of Lisbon, it’s no wonder this European gem has piqued the interest of travellers from around the world. This year, the spotlight is well and truly on Portugal – and this dynamic destination will not disappoint.
It’s hard to deny the allure that Lisbon possesses. With iconic neighbourhoods such as Belém to the steep, cobblestoned streets of Alfama, Lisbon has no shortage of trendy neighbourhoods and districts to keep you entertained. Make sure you visit iconic buildings such as the Castelo de São Jorge, Praça do Comércio and the São Roque Church for an exquisite showcase of Baroque architecture.
There is no excuse not to visit Sintra, as it is just a short train journey from Lisbon. Sintra is much like a fairytale village and is dotted with turreted palaces set amongst verdant mountains. When in Sintra, visitors simply must visit the 19th-century Pena Palace, extravagantly furnished in late Victorian style and architecture, and is adorned porcelain statues and oil paintings.
This humble little coastal city is filled with enough with art and culture to satisfy your inner-explorer and provides unrivalled opportunities to tick off notable landmarks on the riverside promenade, including the Porto Cathedral in all its Romanesque splendour, the San Francisco Church and the Bolsa Palace. If you find yourself in Porto on the weekend, a visit to Mercado Bolhao is a must-do.
Just a stone's throw away from the mainland, the archipelago of Madeira is home to staggeringly beautiful cliffs, pristine beaches and a food scene to rival other cities across the world. Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill were both said to have frequently visited this unique island, so best to walk in their footsteps and find out what makes this island so enthralling.
Boasting some of the best beaches in Portugal (or Europe, for that matter), the Algarve is the southernmost region in Portugal and a must-see for beach-lovers. From the likes of Lagos to the sleepy town of Tavira, there are experiences aplenty within the Algarve. Make sure you sit down for a seafood feast in Albufeira, a former fishing village where the produce is as fresh as you can get.
Majestic. Historic. Enchanting. This must mean we’re looking at the only fortified town of Óbidos – a medieval getaway. Here, you can expect to find colourful clusters of houses framed with traditional architecture and lined with bright flowers, and while you’re there, you can explore the nearby fishing village of Peniche.
Portugal is located in Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. From Dubai, a non-stop flight is 8h 45m, and from London, it is roughly 2h 20m direct.
Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and is the largest city and due to its central location, it became the capital city in 1255.
Humberto Delgado Airport, also known as Lisbon Airport is the hub for international and domestic flights and can be found just 7 kilometres from the city centre of Lisbon.
- Closest City
The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, however, English is commonly spoken across the country and in popular tourist destinations.
Portugal uses the Euro. The currency code is EUR. ATMs are found across the country and are easily accessible. Before you travel, make sure you check with your bank with regards to foreign fees.
Portugal is part of the Schengen area, and visitors from Australia, the US, UK and Canada can travel for up to six months visa-free. Before you travel, check your local embassy as entry requirements are always subject to change.
Portugal has 220-volt electricity and the cycles (Hz) are 50 per second. Depending on where you travel from, you may need a converter or transformer if your appliances are 110 volts.
It is recommended that travellers are covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, however, these are not compulsory to visit Portugal. Before you travel, best to visit a travel doctor at least six weeks before departure.
The phone numbers to call in case of emergency (fire, police or ambulance) is 112.
When to Visit
Visit ResponsiblyTravelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Portugal:
Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.
Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.
Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.
Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.
Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Portugal or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!
Sustainable Tourism in PortugalMandated Sustainable Tourism
In Portugal, sustainable tourism is not just a practice, but it is written in the law. 4 years ago, Portugal's government mandated that 90 percent of tourism businesses would comply with rules governing water, waste and energy use by 2027.
Rural Regions in the Spotlight
Cultural tourism has been growing in Portugal in recent years, which has increased the number of visitors arriving in Portugal and enjoying more rural regions. This shift has helped disperse the benefits of tourism outside of the typical hot spots, and in turn also helps to develop rural regions within the country. As a visitor, going off the beaten path and supporting local also allows you to experience authentic Portuguese traditional culture!
BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle
Tap water is safe to drink pretty much anywhere in Portugal, so make sure to pack your own bottle to reduce waste and save some money during your trip. If you are ever in doubt of water potability, ask your guide or host.