1. Porto and Lisbon are hilly joints
So if you have bad knees, heart or plain lazy plan accordingly. For example in Lisbon Barrio Alto is up the hill (by a thousand cobbled steps) but it’s also one of the more interesting places for bars, food and rabble rousing. Portugal golds in cobblestones so don’t wear the funky footwear such as platform thongs- tractable, flat shoes are desirable.
2. Taxis are cheap but Uber is cheaper (often by 50%)
Uber is widely available in Lisbon and Porto but not in a lot of smaller cities.
3. As in most countries the further away from the mad crowds the food is better and always avoid restaurants with pictures of food out the front
Look for handwritten menus with only a few options. Don’t believe most of the reviews on TripAdvisor as 90% of people have average tastes and blather on about “how large the portions are and that hubby finished his but I just couldn’t” and the other 10% are simply morons. Ask locals where they eat.
4. Beware the “couverts”
At a lot of restaurants will at the start of the meal plonk down some bread, olives and maybe some cheeses plonked down on your table. These are generally not free! You’ll often see it on their menus. Just wave them away as if you’d been bothered by an overconfident JW, by saying “Nao Obrigado”. (No thank you)
5. If you are over 65 you currently get up 50% discount on trains, art galleries and museums
Carry your photo licence or passport and dribble a lot to prove you are an old codger.
4. Book as many of your train journeys before you leave home – particularly on popular between town routes
Train travel in Portugal is very good. If the train doesn’t have allocated seats I suggest an early arrival for a couple of reasons. One you can get a decent seat however even if you have allocated seats, if you have heavy bags there are often only a few luggage racks at the end of some carriages. Otherwise you’ll have to put them above your seats – if they fit. So travel as light as you can. Don’t book through an agency go to the main site (website https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/pt) and join up. The reason you join up is that you will have a record of all your tickets to download if you lose them.
6. Beware the 12:30 to 2.00 pm shutdown in some of Portugal’s service industries
It’s not that these dudes are necessarily lazy, it’s just a lot like to have a decent lunch. Cheers to them. Some smaller museums and rental car operators favour a few hours off in the middle of the day.
7. You can get a cheap SIM card with 5G of data for around €20 (a month) in Portugal
We used Vodaphone. It was fine. There will be others possibly as good. So if you don’t want to pay the $5 a day that our telco bandits graciously charge then get a SIM.
8. Most coffee is expressos so flat whites are unknown or crap in Portugal
There are a few good coffee shops in Lisbon and Porto but you’ll struggle to find a decent coffee elsewhere. The best coffee we found was at Neighbourhood. Run by Ricky and his brother. Not long opened down by the river in Lisbon. Great quick snacks too. Nearby Comoba is good also.
9. Load the free App Here WeGo with Portugal map data on your phone before you leave home
You can navigate walking around towns without wifi or blowing your data.
10. The Portuguese people are warm, friendly and appreciate any attempt to speak their language – however piss poor
Some basic but useful words and phrases to get you going so you don’t look like a complete mug. However the inflections make it harder than Spanish to speak well.
Thank you – Obrigado
Good Morning – Bom Dia
Good evening – Boa noite
Can I have a large beer please?-Posso tomar uma cerveja grande, por favor?
Can I have a glass of red wine please? – Posso tomar um copo de vinho tinto, por favor?
Can I have two glasses of white wine please? – Posso tomar dois copos de vinho branco, por favor