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.
You might also like to read:
- 8 Reasons to the put the Algarve on your bucket list
- Must-know tips for visiting Lisbon
- 3 of the best travel tours we’ve ever done
When is the best time to visit?
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?
€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 a mid-priced 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
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. If you’re staying at a coastal resort, pack sandals or flip-flops to get to and from the beach as well.
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
Be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella as it does tend to get quite rainy, especially in the winter months.
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. Find Medicine Bags here.
You’ll definitely need sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen with high SPF to protect you from sunburn. 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! Find Sunscreen here.
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.
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.
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.
Tap water is generally safe to drink in Portugal. Though, if you’re unsure, you could buy a large bottle of water.
Make sure you check the visa requirements before you leave home, just to be sure.
Packing hacks and tips
A few tips and tricks to help you hack your packing!
I always pack a power-board with me so I can charge my iPhone and cameras while using my laptop and only need one converter. Yep, I’m a technology addict. If you forget a converter you can buy one there pretty cheap, so don’t stress. Find Power Boards here and Find Power Converters here.
Stash some eco-friendly bags and reusable 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! Find Eco-Friendly Reusable Bags here.
Stop leaky bottles
If you’re worried about your shampoo, conditioner or body wash leaking in your bag simply unscrew the lid, place some cling-film over the top and screw the lid back on. It’ll stop everything from leaking and potentially ruining your clean clothes. Find Reusable Bottles here.
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 adaptors, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things! Find Storage Containers here.
Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip. If you don’t have dryer sheets, a few drops of essential oil on a tissue, laid flat in-between layers of clothes, works wonders. I also have a little bottle of spray which instantly freshens up clothes, it’s from The Laundress and it’s amazing! No musty smelling clothes for you, my friend. Find Dryer Sheets here.