Travel

Travelling to Portugal

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  • May 31st, 2018 8:49 am
[OP]
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Hamilton

Travelling to Portugal

So I have fallen in love with Portugal -- hell, if I could get a job working for a Canadian company there, or any decent company period, I wouldn't think twice.

However, every time I go, I always do the same things because I fell in love with them: Aveiro (I have been to every continent, many countries and islands, and I feel this is the most beautiful city I have ever seen), Lisbon, Porto, Guimaraes, and Braga.

I was wondering a few things:

1. Anywhere I should be going besides those places and the Algarve?
2. Cheap places to go
3. Strategies to keep everything a bit cheaper (highways are very expensive, touristy areas are crazy expensive)

Thanks my dudes
18 replies
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I personally loved Coimbra. It is such a nice hilly town between Porto and Lisbon. I love the small town vibe and the architecture. That being said, I didn't think much of Aveiro (didn't really like it), so take my recommendation with caution :)
[OP]
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heymikey wrote:
Apr 29th, 2018 5:10 pm
I personally loved Coimbra. It is such a nice hilly town between Porto and Lisbon. I love the small town vibe and the architecture. That being said, I didn't think much of Aveiro (didn't really like it), so take my recommendation with caution :)
Really? You're the first person I ever heard say that!

River through the city; University tours, including their connection to Samsung and screen technology; Praia da Barra; Costa Nova; tripas; ovos moles

I LOVE that city!
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I'm thinking of going to Portugal for the first time, so this thread is very timely!

Can you give some tips and hints to a first timer?
I've got common questions like.. how easy will it be to get around with just English?
Is it easy to communicate/ask for directions?
Do they have a pocket wifi/SIM I can buy?
Do they typically have English menus at restaurants?
How easy is it to get from city to city? How easy is it to use local transportation?
Do I need to rent a car?
Any other things I should consider (e.g. what month to go, rainy seasons, local holidays = crowded)?

How much should I expect to spend for 2 people for 7/8 days? We don't buy much stuff, we stay in no-frills hotels (clean and somewhat convenient is all we ask for. Any recommendations? We like to MAX out at $150 CAD/night), we prefer affordable local and authentic restaurants rather than luxury Michelin star restaurants.

I understand that all of this can and will be Googled, but I'd prefer to hear from someone with first hand experience.

Thanks! :)
:confused:
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I find Portugal overall much cheaper then any neighbouring countries in Western Europe.

I've been there at least 20x (husband lived there before coming to Canada).

You may want to look into the Azores and Madeira. Personally, I think the islands are spectacular VS the continent.
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iEyeCaptain wrote:
May 1st, 2018 10:58 am
I'm thinking of going to Portugal for the first time, so this thread is very timely!

Can you give some tips and hints to a first timer?
I've got common questions like.. how easy will it be to get around with just English?
Is it easy to communicate/ask for directions?
Do they have a pocket wifi/SIM I can buy?
Do they typically have English menus at restaurants?
How easy is it to get from city to city? How easy is it to use local transportation?
Do I need to rent a car?
Any other things I should consider (e.g. what month to go, rainy seasons, local holidays = crowded)?

How much should I expect to spend for 2 people for 7/8 days? We don't buy much stuff, we stay in no-frills hotels (clean and somewhat convenient is all we ask for. Any recommendations? We like to MAX out at $150 CAD/night), we prefer affordable local and authentic restaurants rather than luxury Michelin star restaurants.

I understand that all of this can and will be Googled, but I'd prefer to hear from someone with first hand experience.

Thanks! :)
I find English is widely spoken in Portugal even in the off the beaten path type places vs Italy for example (and I'm Italian).

In major cities/tourist areas they have tend to have English menus. I don't speak Portuguese but can understand it somewhat (also many words are somewhat similar to Spanish/Italian but proundenced and written differently) so sometimes I just whip out my phone and transalate it.

For phones we just rent a cell phone from the car rental company (unlimited worldwide calls) and you can use the phone for wifi from your own device.

Within Lisbon public transportation is readily available. I would recommend renting a car. Very easy to drive around and def more tame / laid book then neighbouring European countries.

I find food overall is def inexpensive. Many meat and fish dishes under 10 euros with sides/salads. Wine is super cheap even at restaurants (and this is local places).
[OP]
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Jun 9, 2009
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Hamilton
iEyeCaptain wrote:
May 1st, 2018 10:58 am
I'm thinking of going to Portugal for the first time, so this thread is very timely!

Can you give some tips and hints to a first timer?

I find this a simple, yet loaded question. I would say to visit the major cities, but some of the medium sized are that much better (ie: Aveiro, Guimaraes, Lagos, Belem).

I've got common questions like.. how easy will it be to get around with just English?

Everyone is pretty good with english. Never had an issues

Is it easy to communicate/ask for directions?

Depends on the person. Download offline maps and you'll be fine. In the major cities, all workers should speak english since a lot of british people vacation there. No worries in getting directions: if someone doesn't know, the next person should.

Do they have a pocket wifi/SIM I can buy?

Go into Meo or Meo, found in malls, and ask for a SIM. Tell them you're a tourist and what they recommend. Make sure to do both because:
20 euros is very different due to the way they do promos. ie: I bought from MEO one year and got 10 gigs for free. No where in Canada would that happen!


Do they typically have English menus at restaurants?

No issues with English menus ANYWHERE!

How easy is it to get from city to city? How easy is it to use local transportation? Do I need to rent a car?
When I go anywhere, I rent a car. I like having it. My brother came to Portugal 2 years ago when I went and did taxis and trains. He loved it and it was much cheaper. Really depends where you're going.

Any other things I should consider (e.g. what month to go, rainy seasons, local holidays = crowded)?

I like going in August because:
1: I'm a teacher and can only go August/July
2. Small towns have festivals in the summer, so there are always concerts, food fests, etc. Not your typical rib fest (which I love) but LEGIT food!
3: I love sports and have somewhat become a Benfica fan. Games start in August! I have been to Porto, Sporting, Benfica, Guimaraes, Setubal, Rio Ave.... if you want to experience a hell of a soccer game/atmosphere, I have found Benfica to be the best. Amazing times.
4. It's A LOT busier in August, obviously, BUT it always means there's more Canadians/British/Americans/Europeans, etc, so you talk to other people in your situation. Have made a few friends this way.

How much should I expect to spend for 2 people for 7/8 days? We don't buy much stuff, we stay in no-frills hotels (clean and somewhat convenient is all we ask for. Any recommendations? We like to MAX out at $150 CAD/night), we prefer affordable local and authentic restaurants rather than luxury Michelin star restaurants.

Can't really help you with this one. We try avoiding budgets, but with the goal of saving. If I do major cities, I like to stay a night or two there and the rest on the cheaper outskirt towns, and travel back in the next day.

I understand that all of this can and will be Googled, but I'd prefer to hear from someone with first hand experience.

I think you will love Portugal. It is now in my top 2 (Portugal and Australia) and here I was thinking it would be France or Italy or something. You're in for a treat. My only advice is, try new stuff: foods, beverages, ice creams, activities, dances, friendships... you will love it!

Thanks! :)
BrunetteGirl wrote:
May 1st, 2018 2:06 pm
I find Portugal overall much cheaper then any neighbouring countries in Western Europe.

I've been there at least 20x (husband lived there before coming to Canada).

You may want to look into the Azores and Madeira. Personally, I think the islands are spectacular VS the continent.
Wife is Acorean, and she can't stand going, lol.

Is it beautiful? Sure, to a degree. Every island offers it's own uniqueness. But the beaches don't compare to the mainland, there's a lack of historical buildings (castles, museums, etc). Most importantly, you can do the big island and literally see EVERYTHING in 3 days, at most. Isn't for us. Madeira is really nice, but again, the history isn't there and I do like that.

Mainland Portugal is like being in Spain, France, and Italy, I find. Been to all many times. Many of the same architects or periods pieces exist. Hell, Lisbon was the biggest city on earth, housing the greatest knowledge the world had ever seen...until the tsunamis and earthquakes wiped a lot of it out.

But yea, I really do love the continent. Hell, I have traveled to all continents and Portugal and Australia are my two favourite.... never expected that from Portugal because in Canada we basically only promote Britain, France and Italy for some reason.
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I guess it really is to each their own taste. History is more than just castles and museums. Many of the Azorean towns and villages were settled before "discovery" of the New World and remain mostly unchanged in character for over 500 years. I loved stopping by these villages whenever I passed them. Each settlement has its own church, and if you get a chance to step inside, you'll be surprised by how elaborately decorate some of them are, being such a tiny parish.

But really the main draw of the Azores is the outdoors, and all the scenery, hiking, mountains, lava tunnels, canyoning, kayaking that entails. I think I just convinced myself to go back soon :)
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peji911 wrote:
Apr 29th, 2018 4:37 pm
So I have fallen in love with Portugal -- hell, if I could get a job working for a Canadian company there, or any decent company period, I wouldn't think twice.

However, every time I go, I always do the same things because I fell in love with them: Aveiro (I have been to every continent, many countries and islands, and I feel this is the most beautiful city I have ever seen), Lisbon, Porto, Guimaraes, and Braga.

I was wondering a few things:

1. Anywhere I should be going besides those places and the Algarve?
2. Cheap places to go
3. Strategies to keep everything a bit cheaper (highways are very expensive, touristy areas are crazy expensive)

Thanks my dudes
You didn't mention Sintra. I think this is the most beautiful place in Portugal.
You may want to look into the Azores and Madeira. Personally, I think the islands are spectacular VS the continent.
I was thinking to go there in August (imho it's better to be on islands in summer than on mainland), but air fare for summer months are crazy (comparing to other seasons).
I'm a teacher and can only go August/July
This is also our problem because we are going with daughter high schools student. Isn't Portugal extremely hot in August? We went 2 years ago in July to Southtern France and were dying from heat (80% of days were above 40 C).

If you rent a car , wouldn't it better to stay outside of Lisbon (should be cheaper and more convenient) and just drive to Lisbon and other cities around? What would be the best place to stay?
Last edited by gibor365365 on May 2nd, 2018 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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there's a lack of historical buildings (castles, museums, etc).
for those activities imho the best country to visit is Czech Republic...simply amazing and very cheap comparing to W. Europe
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I loved visiting Portugal. I was only able to explore Lisbon and the nearby towns of Sintra and Cascais, but just loved everything about the country. If and when I go back, I'd love to see more of the country. There's a small town called Tomar that looks really interesting.
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How is driving in Portugal? Anything to be aware of?
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Motoss wrote:
May 5th, 2018 10:30 am
How is driving in Portugal? Anything to be aware of?
I also curious about it and wanted to know who is driving in Portugal comparing to Germany, Austria, France, Czech where we drove without any problems.
If you rent a car, you don't have to rent accommodation in maajor cities like Lisbon or Porto, but somewhere in the middle like small town between Lisbon and Sintra, or for North Portugal somewhere in Braga (so you also can drive to one of the most attractive Spanish cities - Santiago de Compostela. It also should be much cheaper.
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Motoss wrote:
May 5th, 2018 10:30 am
How is driving in Portugal? Anything to be aware of?
I say this without any racial profiling/stereotypes I'm an Italian citizen and my husband is a born and raised Portuguese citizen.

Driving in Portugal is considerably tamer then many other parts of Europe (especially Italy). Like anywhere else you get the odd idiot but it's not a free for all. Also keep in mind Portugal has a population of 10 million or so (including the islands).

Lisbon is considerably easy to drive around I find Porto a bit more congested. If you are staying within Lisbon or Portugal you can easily taxi/public transport your way around to the sights (no need to move the car). Even the smaller towns and touristy areas like the Algarve are easy to navigate. Roads are really well maintained across the continent and Islands. Road signs are English and also mark the points of interest for tourists.

If your itinerary involves multiple cities including Lisbon and Porto I would not hesistate to drive point A to a major city (but keeping the car parked a few days in the major city while sightseeing). My advice would be different if talking about other cities like Paris or Rome.

I find English is much wider spoken in Portugal especially among younger people. My husband is from Northern Portugal which is not exactly a tourist hotspot (Braga area) and I have encountered a lot of English speakers.

Any other questions just ask (I've spent 3 weeks in Portugal this year alone!)

Edit: I'm not confident in driving standard but at times when we've had a automatic car I've driven in Portugal by myself (and I don't speak Portuegese well at all). In Italy (even though I know my way around better and I fluently speak/read/write Italian there are some places I don't feel confident with the agressive driving).
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gibor365365 wrote:
May 5th, 2018 11:51 am
I also curious about it and wanted to know who is driving in Portugal comparing to Germany, Austria, France, Czech where we drove without any problems.
If you rent a car, you don't have to rent accommodation in maajor cities like Lisbon or Porto, but somewhere in the middle like small town between Lisbon and Sintra, or for North Portugal somewhere in Braga (so you also can drive to one of the most attractive Spanish cities - Santiago de Compostela. It also should be much cheaper.
I'm not the "driver" when we travel (my husband is) and actually enjoys driving in different countries as part of travelling (very weird I know). We went to Germany a few years ago as he was always fascinated with the stories he heard about the autobahn LOL

I haven't been to Czech but have driven around Italy, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Malta and Greece. The only place he claims that other drivers are aggressive is central Paris and certain parts of Italy.

Portugal is tame overall both with the road infrastructure and the population / size of the country.

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