10 insider tips for your Portugal vacation

Whether it’s an exciting city trip, relaxing time on the beach or adventurous activities with new people – Portugal offers travelers an unforgettable vacation. But which activities are particularly worthwhile and should not be missing on your trip to Portugal? We have 10 insider tips for you that will make your vacation unforgettable.

Picture by Dim Hou on Pixabay

1. The UNESCO World Heritage Site “Ribeira” in Porto

Which Portuguese city should not be missing on your bucket list is undoubtedly Porto. “Porto” means “port” in English and is due to the city’s location on the northern shore of the Atlantic coast. The Douro river flows into Porto. “Ribeira” translates to “riverbank” and refers to the historic old town district of Porto, which is located on the banks of the Douro. Since 1996, the historic center has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are countless charming alleys to explore, small restaurants to discover and shops where you can look for fashionable unique pieces or small gifts for family and friends back home. What makes the city particularly fascinating are the imperfect and sometimes crooked house facades, the friendly people and the harbor atmosphere.

Picture by Frank Nürnberger on Pixabay
Picture by Nahália Segato on Pixabay

2. The best surf spot in Europe

For surfing fans, Portugal is the ideal location, since surfing is possible all year round: the country’s geography makes it possible. Beaches can be found for beginners as well as for professionals on the boards. While beginners should aim for beaches like Praia do Amado, professionals can try Praia do Norte in Nazaré – pure adrenaline. Nazaré is a typical fishing village with a beach that stretches the length of the town.

Picture by Mathias Westermann on Pixabay
Picture by Mathias Westermann on Pixabay

3. Shopping at local markets

In Portugal, you will find numerous markets that are definitely worth a stroll. For little money you get fresh fruit and vegetables from the region and fish in the regions near the sea. Ceramic markets are also particularly interesting. Here you can buy handmade unique pieces in traditional patterns and colors and thus support local small businesses and individuals. Handicrafts are still very important in Portugal, including ceramics, carpets, blankets, tiles and baskets. At the local markets you can also get inspired for a great DIY project at home.

Picture by Frank Nürnberger on Pixabay
Picture by granat on Pixabay

4. Cooking together – that’s the best way to cook

What connects people with each other? A meal together. But it’s even cooler not only to enjoy the meal together, but also to cook it together. In Portugal, it’s a good idea to take part in a cooking class. Bacalhau is the typical Portuguese fish; so you could try the dish Bacalhau à Brás. Contents are the bacalhau fish, onions, potato sticks and eggs. Are you ready to try something new?

Picture by socialbnb
Picture by socialbnb

5. Exploration tour of the capital Lisbon

If you travel to Portugal, then you should not miss the beautiful capital Lisbon. Lisbon has about 600,000 inhabitants and shines in magnificent architecture. The buildings in Manueline style date back to the 16th century and can only be found in Portugal. The best way to explore the historic districts is by streetcar. This is a typical means of transportation for the locals, but for you a really special experience.

The nights are very lively, so you should definitely have dinner in the beautiful alleyways of Lisbon or even explore a few bars. The Santa Justa elevator connects the upper and lower city of Lisbon and is located in a high tower in neo-Gothic style. From the roof, you can view the city from above. There is so much to do in Lisbon!

Picture by Steffen Zimmermann  on Pixabay
Picture by Laura Rinke on Pixabay

6. Sustainable camping apart from the tourist masses

If you want to stay somewhere away from the tourist crowd and do something good, we recommend our camping socialbnb Mount of Oaks in Povoa de Atalaia. Here you can support with your accommodation price the ecological project, whose goal is to transform the damaged farmland in the region into a species-rich flora and fauna with balanced and sustainable ecosystems.

Are you adventurous? Then let’s go! If you’re interested in camping in general, check out our five best camping socialbnbs here – wanderlust included.

Picture by socialbnb
Picture by socialbnb

7. The most beautiful beaches on the west coast

The west coast of the Algarve is called Costa Vicentina. It stretches from the small town of Odeceixe in the north to Cape Cabo de Sao Vicente in the southwest of the Algarve. The currents are quite strong, but the beaches are deserted. Together with the steep cliffs you have a unique view. The most beautiful beaches by far are lined up here. Who would you like to relax with on an empty beach?

Picture by ddzphoto on Pixabay
Picture by Monique Stokman on Pixabay

8. Hiking in Serra da Estrela Nature Park

The Serra da Estrela Natural Park is located in the western part of the Iberian Mountains and is an exceptional place. With an altitude of up to 1993 meters, it is the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal. Today, the core area of the mountain range is the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela. This is the first and also the largest protected natural park in Portugal. 

In the middle of the nature park you will find a lake with a gigantic hole. Yes, you have read correctly. However, this unique sight has a very simple explanation: it is a reservoir, the Covão do Conchos reservoir. This was built by humans in 1955. The 48-meter wide and 4.6-meter deep structure is part of the Sabugueiro power plant in the nature reserve, and underneath it is a tunnel about 1500 meters long that channels the water draining from the lake into another reservoir – Lagoa Comprida.

Picture by Francisco T Santos on Unsplash
Picture by Natanael Vieira on Unsplash

9. Want a wine tasting?

Are you a wine lover? Then you should definitely try the different wines that the country has to offer. While heavy, full-bodied wines grow in the interior, the cool Atlantic north is home to fresh, tart wines. Vinho Verde also comes from the north.

Two of the numerous wine-growing areas have even made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List: the Upper Douro Valley and the Azores island of Pico. Instead of just enjoying the wine in a small pub, you could also join a small wine tour one day and see how the grapes are grown. Wine tastings with other interested people let you exchange experiences, how great!

Picture by Alejandro Piñero Amerio on Pixabay
Picture by Jill Wellington on Pixabay

10. Swinging the dancing leg

One of the most important festive months in Portugal is June – in honor of the three popular saints. This festival is called “Santos Populares” and is usually celebrated in larger cities. It includes street parades, dances, fireworks and good wine. In smaller towns as well as villages, the “Festa da Amizade” is celebrated, meaning the festival of friendship.

Wouldn’t you like to dance to great music and experience the authentic Portugal? Or have you already been to Portugal and want to tell us about your experiences? Then let us know in the comments.

Picture by SofieLayla Thal on Pixabay
Picture by Richard Hewat on Unsplash

Make sure to check out our Spotify Account with the best songs from local artists and the favourite tunes from your socialbnb hosts. Dive into the sound of Portugal while preparing for your next adventure:

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