19 things to keep in mind while visiting Portugal

19 things to keep in mind while visiting Portugal

Embarking on a journey to Portugal can stir up excitement and anticipation. The allure of vibrant cities, sun-kissed beaches, and mouth-watering cuisine is hard to resist. But even the most seasoned traveler can stumble upon unexpected pitfalls that could turn an enchanting holiday into a series of avoidable blunders.

Have you ever wondered if there’s more to Portuguese travel than just keeping your wallet safe and slathering on sunscreen?.

Indeed, knowing what not to do in Portugal is as vital as packing the right essentials for your trip. This beautiful country may be welcoming, but even here, certain missteps could lead you astray or make you stick out uncomfortably as a tourist.

From cultural faux pas that might offend the locals to practical no-nos that could complicate your adventures—navigating these can truly unlock the essence of Portugal.

Our carefully curated guide acts as your compass through these potential misadventures, ensuring that every moment spent in this Iberian paradise is nothing short of perfect. Keep reading; we’ve got some insights that will have you traveling like a pro!

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t try to see all of Portugal in one trip; choose a few places to explore well.
  • When dining, know that bread and other table items may be charged extra, so ask first.
  • Use public transport like trains and buses for a more eco – friendly travel option.
  • Learn some basic Portuguese phrases to show respect and improve your experience.
  • Be careful with your belongings as petty theft can occur, especially in tourist areas.

Planning Your Trip to Portugal

When planning your trip to Portugal, it’s important to prioritize where you want to go and book your accommodations well in advance. Consider traveling on trains and buses to lower your carbon footprint, and skip the taxi from the airport for a more cost-effective option.

Don’t try to see it all in one trip

Portugal overflows with diverse landscapes, history, and culture. It’s tempting to pack every city and attraction into your itinerary. Yet, cramming too much into one trip can leave you exhausted instead of refreshed.

Choose a few places to explore deeply rather than rushing through many. Give yourself time to savor each location’s unique flavor.

Resist the urge to check off all landmarks from your list in a hurry. Accept that you won’t see everything on your first visit. Embrace the chance to return another day for new experiences.

Portugal will still be here with open arms and undiscovered treasures waiting for you.

Decide where to go

Choose your destinations wisely to make the most of your trip. Research popular cities like Lisbon, Porto, and Faro for a mix of history, culture, and stunning landscapes. Explore beyond the bustling urban centers to experience the serene beauty of the Azores or Alentejo region.

Consider visiting coastal towns like Cascais and Sintra for picturesque views and charming vibes. Venture into traditional villages such as Obidos or Monsanto to immerse yourself in authentic Portuguese life.

Remember, each region has its unique charm and attractions waiting to be discovered.

Plan your itinerary thoughtfully based on your interests, whether it’s exploring historic landmarks or enjoying beach leisure. Don’t miss out on hidden gems off the beaten path that showcase Portugal’s diverse offerings – from lush vineyards in Douro Valley to enchanting castles in central Portugal.

Book your accommodation well in advance

Secure your lodging early to ensure a comfortable stay in Portugal. Avoid last-minute hassles by booking your accommodation well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

This will give you more options and better rates for hotels, guesthouses, or vacation rentals in popular destinations like Lisbon and the Algarve. By planning ahead, you’ll have ample time to find accommodations that suit your needs and budget, allowing you to enjoy a worry-free trip without the stress of finding a place to stay upon arrival.

Lower your carbon footprint by traveling on trains and buses

Travel sustainably in Portugal by opting for trains and buses, reducing your environmental impact while exploring the country’s scenic beauty. Embrace the convenience of Portugal’s efficient public transportation system, minimizing carbon emissions compared to private vehicles.

Enjoy a more authentic cultural experience as you mingle with locals during your eco-friendly journey across cities and towns. By choosing trains and buses over taxis or rental cars, you not only contribute to a greener environment but also immerse yourself in the charm of Portugal’s diverse landscapes without worrying about parking or traffic.

Experience the allure of Portugal responsibly, embracing its vibrant culture while minimizing your environmental footprint through sustainable travel choices like trains and buses.

Don’t bother taking a taxi from the airport

Taxi rides from the airport in Portugal can be expensive. Consider using public transportation or arranging a pre-booked transfer for a more cost-effective option. This helps save money and gives you the chance to experience local commuting systems.

With Portugal’s efficient network of buses, trams, and metros, getting around is convenient and budget-friendly. It also allows you to enjoy the scenic views during your trip while reducing your carbon footprint by opting for eco-friendly travel alternatives.

Cultural Etiquette

Remember the cardinal rule of dining in Portugal: nothing is free. Be mindful of tipping etiquette, dress modestly when visiting churches, and try to learn some Portuguese phrases to show respect for the local culture.

Be aware of petty crime and take precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe during your trip.

Remember the cardinal rule of dining in Portugal: nothing is free

When dining in Portugal, keep in mind that bread, butter, olives or cheese brought to the table may not be complimentary. Be aware that these items might incur an additional charge on your bill.

It’s important to clarify with the server whether there will be an extra cost for these extras before indulging. This helps avoid any surprise charges at the end of your meal and ensures a pleasant dining experience.

Additionally, being mindful of this etiquette demonstrates respect for local customs and traditions. By clarifying what is included in your meal, you can make informed choices and avoid any unexpected expenses while savoring Portuguese cuisine.

Become an expert on tipping etiquette

Understand that in Portugal, tipping is not obligatory. However, it is customary to leave a tip of about 5-10% in restaurants if the service was satisfactory. Use cash when giving tips as credit card payments may not always allow for adding gratuities.

In bars, locals often round up the bill or leave some loose change. Tipping taxi drivers and hotel staff is appreciated but not mandatory. It’s essential to be mindful of cultural differences regarding tipping and to respect local practices while showing appreciation for good service during your trip to Portugal.

Dress modestly when visiting churches

Respect local customs by dressing modestly when visiting churches in Portugal, covering shoulders and knees to show reverence. It is essential to be aware of the cultural expectations and honor the religious significance of these sites.

This simple act demonstrates respect for the traditions and beliefs of the local people, contributing to a positive experience while exploring Portugal.

Avoid drawing unnecessary attention by respecting dress codes at churches, honoring the sacred nature of these places while immersing yourself in Portuguese culture. Be mindful that your attire reflects an understanding and appreciation of the religious practices within this beautiful country.

Learn some Portuguese and use it

Immerse yourself in the Portuguese culture by learning a few essential phrases. Speaking some basic Portuguese phrases can go a long way in showing respect to the locals and enhancing your travel experience.

Keywords such as “cultural awareness in Portugal” emphasize the importance of understanding and using Portuguese during your trip, contributing to positive interactions with locals and making your visit more enjoyable.

Expand your horizons beyond common tourist destinations by conversing with locals in their language, showcasing openness and respect for their culture. With “etiquette in Portugal” being pivotal, even simple greetings or expressions will be appreciated by the friendly people you encounter.

Be mindful of petty crime

Portugal is generally safe, but petty theft can occur. Pickpocketing, bag-snatching, and scams targeting tourists may happen in crowded areas and public transport. Tourists should be cautious of their surroundings, especially in popular tourist spots and when out at night.

Thieves may target cash, passports, or valuables such as jewelry. To avoid becoming a victim of petty crime while exploring Portugal, travelers should keep an eye on their belongings at all times and consider using anti-theft bags or pouches for added security.

It’s important to stay vigilant against potential thieves who aim to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists enjoying the sights and experiences that Portugal has to offer. Understanding these risks can help visitors take necessary precautions to safeguard themselves from petty crimes during their trip.

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes in Portugal

Forgetting your sunscreen can lead to painful sunburns, so be sure to pack and use it daily. Bringing only fancy shoes can make exploring the cobblestone streets uncomfortable, so bring comfortable footwear for walking around.

Forget your sunscreen

Don’t forget to pack sunscreen when traveling to Portugal. The country’s sunny climate can lead to intense UV exposure, so it’s crucial to protect your skin from sunburn and potential long-term damage.

Remember that the sun can be strong even on cloudy days and take the necessary precautions by applying sunscreen regularly while exploring Portugal’s beautiful beaches or strolling through its charming streets.

Take care of your skin and enjoy the breathtaking Portuguese landscapes without the discomfort of a painful sunburn.

Bring only fancy shoes

Fancy shoes may not be practical in Portugal. Fancy shoes can be uncomfortable for exploring cobblestone streets and hilly terrain. It’s best to pack comfortable footwear suitable for walking long distances and navigating uneven surfaces, ensuring a more enjoyable and hassle-free trip.

Avoid restricting your mobility and comfort by opting for stylish yet comfortable footwear that suits the Portuguese landscape, allowing you to fully experience all the country has to offer without discomfort or inconvenience.

Mistake Portugal for Spain

Avoid the blunder of mistaking Portugal for Spain. Although they share a border, each country has its own unique culture, language, and traditions. Portugal boasts stunning coastal landscapes and historic cities that differentiate it from Spain.

Visitors should be mindful of this distinction to fully appreciate everything Portugal has to offer.

Notably, thinking Portugal is similar to Spain could lead to misunderstandings during interactions with locals or while navigating through the country’s customs and etiquette. Understanding and respecting Portugal’s individual identity is crucial for an enriching travel experience.

Miss out on exploring beyond Lisbon and the Algarve

Don’t limit your Portuguese adventure to just Lisbon and the Algarve. Venture further to discover the country’s diverse landscapes, charming towns, and rich cultural experiences. Don’t overlook the historic Porto with its picturesque riverfront and renowned wine cellars.

Go beyond to visit the stunning Douro Valley, known for its terraced vineyards and scenic cruises along the river. Embrace local life by exploring authentic villages like Monsanto or experiencing the natural beauty of Peneda-Gerês National Park.

Delight in Portugal’s hidden gems, breathtaking coastlines, and vibrant traditions beyond the popular tourist hotspots.

Eat in tourist centers

Avoid dining in tourist centers where prices are often inflated and the quality of food may not match the hype. Instead, venture into local neighborhoods to savor authentic Portuguese cuisine at more reasonable prices.

By doing so, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the genuine flavors of Portugal while also supporting small, family-owned restaurants that offer a true taste of the country’s culinary culture.

Embrace the opportunity to indulge in traditional dishes such as bacalhau (salted cod) or caldo verde (kale soup) served in charming and less-touristy eateries, enriching your travel experience with an authentic gastronomic adventure.

Things to Keep in Mind While Exploring Portugal

Stick to the big cities and avoid wandering into unfamiliar areas. Be mindful not to drink too much, especially in public places. Avoid starting football arguments with locals, as it can lead to unnecessary tension.

Don’t leave your valuables unattended while exploring the country.

Stick to the big cities

Explore big cities like Lisbon and Porto, which offer a rich tapestry of history, culture, and vibrant urban life. These bustling hubs provide an abundance of attractions, dining options, and entertainment venues to discover.

Venturing into the big cities allows you to experience Portugal’s diverse cultural scene while also benefiting from better infrastructure and safety measures. The larger metropolitan areas tend to have lower crime rates than remote or rural locations, making them ideal for tourists seeking a secure and enriching travel experience in Portugal.

Don’t drink too much

Limit alcohol intake to stay safe and respectful in Portugal. Excessive drinking can make tourists vulnerable to pickpocketing or jeopardize their safety, especially in unfamiliar surroundings.

Moreover, it’s important to be mindful of local customs and behave appropriately while enjoying the vibrant nightlife that Portugal has to offer. So, drink responsibly and savor the unique experiences this beautiful country has in store for you.

Don’t start football arguments

When in Portugal, avoid starting football arguments. The country is passionate about soccer, so it’s best to appreciate their love for the sport without engaging in heated debates.

Remember that football discussions can get intense, and it’s essential to respect local teams and fans to ensure a pleasant experience during your visit.

Avoid initiating or participating in football disputes while visiting Portugal, as it may lead to unnecessary tension or conflict with locals. Instead, embrace the enthusiasm for the sport and enjoy the lively atmosphere surrounding football culture in this vibrant country.

Don’t leave your valuables unattended

Keep your belongings secure while exploring Portugal. Pickpocketing and theft can occur in crowded tourist areas, so always keep an eye on your bags and wallets. Use a money belt or anti-theft bag to safeguard your valuables from potential thieves.

Be cautious when using public transportation or visiting busy attractions, as these are common areas for theft to occur. Stay vigilant and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip in Portugal.

Remember the cardinal rule of dining in Portugal: nothing is free

Become an expert on tipping etiquette.

Dress modestly when visiting churches.


In conclusion, remember to plan your trip wisely and book accommodation in advance. Stick to the big cities and explore beyond touristy areas for an authentic experience. Be cautious of pickpocketing and petty thieves, but don’t let this deter you from enjoying Portugal’s beauty.

Prioritize safety by being aware of your surroundings and familiarizing yourself with local customs. Applying these practical tips will ensure a smooth and enriching visit to Portugal.

So pack your bags, stay vigilant, and immerse yourself in all that Portugal has to offer!

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