Portugal travel advice
Portugal has a wonderful amount to offer visitors, from the historic streets of Lisbon and their clattering yellow trams to the port-producing vineyards of the Douro Valley and the golden beaches of the Algarve.
Planning your trip
A travel destination with a rising status, Portugal is an ideal place to uncover a range of rich experiences. Traversing the country we’ve worked on finding the most invigorating aspects of its culture and history. Our Portugal specialists will be happy to share their first-hand knowledge with you and create a trip that is tailored specifically to you.
Portugal’s official language is Portuguese, which is closely related to other Romance languages like Spanish and French. However, English is widely spoken almost everywhere.
Food & drink
With more than 800 km (500 miles) of coastline, Portugal has cultivated a culinary tradition that exploits the fresh fish caught off its shores. In general, Portuguese cuisine places emphasis on preparing simple meals with the freshest ingredients. As part of your meal, you can enjoy a glass of vinho verde, a young wine that’s released as early as three months after the grape harvest, and finish off with a glass of sweet, fortified port wine.
Festivals & public holidays
As a predominantly catholic country, Portugal celebrates many religious festivals throughout the year. Celebrations at the beginning of Lent are particularly important, with vibrant festivities taking place in Lisbon and across the country. Indeed, these festivities are noteworthy as the basis for the carnival celebrations that take place today in Brazil, which developed under Portuguese rule.
In May and September, many people make the pilgrimage to the town of Fatima to commemorate the sightings by three shepherd children of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917.
Food, films and music are also much celebrated by the Portuguese. You’ll find a lively cultural scene with events feting everything from Fado music and seafood to wine, rock music and horror films.
- 1st January — New Year’s Day
- March/April — Good Friday
- 25th April — Freedom Day
- 1st May — Labour Day
- 10th June — Portugal Day
- June — Corpus Christi
- 15th August — Assumption Day
- 5th October — Republic Day
- 1st November — All Saints’ Day
- 1st December — Restoration of Independence
- 8th November — Immaculate Conception
- 25th December — Christmas Day
As is common in Europe, tipping isn’t necessarily expected in Portugal, though a tip will always be appreciated. In restaurants, a tip of about 5% would be considered generous, and up to 10% would denote exceptionally good service. For taxi drivers, you can round up your fare to the nearest euro, and a hotel porter may expect a €1–2 tip for each bag.
Money & Expenses
Portugal is one of several European countries that use the euro, which is easy to obtain prior to travel. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, though not all stores may accept American Express, so it’s best to have a Visa or Mastercard or cash with you. Cash is easy to withdraw at ATMs, which you can find in all major towns.
Portugal’s country code is +351. International calls from hotels can be expensive, but many hotels, restaurants and cafes have complimentary Wi-Fi, typically indicated by a sign in the window. It’s also always a good idea to check with your phone company before journeying overseas to ensure you understand its policies and charges for making calls from abroad.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
When to go to Portugal
You’ll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Portugal.
2 hours 30 upwards dependent on airline (London to Lisbon)