The podcast for people planning a trip to Portugal, with lots of travel tips, destination features, sightseeing suggestions, cool music and everything else you'll need for a happy holiday in Lisbon, Algarve, Azores, Madeira, Alentejo, Porto and everywhere else in sunny Portugal. Brought to you by the owners of the Portugal Travel Guide (portugaltravelguide.com).
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The podcast for people planning a trip to Portugal, with lots of travel tips, destination features, sightseeing suggestions, cool music and everything else you'll need for a happy holiday in Lisbon, Algarve, Azores, Madeira, Alentejo and many other top destinations in sunny Portugal. Brought to you by the owners of the Portugal Travel Guide (portugaltravelguide.com).
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7 Films and TV Shows To See Before Visiting Lisbon
For many people, to know Lisbon is to love it, the city capturing the hearts of film directors and TV personalities from around the world. Between the friendly yet melancholic locals, the mouthwatering gastronomy and a rich history, there’s no limit to the inspiration that can present itself while walking through its charming streets. To truly appreciate Lisbon and prepare for an imminent trip, watch these movies and shows, which all capture the aura of the city in one way or another.
View all trips, the night train to lisbon (2013).
Based on the international best-selling book of the same name, The Night Train to Lisbon is a must-see (and read) for anyone who loves romance, drama and mystery. It’s also an excellent way to learn a little more about Portugal’s history, particularly what life was like during the Estado Novo, Portugal’s 20th-century authoritarian government. The plot circles around a Swiss professor named Raimund Gregorius who hops on a train to Lisbon after saving the life of a Portuguese woman and discovering an incredible book.
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Amália Rodrigues was a fado singing legend in Portugal, this movie essentially being her biopic. It is a firm cinematic favourite among the Portugese, as it captures the life, love and struggles of one of the country’s most admired women. Born and raised in Lisbon, Amália was a pioneer in fado music – nicknamed the “Queen of Fado” – going on to sell over 30 million records during her life.
Capitães de Abril (2000)
To gain a true appreciation and understanding of Lisbon’s Carnation Revolution , watch Capitães de Abril (or April Captains). Filmed in 2000, it explores the days leading up to this historical movement in the 1970s when a military coup, led by Captain Fernando José Salgueiro Maia, ended the dictatorship. As is common in the movies, the film added a little dramatic license to these events and not everything here is strictly factual, but for the most part the film documents history well.
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Love Actually (2003)
This romantic web of a movie is about eight couples in London, all with very different situations but who are all connected in one way or another. One of the couples is an English man named Jamie and a Portuguese woman named Aurelia who fall in love, despite speaking different languages. At the end of the movie, Jamia flies to Portugal and proposes to Aurelia in a comical way after learning Portuguese , and she surprises him by replying in English. While all but a few minutes of the film takes place in London, those few from Portugal will make anyone want to hop on a plane and fall in love.
Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations in Lisbon
One of the best things to do in Lisbon is eat, and Anthony Bourdain does more than his fair share of devouring the city’s best dishes. He also captured much of the city’s personality back in 2012, a time when the economic crisis was still having strong repercussions and just before Lisbon became the popular travel destination it is today. This particular episode of No Reservations is highly likely to make anyone hungry!
Lisbon Story (1994)
Catch more than a few glimpses of Lisbon’s streets in this movie about a director who’s recording a film in Lisbon. This fictional story, which was released in 1994, developed after an initial attempt at creating a documentary about the city. Lisbon Story has everything from iconic shots of Lisbon’s famous spots to fado music, intrigue and romance. The film was well received by cinema-goers, with well-established film review site Rotten Tomatoes showing an 86 per cent positive rating.
Mysteries of Lisbon (2011)
Last but not least is the mini-series Mysteries of Lisbon, which offers four 60-minute episodes – later turned into a two part movie – about the lives of a mother and son during the Liberal Revolution of 1820. This series won nine awards, including the Portuguese Golden Globe for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress in 2011 and the Satellite Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011. Mysteries of Lisbon shows a different side of Portugal – an older more mysterious side that is filled with secrets.
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Best tours of Portugal: trips from Lisbon to the Algarve
Wednesday April 19 2023, 09:00am
Straddling hills carved out by rivers and buffeted by Atlantic breezes, Portugal’s principal cities are heart-stealers, with medieval looks, youthful vigour and exciting food scenes. But cast a glance beyond Lisbon and Porto and you’ll find so much more. Strike out on a tour and you’ll encounter the Portugal few get to see, whether you’re hiking along wind-whipped, dune-flanked coastlines on the Fisherman’s Trail, feasting amid the vines and olive groves of rural Alentejo, or wine tasting in the terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley. Even the Algarve surprises on its west coast, where dunes give way to Atlantic surf and crowds are refreshingly few. Beyond the mainland, the volcanic Azores and subtropical Madeira entice. If it’s nature you’re after, cycling and walking tours take you deep into the wilds — and all with the lightest of footprints. Here are the pick of the tours to take you there.
Video: What’s it like on an escorted tour? We joined one to Tenerife to find out
Times Travel has partnered with Tourhub to bring our readers a wide selection of escorted tours from trusted travel partners. Here, we’ve selected the very best tours that showcase Portugal. For a bigger selection, visit Tourhub .
Main photo: the medieval village of Monsaraz in Portugal’s Alentejo region (Alamy)
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1. Highlights of Portugal, Intrepid
This eight-day escorted tour presents Portugal ’s greatest hits as it makes its way from Porto to Lisbon , leading through memorable landscapes and lending insight into the country’s history, culture and food. Port-tasting in Porto’s historic lodges, a performance of fado folk music in the medieval heart of Coimbra, walks in misty woodlands fringing the schist villages of Serra da Lousa, and a sunset picnic in Lisbon are all in the mix. Tours run from March to October and include accommodation with breakfast, transport and most activities.
Group size 1-12 Price ££
2. Portugal walking and wine, Exodus
Beginning with peerless Porto , this gentle eight-day walking and wine tour leads you deep into the Unesco-listed Douro Valley, a phenomenally beautiful region where vineyards march down steep hillsides, hugging the contours of the Douro River as it snakes east to Spain. You’ll taste the Douro’s renowned reds and ports at adegas (wine cellars) and grand quintas (wine estates), among them the exquisite baroque Casa de Mateus palace, of rosé fame. Running from April to September, this tour includes accommodation with breakfast in four-to-five-star hotels, local transport and several dinners and wine tastings.
Group size 4-16 Price ££
3. Walking in the Azores, Exodus
Scattered like stepping stones in the mid-Atlantic, the Azores are geologically extraordinary, with crater lakes, hot springs, sunken volcanoes, hissing fumaroles and ancient laurel forests. This eight-day walking tour takes you to four islands and is packed with highlights: from the Terra Nostra botanical gardens and tea plantations to Lake Furnas, with its bubbling geothermal pools. There’s the option of climbing Portugal’s highest peak, 2,351m (7,713ft) Pico, and whale-watching in Faial. Tours run from mid-July to mid-September; accommodation with breakfast, most lunches, internal flights and transfers are all incorporated in the price. Flights are optional.
4. Portugal real food adventure, Intrepid
Santiago de Compostela in Galicia is the springboard for this eight-day culinary romp through Portugal, culminating in Lisbon. You’ll learn how to whip up Galician seafood in coastal Vigo, go on a food tour in Porto, taste Portugal’s most-fêted wines in the dramatically terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley and sample farm-to-fork cooking at an agriturismo deep in rural Alentejo. Pasteis de nata (custard tarts), ginjinha (cherry liqueur) and a fado dinner show round out this feast of a tour. Running from May to October, the tour includes accommodation, transport, some meals and most activities.
Group size 1-12 Price £££
5. Hike the Rota Vicentina, Intrepid
With the sea always in sight, the Fisherman’s Trail extends from Porto Covo to Sagres, on the southwest tip of mainland Portugal. It’s wild and peaceful, and best tackled on this eight-day hike. You’ll trek over ragged cliffs and along dunes and wave-lashed beaches on a coastal path that weaves from the Alentejo to the Algarve. A seafood lunch in Zambujeira do Mar, a visit to the ocean-facing chapel of Capela de Nossa Senhora as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean, and a hike to the precipitous cliffs of Cabo de Sao Vicente, where great Portuguese navigators once launched their caravels, are all part of the fun. The trail demands a good level of fitness and tours run in April and May, and September and October. Accommodation with breakfast, transport and a guide are all provided.
6. Highlights of Portugal, G Adventures
This eight-day tour aims straight for Portugal’s big-hitters. First up is Lisbon, with its hilltop miradouros (viewpoints) and Unesco-listed sites such as Jeronimos Monastery and Belem Tower bearing the fantastical Manueline hallmark of the Age of Discoveries. From here, the tour edges north to Batalha’s ornate gothic monastery, medieval Coimbra and the high-spirited city of Porto on the banks of the Douro River. This year-round tour includes accommodation, transport and most activities, including a fado dinner and port wine tasting.
Group size 12-16 Price £
7. The enchanting River Douro, Titan Travel
This eight-day river cruise lets you appreciate the gentle rhythm and rare beauty of the Douro Valley from the water. Sip a glass of port as views of near-vertical terraced vineyards and whitewashed 18th-century quintas slide into view. Offering total immersion in one of the world’s oldest demarcated wine regions, the tour embraces must-sees such as the baroque palace of Casa de Mateus and the lively Spanish city of Salamanca, a vision in golden sandstone. Tours run in May, June and October and include a seven-night river cruise, six shore excursions, the majority of meals, all-inclusive drinks, and a wine and port tasting.
Group size individual Price £££
8. Hidden Portugal, Newmarket Holidays
This eight-day tour presents an off-the-beaten-track romp around Portugal. Using Porto as a springboard, you’ll weave north to the Costa Verde fishing town of Povoa de Varzim on the Atlantic coast, the gloriously unsung Minho region and its remote beaches, Vinho Verde vineyards and historic market towns. Some tours are included, while excursions to the Douro Valley, Barcelos, Braga and Santiago de Compostela are optional. Tours run year round and include return flights, accommodation with breakfast and dinner, transport and a carefully curated selection of guided tours.
Group size 25-49 Price £
9. Pousadas of Portugal, Newmarket Holidays
Discover Portugal at its romantic best on this eight-day tour, revolving around a trio of pousadas (historic inns): Pousada de Queluz, snuggling up to the opulent baroque palace of the same name; grand 19th-century Pousada de Viseu; and Pousada Mosteiro de Amare, lodged in a spectacularly converted 12th-century Cistercian monastery revamped by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. Highlights include Lisbon, the elegant coastal town of Estoril, Sintra and its fanciful castles, the delightful medieval town of Obidos, historic Coimbra, the wild cliffs of Cabo da Roca, Europe’s westernmost point, and port tasting in Porto. The year-round tour includes return flights, accommodation with breakfast, escorted tours, transport and some other meals.
Group size 20-45 Price ££
10. Porto to Lisbon Atlantic ride, Exodus
The pounding surf, breezy coastlines and wide-open horizons of Portugal’s Atlantic coast feature heavily on this eight-day cycling holiday, which rolls from Porto south to Lisbon. The gentle pace means there’s ample time for café stops and swims. Natural wonders en route include the birdlife-rich Aveiro lagoon, the shifting dunes of the Sao Jacinto Nature Reserve and the Leiria pine forest. You’ll also stop off in the fishing town of Nazare and the fortified medieval town of Obidos. Tours run from March to October and include accommodation with breakfast, transfers and local bike hire.
11. Madeira, the pearl of the Atlantic for solo travellers, Riviera Travel
Geared towards solo travellers, this eight-day tour takes a fascinating lap of Madeira . It kicks off in Funchal, with a spin round the capital’s historic heart and a tasting of Madeira wine. The rest of the week is largely devoted to the island’s natural beauty: from the subtropical Palheiro Gardens to the drama of the Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns) nestling in the crater of an extinct volcano, the Unesco-listed Ribeiro Frio Forest Park and Cabo Girao, Europe’s highest cape, which rises 580m (1,900ft) above the sea. Running from March to June and September to November, tours include return flights, accommodation with breakfast and dinner, and all excursions.
Group size 25-49 Price £-££
12. Self-guided cycling holiday in Portugal, Responsible Travel
This seven-day cycling tour reveals the Algarve in a whole new light. A lack of crowds, for one. Heading along back roads fringed with orange and cork oak trees at a leisurely pace, the tour knits together wild coastlines, whitewashed villages, tranquil countryside and hidden bays. Highlights include Silves and its Moorish castle, the forested Serra de Monchique mountains and the birdlife-rich Alvor Estuary, where flamingos can often be sighted. B&B accommodation in rural hotels, luggage transfers, maps and route descriptions are included. Bike rental is available at an additional cost. Tours run year-round, but avoid the sapping heat of August.
Group size self-guided Price £
13. Caminho Portugues, Camino Ways
There are holiday ambles, and then there are epic, month-long, self-guided, 394-mile treks along the Caminho Portugues (Portuguese Way) from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela. Have a guess which one this is. You’ll pass through rural villages, forests, olive groves and vineyards en route to towns such as Santarem, one of Portugal’s last Moorish bastions, medieval Coimbra, home to the country’s oldest university, and Porto. The 19th-century Puente Internacional (International Bridge) straddling the Minho River hops you over to Spain for the last 62 miles, where you’ll take in your stride Tui, with its magnificent Romanesque-Gothic cathedral; Arcade, famous for its oysters; and the cobbled old town of Pontevedra. April to October is best for walking. Accommodation, route notes and transfers are included.
Group size individual Price £-££
14. Alentejo coast family activity holiday, Responsible Travel
Moving to a more relaxed beat than the Algarve, lesser-visited Alentejo has a coastline studded with some of Europe’s most glorious beaches: golden sand, fizzing surf and cliffs rearing up behind. This is your backdrop for a week of full-on family fun, using the appealing small town of Vila Nova de Milfontes as a base. Your brood will need to be eight and over. If so, they can burn off steam with guided canoe rides along the Mira River, and surfing and stand-up paddleboarding on the beach in Milfontes. Tours run in July and August and include accommodation, transfers, a number of guided activities and equipment.
Group size average 8-12 (maximum 16) Price £
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The Best Times to Visit Portugal, According to a Local
The pastéis de nata are waiting.
Stacey Leasca is an award-winning journalist and co-founder of Be a Travel Writer , an online course for the next generation of travel journalists. Her photos, videos, and words have appeared in print or online for Travel + Leisure , Time , Los Angeles Times , Glamour , and many more. You'll usually find her in an airport. If you do see her there, please say hello.
Best Times to Visit Portugal for Smaller Crowds
Best times to visit portugal for good weather.
- Best Times to Visit Portugal for Lower Prices
Best Times to Visit Portugal for Festivals
Worst times to visit portugal.
In 2023, Portugal set a new tourism record when more than 1.8 million people visited in May. And, as Reuters reported , more than 6.4 million travelers paid the Iberian nation a visit in the first five months of 2023, up from 5.7 million during the same time period in 2019, prior to the pandemic. So, what makes this place special enough to attract that many people? Well, just about everything.
“Portugal is one of the smallest countries with the largest plethora of touristic activities on offer,” Nick Roucos, managing director of Bomporto Hotels, which owns The Vintage Lisbon and The Lumiares , shared with Travel + Leisure . “In such a small territory, you can, in a very short framework of time and space, immerse yourself in the culture of city life, enjoy natural wonders from beaches to rivers to gardens, taste its rich yet diversified gastronomy across every region, or just lay back and relax in the most peaceful surroundings.”
Alexander Spatari/Getty Images
As a resident of Portugal , I can attest to its bounty of activities, history, and delicious food (don't miss the pastéis de nata , bacalhau , or garlic shrimp). I can also promise it’s a place worthy of exploration throughout the year. And experts like Teresa Barros, founder and CEO of Xpose Consulting , couldn’t agree more.
“Portugal is a magical country. Imagine a place where the ‘old world’ meets the ‘new world’ — Portugal has the best of both. Here, you still have the slow living of the ‘old world’ mixed with the creativity and energy of a country that has recently been ‘discovered,’” said Barros. As for when she thinks it’s best to visit, it’s all about the renewal period.
“Portugal is known for its year-round good weather. Having said this, I suggest visiting in the spring (April to June ), when nature is awakening and brings incredible light and energy,” she shared. “As an alternative, I suggest visiting in the fall (September or October), when the weather is still great and places are generally more chill than in August (when everything tends to be fuller). It's also a great way to extend summer.”
Portugal experiences four distinct seasons, but it never gets too cold to venture out. Still, the weather can swing wildly from summer to winter, as can the crowds and prices for hotels, excursions, and more. Portugal’s tourism seasons fall into three categories:
- High Season: June through August
- Shoulder Season: September to November; April to June
- Low Season: December to April
Zu Sanchez Photography/Getty Images
The best time to visit Portugal for smaller crowds is during the colder months from December through April. This is when you’ll find far fewer tourists crowding the streets. That said, the weather will indeed be colder up and down the coast, making it a less-than-ideal time to hit the beach. However, it’s an exceptionally good period to explore places like Lisbon and Porto , the country’s two largest cities. In both, you’ll find plenty of historic attractions, like Praça do Comércio and Belém Tower in Lisbon, as well as the World of Wine in Porto, which will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about Portuguese wine. And really, there’s no better time to try one of the nation’s famed red wines than on a chilly winter day.
For warm, long days, pay Portugal a visit over the summer months. As Weather Spark explained , the warm season in Portugal typically lasts from mid-June to mid-September, when the average daily high hits above 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest month is August, with an average high of 83 degrees. The only thing to note during this time is that the winds tend to pick up, which is why most people who frequent the beaches in Portugal own screen guards to keep the sand from whipping up around them and getting into their swimsuits while sunbathing.
Paula Galindo Valle/Travel + Leisure
Best Times to Visit Portugal for Lower Prices
The best time to visit Portugal for lower prices is in both its shoulder and low seasons. While we’ve discussed the low season above, it’s key to point out Portugal’s shoulder seasons in the spring and fall can be fantastic, too. You’ll typically find thinner crowds in highly touristed areas like Lisbon, Faro, and Porto, but the weather will still usually be sublime. It's also a great time to find deals on hotels and excursions, plus visiting during this period gives you a much better shot at snagging coveted reservations at the country’s hottest restaurants. If you don’t mind cooler temperatures and are a fan of beautiful wildflower blooms and bright green pastures, make your way to Portugal in its spring shoulder season. For still warm (and even potentially hot) days, try the fall shoulder season instead.
Portugal is a nation that loves its festivals. A personal favorite is Festas de Santo António, which is celebrated in Lisbon and beyond and honors the city’s patron saint, Santo António. The main celebrations happen from June 11 to 13, when people take to the streets to enjoy sardines and watch the fabulous parades. (Seriously, the parties happen in every corner of the city, and people spill out onto the streets all night long, so don't expect to get a good night's sleep over these few days).
Other major festivals in Portugal include Carnival, which occurs in February and March; Holy Week in April and May; and Sintra Festival over the summer.
It's also worth visiting during the festive season, as the nation takes its Christmas joy seriously. Travelers can find twinkly lights and nativity scenes just about everywhere, along with a number of Christmas markets in places like Lisbon and Porto.
Chris VR/Travel + Leisure
There's no bad time to visit Portugal, as every season offers its own rewards. However, if you want to avoid the destination's rainy season, avoid coming in October and November. This is when you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fully clear day, plus temperatures may be a bit cooler and the days get a lot shorter. That said, you can always find something to fill your time here, so really, the best time to visit Portugal is whenever you wish.
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As Autumn comes to an end and Winter moves closer, Porto remains one of the best cities to visit. Without crowds of tourists and high-season prices, many are realizing that this is an optimal season to visit this city in the North of Portugal.
While it does rain quite a bit, mostly in January, temperatures during the day remain moderate, ranging from 50-60F/10-18ºC. A great way to shelter from these rainy days is to find an entertaining show or musical to enjoy.
And what feels more like Christmas and this festivity season than taking the whole family to a show? Let’s take a look at the 5 best shows and musicals in Portugal for this next Winter 2022/23.
Winter Guide to Porto
1. Wizard of Oz on Ice in Matosinhos
From November 26 to January 8, Wizard of Oz on Ice takes center stage in MAR Shopping in Matosinhos. This is a show for the whole family, filled with Christmas magic.
The show tells the story of a young girl in Oz that takes an adventure to meet the Wizard. This musical on ice about friendship allows you to discover the importance of self-love while bringing to light an issue in society: mental health.
The Portuguese singers Miguel Cristovinho and Rita Redshoes make their debut on ice as the Wizard of Oz and Glinda, the good witch of the North! Tickets are relatively affordable, starting at 13 euros to 59 euros for a VIP experience.
2. (LA)HORDE Ballet at Rivoli
The collective (LA)HORDE brings the artists Marine Brutti, Jonathan Debrouwer, and Arthur Harel from Marseille for a national premiere in the iconic Rivoli Grand Auditorium. Through different films, performances, and choreographic pieces, this collective “interrogates the political component of dance and maps diverse choreographic forms of popular uprising, from raves to traditional dances, to jumpstyle.”
This collective was created in 2013 by these three artists, and (LA)Horde has been the head of the Ballet National de Marseille since September 2019, creating performances, films, and works that focus on the body in movement.
Tickets cost 12 euros, and the age rating is 12+. The dates of the show are December 2 and December 3 at 7:30 PM.
3. Como um Carrossel [Like a Carrousel]
What’s better than a free show? Located in a small auditorium in Rivoli to celebrate the 91st Anniversary of Teatro Rivoli Performances for School, Like a Carrousel tells the story of a little girl who learns her relation to the world by asking questions along her journey. It is set to represent the imagination of children while touching upon key emotions in life, such as happiness, fear, and hope.
This show is a version of a piece written and directed by Joao Paulo Seara Cardoso (1956 – 2010). However, it has been adapted to feature Portuguese Sign Language for inclusivity. There are dates between January 18 and 22.
4. Intimate Live Fado Show in Fado na Baixa
Hosted in the wonderful Fado na Baixa auditorium, head to this unique live fado show that offers an intimate environment. The performance happens in a small auditorium, fusing popular versions of fado with the original style from the 1820s. This ticket includes a Tawny Port wine tasting while you witness the talented performers.
This show is available all year long but arguably feels more special in the winter, when the Christmas spirit is in the air, and a Port wine glass can warm you up.
Fado is a style of Portuguese music that was sung in taverns beginning in the 19th century and is now a UNESCO-listed musical genre. It is known for its mournful and melancholic tunes and lyrics, often about Portuguese life, poverty, the sea, and love.
5. Tiago Bettencourt & Orquestra Classica do Centro in Casa da Musica
Tiago Bettencourt is going to be playing in Porto’s Casa da Musica on December 18, accompanied by the Orquestra Classica do Centro. On the year that Tiago celebrates his 20 years of career, he will be playing this show in a 360 format, along with a show on the 22 of December in Lisbon.
Tiago has said that these concerts will allow us “to look back, with the help of my band and the Orchestra Classica do Centro, that by faith is from my home town of Coimbra. We will celebrate the most iconic songs of my journey and remember others that might have been forgotten.”
Tickets cost 28 euros and the doors open at 8 PM. Casa da Musica, where the concert will takes place is an iconic concert hall in the center of Porto, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas.
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