Country Profile: Portugal
Visa required?: Schengen laws apply for all people. Check here for other countries.
National Buses: Rede Nacional de Expressos
National Train: CP site (Good site for finding all train information in Portugal)
Random Fact: The Portuguese language is spoken on 4 continents by Portugal’s former colonies. One could say 5 continents if you include the diaspora that exists within North America.
Overview: Portugal is a small and beautiful country, which tops off the western coastline of the Iberian peninsula. Quietly tucked away on Spain’s western border, Portugal rivals the other colonial powers for their impact on the world. Portugal’s legacy can be seen from South America to Africa and Southeast Asia. The country is known for its unique architecture, fine Port wines, and delicious foods.
The terrain of Portugal ranges from mountainous and hilly to more coastal and beach-like areas. Although Portugal is a small place it has much to offer especially to those travelers that enjoy the finer things in life. Portugal is one of the hidden gems in Europe. Sure, many people travel through Portugal annually like other European nations, but in comparison to some other destinations the amount is quite low. This fact makes a nice touch and makes Portugal a great destination spot as you will not have to fight with large crowds and lines.
How to get around Portugal?
The price of buses in Portugal is almost the same as the trains. Therefore, it is really a decision that you can make based off of your schedule and convenience. Check the website links above for time schedules and prices.
Do I need to know Portuguese to travel to Portugal?
I would say that it is not 100% necessary, but like visiting any country that speaks another language, knowing some Portuguese will be both helpful and respectful to locals.
If you can speak Spanish, or another Romantic language for that matter, you should not have trouble learning a few phrases. As far as Spanish goes, do not make the mistake of thinking that they are the same language or that everyone will understand you. (I offered to speak some Spanish with a police officer who my friend was asking directions to and he got quite mad. He said that he could speak 3 other languages, but no Spanish!). Additionally, the pronunciation and words are quite different as well.
How to budget for Portugal?
The entire Iberian peninsula is known for being cheaper than the rest of Europe. Both Spain and Portugal are generally budget friendly places. Portugal is, in my opinion, the cheaper of the two countries. You can easily find accommodation in the larger cities for around $10-12 at a hostel. Food will not cost more than $5 for a meal at nearby cafes. $3-4 or Euros will likely get you a drink at a bar.
What to drink in Portugal?
Portugal has its fair share of homemade drinks for the connoisseur.
- Ginja – A cherry-Brandy drink. You can usually find it served in a chocolate shot glass.
- Port – The good stuff. Sweet wines made in the northern part of Portugal.
- Sangria – Very similar to any sangria that you may have had before. It is usually served reddish pink in Portugal.
- Superbock – Basically a light stout.
- Sangres – Another light beer.