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Going to visit Portugal: our advice for travelers

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Judit Llordes
@juditllordes
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This little piece of land in southern Europe promises you escape, discovery and reconnection to simple pleasures! Thanks to the conservation of its unique heritage and its folklore, its unparalleled gastronomy and its landscapes as varied as they are spectacular… you will come back enchanted by these few Portuguese moments. To enhance your getaway, you can count on its discreet and warm people who welcome you like at home. Total disconnection guaranteed! Are you planning to visit Portugal? Do you want to let yourself be carried away by the abundance of opportunities that it promises and totally let go? Here are some tips for approaching your stay with confidence.





Why travel to Portugal?

More and more often ranked among the best travel destinations, Portugal nevertheless retains its authenticity and generous hospitality. Although its tourist influx grows year after year, getting away from it all allows you to get drunk in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy an incredible sweetness of life. Between the omnipresent sun, the capricious ocean, lush nature and abundant culture, each holidaymaker is invited to happily tap into unsuspected Portuguese treasures according to their current desires.

This charming country also allows you a visit from north to south without too much difficulty, although, to soak up Portuguese daily life and discover all its riches, taking your time is naturally essential. As you will have understood, this unmissable destination can be apprehended with family, friends or even lovers and allows everyone to fill up with the joy of living. Visiting Portugal on a city trip or over a longer period is easy, affordable and will delight young and old!





When to go to Portugal?

Visiting Portugal is generally possible at any time of the year. Its climate remains pleasant in all seasons. However, winters can be harsh and wet in the north, while fall and spring remain the best seasons for roaming the interior and south of the country. From May to June or from September to November, you will benefit from optimal conditions to get lost in a natural park, to land on the beach or to visit one of its wonderful cities. In summer, the breezy coastline will allow you, without fear of the oppressive heat, to enjoy a few moments of relaxation.

The tourist influx reaches its peak during the month of August in the Algarve, in the extreme south of the region. February, meanwhile, has the lowest attendance rate. Leaving in the middle of the season is the ideal compromise to fully enjoy and visit Portugal, without fear of mass tourism.

PRACTICAL TIPS : find all the climate trends over the year, and define the best time to go to Portugal depending on your destination.

Carvoeiro and Algarve

What budget to plan on site?

Visiting Portugal remains affordable. The cost of living is cheaper there than in other European countries. The management of your budget will vary according to your needs, your desires, the period and the comfort envisaged. With around fifty euros per person per day, you can meet the expenses related to accommodation, public transport, catering and tourist activities. Although Portugal is well served by an efficient rail network, a car rental will allow you to easily access beautiful remote corners. This feeling of independence will cost you very little: around 35 euros per day.





The average price for accommodation is between 25 and 70 euros per night. This price changes according to the periods and the place of stay. If you stay in the big tourist cities, in high season, the latter can even triple. A meal in a mid-range restaurant will cost you between 10 and 25 euros. The activities are also accessible at attractive prices, always lower than those practiced in France. Exploring Portugal by bus or train remains the most economical. Daily or unlimited subscription systems reduce your expenses even further.

How to go to Portugal?

Regular direct flights are operated from France to Portugal and are, depending on the period, quite cheap. A Paris-Porto return trip can cost an average of 125 euros. 3 international airports await travelers: Porto, Lisbon and Faro. Booking your flight as early as possible gives you an extra chance to find the right deal. Taking your car to visit Portugal is also an interesting alternative for all those who wish to be independent. The journey itself can already be part of the adventure and will blow your mind.

Several international bus companies (Flixbus or other) also serve many European cities. There are lines to Lisbon and Porto. The trip from Paris may be a bit long, more than 25 hours, and can be bought at the minimum price of 75 euros. Train journeys are a bit more expensive. In addition, line changes make this option time-consuming. However, depending on your location, train and bus can still prove to be environmentally and financially interesting.




Porto

How to get around the country?

Exploring Portugal by bus or train remains an economical solution. Discounts are possible and a subscription system, such as the Andate Card in Porto, allows you to use bus and metro at preferential rates over a specified period. The possibilities are numerous by public transport and one of them will, without a doubt, adapt to the way you travel. The comfortable coach is also a popular option to move freely within the country. Very common, they are however quite expensive.


The train is frequently used to connect cities with each other. There are several types: the extensive network of “regionais” or “urbano”; the omnibuses, "inter-regional", and the rapids, "intercidades". Another train, the “Alfa Pendular”, runs between Faro, in the south, and Braga, in the far north. Don't forget to book if you are traveling during the summer season! Finally Yes the road network is efficient, the highways are however chargeable. These are often equipped with electronic payment via cameras, without any possibility of conventional acknowledgment. It is advisable to obtain a specific box to install on board the vehicle to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

What to eat and drink in Portugal?

You will spontaneously receive some appetizers, the " delicacies », Before each meal. Please note, each piece eaten will be added to your note! Let yourself be tempted by the " meat croquettes ", the " balcalhau cakes », Without forgetting the delicious s and the striking Pulp Salad.

Did you know that there is as much cod preparation in Portugal as there are days of the year? Whether it is the cod “pataniscas” made with frying, the cod “pastéis” served with mash and parsley or the “brás” cod with egg, minced fish and olives, your taste buds will be delighted. In this country so close to the ocean, seafood is obviously not to be outdone. Absolutely taste the "cataplana" of crustaceans! This stew cooking and mixing with other tasty fish is a real treat.

Cataplana

For on the go, the "bifana" and the "prego" are quite appropriate. Escalope and mustard sandwich for one, and garlic steak for the other, it's the typical Portuguese lunch. The “francesinha”, a little culinary originality from the north, is a kind of greedily revisited croque-monsieur. Prepare to be sated for hours! To wash down these typical dishes, Porto, Vinho Verde, or even Ginja, will accompany you from the start to the digestive. Need a gentle break? The irreplaceable « Cream Pastries », small tartlets with egg yolks, are tasty. You will ask for more!

Where to sleep in Portugal?

There are many solutions available to you in terms of accommodation. From the most economical to the most comfortable while passing by the most authentic, it is certain that you will find the shoe to your feet.

  • Campsites benefit from an excellent network, especially on the entire coast. Reductions are applied for those under 35 and over 65. Wild camping remains completely prohibited.
  • Youth hostels, accessible to all, are found throughout the territory. The pousadas are more chic and run by the state.
  • Homestay rooms are inexpensive and offer an unforgettable convivial experience. You will recognize them by their “alugam-se quartos” signs.
  • Rural tourism is also popular. Whether it is accommodation in "quinta", beautiful mansions, in "casas de campo", in a picturesque setting, or in an "agroturismo" on farms, there is no shortage of solutions to satisfy your desires.

Unsurprisingly, prices vary depending on the season and location. Housing in the far north of the country or in the interior will undoubtedly be cheaper, regardless of the type of housing and the time of year.

What are the main monuments and museums to see? 

Sumptuous monasteries and castles invite you to foray into the rich Portuguese past. The 7 wonders of Portugal give you a little taste of the inevitable excursions and visits.

  • The magnificent Belém Tower in Lisbon awaits you on the banks of the Tagus River. Do not hesitate to also visit the Monument to the Discoveries and enjoy its breathtaking view.
  • The Hieronymites Monastery (Lisbon), one of the most beautiful monuments in Portugal, is also the most visited. The church, the cloister as well as the monks' meeting room captivate visitors.
  • Pena National Palace seems straight out of a fairy tale as it dazzles with its bright colors and unique architecture. A must!
  • Guimaraes Castle, majestic fort in its raw state, will pique your curiosity.
  • Batalha Monastery is a renowned Portuguese and European architectural work.
  • Alcobaça Monastery is also not to be missed. You can also combine these two visits with that of the Convent of the Order of Christ in Tomar.
  • Óbidos Castle, a fortress developed during the Arab occupation, dominates an exceptional town with whitewashed houses. Spend a night there to fully enjoy it!

Museums are legion and renowned. Discounts are available for culture and history buffs. The youngest and over 65s also benefit from a preferential rate. Note that the Lisboa and Porto Card entitle you to great discounts or even free admission to certain museums and transport.

Obidos

What are the most beautiful walks to do?

Whether you are more attracted by the northern region and its slopes sublimated by vineyards as far as the eye can see, by the rural side of the center of the country or by the marvelous beaches of the Algarve ... you will always find a national park to stroll through. lush and diverse flora. Nature lovers will also be delighted with the exceptional playground offered by the "República Portuguesa". A hike in one of its sumptuous reserves is worth the detour. With their own specificities, they promise you an immersion in astonishing natural beauties.

While Peneda-Gerés National Park takes you back in time with its countless XNUMXth century granite villages; the Serra da Estrela park, centered around the Etoile mountain range, invites you to discover a still little-known region. Want to observe sumptuous waterfalls and some incomparable ecosystems? The Alvão Natural Park is waiting for you. The Alvão reserve also offers you a unique and authentic natural heritage. Ria Formosa Park, located on the Algarve coast, is made up of a veritable maze of canals, islets and swamps. 

Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, further north, takes you to the place "where the earth ends and the sea begins", famous for its impressive cliffs. Finally, why not also stroll in Do Douro natural park formed by gorges dating back millions of years? The view over the valley and the river of the same name is simply breathtaking.

The Douro Valley

Practical information

Here is some practical information to help you plan your stay in the best possible conditions.

  • formalities : To visit Portugal, a valid national identity card or passport is sufficient. No visa is required.
  • Health : the European health insurance card is useful in order to benefit from the coverage of care.
  • Payment options : The currency is the Euro. Payment cards are widely accepted in town. However, check the withdrawal limit which could be other than that of your bank.
  • Zones Wifi : they are numerous and free in the cities.
  • Tip : the tip is not compulsory, but welcome and left to your discretion.
  • Saint-Martin Tourist Office : consult the official website of the tourist office to find out about upcoming events!

Between ocean, nature and authenticity, discover Portugal in a relaxed atmosphere!

Want to visit Portugal soon? Still not sure which region to visit and which activities to choose? Let's discuss your desires in the comments!

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