Right now, it’s safe to say that there’s a metaphorical dark cloud looming over many of us, but fear not, because in time, it will be a mere distant memory and blue skies, sunshine, and happiness will be here once more.
Speaking of dark clouds, metaphorical or otherwise, more often than not, over here we find dark clouds to be the norm in everyday life, which is why we can’t wait for the summer to arrive. If you are looking to bring some sunshine into your life a little sooner, why not give yourself something to look forward to by booking a holiday to Portugal?
With its gorgeous weather, stunning coastline and scenery, amazing cuisine, and beautiful architecture, Portugal is a one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations.
If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, there are some things that you should know.
Here’s a look at se7en of the best tips when travelling to Portugal.
Visit out of season
The first tip I’ll be looking at today is to visit the country out of season.
You see, because Portugal is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, it regularly sees tourists, sightseers, and holidaymakers flock here in their droves.
Needless to say, the height of summer is when the country gets especially crowded, because you just cannot beat that wonderful Portuguese summer sunshine when relaxing on the beach or sampling a fine port.
The problem is that many of the most popular holiday destinations can become quite crowded, which is why I recommend visiting out of season.
Autumn is the perfect time to visit because the sea has been gradually warming all summer. The temp of the sea is a very pleasant 21 degrees C on average, with temperatures easily getting into the high twenties if not higher.
Fewer people visit out of season, so you’ll get some great deals, the beaches are quieter, and you see get hours of warm/hot sunshine a day.
Be prepared for dark interiors
Over here, for six months of the year we’re subjected to short days, long nights, and a lot of darkness. To combat that, you’ll find that buildings and interiors are very brightly lit.
In Portugal, blue skies and sunshine is the norm, so they don’t need to create artificial light. As a result, you’ll find that the interiors of most buildings are very dim, and lights are often kept off, even at night-time.
This, combined with a roaring log fire in the winter, makes for a very cosy atmosphere.
Purchase a rechargeable metro card in Porto or Lisbon
Porto and Lisbon are two of the most popular cities in the country. They also happen to be the two cities with a metro system.
Getting around the cities via the Metro is much easier than driving, as traffic can be a problem because of how many people there are.
I therefore recommend a rechargeable metro card, which can be used on the metro, as well as on trains, busses, trams, and even ferries if you’re in Lisbon.
The card can be recharged in a variety of different locations and will save you a significant amount of money.
Sample a fine port in the Douro Valley
Port is one of the most delicious beverages in existence. It also happens to be produced in Portugal.
If you’re a fan of port, you simply must sample a fine port during your stay. In fact, I very strongly recommend that you enjoy a port tour, in which you will be able to see the grapes grown in the Douro Valley, around one hour outside of Porto.
You will then make your way into one of many port wine houses situated along the Douro River, where you can then see how port is made, stored, fortified, and of course, enjoy plenty of free samples.
Whether you’re a tawny, ruby, crusted, or white port fan, you’ll find a selection of amazing ports here, which can be purchased and taken home so you can enjoy a quick tipple or two before bed.
Don’t assume nibbles are free
In an evening, there’s no better way to relax and unwind than to get your glad rags on and head out to a restaurant or bar to sample some fantastic Portuguese cuisine.
Whilst you’re browsing the menu, you may find that servers will make their way over to you and offer a selection of small snacks and nibbles.
These of course vary, but you can expect things such as: bread, homemade pate, olives, cold cuts, and even seafood such as shrimp or prawns.
These taste great, but often you’ll find that you are charged for these, even if you didn’t request them and assumed that they were complimentary.
A lot of restaurants will have a cover charge per diner, which includes things like bread and butter, though others may charge for each item individually.
As a result, don’t eat too many and assume that they’re free because not only will you spoil your appetite, you may wind up spending more than you wanted.
Bring comfortable shoes
When on holiday, comfort is very important, which is why we recommend packing comfortable shoes.
You see, most pavements and streets in Portugal aren’t exactly kind and forgiving on the feet. They’re often bumpy, uneven, and even cobbled. As quaint and rustic as this is, it isn’t great for your feet.
Rather than high heels or toe-cutting sandals, I suggest packing light and comfortable walking shoes, such as those with memory foam insoles perhaps?
Be careful if you’re a vegetarian
I’ve found that Portugal is a haven for foodies like me, as there are all kinds of delicious foods and drinks to be enjoyed, including fantastic seafood.
The one issue that I did find with some places in Portugal, however, is that vegetarians do need to be wary.
Not only are there not as many vegetarian options as there are in other places, but I’ve also found that some dishes such as vegetable soups, do also contain meat.
Many vegetable soups such as Caldo Verde, often contain small chunks of sausage to give it extra flavour.
As a result, be sure to ask whether certain vegetable dishes do contain meat, and don’t assume that vegetable soups for example, are meat free.
Like everyone else, I hope this virus will blow away soon. The feeling of being in self-imposed quarantine with no idea when it will end can be, at times, a bit too much to bear.
In the meantime, there’s nothing to do but wait it out and plan for the next well deserved vacation. Until that magic get-away happens, stay calm, stay safe and don’t stop wandering (with care)!