Sintra - Portugal Top Travel Tips and Useful Info - On The Go Tours

Got a trip to Portugal planned but need to know a little more about what to expect? Here you'll find lots of useful information on topics as varied as currency and voltage to food, shopping and tipping.

What vaccinations do I need for Portugal?

You should seek medical advice from your local health practitioner before travelling to Portugal and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. Just make sure you’re up to date for recommended vaccinations for your home country. Other vaccines to consider are Tetanus. Visit the NHS Fit to Travel page or the CDC Traveler’s Health page for more information.

Is it safe to drink the tap water in Portugal?

Tap water is safe to drink in major cities such as Porto and Lisbon. In mountainous rural areas water sanitation still remains relatively low, so it’s best to play it safe with bottled water.

Portuguese custard tarts - Travel Tips and Useful Info - On The Go Tours
Custard tarts are a popular sweet treat in Portugal

What’s the food like in Portugal?

Portuguese cuisine is known for its excellent seafood, oil, stews, casseroles and starchy staples. For breakfast the Portuguese are very traditional and enjoy bread, butter, cheese, and ham, usually eaten with a hot drink.

Traditional dishes include Bacalhau, which you can get in almost every restaurant. It’s a salted cod dish that can be made in a variety of ways and the Portuguese will tell you themselves that there is 1000 different ways to prepare it. The most common is prepared with tomatoes, onion and olives.

A favourite treat is the pastel de nata (or Portuguese tart), a small custard tart often sprinkled with cinnamon.

Safe eating while travelling in Portugal

Food hygiene standards in Portugal are relatively high so travellers are at low risk of falling ill during their trip due to food poisoning. As with anywhere in the world, it is important to be wary of any meat or fish that has not been cooked thoroughly. If any food looks old, unclean or poorly prepared, it is best to avoid it altogether.

Is it standard to tip in Portugal?

Tipping isn’t generally common in Portugal. Often people round up taxi fares, offer the bell-boy 1-2 Euro per bag and tip around 10% if they are happy with their service in a restaurant. As tipping isn’t common practice, don’t feel like you have to.

Portuguese handpainted plates - Travel Tips and Useful Info - On The Go Tours
Hand-painted plates and tiles make a great souvenir in Portugal

What to shop for in Portugal?

Wine is an excellent thing to shop for in Portugal and not just port wine. Portugal produces high quality wine for inexpensive prices. Portuguese wine production goes all the way back to the Roman times, so they know what they’re doing. There are actually 11 different wine producing regions in Portugal, which is an impressive number for a country of its size.

Ginjinha - cherry liquor - is also very famous in Portugal. It’s made by infusing sour cherries into a particularly potent Portuguese liquor called aguardente. In some cities a shot of this is traditionally taken in a chocolate shot glass and often these can be purchased with a bottle of Ginjinha in souvenir shops.

Portuguese tiles are often beautiful and detailed. They can be seen on buildings across the country and can often be bought from souvenir shops.

Is bargaining acceptable in Portugal?

Generally speaking, bargaining doesn’t happen much in Portugal. Prices are often fixed though you may be able to negotiate some prices when at markets or buying souvenirs in large quantities.

Is it safe for a single woman to travel in Portugal?

Portugal is a very safe place to travel for a solo woman, whether in the big cities or smaller towns. The country has a relatively low rate of violent crime. However, like many other tourist destinations, visitors are warned to be wary of pick-pockets and thieves. When walking home at night, women are advised to take normal precautions by sticking to main roads and areas that are lit. In the big cities, consider taking a taxi instead of walking alone.

What is the duty free allowance for Portugal?

Portugal is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, Champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs, all at tax-free equivalent prices.

If you are travelling from within the EU, there is no limit on the amount or value of goods you may import, providing your goods are for personal consumption. Goods imported for commercial purposes are subject to duty and the following guideline amounts are in place to determine whether this is the case:

  • 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco
  • 10L of spirits over 22% volume, 20L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume, 90L of wine (no more than 60L of sparkling wine) and 110L of beer

If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Portugal by travellers over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:

  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
  • 4L of wine (excluding sparkling wine) and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% volume or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume
  • Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and €300 for other travellers

It’s not permitted to import meat or dairy products into Portugal from outside the EU. Also prohibited are unauthorised firearms and ammunition.

What is the currency in Portugal?

The official currency in Portugal is the Euro. Check OANDA for latest exchange rates.

British Pounds, US Dollars and other major currencies can be easily exchanged locally in banks or bureau de change or prior to departure. Credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in most of the major hotels, restaurants and shops. Use of American Express is not as common.

Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.

Trams in Portugal - Travel Tips and Useful Info - On The Go Tours
Trams are a cost-effective mode of transport in Portugal's cities

What do things cost in Portugal?

Portugal is an affordable destination for many international travellers to visit. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant is around USD$6 - $10 and a pint of domestic beer is a steal at USD$1.70. You can get good quality food and drink for a very reasonable price here. A dorm bed in a hostel will cost from USD$17- $25 and a double room in a mid-range hotel is around USD$57 - $114 a night.

What sort of plugs do I need for Portugal and what is the voltage?

Standard voltage is 220-240 Voltz. Primary sockets generally require European plugs of the two round-pin variety. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.

Is WiFi widely available in Portugal?

Yes, WiFi can be found in the majority of restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels throughout Portugal and is likely to be both fast and reliable.

What time zone is Portugal on?

Portugal is in the Western European Time Zone, which is the same time as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Like most countries in Europe, Daylight Saving Time is observed in Portugal, where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour (GMT+1) between 26th March and 29th October.

See also

Check out our handy Travel Guide resources to help plan your trip to Portugal:

Portugal tours - find out more about our trips to Portugal
Best Places to Visit - where to visit on your Portugal trip
Best Time to Visit - climate and seasons of Portugal
Tourist Visas - info about visas for travellers to Portugal

Portugal Trip Styles