17 Things to Know Before Visiting Portugal

Portugal is a vibrant country with a rich tapestry woven from ancient Celtic settlements, Roman influences, Moorish rule, and the golden age of exploration. It beckons all travelers with a blend of historical and stunning natural landscapes. Portugal has a unique set of customs and realities that might be unusual at first, but you will get the hang of it soon. This blog will help you transition to the change by listing 17 things you should know before visiting Portugal.

Cash Payments Are Favored

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

While digital payments are favored everywhere, Portugal is determined to keep physical money alive. In significant places like restaurants and shops, cash is the only accepted mode of payment.

Greeting People

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Customs and etiquette are essential for Portuguese people. If you meet a Portuguese friend, you must give two kisses on the cheek from left to right. Men usually shake hands or hug in their greetings. In small areas, using “bom dia” (good morning), “boa tarde” (good afternoon), or “boa noite” (good night), depending on the time of day, should be greeted.

Knowledge Of The Language

Image Credits: Adobe Stock

A third of the people in Portugal can speak English frequently. Learning the language is a good gesture.

Healthcare System

Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Portugal has a public healthcare system called Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). Access to affordable healthcare is a significant benefit. According to the World Health Organization, Portugal ranks high in healthcare quality. One can opt for private health insurance once you obtain the residency permit.

Dress Appropriately When Visiting Churches

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

When planning to visit any cathedral or monastery in Portugal, you must be appropriately dressed and covered. Shorts, short skirts, and tank tops are prohibited in the mentioned places.

Be Aware Of Petty Crimes

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Portugal is a very safe state with a low overall crime rate. Crimes tagged as violent are rare, and minor crimes are the primary concerns.

Pickpocketing and bag-snatching are very common, and one needs to be aware of them whenever traveling in metros or crowded places at peak times. Leaving luggage or other essential items in rented cars is unsafe.

Starters Served Before Dinner Are Not Free

Image Credits: Adobe Stock

You must be aware of the cardinal rule of dinner in Portugal, where the unordered items will always be added to your bill provided you consume the dish. Servers often bring cheese, appetizers, bread, and butter to all their guests before their meal. A polite decline will do the job if you wish to avoid having the food items.

Avoid Visiting In July And August

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

While July and August boast sunshine, there are certain downsides to visiting Portugal during this time. Firstly, the peak season is when popular tourist locations like the Algarve and Lisbon are packed with crowds. You will face the difficulty of higher prices, finding suitable accommodation and longer queues at all the major tourist spots. Temperatures soar into the high 30s °C, making sightseeing and outdoor activities less enjoyable. You could potentially lose out on the grape harvest tour during this peak tourist month, a unique experience in Portugal.

Rounding Up Bills At Restaurants

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

It is a nice gesture to tip the person serving you to show appreciation for good service. You can always check the bill; you don’t need to tip further if a service charge exists. For a casual meal, if the bill was 38 euros and the service was up to mark and friendly, you can pay 40 euros to show appreciation. Tipping is at your discretion and not enforced.

Keeping The Sports Shoes Handy

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Portugal is a beautiful country with a rich history and stunning scenery. Hills are abundant in Portugal, and it could be challenging and rewarding at the same time. Lisbon, the capital city, is famously built on seven hills. The effort you put into climbing those hills would be rewarded with breathtaking views and the possibility of discovering hidden gems on side streets and alleyways.

Vinho Verde Is A Must Try

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Vinho Verde translates to “green wine” in Portuguese, a young wine produced in the northern Minho region of Portugal. The name “green” does not refer to the color of the wine but to its youthful and fresh character. It is a light-bodied white wine known for its crisp acidity, subtle spritz, and flavors of citrus, stone fruits, and white flowers. The most delicious and refreshing accompaniment pairs well with various foods, particularly seafood, salads, and lighter fare. Therefore, it is a must-try when visiting Portugal.

Late Meal Times

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

The Portuguese have a later dining culture where you will experience a more comfortable, social dining experience, perfect for savoring the delicious food and enjoying the company.

Most restaurants open by 7 pm and pick up the vibe between 8-9 pm during prime hours.

Research About Regional Specialties

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Portugal boasts of the different specialties you can experience in the other areas. Northern Portugal is known as the land of Vinho Verde(green wine) and Bacalhau(salted cod). Central Portugal is famous for its rich cheeses like Queijo da Serra da Estrela (sheep’s milk cheese) and Queijo de Azeitão (sheep’s milk cheese with a savory flavor).

Lisbon offers a melting pot of flavors and is famous for its seafood varieties. Algarve is a paradise for seafood lovers, and it serves fresh fish dishes like Cataplana (a seafood stew) and Gambas a la Agulhinha (garlic shrimp). With a bit of research, you can enjoy the culinary delights that Portugal has to offer.

Opting For Attraction Passes/Cards

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Purchasing a city pass or attraction card could save money on public transport and popular attractions. Portugal’s two famous city passes are the Lisboa and Porto cards. Lisboa card offers free or discounted entry to over 30 museums and monuments in Lisbon, including the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower. It also includes free public transportation on buses, trams, and the metro. You can choose passes valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours. The Porto card offers similar benefits but for the city of Porto and free admission to 6 museums.

Prefer Public Transport

Image Credits: Deposit Photos

Finding and renting a car to explore Portugal could be costly and time-consuming. An affordable way to travel would be using public transport like buses and trains. The vast network of trains and buses connects all the places in Portugal, making it easy to explore.

Use The TAP Portugal Stopover

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

You can get a 25% discount on connecting TAP flights within Portugal. It would extend your vacation without a hefty price tag, and you could cover Portugal at no extra cost. TAP Portugal’s Stopover program lets you discover Portugal’s magic while saving money. You also save on partner restaurants where you can get discounts using the program.

Bring Your Own Bag(BYOB) To The Market

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Portugal has introduced legislation prohibiting state departments from using plastic bags, plates, and bottles. Tuck a reusable bag into your suitcase when visiting the vibrant markets to fill it with your delicious finds. Embrace the reusable charm while you indulge in the culinary treasures of Portugal.

Scroll to Top