Portugal is a beautiful mix of cobblestone streets, medieval castles, blue skies and stunning coastline. It’s a place where a dramatic coastline collides with villages, rich with history and the winding streets of Lisbon bustle with life and busy trams. There’s so much to see, do and discover and there’s always a surprise or something beautiful and interesting around every corner. It’s a photographers dream and a haven for beach and outdoor lovers.
If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, I’ve put together this guide to help you know what to pack, when to visit and how much to budget per day. If you’ve been to Portugal before and have your own tips, I’d love to hear them so please share in the comments below.
Tips for visiting Portugal
When is the best time to visit Portugal?
Low season: December to March sees short, rainy days with cold temperatures and there are very few tourists, which means things are cheaper.
Shoulder: May, June and September see mild days perfect for outdoor activities like hiking. June is also peak time for festivals.
High season: July to August is the best time weather-wise and crowds flock to the Algarve and coastal resort areas.
If you’re looking to save money on your trip, try visiting Portugal in the shoulder season for cheaper room rates and possible upgrades. Otherwise, the warm weather of the high season is a drawcard for any visitor.
How much money do you need for a trip to Portugal?
€50 per day: Dorm bed at a hostel ( €15–€24), buy all meals cheaply from a grocery store or deli and go to free admission sites.
€50–€120 per day: Stay at a regular hotel (€50–€100), buy lunch and dinner at mid-price restaurant (€20–€30) and
€120 + per day: Stay at a boutique hotel (€120+) and eat a three-course meal at a restaurant (€40+)
What to pack for a trip to Portugal
Comfortable shoes – The streets of Lisbon consist of winding, cobblestone hills which are steep as heck and become very slippery when wet, so pack shoes that are sturdy and comfortable to walk in. Think sand shoes, joggers, converse, sneakers etc. High-heels are probably not a good idea.
Layers – Things can get a little chilly in the evenings, so pack light clothing you can layer if needed i.e. pashmina, scarf, cardigan, long-sleeve cotton top etc
Pack light – The cobblestone streets of Lisbon can make it difficult to manoeuvre a suitcase and there may not be a lift in your building, especially if you’re staying in budget accommodation or a hostel. Consider packing light and taking bags you can carry instead, like a backpack and duffel bag.
Rain gear – Be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella as it does tend to get quite rainy, especially in the winter months.
Medicine bag – It’s quite easy to find a pharmacy and most supermarkets sell essential medicines quite cheaply. It’s still a smart idea to pack a small medicine bag with key items, just in case you become ill late at night or can’t find a pharmacy. My kit always includes paracetamol, ibuprofen, antihistamine, cold and flu medicine, travel-sickness tablets, Imodium, hydralyte, pocket tissues, band-aids, hand sanitizer and wet wipes.
Watch: our ‘How I pack for a trip’ video
Sunsmart gear – You’ll definitely need sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen with high SPF to protect you from sunburn and I always recommend the Cancer Council’s sunscreen. Remember, sunscreen is only as good as its user and it’s up to you to reapply during the day to ensure you don’t get burned. Similarly, a rash shirt or sun-shirt is a good idea too. Remember, cloudy days mean U.V rays!
Clothing – If visiting in warmer months, pack light clothing that is breathable and comfortable. Shorts, t-shirts, single/vest tops, button-up sun-shirts and sundresses are all appropriate. If you’re going out to a restaurant, you should dress smart-casual. If you’re visiting a coastal resort, the dress is particularly casual and you should pack a sarong or other light clothing to get you to and from the beach.
Beach bag/day bag – Pack a light tote you can put your beach or day essentials in. This will make it easier to pack up your towel, hat, sunglasses, book, camera and sunscreen when you head down to the water or go for a walk around town.
Tap Water – Tap water is generally safe to drink in Portugal. Though, if you’re unsure, always buy bottled water.
Adaptors – Portugal has standard European round two-pin plugs, which are 220-240V. If you have one, bring an adaptor with you. Here’s what the sockets look like.
Visa – Make sure you check the visa requirements before you leave Australia, just to be sure, but you should be able to stay in Portugal for up to 90 days without any worries.
My packing tips and travel hacks
Roll-up Travel Charger – Yes, yes, yes. I can only imagine how much time a Roll-Up Travel Charger would save me when it comes to packing and unpacking charging equipment, I must have one of these. It minimises clutter and puts all your much-needed charges in one very useful bar that plugs straight into the wall. It appeals to the neat-freak within me… a LOT.
Plastic bags – Stash some large plastic grocery bags and small sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes!
Tupperware – I use Tupperware or similar hard plastic containers to put all my toiletries in. This ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab my toiletries in one easy swoop, keep them together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too. I also use a small container for all my jewellery and another one for electronics like adapters, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things!
Dryer sheets – Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip, easy! No more musty smelling clothes for you, my friend.
Power board – As freelancers, we travel with a lot of electronics so we can work on the road. This can mean two laptops, an iPad, two phones, a camera and a GoPro! If this sounds like you too, then you’re going to need more than one power point. Buy one powerpoint converter and take a power board with multiple plug-ins on it. It makes life so much easier!
Trackstick II – The Trackstick II is so very cool and will appear to the nerdy data types out there (i.e. my husband). It’s a GPS receiver the size of a memory stick, it can be used to track your every step for weeks! Take it with you in your pocket and you’ll have a satellite album of your travels. You can see where you’ve been, shown via a red line that is traced on satellite photos and 3D terrain. Told you it was cool. It continuously records its exact route, stop times, speed, direction and other valuable information, all of which is easily downloaded to your computer.
Watch: our ’12 months in 60 seconds video’
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.