The start of my search for home. The cheapest of all west European countries and one with a wealth of culture. The further inland you go the more charming it gets.
Sintra: the start of my journey with a side trip to Cabo da Roca. A beautiful palatial town surrounded by a high Moor castle toped mountain and Palace. A 45 minute train ride from Lisbon and by far the most romantic place I have seen.
Lisbon: check out Barrio Alto after dark. A hybrid and eclectic mix of art cafe's, music and good food. Safer than the guide books say!
Praça do Comércio - The center of Lisbon and one of the best spots to walk down and take it all in. Then head off to Chiado for more shopping and people watching
Belém - An area filled with great buildings, monuments and history. Head to tourist info first and pick up a free map.
Barrio Alto - During the day funky cafes and great cityscape views. At night party central.
Cabo Da Roca: The most western part of mainland Europe that you can travel by land to. A lighthouse and monolith await.
Faro: Well, it's got a big church, a harbor and a HI youth hostel. Check out the old train tracks near the harbor for a taste of local life and bring a book. 7 Euro by train to Lagos.
Evora: Check out the Capela dos Ossos (chapel made entirely monks bones), Some nice roman ruins in the middle of the town. Check out the aqua duct as well. 2hrs from Lisbon via bus 11 Euro.
Lagos: A place to find a party hostel or three. Otherwise a local guesthouse and some amazing boat trips through great rock formations.
I took the overnight bus from Barcelona to Lisbon. I also took a bus from Seville to Faro, it was a rare bus to find at the time. Otherwise local buses take you straight along the coast of Spain across the border and onto Faro. I experienced no immigration on any route. Though the Lisbon to BCN bus was strict with carry on luggage, even arguing to put my camera in the luggage compartment. Instead I hid it under my shirt!
Today there are many regular international train lines linking to Lisbon from Madrid and beyond. Check out the CP website in the side bar to find timetables and fares.
|Try my custom flight search for the lowest priced flights to and from Portugal!
Fish dishes aside, try the little custard cream pies (Pastéis de Nata). Also, My favorite beer comes from Portugal - Super Bock Negra, a dark carbonated beer. After that Cherry spirits and a wide choice of BBQ pork dishes.
Friendlier than Spain. The further you travel into the remoter parts of Portugal the more you will see this. But even in the big cities I found the Portuguese to be more than welcoming. Speaking just a little Portuguese goes a long way to opening up conversations.
Portuguese can read a little like Spanish, but is pronounced very differently. Polish people pick it up quickly due to a phonetic similarity. Try the basics first. However all the tourist areas are English speaking to a degree.
Don't speak Spanish. It's not Spain. If in doubt, mess the word up rather than speak Spanish. It's not a sin but I found speaking Portuguese badly was better than one Spanish word. Think about it? Why would you say Gracias when the word for Thank You is Obrigado! It would be like speaking Russian in England! Finally eat varieties of Portuguese food and talk with the locals about it!.
Where to stay in Portugal
I was lucky, I knew people and stayed with them. Though in Lagos go for a guesthouse rather than a party hostel if you want to sleep. I stayed at both ends.
But would go back to the then new www.carlos-house.com and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap but clean good place to stay.
Evora's hostel was not open when I was there. A guesthouse was around 30 Euro for a room, most are located off the main square.
In Lisbon or Porto a cheap pension might be only a few Euro more than a hostel or few less than a low budget hotel offering more value for money.
Try my custom search for the lowest priced hotels in Portugal!
Prefer local accommodation? Try Airbnb (get up to USD $40 discount)
You know, I always had a hunch about Portugal. I don't know if it's me, or anyone else gets this feeling about a place before they arrive? But I had that about Portugal. There, people were friendly, it was easy going and the quality of life was good. A mix of old world and new. People tending to fields by hand, and other's running big computer company's.
I struggled with the language though. I found Spanish hard enough (I am not a linguist!). The phonetics of Portuguese are an extra step. Moving to Portugal would need more for me than what I found in my travels there. It didn't have that ultimate home feeling. It had something good, but no click if you know what I mean? I won't ever rule it out. But for me, it was: obrigado Portugal, pero adeus para agora.
How much is a daily budget in Portugal?
Well, 35 Euro's a day for a backpacker using a dorm hostel and some travel should be ok. The average hostel is around 12-15 Euro a night.
Food is relatively cheap compared to the rest of Europe. With a sandwich costing around 3 Euro and a restaurant meal costing about 7-8 Euro. It's worth noting that popular day trip tourist locations eg Sintra, often have quite inflated restaurant prices - bring a packed lunch to save on money and indeed time in making the most of your trip.
Transport by rail is cheapish as is the bus. I found train travel easier as the stations are more convenient than the bus terminals. Transport in Portugal is a lot cheaper than most of western Europe.
Is Portugal just about beaches?
No! Go to the north or inland and see mountains, palaces, castles and history. Culture is oozing out of this country. Read my extracts about an adventure I had there for a feel of it's history. Lisbon has a great underground culture too. Just ask the locals if they think the city is sinking! A large area of the old buildings are built on wooden foundations. It is really an undiscovered country overshadowed by it's popular neighbors.
How to get to/from the airport to Lisbon city?
It's not far. A bus (Saldanha/Marquês de Pombal/Rossio/Cais do Sodré) will cost under 2 Euro. While a taxi will cost about 10 Euro. While the best option in the metro which will set you back a staggering 1.28 Euro from the Airport to any station in Lisbon!
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Please keep in mind all the above is based on my own personal experience in Portugal. It's not intended to be a guide. If the information here can help you on your own travels then that's a good thing!