We’ve gathered for you a handful of practical tips and tricks from our Portugal trip. Here they are.
Table of contents
When to go? (Portugal weather)
The answer to this question largely depends on what you want to do locally. In our case, the choice was easy, because we wanted to travel up to the maximum of 7 months of pregnancy, so it fell on late April and early May ;)
It is a very good choice if you want to mainly sightsee. The weather is perfect then, warm, but not terribly hot. There are already quite a few tourists, but they are still far from the crowds of the peak season.
As for beachcombing, however, it’s a bit early. It is better to come a month later or in September. We were lucky, we hit very nice weather especially being in the Algarve. You could sunbathe peacefully, but the water was still too cold for a leisurely swim ;)
July and August are the standard peak season, when it is extremely hot and prices are highest. However, something for something. As always ;)
How to get there?
To Portugal, or more specifically Lisbon and/or the Algarve, it’s baaar easy. And cheap. It’s not like a trip to Madeira;)
We flew to Portugal with TAP Portugal airline, directly from Warsaw to Lisbon. However, there are also flights to Lisbon itself, among others. Ryanair (from Modlin and Wroclaw) and Wizz Air (from Warsaw and Katowice).
You can also fly directly to Faro (Algarve) on numerous charter flights from travel agencies.
Moving by car
Driving should not be a problem at all. The roads are well marked and are of good quality. Nothing to do but schuss ;)
All international rental companies are available in Portugal so you can choose to your heart’s content. We, as always, used Rentalcars.
What we did was that upon arrival we used public transportation getting around Lisbon and the surrounding area, and then in the second half of our trip we rented a car at the airport and drove to the Algarve.
It is important to plan in advance whether we will be traveling on toll roads or not, because if so, you need a special device for charging (you can rent one from a rental company – it comes out cheaper than a fine ;-)).
There are, of course, sections of toll highways where you will pay at the gates. However, there are also quite a few places where we may be surprised by simple radars over the road that read our plates. In other words, before we know it we are already on a toll road and they are cashing us in. This is especially the case in the Algarve region. A radar sign informs you of this type of toll road, although it is often too late to back out ;)
We recommend you, of course, to drive as far as possible on the free sections of the roads. It’s slower, but you can see a lot more than just speeding down the highway from point A to point B.
And one more point about driving recorders (very popular lately, we use them ourselves!). If you felt like recording your driving in Portugal, it is allowed, but it is forbidden to make the recordings public.
In general, Portugal is regarded as a safe country. Unfortunately, being in Lisbon we did not feel safe. OK, we weren’t afraid that our lives were in danger, but it’s more about pickpockets or swindlers, of which there are really a lot here (just like in other European capitals, by the way).
Unfortunately, perpetually looking over your shoulder, keeping all your documents close at hand, checking every now and then to make sure your camera is still in your hand, can take away the pleasure of traveling.
Fortunately, the Algarve is much better in this regard :)
However, you remember that even though this is your vacation, it is always necessary to approach everything sensibly and maintain at least minimal vigilance :)
Some practical information
What should you keep in mind before traveling to Portugal?
- As is standard in most of Europe, electrical outlets here too are no different from our Polish ones. Also the voltage is the same, also any equipment brought from Poland will work.
- If you only want to spend a short while in Lisbon, be sure to reserve more time. In our opinion, it is enough to spend a maximum of 2 days on Lisbon, but it is worth adding a minimum of another 2 days to explore such areas as. Sintra or Cascais with Cabo da Roca.
- Portugal has the Euro. We where possible paid for everything by card (in EUR). This is usually possible, but it is also a good idea to carry cash for small expenses.
- Prices can be said to be standard for Europe. It’s more expensive, of course, on Lisbon’s main streets and in typically touristy places. You can eat good fish for €10, a day ticket for public transportation in Lisbon costs €6, entrances to many attractions (e.g., St. George’s Castle or the Hieronymite Monastery) cost in the region of +/- €10, and a bottle of water in a market costs a few dozen cents.
- The Algarve region is by far the region of Europe’s most beautiful beaches. This does not mean that you have to see them all. However, we recommend you to stay here at least for a few days to rest peacefully on one of them :)
- Before you leave, it’s a good idea to get an EHIC (issued by the National Health Service for free) and insurance. Hope it doesn’t come in handy, but the prudent always insured :)
- It’s also worth getting a solid guidebook.
We also recommend our other practical posts about it:
- How to get around Lisbon and the surrounding area?
- Portugal in 10 days, or our suggested itinerary.
- Lisbon – 3 places you must see!
Questions? Comments? :)
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments. We will try to answer them all! :)