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15 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Portugal

15 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Portugal

Our full guide on the most common Mistakes To Avoid In Portugal for your next trip.

Portugal is a beautiful and culturally rich country with much to offer travelers. To ensure you have the best experience, here are some common mistakes to avoid when visiting Portugal.

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Mistakes To Avoid In Portugal

1. Not Learning Basic Portuguese Phrases

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Mistake: Assuming everyone speaks English.

Tip: Learn a few basic Portuguese phrases like “Olá” (Hello), “Por favor” (Please), “Obrigado/Obrigada” (Thank you), and “Desculpe” (Sorry). Locals appreciate the effort and it can enhance your interactions.

2. Skipping Smaller Towns

15 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Portugal

Mistake: Only visiting major cities like Lisbon and Porto.

Tip: Explore smaller towns and regions like Sintra, Cascais, Coimbra, and the Algarve for a more diverse experience of Portuguese culture and scenery.

3. Underestimating the Weather

Mistake: Not being prepared for the varied weather conditions.

Tip: Portugal has diverse climates. The north can be cooler and wetter, while the south is warmer and drier. Always check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.

4. Overpacking

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Mistake: Bringing too much luggage, which can be cumbersome when traveling.

Tip: Pack light, especially if you plan to use public transportation or walk through cobblestone streets. Portugal has plenty of shops where you can buy essentials if needed.

5. Ignoring Public Transportation

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Mistake: Relying solely on taxis or car rentals.

Tip: Use Portugal’s efficient public transportation systems, including trains, trams, and buses. They are affordable and offer a great way to explore cities and regions.

6. Dining Only in Tourist Areas

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Mistake: Eating exclusively in tourist-heavy areas.

Tip: Venture into local neighborhoods and smaller towns to find authentic and often more affordable Portuguese cuisine. Try traditional dishes like bacalhau (codfish), pastéis de nata (custard tarts), and cozido (meat and vegetable stew).

7. Not Tipping Correctly

Mistake: Being unaware of tipping customs.

Tip: Tipping in Portugal is not obligatory, but it is appreciated. In restaurants, leaving a 5-10% tip for good service is customary. For smaller services like cafes or taxis, rounding up the bill is common.

8. Overlooking Local Wines

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Mistake: Sticking only to well-known international wines.

Tip: Try local Portuguese wines, especially Vinho Verde, Douro, and Alentejo wines. Don’t forget to sample port wine in Porto and Madeira wine from Madeira Island.

9. Not Reserving Accommodations in Advance

Mistake: Assuming you can find accommodation on arrival, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Tip: Book your accommodations in advance to secure the best deals and availability, particularly in popular destinations and during festivals.

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10. Skipping Historical and Cultural Sites

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Mistake: Focusing only on beaches and nightlife.

Tip: Explore Portugal’s rich history and culture by visiting historical sites such as the Jerónimos Monastery, Belem Tower, Sintra’s palaces, and the Roman Temple of Évora. Museums, galleries, and local festivals also offer great cultural insights.

11. Ignoring Siesta Time

Mistake: Expecting shops and restaurants to be open all day.

Tip: Many businesses, especially in smaller towns, close for a few hours in the afternoon (usually between 1-3 PM). Plan your shopping and dining accordingly.

12. Not Tasting Local Seafood

15 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Portugal

Mistake: Missing out on Portugal’s excellent seafood.

Tip: Portugal has a rich fishing tradition. Try local seafood dishes like grilled sardines, octopus salad, and seafood rice. Coastal towns and markets offer the freshest options.

13. Driving Without Understanding Road Rules

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Mistake: Renting a car without being familiar with local driving laws.

Tip: Learn Portugal’s driving rules and regulations before renting a car. Be aware of toll roads and parking restrictions. Always carry your driving license and necessary documents.

14. Rushing Through the Trip

Mistake: Trying to see too much in a short amount of time.

Tip: Portugal is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Spend time soaking in the atmosphere, enjoying meals, and exploring each place thoroughly rather than rushing from one attraction to another.

15. Not Respecting Local Customs

Mistake: Being unaware of local customs and traditions.

Tip: Respect Portuguese customs, such as dressing modestly when visiting churches, greeting people with a handshake or kiss on each cheek, and being polite and courteous in interactions.

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