OVERVIEW OF PORTUGAL
Portugal, the western-most country of mainland Europe, famed for its seafood, red rooftops, strange-looking castles, and yellow trams. It’s well known for being the home of some of the world’s most famous explorers – and can you blame them? Look at Portugal all out there on the edge of the world. They just *had* to know what was on the other side of the sea. Curiosity may have killed the cat but it also put Portugal on the map.
Lisbon (locally known as Lisboa) is the capital of Portugal but many travelers prefer visiting the smaller cities: nearby Sintra (a popular day trip from Lisbon), the ocean-side city of Porto, and the Azores–the autonomous group of nine volcanic islands out there in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, whose capital is Ponta Delgada. (pictured below)
⇢ If you’re interested in visiting Portugal, know that TAP Airlines offers a free stopover program so you can experience Portugal on the way to somewhere else at no additional cost.
PORTUGAL TRAVEL BASICS
CURRENCY | Euros (Check out xe.com for the most up-to-date currency conversion–they have a mobile app too!)
TIME ZONE | Mainland Portugal falls under the GMT time zone (all of mainland Portugal is five hours ahead of the Eastern time zone). However, the Azores are GMT-1 (four hours ahead of the Eastern time zone).
VISA / PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS | If you’re planning to spend less than 90 days in Portugal/the Schengen area, you can get by using just your U.S. passport–no Visa required. (Except for all those egg tarts you’re planning on buying, ba-dum-tshh!) However, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you leave the Schengen area. It’s weird; don’t ask.
LANGUAGE(S) SPOKEN | Portuguese is the primary language spoken.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR? | As with almost all of Europe, pick-pockets are probably your biggest safety concern. Watch your pockets and purses in crowded, tourist-filled areas, primarily in Lisbon. (Someone tried to pick-pocket my husband while he was at a urinal of all places–these thieves are relentless and ballsy.)
Regardless of what I’ve experienced, always be on guard, travel smart, and consider picking up travel insurance before you go.
WHERE TO STAY IN PORTUGAL
Why not start by reading some hotel reviews on Tripadvisor?
Then when you’re ready, book your hotel room on Booking.com (my go-to booking site, I mean, it’s right there in the name…).
- Book a hotel room in Lisbon
- Book a hotel room in Sintra
- Book a hotel room in Porto
- Book a hotel room in the Azores
- Or just use this handy widget ⇣⇣⇣
Additionally, there’s always Airbnb and I can help you save $40 on your first Airbnb stay. Just click here to activate the no-strings discount and shop away!
PORTUGAL TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
European plug adapter | If you plan on plugging anything in while you’re in Portugal, you’ll need one (or, let’s be real, several) of these.
Portugal guidebook | My choices would be:
- The Rough Guide to Portugal
- or the Pocket Rough Guide to Lisbon
- Fodor’s Essential Portugal
- Lonely Planet Portugal
- Rick Steves Portugal
Portuguese language guide | I love these pocket-sized language guides and I have quite the collection going. They’re great for learning the basics but my favorite part is the menu guide–decode what it is you’re eating!
Lisboa Card | When visiting Lisbon, a Lisboa Card will save you time and money on visiting all the most popular attractions and using public transportation. You really shouldn’t visit Lisbon without one!
Anti-Theft Crossbody Purse | Lisbon was one of the places I felt most uncomfortable in, in terms of potentially being robbed (see: the shitty thing that almost happened to my husband, above). Luckily, I travel with a pick-pocket-proof purse. This one features slash-proof material, locking zippers, RFID blocking, and straps you can attach to your chair, bench, etc.
MY POSTS ON PORTUGAL
During my first-ever three days in Lisbon, I saw a lot of what the city has to offer, made a lot of mistakes, and learned a lot of lessons. This post covers everything I saw and did while I was there and some tips on how to make the most of (and survive) three days in Lisbon as a first-time visitor.
But first, Pin me ⇣