Portugal doesn’t get the acclaim of its nearby rivals Spain, Greece and Italy, yet it packs a doubtless punch should you have the good fortune to include it in your travel itinerary. Affordable, beautiful and diverse, Portugal is a great backpacking destination. So, if you choose to spend some time in Portugal, here are three tips for your trip.
Costa Verde, Portugal
1. Get off the Beaten Track
The major cities of Lisbon and Porto are great destinations in themselves, but to appreciate the diversity of Portugal it pays to stray from the well-trodden paths of tourists. Portugal can be divided into five different regions:
The north is known as Costa Verde, or green coast, and it features stunning green hills and the spectacular city of Porto.
The mountains to the east of Costa Verde are the Motanhas, where the countryside is unspoiled and castles and vineyards abound.
Situated on the Atlantic isCosta de Prata or Silver Coast, a 200km coastline complete with quaint villages.
On the southern tip is the Algarve, which is renowned for its beaches.
The Lisbon coast, located in the southwest, is where the country’s capital is found.
Great features of Portugal include fantastic food, a rugged coastline, and a country steeped in history. As the westernmost country of mainland Europe, Portugal borders the Atlantic Ocean. Its territory has constantly been fought over since prehistoric times, with relics including Roman viaducts and ruins, the medieval tower of Belem in Lisbon, and Silves Castle in the Algarve.
Portugal remains one of the most affordable backpacking destinations in Europe. Hostel accommodation can be found extremely cheaply, while food, wine and travel are also on the cheap side.
2. Getting Around
As a small country, Portugal is not difficult to navigate, but you may need a car to visit less popular national parks and villages. The good news is they’re readily available and affordable to hire. The train system is also kind to your budget and efficient, especially between the major towns of the north and south.
Cheaper than the train, buses service the smaller, more remote villages, but services are limited on weekends and are a much slower transport option. Lisbon and Porto both have underground rail systems that are being extended, but, if you want to really experience the cities, take a good old-fashioned tram.
We Love Portugal!!!
Portugal has no major safety issues, other than those seen in most tourism destinations. Pick-pocketing is common in tourist hubs, so ensure your passport and cards are protected from pick-pockets and identity thieves. These days, luggage retailers such as Bags To Go have great ranges of money belts that guard against pick-pocketing and identity theft.
Although a safe country, crime is on the rise with a deep recession still gripping Portugal, but no more so than in any European nation. The best advice is to be aware of your surroundings and exercise normal caution.
As an affordable, picturesque and historically rich country, Portugal represents a great value destination for any traveller but particularly backpackers, with many reporting it was the jewel in the crown of their travels.