Portugal remains a popular travel destination. The Algarve region in the south, famed as a package holiday destination and for its multitude of scattered beaches that lie at the base of sheer cliffs. The Douro Valley, the home of port production with its terraced vineyards and hillside villages. And of course its two most well-known cities, Lisbon and Porto with their unique sights rich in historical and cultural offerings. If considering a trip to one of these destinations, or others, then you’re probably going to ask about prices and will ultimately want to know “Is Portugal expensive?”
This Portugal trip cost guide will go some way to answering that question by covering average prices for accommodation, transportation, food, activities and entertainment.
Do take into account that prices, certainly for accommodation, change seasonally and when major events or festivals are running and costs vary according to region or city. In general, prices are higher in Lisbon and Cascais followed by Porto and Funchal in Madeira.
Although travel often costs as much as the traveller is willing to spend, the good news is Portugal is considered to be one of the cheaper countries to visit in Western Europe.
Accommodation Prices in Portugal
With accommodation usually high on the priority list and something that will quite often take up a significant portion of a travel budget, it seems the appropriate place to start. As a rough guide I’ve used a Saturday night in August, which is likely to generate prices higher than most other times of the year. Looking at the lower end of the scale first, that is, a bed in a hostel dormitory, then expect to pay from €10-15 per night per person.
Moving up to a mid-range hotel (2-3 stars), prices increase to around €55 per night in Lisbon, for a double room or a room that will sleep two people, but the same accommodation type may be cheaper in cities outside the capital. In a more rural area, like the Douro region, budget for a €25-30 nightly expenditure.
For something a little more high-end, prices start at about €75 per night in the capital, and €50 per night in the more rural/less popular areas, with cities that attract fewer tourists falling somewhere in between.
Package holidays are quite popular for places like the Algarve, although it’s possible to find cheaper alternatives for something similar in western Portugal. Renting an apartment or villa from platforms like Airbnb is worth considering perhaps for families or if seeking a more genuine destination experience as accommodation is often found in residential areas.
The summer months are busier and costs will be slightly higher in line with the increase in demand so do bear than in mind and book early. Out of season, there are some real bargains to be found, which may be more appealing to those after a city break. One could still have a beach holiday in December I suppose, with the added bonus of having free rein over the sunbeds, or as they call them in winter, beds.
Transportation Prices in Portugal
“I get around” said the Beach Boys, which is an odd choice of pronoun for a song sung by a group. Anyway, even if they were not necessarily referring to the cost of transportation when travelling to foreign climes, getting around is something we must all take into account.
Much of Lisbon and Porto for example, can be explored on foot, although knowledge of their public transport networks is always useful. Both have metro systems that, compared to many European cities are reasonably priced, with a single ticket costing €1.50 in Lisbon. When staying in urban areas, for multiple journeys, and cross-transport use, then it may be worth investing in a travel card.
In Lisbon the Viagem card, which can be purchased for 50 cents then topped up when necessary, brings the cost of a single journey down to €1.33. For Porto, it’s the Andante card. This works in a different manner in that you pay for unlimited use of the transport network over a given period. For example, for the Andante Tour 1, which lasts 24 hours, you’ll pay €7.
Portugal is about a fifth of the size of its neighbour, Spain, so travelling the length and breadth of the country is unlikely to mean facing horrendously long intercity journeys and subsequent high prices.
A standard class train ticket from Lisbon to Porto costs just over €25; however the same journey can be done for under €10 when purchasing a ‘promo ticket’ online and well in advance – click here to check train prices and availability.
We found we were able to change our tickets for a train earlier than the one we’d booked for no extra cost when travelling from Coimbra to Porto. Whether this is common practice, or was merely to do with my elevated levels of charm, we just don’t know. I suspect ticket prices for both journeys were the same. Children, youths (with the appropriate travel card) and people 65 or over can travel at a reduced price.
For those considering seeing a large portion of the country by train, it may be worth purchasing a One Country Portugal Pass. This allows unlimited travel over a set period of days (depending on which pass you purchase) and can be bought within Portugal or in advance online. There is a discount for travellers under 28. They can be bought from Interrail.eu for travellers from Europe or from Eurail.com for other travellers.
A number of coach/bus companies provide a national service, with prices and times varying according to how quickly you wish to reach your destination. Coach travel can be more expensive than train, particularly compared to the aforementioned promo tickets. A typical journey from Lisbon to Porto costs around €19 on an express coach – click here to check bus prices and availability.
If you’re considering renting a car then be aware that it’s actually a reasonably expensive venture although prices in the Algarve are considered more competitive. Book online before travelling using Rentalcars.com to find the best deals or with local firms after arrival. All motorways are toll roads so factor in the cost of using them if intending to travel the country by car. The charge is about 9 cents per kilometre.
Hiring a car is perhaps not recommended to get around the likes of Porto and Lisbon with these places being very walkable and served by cheap public transport.
Food Prices in Portugal
How expensive is Portugal in terms of food? Well, the cost of eating, even in the main urban areas is on the lower side compared to cities of a similar standing in other parts of Europe. Areas prone to tourism are naturally higher but by no means prohibitively priced.
In Portuguese cities, a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost around €30-35, compared to say around €40 in Madrid and over €50 in Paris. ‘The menu of the day’ or set-lunch menus are great value for money with multiple courses and a drink for €10 or less.
To eat like a local, then you have to put in a little bit of work, whether that’s asking for recommendations, a bit of online searching and or walking/travelling a little from the tourist areas. You may find booking accommodation outside the main areas naturally puts you in the vicinity of local eateries, perfect if after a long day sightseeing, you head back to your lodgings then just want to pop out for something local to eat.
If you’re lucky, you may actually get generous locals offering you food, which would have been a kind gesture had the yoghurt in this instance not been out-of-date and I actually ate dairy products.
Pastries and coffees can be bought for a few euros at local cafés and additional savings on budget expenditure can be made by purchasing sandwiches and snacks from supermarkets. Fast-food meal deals from known outlets retail at about €5-6.
Activities Prices in Portugal
Although it’s important to take into account what it is you actually want to do when visiting a country, quite often some decisions may be left until after you arrive, which may have implications for your budget. Fortunately, in Portugal, many of the major attractions can be entered with little expenditure and often have elements that can be enjoyed for free.
In Lisbon for example, Belém Tower, the Elevador de Santa Justa, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and Castelo de São Jorge castle will cost €10 or less each and at least half of these sites have something visual to offer without having to part with a cent. Plus you can always read about them afterwards to plug any gaps in knowledge or if they spark further interest.
Portuguese cities offer a selection of walking tours covering a range of topics and perspectives from the historical to the culinary. Prices are just as varied, although you can always select a ‘free’ walking tour and pay the guide a few euros at the end or whatever you feel they deserve.
River cruises are popular with tourists and in Porto for example, expect to pay €15 for a 50-minute tour with accompanying commentary – these can be booked online here. Lisbon also has a variety of boat tour types at a range of prices but a cheaper alternative would be to use the public transport ferry for less than €6.
With Portugal the only country in the world to legally produce the beverage that can be termed ‘port’, it’ll come as no surprise that port tasting is a popular tourist activity in many regions. Porto in particular is home to a number of lodges that offer tours and tastings from just over €20 euros and up. A tour or trip to the Douro Valley itself usually depart from Porto via train, boat or coach and often include a visit to a winery, tasting or some kind of non-grape related sustenance. Half-days cost from about €35 per head, and reach in excess of €75 for the full-day version. For organised tours, you can click here to see options available.
In some cities, it may be possible to purchase tourist cards that glean discounts on sights, attractions, shops and restaurants for a limited period of time. Some also include public transport like the ‘Porto Card.’ These are particularly useful if you know exactly what you want to see in order to make the appropriate price comparisons. If a card isn’t cost effective, it’s still worth checking online for discounted tickets and/or reductions for students and the elderly.
Entertainment Prices in Portugal
The final potential source of expense comes in the form of entertainment, whether that means a drink or two of an evening, or the arts in the form of an opera.
A 500ml glass of domestic draught beer shouldn’t set you back more than €2 in most restaurants in Portugal’s bigger cities. Supermarkets will sell the same volume for around a euro, certainly in many places outside of Lisbon. As with food, prices are better in the bars primarily geared towards locals. A cocktail in a centrally located club will cost on average about €6.
In general, the price of a theatre ticket will fall into the €10-30 price bracket. Taking in some ballet or an opera could see you spending up to the €75 mark.
Average Portugal Trip Cost
So on the whole, is Portugal expensive to visit? The approximate values are summarised below and totalled to provide a rough estimate as to how much the average trip to Portugal cost will be per person, per day.
Obviously, adjust accordingly after taking into account your own preferences. As previously pointed out, consider seasonal variations in price, especially where accommodation is concerned, and as a general rule book online and early to save money on intercity travel.
Accommodation: €20/night based on an average between Lisbon prices and those of less popular cities, in a mid-range hotel for 2 people, booking early for high season.
Transportation: €7/day- including a return journey on the metro every day without purchasing a card plus an intercity journey per week by train for €25.
Food: €25/day based on Lisbon prices, with a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in the evening, a set menu for lunch and a very basic breakfast.
Activities: €10/day assuming one or two sites.
Entertainment: €6/day for 2-3 beers or equivalent.
All in all, an average Portugal trip cost will be approximately €68/day for a mid-range budget in the summer.
This also doesn’t include any pre-trip expenses such as flights or travel insurance. Good deals for flights can be found on Skyscanner while World Nomads is a popular option for travel insurance – click here to get a quote from World Nomads.
For Western Europe, the prices in Portugal make it a very accessible country. With the added bonus of a decent spring/autumn climate which may make it extra appealing as these periods combine good weather with the lower prices that will help keep your Portugal trip cost down.
Are you wondering “is Portugal expensive”? Have you been recently? Let us know in the comments below!