Traveling to Portugal: Travel Insurance, Plus Tips on Money, Packing, and Authentic Portuguese Experiences
Portugal is a breathtaking mix of ancient cobblestone villages and medieval castles, along with some of the most pristine beaches you’ll find in Europe. As a must-visit place for the curious European traveler, Portugal draws tourists from around the globe and is a bucket-list trip for the romantic honeymooners, the history buffs, the cultural collectors, and anyone looking for an authentically unique experience in one of the safest countries in the world!
But planning travel to Portugal requires quite a bit of brainwork. From travel insurance options to can’t miss experiences and everything in between, here are our best tips for making the most out of your European vacation.
No trip planning is complete until you’ve got your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted—and that includes taking a look at travel insurance coverage for your vacation. Travel insurance can provide you several benefits, including protection against cancellations and emergency medical issues. Providers can help you refund money that would otherwise be non-refundable directly from your service providers or cover the costs of emergency sicknesses and injuries.
Whether a cancellation is due to a natural event, like a hurricane, or because you lost your job, for a minimal investment, give yourself peace of mind that you have a way to refund your vacation so you can reschedule it at a later date.
Why Do I Need Travel Insurance for Portugal?
Technically, you don’t need travel insurance to travel to Portugal. But you could be tempting fate. Planning travel requires preplanning—and prepaying—for a lot of your accommodations and activities ahead of time. And between airfare, ground transport, any guided excursions, it adds up. While travel insurance isn’t necessary, it’s definitely in your best interest to consider getting coverage.
Booking travel insurance also benefits you after you land in Portugal, too. Many policies provide additional benefits for travelers like medical insurance, trip interruption coverage, concierge services, and even assistance and reimbursement if your belongings are lost or stolen. Travel insurance can set you up to avoid any sort of trip interruptions before they even become an issue!
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
The best news about travel insurance is it’s totally affordable and can be customized to needs and budget. Basic coverage is generally between 3-4% of your total trip cost, while premium coverage with higher limits can cost 10-15%.
Beware that pricing can be highly variable by the provider, so you’ll need to compare quotes from a few different ones to ensure you’re getting the best deal for your needs. To help, this travel insurance quote comparison tool allows you to get multiple quotes at once. Enter your trip and party details, select the options and limits you want, and you’ll receive multiple quotes from a variety of providers. You can easily compare and purchase your plan directly in the tool, and you’ll be good to go!
Money & Tipping
As part of the European Union, Portugal’s official currency is the Euro. This makes it really easy if you’re planning on touring around neighboring countries like France or Spain since you won’t have to exchange multiple times.
Speaking of exchanging, while not totally necessary in all respects because Portugal does take most major credit cards in larger cities, it’s always a good idea to have cash on you. In many cases, purchases that come in under 10-Euro won’t accept credit cards for the transaction. Fortunately, ATMs and banks are widely available throughout the country. You’d be best to withdraw Euros directly to get a better exchange rate, though if you do carry U.S. dollars it’s easy to exchange on the street.
Tipping is not required but always appreciated when visiting establishments in Portugal. This is especially true for folks in the hospitality and tourism industries, as they are usually not paid much and any little bit extra is always nice to give. Think about your bellhop, housekeeping, and concierge. A good average is a few euros a day or up to 10%.
In restaurants, you’ll want to check your bill to see if there was a service charge included before tipping any extra. While not mandatory, excellent service is always a good reason to leave a little something extra. Try to leave cash as many establishments will not give the servers any tips left on a credit card.
Weather Conditions & Packing Suggestions
When it comes to weather, Portugal is pretty amazing to visit any time of year. Winters average the lowest in Duoro Valley at 48*F in January, so you’ll need a jacket when visiting in the winter for sure, but you can leave the parka at home. Meanwhile, summers can be quite warm, averaging 84*F, and many locals head to the beaches for some relief during these months, making them quite busy in coastal regions.
Visiting Portugal in the summer or even early fall and late spring, you’ll have pristine weather to get all your outdoor vacation needs met. Sun, surf, and sand are definitely on the menu in Lisbon and Algarve so don’t forget your swimsuit, sunblock, and floppy hat. Comfortable footwear will also do you good, as anywhere you’re traveling, you’ll have either hilly cities to climb, cobblestones to maneuver, or coastal, sand-swept streets to traipse.
The Portuguese Experience
- Venture off the Beaten Path. While the city life of Lisbon and Algarve really cater to the vacationing tourist, it’d be well worth the trip to include a visit to the border region or valleys. You’ll find old, abandoned relics of medieval castles like Marvao and Estremoz, surrounded by orange and olive groves. Head down to Duoro Valley and take in one of the wonderful vineyards, where the grapes are grown and created to make some of the best wines out of the country. Felicidades!
- Eat locally. Portugal has some of the best cuisines around, and you’d definitely be doing yourself an injustice if you didn’t try the local foods. From fresh fish caught locally to farm-made cheeses, you won’t get a bad meal! And don’t forget to try out the locally made beers and wines – not only are they authentic to the area, but they’re usually much cheaper than anything imported!
- Festas dos Santos Populares. If you can swing it, the absolute best time to get a real taste of Portuguese culture is in June when regions around the country celebrate a Saint important to their city (or two). These celebrations can be found literally in every village or area you travel to during this time. Enjoy the music, street parties, food, and of course, vinho! And if you’re so inclined, catch the Casamentos de Santo António in Lisbon, where multiple couples get married all at once. Now that’s a story to tell!
Really, no matter where you go in Portugal, you’re bound to have an amazing time! Here are some of our top favorite places you should consider for your itinerary.
And if those aren’t enough, we also threw in some of the more unique finds that we recommend as well! Happy travels!
- Ponta Delgada