Portugal Tips & Observations


We’re wrapping up our Portugal trip with a visit to Sintra tomorrow before traveling home. I’ve decided to share a few thoughts about traveling around the country while they are front of mind. Some of these observations are specific to Portugal but others can be applied all over the world.

  • Driving here is, for the most part, pretty easy. Most cars are manual transmission and you’ll have to pay more to rent an automatic, but the highways are great. There are lots of tolls so make sure you have a transponder from the rental car company.
  • That being said, don’t drive around Lisbon or Porto. The streets are narrow, confusing and mostly one-way. If you’re driving from one city to the other, leave the car at the hotel parking lot.
  • Ubers are cheap and plentiful in Lisbon and Porto. We never waited more than 10 minutes and never paid more than a few euros for a ride. Drivers are safe and courteous. Masks are still required by law in all public transit including Ubers, but we had a couple of non-native Portuguese drivers who didn’t require them.
  • Bring a MasterCard or Visa with a good everyday points earning rate like a Capital One Venture/Venture X or Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier. My Amex Gold was not taken by most credit card terminals in restaurants.
  • Don’t use Euronet or other non-bank branded ATMs. They give terrible rates and charge high fees. Look for a bank-branded ATM preferably attached to an actual bank branch.
  • Get out of Lisbon and Porto and see the rest of the country. If you are traveling back and forth between the cities, pick a different route each time to make some stops. Try and stay a couple of nights outside the big cities as well. We spent two nights in Amarante near the Douro Valley and really enjoyed it.
  • English is spoken almost anywhere that tourists can be found (which is almost anywhere). Try and learn a few words of Portuguese though as it will be appreciated.

I’ll post a very detailed multi-part report when we return, but if you’re thinking about visiting Portugal, you should do it!

If you enjoyed this post (or have questions), let me know in the comments or send me an email at emptynestermiles@gmail.com. If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.

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