It’s not just the birds that are heading south – flocks of travellers have discovered that Spain’s little neighbour packs a mighty punch. A country of historically mixed fortunes, Portugal is having a moment in the spotlight which will almost certainly linger. From the Algarve’s dramatic coastline to the terraces of the Douro Valley wine region, from Lisbon’s steep cobbled streets to the Azores’ volcanic peaks, Portugal is packed with history, beauty and some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever encounter. And the food? Just you wait.
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Portugal, you may find yourself travelling by:
Most hotels used on Intrepid tours through Portugal are small, family-run guesthouses, so expect staircases instead of lifts and small rooms big on character.
The months of May, June and September are considered some of the best times to see Portugal as the weather is usually fine (yet not too hot) and the attractions are less crowded than during the peak months of July and August. Autumn and winter are typically rainy and windy, yet sunny days aren't rare either. If you’re after a beach holiday, keep in mind that the water temperature on Portugal’s north coast will be very cool, even during the summer months.
Yes, it is safe to visit Portugal. Travellers should exercise normal precautions and keep a close eye on their belongings in crowds and heavily touristed areas.
Portugal is a member of the Schengen Convention, which means that if you travel to an EU member country or countries, like Portugal, for a total of less than 90 days, a visa is not required. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, the UK and other member countries of the EU and Schengen area are included under this arrangement.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your country of origin. Check the Essential Trip Information section of your tour itinerary for more information.
Tipping isn’t customary in Portugal except at restaurants. Adding 10 per cent to the bill should be fine, or more if the service has been exceptionally good. Rounding up to the nearest euro will be appreciated by bar staff and taxi drivers too, but this is not expected. When staying at a hotel it's also standard to tip the luggage porter one euro per bag.
Internet access in Portugal is generally good with widespread wi-fi in both cities and smaller towns. You may wish to purchase a local SIM. The main domestic carriers are Vodafone, TMN and Optimus, but make sure your phone is unlocked before purchasing a prepaid SIM.
Travellers should be able to use their mobile/cell phones across Portugal. The most economical way to use your phone in Portugal is by purchasing a local prepaid SIM. If you wish to use your own SIM, be sure to activate global roaming before departing your home country and always check with your carrier as to any additional charges that may be incurred.
Flushable, Western-style toilets are the norm in Portugal. Please be aware that sometimes a small fee is required to access public toilets, so it’s worth having a small stash of euro coins for when the need arises.
Portugal’s unit of currency is the euro. Prices here are approximate and shown in US dollars for ease of comparison.
The tap water in Portugal is safe to drink unless marked otherwise. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottle water and fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
Most restaurants, hotels and larger shops in Portugal’s cities and tourist areas will accept credit cards. Smaller eateries and shops may not, so make sure you have some euro on you for smaller purchases or when visiting less frequented areas.
There are ATMs in all cities and most towns in Portugal. The smaller villages may not have ATMs so once again, make sure you have some cash if you plan on heading somewhere more rural.
Portugal is one of Europe’s warmest countries. Yearly temperature averages are about 15°C (55°F) in the north and 18°C (64°F) in the south.
Spring and summer months are usually warm and sunny, with July and August averaging maximums between 25°C and 30°C (77–86°F) in Porto, around 30°C (86°F) in Lisbon and 30–35°C (86–95°F) in the south. These coastal areas tend to be cooler thanks to the ocean breeze.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their tour. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
1 Jan – New Year’s Day
March/April – Good Friday/Easter Sunday
25 April – Liberty Day
1 May – Labour Day
10 June – Portugal Day
June – Corpus Christi (60 days after Easter)
15 Aug – Assumption of Mary
5 Oct – Republic Implantation
1 Nov – All Saints’ Day
1 Dec – Restoration of Independence
8 Dec – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
25 Dec – Christmas Day
For a current list of public holidays in X, including the movable dates noted above, go to:
Portugal legalised same-sex marriage in 2010 and has passed legislation protecting LGBT-identifying people from discrimination. Most Portuguese are open-minded and unconcerned when it comes to sexuality, particularly in the more touristed areas of Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, but it’s worth remembering that Portugal is a Catholic country in which homosexuality is still not regarded as being ‘normal’.
As far as scenes go, Lisbon has a more prominent community and the annual highlights are the Lisboa Pride Festival in June and September’s QueerLisboa Film Festival. For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.
If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Facilities for people with physical limitations are lacking in Portugal when compared to many other European countries. On top of this, Lisbon and Porto are very hilly, with lots of stairs and cobblestones, and visitors with disabilities may have trouble getting around.
That said, things are improving and newer hotels and restaurants, as well as modern museums, have accessible facilities. The best transportation for those with disabilities is train, with an increasing number of stations having ramps, lifts and disabled bathrooms.
As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.
Pack for Portugal as you would for any other coastal European destination. If you’re travelling in the summertime, loose clothing that protects from the sun is best for the daytime, but be sure to cover your shoulders when visiting churches or other religious sites. The winters can get quite cool, as can the evenings in spring and autumn, so pack a warm jumper and a raincoat too. See our ultimate packing list for advice on what to bring.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
In Portugal, we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.