Solo Travel in Portugal

categories: europe travel

Portugal is a beautiful place with a lot to offer. Everything from the ambiance to the surroundings makes it exquisite. The beaches, mountains, villages, cities, and islands scream perfect peace. It’s an excellent place to loosen yourself and get soaked in its beauty.

Belem Tower, Lisbon

Belem Tower, Lisbon

According to the 2021 vision of humanity peace index Portugal is the 4th most peaceful country globally. It comes after Iceland, New Zealand, and Denmark, making it safe for travelers. Also, It’s one of the most affordable places in Europe.

The people around here are friendly, and English is widely spoken. Thus, it’s pretty easy to navigate. Are you planning to solo travel to Portugal? The following piece covers essential details of different things you need to know before leaving for Portugal.

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Best Places to Visit in Portugal

The reason why I love Portugal is how diverse its experiences are. Each place gives you a different vibe. When you think you’ve found your perfect destination, the next site proves to be better than the last.

Here are some of the places you can visit while you are a solo traveler in Portugal.

Porto, Portugal

Get Lost in the Beauty of Magnificent Porto

In the north of Portugal lies Porto. Porto is a hilly city with a lot to offer. Visitors are drawn to its culture, fine wine, and historic buildings. Here, you’ll enjoy fresh seafood.

Cross to the south shore of the Douro River from the main part of town to sample the famous port wine that is aged in wooden barrels in warehouses there. The wines are grown in terraced vineyards in the beautiful Douro River Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you have time consider a week-long cruise up the Douro River.

Don’t leave Porto without climbing the tower of the baroque Clerigos church and exploring the bustling Ribeira district which is known for its nightlife.

Explore the Town of Braga

If you want to learn about Portugal’s history or just get wowed by unique buildings, Braga is the place to be. The city is situated close to Amarante and Porto. Visit the Braga Cathedral which is one of the most popular sites in town. Insist on paying for the full visit. If not, you will only have access to the cathedral but get denied access to other chapels.

Also, visit the Biscainhos museum and learn about the lifestyle of the nobles. Touring this site would give you a glimpse of how the royals used to live. You’ll be amused how manicured the gardens, flowers, and fountains coordinate to offer a magnificent view. There are several restaurants where you can taste the mouth-watering local dishes.

Bom Jesus do Monte

While here, please visit the church of Bom Jesus do Monte of (Good Jesus of the Mountain). This colorful church has a long series of steps that climb the hill from the city.

Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal

Explore the Walled town of Castelo Rodrigo

On the Portuguese and Spanish border between Porto and Salamanca is the hilltop town of Castelo Rodrigo. The town contains the ruins of a castle that’s origins date back to the 6th century. These days the town is a sleepy town that is small enough to explore every corner. Visit its ruins, its tiny chapels, or just enjoy the beautiful views.

Sintra, Portugal

Be Immersed in the Beauty of Sintra

It’s hard not to fall in love with Sintra. It has some of the prettiest castles in the whole of Europe. It’s just 30 minutes away from Lisbon, hence easy to get there by train. Visit Monserrate Palace, Pena castle, the Castle of the Moors, and the palace of Sintra. You can walk through the woodland and enjoy a connection with the exotic trees built in the 19 century.

However, the most fulfilling walk is the one in Pena park. Weave yourself through this forest to the highest point in Sierra de Sintra to enjoy the magnificent views that surround it. On clear days, you will see parts of Tagus estuary and Lisbon.

Also, you can tour the old center preferably early in the morning. There are a lot of tourists who frequent here. Thus you’d want to avoid the crowds. Explore the narrow stairways, mansions, and townhouses.

Matosinhos Beach

Image by marco bubbio from Pixabay

Visit Matosinhos Beach

At the north of Porto sits a magnificent beach. It’s made up of a long strip of golden sand flanked by a promenade. During the summer months, lots of locals visit here. There are also lifeguards on duty who can assist you in case you encounter a misfortune.

Other beach activities you can engage in include playing volleyball and soccer. When there is a swell here, you can try surfing.

Monsanto - Portugal

Visit Monsanto Village

Monsanto is a small village that’s built on a rocky hilltop. It is on the border with Spain. With less than 1,000 residents, the place is calm and serene. You can go to this village to unwind and enjoy the beautiful views.

For tasty meals, visit the restaurant Adega Típica O Cruzeiro where the food is as good as the views.

Lisbon. Portugal

Explore Lisbon

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is out of this world. There are several neighborhoods and a whole lot of eye-catching places that would steal your heart. While here, explore Belem Tower which was the embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers in the age of sail.

If you are into marine life, you should visit the Oceanarium Lisbon. Here you’ll find several sea creatures. You’ll also find four separate ecosystems, divided geographically, to represent the Pacific, Atlantic, Antarctic, and the Indian Ocean.

To learn about Lisbon’s past, wander in Alfama which is an old hillside neighborhood with a maze of alleyways and narrow streets. At the top of the Alfama is the 11th-century São Jorge Castle.

Lastly, when hungry, visit Kais Restaurant and Bar and grab a bite. It’s an old warehouse that’s located in the city.

Staying in a hostel is a great way to meet other people when you are traveling solo. Hostels these days can be cheap and a bit shabby or luxurious. Lisbon, in particular, offers some great upscale hostels. 

Aveiro, Portugal

Image by Vilve Roosioks from Pixabay

Visit Aveiro

Aveiro is a colorful place that’s characterized by maze canals filled with brightly colored boats called moliceiros. These flat bottom boats were originally used to collect algae from the bay. One of the highlights of visiting this place is booking a moliceiro ride. It’s not only a fulfilling activity, but it’s also an affordable activity.

Enjoy the local cuisines and the seafood. For the memories, snap your pictures of the colorful striped houses of the Costa Nova neighborhood. 

Algarve, Portugal

Image by Julius Silver from Pixabay

Explore The Algarve

You can’t go to Portugal and fail to visit the Algarve. This southern sunny region of Portugal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe today. Everything from the coastline, weather, and the caves make it a perfect place to explore.

There are several beaches here, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers. Examples are Albufeira, Praia do Camilo, Praia da Marinha, and Praia de Dona Ana. Go for for cliff walk at Praia da Marinha. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and turquoise waters. A walk around the cliffs would leave your mind blown.

Organize a day trip to Carvoeiro and Ferragudo. A visit to the village will give you a breathtaking experience. You’ll learn about the local culture and enjoy the picturesque sceneries.

Coimbra, Portugal

Study at Coimbra

If you are a college student and looking to meet people your own age, consider visiting one of Portugal’s University cities. The oldest university in the Portuguese-speaking world is in Coimbra which the students still wear robes as if they were straight out of a Harry Potter Novel.



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Porto, Portugal

What Do You Need Before Travelling to Portugal?

You have to present certain documents before entering Portugal. These documents depend on your nationality.

If you are from the EEA (European Economic Area), you’ll only have to present an identification card. However, if you are a non-EEA traveler, you’ll have to submit the following at the entry:

A Valid Passport or Travel Document

Your passport needs to be valid for at least three months beyond the planned exit date from the Schengen Zone. People with European passports have an advantage over those without one. The passport enables easy movement around Europe.

You can acquire a European passport through citizenship by investment, marriage, descent (ancestry), naturalization, or work. The same applies to other European countries like Malta, Montenegro, Cyprus, Moldova, and Turkey.

Visa

You’ll be required to provide a visa if you are subject to the Portuguese Visa regime. A visa regime primarily regulates the entry of tourists or temporary visitors to a particular country. You’ll need a visa for all stays of 90 days and above.

Whether or not you’ll need to get a visa depends on several factors. For instance, the reason for your trip, nationality, and the period you are staying there.

Here are the visa requirements.

  • Your passport
  • The Portugal Visa Application Form
  • Passport-sized pictures- you should have taken it recently on a white background. Your face needs to be entirely visible.
  • Travel insurance
  • Proof you have paid for the visa
  • Portugal visa cover letter – it needs to have details on why you are traveling. Also, it should include your arrival and departure dates.
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Proof of accommodation

To apply for the visa, download and fill in the visa application form. You can access the download link from the ministry of Portuguese Foreign affairs website. Submit the necessary documents, then pay the visa fee. The visa takes mostly 15 days to be processed. However, it might take longer depending on the situation.

Lisbon, Portugal

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is necessary when traveling to Portugal. You’ll have peace of mind if the worst were to happen. You have to purchase a travel insurance package that covers pandemic and epidemic situations. The Portugal visa travel insurance requirement is a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros.

Some of the things your travel insurance policy should cover are:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Baggage and personal property
  • Cancellation costs

Porto, Portugal

COVID-19 – A Negative PCR or Rapid Antigen Test Result

You should take the PCR test 72 hours before entering Portugal. However, the rapid antigen test should be taken 2 hours before getting into Portugal.

Only rapid antigen tests approved by the European Union Health Committee are recognized. If you present a test that isn’t in line with the country’s requirements, you’ll have to undergo another test upon arrival at your own expense.

Nonetheless, you’ll be exempted from this test if you have a valid EU digital Covid-19 certificate.

Apart from these documents, the Portuguese border officers may ask you the following questions.

  • Why are you visiting Portugal?
  • How long do you plan to stay in Portugal?
  • Where are you going to stay while in Portugal?

Lisbon, Portugal

Is It Safe to Travel Alone in Portugal?

Portugal is one of the safest countries to travel to in Europe. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s a crime-free zone. Its crime rates are low, but large cities like Lisbon have higher crime rates than rural areas. It’s not uncommon to encounter pickpocketing or your bag being snatched from you. Thus, you have to be careful to avoid falling prey to these thieves.

Overall, Portugal is a safe country when traveling solo. Most of the places here are safe, even at night. Some of the safest towns you can stay in for a while are Lisbon, Faro, and Lagos.

Thieves are likely to target you if you look like a tourist. Hence, try your best to look like a local. Here are some things you can do to ensure that you don’t fall prey to mugging.

  • Be careful every time you are on public transport
  • Place your bags on your lap every time you are using public transport
  • Leave your valuables in a secure place
  • When going out, lock your windows
  • Avoid walking late at night

What to Pack When You Travel to Portugal

Before embarking on your trip to Portugal, you have to be prepared. Be ready for different adventures from beach visits, hiking, rural visits, and stays in luxury hotels.

Here are some of the items you should include in your travel bag.

Portuguese girls

What to wear in Portugal

Individuals from Portugal prefer a comfortable look over a flashy look. Most of them settle for a casual chic look. Thus, before embarking on solo travel, your package should be a mix of dressier and informal outfits. You can pair the different outfits to suit various activities like fine dining, wine tasting, and sightseeing.

Carry Your Sunscreen and Sunglasses

Taking care of your skin is necessary no matter where you are. Lisbon and Algarve are some of the sunniest destinations while in Europe. Whether on the beach, in villages, or in cities, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen regardless of the season. Sunglasses will keep your eyes protected from the sun.

Portugal Power Adapter

European power adapters differ from those in the US. Ensure you carry an adapter that won’t inconvenience you. Europe uses a 2 prog round plug and 220V. If your electronics can work with 220V (check what it says on your power brick or plug)  you may only need to have a European plug adapter.

There are a lot of things you’ll want to plug in when on a solo vacation. Examples include camera batteries, mobile phones, e-readers, and computer batteries. It can be handy to carry a lightweight travel power strip.  It needs to be of good quality to serve you perfectly.

Hiking Shoes

Walking in Portugal is an inevitable activity. Thus, it’s essential to carry hiking sandals to help you maneuver the streets of Portugal. Go for cute shoes that will protect your feet.

Swimwear

Portugal has some beautiful beaches and resorts containing exotic swimming pools. If you are planning to engage in swimming activities, pack your swim suit.

Porto, Portugal

Getting Citizenship in Portugal

It’s not unusual to fall in love with Portugal once you visit the place. If you want to stay here, then you’ll need European citizenship. The best part about EU citizenship is moving and settling in any of the 28 EU member countries.

You can also move visa-free across these countries. Portugal has one of the most coveted citizenships as it comes with a lot of freedom.

There are many ways to get Portugal citizenship, but investing is a significant way to get EU citizenship. This is also known as the golden visa route. It’s one of the easiest ways to acquire EU citizenship and also a passport.

Citizenship by investment is when you secure second citizenship of another country after investing in their resources. You can invest in real estate, government bonds, and development funds.

Another way that you can get citizenship is when you have lived in Portugal for 5 years in a row or get married to a Portuguese partner.

Lisbon, Portugal

Wrapping Up

Portugal is a beautiful destination. It’s one of the safest places in Europe with plenty of things to do. To enjoy the beauty of this place, you have to plan well.

Before organizing your solo trip here, ensure you have all your documents in order. Remember to pack right to avoid inconveniences.

Lastly, when you fall in love with the place, you can get yourself citizenship and become a permanent resident.

Happy traveling!

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by Daniel Martin

Dan has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.

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