If you are visiting Portugal, you’ll be pleased to hear that this beautiful country, just a three-hour flight from the UK, offers visitors fantastic value for money, with affordable fresh food and drink – in Portugal, your pound will go much further than in the UK.
Spend time exploring the tales of two fascinating cities, Porto and Lisbon (the latter one of the least expensive of Europe’s capital cities) or sunbathe on the Algarve on one of the country’s 86 Blue Flag beaches. Portugal is a real treat for foodies and wine lovers, with world-class seafood and rich, full-flavoured port wine. Portugal also proudly hosts some top musical festivals. The currency in Portugal is the Euro (EUR).
Dining out in Portugal
Portuguese food is strongly influenced by Mediterranean flavours. Famed for its sumptuous seafood dishes, spices are commonly used in dishes, enriched with golden olive oil.
Portugal has been fishing and trading cod since the 15th century and other seafood you’ll find here include crabs, lobster, sardines, squid and octopus. Pork and beef are the most commonly eaten meats and a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant will cost between £18- £36.
Specialities include cataplana, a Portuguese stew made with squid, octopus and prawn, and is traditional in the Algarve region. It’s served with rice or chips.
Porco Preto is a national dish of Portugal, a free-range Iberian species of pig that delivers rich, smoky pork flavours. It is normally accompanied with salad. Alternatively, try Posta Mirandesa, a tenderloin veal steak sourced from free range Mirandesa cows found only in Portugal.
Bacalhau is the classic Portuguese ingredient – it’s cod that’s salted to remove all moisture, intensifying the flavour, then is softened with milk and turned into all manner of dishes, with fritters the most popular serve. Nicknamed by the Portuguese as the ‘faithful friend’, bacalhau is a staple dish of Portugal.
A main meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost you between £4.50 and £9.
The price of drinks
A 500 ml bottle of domestic beer will cost you 90p to £1.80 in a restaurant. A 750ml bottle of wine in a local supermarket will cost you between £2.70 and £4.90. If you’re a port fan, try Ferreira Tawny, a delicious nutty style packed with dried-fruit notes and often served chilled.
Ginjinha is a rich, sweet Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries. It’s Lisbon’s official drink, and has been drunk in the capital for more than a century.
Tap water is safe to drink in Portugal but bottled water tastes nicer and can be bought from a supermarket for between 20p and 90p for 1.5-litre bottle.
Out and about
Start your trip with a visit to Lisbon – what better way to do this than on a small group food and wine tour, costing from around £41. Starting at a central location in Lisbon, this guided walk will take you through the city to a restaurant, café and wine bar. While in Lisbon, also pay a visit to Castelo de S. Jorge Castle, where you can discover Lisbon’s heritage and history.
In Porto, try a food and wine tasting tour from approximately £50. You’ll experience Porto’s finest cuisine and drinks, including coffee, beer and port on a guided culinary tour that explores some of the city’s markets, cafés and a specialised wine bar.
The Douro Valley Group tour is worth a try, too – this UNESCO World Heritage region is where port is made, with steep terraced vineyards on either side of the River Douro. You’ll seek out the best food, taste some amazing wines and enjoy a river cruise for approximately £80.
The diverse landmarks of Sintra and Cascais, located to the west of Lisbon towards the Atlantic are worth exploring, too – either on a tour (from £68) or by hire car. Sintra boasts a Natural Park, as well as trails and caves at Pena Park and the Roca Cape, while Cascais is a charming seaside resort.
If you enjoy nature, try a Dolphins and Caves cruise, costing around £35 from Albufeira. Taking you to the famous Benagil Cave, you’ll enjoy the stunning white sandy beaches, then look out for dolphins in their natural habitat.
How much spending money should I take to Portugal
You’ll need to budget for around £45 per person per day, or £315 per week to include all meals and excursions in Portugal. It may be worth considering going all-inclusive – try the Yellow Alvor Hotel from £407pp* all inclusive for seven nights.
Tipping in Portugal
Tipping is commonplace in Portugal. Expect to tip between 5-10% in restaurants. In bars, tips are not essential but leave 1-2 euros if the service is good. In hotels, tip the bell boy 1-2 euros per day and your housekeeper a few euros at the end of your stay. For taxis, round up the fare to the nearest 5 euros.
*Prices correct at the time blog was published and are subject to availability. T&C’s apply.