Portugal is one of those countries that doesn’t always make it to someone’s bucket list. However, everyone who visits Portugal falls in love with it and keeps coming back to get a deeper understanding of the country and its history.
As is the case with taking almost any trip, the best way to explore Portugal and to get the most out of the visit is to make preparations beforehand and to allow yourself as much freedom as you can, while visiting.
How to Get Around?
The best way to get around while visiting Portugal is to drive your car or one you rented. In order to do so, you’ll need an international drivers license for Portugal. It’s a document issued based on your national driver’s license that you can obtain from the same institution.
The permit is valid for a year as long as you have a national driving license with you and it’s valid as well. This will allow you to spend as much time as you want at each site. That way you can enjoy your stay in Portugal on your own schedule.
When to Visit?
Different seasons will be better suited to different types of tourists. You can expect the biggest rush in July and August. If you’re looking to experience Portugal in its peak season this is the time to do it. However, if you prefer a more relaxed vacation, these are the months to avoid.
The weather is rather hot from May until September – which can also be a recommendation or a warning depending on your preference. Nights get cold from October to April and there’s a chance to get caught in a rain for a couple of days. None of these are unbearable for US or European standards.
IDs and Tourist Cards
You’re required to carry a photo ID while visiting Portugal. For most tourists, this means a passport. There are museums and other venues that offer a 50 percent discount for senior citizens. It’s best to check the local tourist website to learn about such options.
Some tourist destinations also have tourist cards that you can use to get discounts or additional offers. Take advantage of these especially if you’re traveling on a budget. Both Lisbon and Porto have such cards and it’s best to find out how to get them before visiting. For the most part, they make using public transportation easier and less expensive for tourists.
Setting a Budget
Debit and credit cards can be used as a payment method in most venues in Portugal but some small shops and cafes may not accept them. It’s best therefore to have at least a small amount of cash with you at all times.
It’s best to withdraw some cash from an ATM as soon as you land. ATMs are available at every airport and it’s best to use them rather than those provided by Euronet, to avoid unfavorable exchange rates. Try not to bring bills larger than 50 euros to avoid having to wait for change.