So, you’re going to Portugal. Woohoo! Now, it’s time to get packing. From sunglasses to passports, there are a lot of things that you need to remember but hopefully this list will make remembering everything that little bit easier.
A travel adapter
Portugal uses the European two pin plug. If you are arriving from the UK or outside of the EU, you will probably need a travel adapter to plug in your electronics.
If you don’t already have a travel adapter, I recommend getting a ‘worldwide travel adapter‘ from Amazon. This will allow you to plug your laptop and other devices into just about any plug socket in the world and not just the EU.
A travel-friendly bank card (or a bundle of Euros)
It isn’t always possible to pay with a debit or credit card in Portugal and, if cards are accepted, often the machine will only accept Portuguese cards. Often (read: frequently) a business will have a card machine, but it won’t be working that day.
Basically, it’s a good idea to have some cash on you at all times and that means either bringing a bundle of Euros with you or withdrawing money from the ATM as and when you need it.
Some bank cards don’t charge you for using the card abroad, or charge you a reasonable fee, while others are extortionate. If you don’t have a travel-friendly bank card, either get on or order some Euros before you go.
Tip: If your bank is in another currency (e.g. Sterling or Dollars), the ATM will ask you whether you want the conversion made to your own currency there and then, rather than letting your bank do it. Always choose Euros and let your bank do it and never take that conversion rate the ATM offers.
EHIC Card (or travel insurance)
Touch wood nothing bad will happen on your trip to Portugal but, if it does, you don’t want to be hit with an expensive hospital bill. EU citizens are covered for free or reduced cost health care through the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme.
You can get a card for free, if you don’t already have one. Put in your wallet or purse, and make sure it’s on you at all times.
Travel insurance is also recommended even if you have the EHIC card (World Nomads is a popular option), and is usually a requirement for non-EU residents.
In Portugal, it’s a legal requirement that you have ID on you at all times. It’s unlikely you’ll ever be asked for it unless your car is stopped or you have to go to the police for something, but it’s a law that you should be aware of.
If you don’t have an ID card in your country (e.g. the UK doesn’t have an ID card) then this means a passport.
Tip: If you don’t want to carry your passport on you all the time, you can carry a photocopy of your passport. If you’re asked to show ID and you show the photocopy, you’ll then have six hours to produce the original.
The sun is bright in Portugal and after a few hours you may feel your eyes starting to hurt.
The Algarve, with its whitewashed buildings, can be incredibly bright during both the winter and summer months. You can buy cheap sunglasses here, but you may want to invest in a better pair.
If you’re visiting cities like Lisbon or Porto, a good pair of comfortable shoes is essential. Both cities have cobbled streets and Lisbon, in particular, is extremely hilly. If you’re used to walking in flip flops or sandals then you can wear these as well. Personally, I prefer a pair of trainers.
It’s also worth noting that the cobbled stones are incredibly slippery when it rains. Make sure your shoes have some grip on the bottom or you’re likely to end up on your backside.
The Algarve is much flatter. You’ll still find plenty of cobbled streets but as you’ll probably be spending a lot of your time at the beach, flip flops or sandals are worn by a lot of people visiting here.
Most supermarkets and many small shops in Portugal sell sunscreen. However, it’s often quite expensive (e.g. 10-20 Euros per bottle). You can get cheaper sunscreen in Lidl but, if you’re travelling with a suitcase, it may be easier to bring it with you.
Tip: If you’re only travelling with hand luggage you won’t be able to bring sunscreen through security, but most airports have a pharmacy after security where you can purchase sunscreen and other liquids.
A day bag
Regardless of whether you’re visiting the cities or the beaches, a day bag is essential for carrying your stuff around.
Both Lisbon and Porto have accessible beaches and obviously most towns in the Algarve are near the beach as well. If you’re visiting Portugal, you’ll probably visit the beach at least once so be sure to pack your swimsuit or bikini.
The temperature in Portugal can drop quite a bit in the evenings, and you may find yourself a little cold. Bit coats don’t tend to get
An umbrella or a raincoat
This usually isn’t a requirement in summer in the Algarve and Central Portugal, but during the winter months it can really rain in Portugal.
When it rains, it usually rains substantially for a few hours and then clears up. If you need to get around during those few hours, though, a raincoat or umbrella is essential.
Your boarding pass (or the airline’s app on your smartphone)
Most European airlines require you to check into your flight before you arrive at the airport. In the past, you had to print out your boarding card as well but, these days, most people have the app on their smartphone.
You can still print off the boarding pass if you want, but most people find it easier to use their phones.
Useful (but not essential) items to think about
Medicines like Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are more expensive in Portugal than they are in many countries as the supermarkets don’t make their own own-brand versions.
If you expect to need painkillers or travel sickness tablets, it’s a good idea to stock up before you get here.
Mosquitoes exist in Portugal, but it’s not a big issue: they don’t carry malaria or dengue but the bites are still itchy.
You don’t need to spray deet on yourself or do anything as extreme as you would in a country that has malaria, but you may want to bring a plug-in mosquito repellent to keep them away at night.
The British and the Irish both like a cup of tea. Outside of Britain and Ireland, however, kettles really aren’t that common.
If you’re staying in a hotel that caters to British and Irish tourists (e.g. anywhere on the Algarve), you’ll probably find one but many hotel rooms in the rest of Portugal won’t have one. If you’re the kind of person that wakes up gasping for a cuppa, it’s worth packing a travel kettle just in case.
A good book
There’s nothing quite like reading a good book while you’re lounging by the pool or on the beach and although you can buy books in English here, they’re going to be more expensive than they would be in the UK, USA, or any other English-speaking country.
Either stock up on some good paperbacks, or pack a Kindle for the trip.
I usually carry earplugs and an eye mask just in case I stay anywhere noisy. In Portugal, there are usually shutters to block out the sun and usually it’s not very noisy but they’re both good to have just in case.