Portugal Packing List And Guide
We’ve traveled around much of Portugal since our first visit years ago. We’ve visited in the heat of summer, in the winter, and every season in between. Although we made some mistakes when packing for Portugal during early visits, I am here to share our Portugal packing list tips so you don’t make the same mistakes we did.
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What To Wear In Portugal And Other Packing Tips
For some travelers, all they need is a straw hat and sunglasses for a holiday in Europe. But, there’s so much more to a Portugal holiday packing list than that. Although perhaps not as fashion-focused as Italy, I want to share tips on how to dress in Portugal depending on the seasons and the destinations visited, mainly cities or beaches. There’s a big difference between packing for a city break in Lisbon than a beach holiday in the Algarve.
There’s also more to packing than trying to find the perfect Portuguese dress style. In this Europe packing checklist, I share travel tips on what else to pack, besides clothes. I hope I can share some surprising tips on what to take to Portugal including items that many travelers might not consider.
This travel blog post also includes a few items that travelers think they need, but in fact, could be left at home. This is particularly important for people traveling to Portugal or traveling to Europe for the first time.
What You Will Learn In This Portugal Packing Guide:
- How to create a packing list for Portugal, with everything you need. Our tips include what you don’t need to pack for Portugal too.
- What is the unofficial Portugal dress code. This includes what you can wear to fit in as best as possible when traveling in Portugal
- What to wear in Portugal in winter and summer so you can be prepared. Although not as cold as other European destinations, there are a few things to consider about packing for a trip in winter. The same goes for traveling to Portugal in summer.
Our Expertise On Packing For A Portugal Vacation
We’ve been to Portugal numerous times over the years and have visited cities and towns across the country. Our real expertise here, though, comes from the fact that we live just next door in Spain. Yes, there are differences between the two countries, but when it comes to Portugal travel tips there is a lot of overlap.
We adjusted our advice on Spain to meet the unique circumstances of traveling to cities like Lisbon and Porto, which are pretty different than many cities in Spain. Now that we live in Spain, and have traveled extensively across Europe, I feel that I’ve finally figured out how to pack like an expert. That includes Portugal.
Packing For Portugal – Top Things To Consider
There is no way to write a short blog post on how to create a Portugal travel checklist regardless of the country. We make different recommendations for travelers to Portugal based on some of the following circumstances. Keep these in the back of your mind as you plan what to pack for Portugal.
- When it comes to traveling to Europe, weather is a big concern. There is a big difference between traveling to Portugal in the winter versus the summer.
- Will you check your luggage or pack a carry-on?
- Are you visiting cities, wine regions, or the Portuguese beaches?
- How much walking will you be doing on your trip to Portugal?
Carry-On Versus Checked Baggage
Oh boy, I could spend thousands of words talking about this very issue. The most important thing when traveling in Europe is to pack as light as you can.
During our early trips to Europe we made so many packing mistakes. On our first trip to Ireland, our two suitcases were so big they couldn’t fit in our uncle’s car. During my first trip to Italy, my suitcase was so big and heavy I couldn’t get it on and off trains. During my first trip to Portugal, it took me forever to drag my suitcase up a steep, and I mean steep, set of stairs.
Traveling Carry On Only
Now, I only travel with a carry-on sized bag that I can carry, roll, and lift wherever I need to without any help. Eric carries the same bag as I do. Occasionally I do check my travel bag, but mostly that is because I am carrying toiletries that are not travel sized.
All that said, I use this same bag whether I am traveling for a weekend or a month. I’ve used this bag for summer trips and winter trips and for business trips where I am packing a blazer. I just make it work.
I used this bag on our most recent trip to Lisbon where I did walk about a mile, up hill, with the bag behind me, with almost no problems.
Which Carry On-Sized Bag Is Best For Traveling In Portugal
In this packing blog post, I will share some pro tips on how to travel with a smaller bag. We’ve used our Eagle Creek Gear Warrior Carry Luggage Softside 2-Wheel Rolling Suitcase, Black when traveling to Lisbon even in winter.
We’ve also been testing out how to travel with hard-sided spinner luggage in Europe. This is probably the most common type of suitcase used by locals living in Europe.
Another thing to consider when packing light is that although it might take some time, almost everything you need can be purchased in Portugal. If you are on a short trip, you might not want to waste time shopping, but consider it an adventure.
See related posts here:
If you want something a little more secure for carrying through the day, check out this post on the best anti-theft travel bags for Europe.
If you are looking for a stylish carry-on bag for a city break, check out this post on The Best Carry On Weekender Bag.
If you need more tips on how to pack light, check out this post on Packing List For 2 Weeks In Europe: Carry On Only Travel Tips
Packing List For Portugal Pro Tip:
When it comes to the things to carry while traveling in Portugal, my ultimate goal is to pack light. For two reasons. If renting a car in Portugal, pay attention to the amount of space available for luggage as cars are often smaller than in the US. Also, in the bigger cities, there are hills and stairs, which may mean you need to lug a suitcase up several hills.
Recommended Luggage for Portugal
This is the newer version of our Eagle Creek Load Warrior, which is no longer available. We’ve been using it for over 5 years.Check the Current Price on Amazon
Check the current price for the Chester Minima here. Use the code TravelForFood10 to save 10% off your total order.Click Here And Enter TravelForFood10 To Save 10 Percent
Crossbody Bag Or Travel Purse
I have a Desigual purse that fits securely under my arm and is large enough to hold my camera. I also have a Desigual crossbody bag that is slim and fits within my suitcase, but is a secure option when sightseeing in big cities.
And, it is a European company so I feel like I fit in a little more with the locals when traveling in Europe.Check out this review of the best Crossbody Bags and Travel Purses
Travel Packing Checklist For Portugal
Regardless of the season, there are some items that you should consider packing when traveling in Portugal or in Europe, generally. Some of these recommendations may seem somewhat obvious to seasoned travelers.
But for travelers who are not as accustomed to traveling to Europe, these recommendations might not seem so obvious. Feel free to skim some of these recommendations if you’ve traveled to Europe quite a bit in the past.
Be sure to confirm your insurance needs before your trip. If you get sick during your travels to Portugal, healthcare and pharmacy services are reasonably priced. It’s possible to pay out of pocket. We pay out of pocket for all of our medication in Spain, and the rates are about the same in Portugal.
But if something goes seriously wrong, it’s important to have travel insurance. This is particularly important if you are driving in Portugal in case you get into a serious accident, or if you are hiking, surfing, or doing any other water sports in the south.
We recommend World Nomads for travel insurance for Portugal. They are one of the most reputable companies for managing all sorts of insurance for travelers. Get an instant quote here.Get an Immediate Quote For World Nomads Travel Insurance for Portugal
A lot of people pack a travel umbrella, which can be a small addition to keep you dry in rainy weather. We like to take risks here. We each have a rain jacket and many of the hotels we stay at have umbrellas to loan out. But, this is definitely not common.
If traveling to Portugal in the winter, it’s probably worth it to travel with an umbrella just in case. This is more of a requirement when traveling in Northern Portugal than along the Southern Coast, where rain is not as common. Lisbon also gets pretty wet in the winter. Invest in a good travel umbrella like this one with Teflon coating.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t forget your sunglasses. You can buy sunglasses cheap in Portugal as well if you forget.
I don’t recommend packing expensive, designer sunglasses when traveling, though, because you might end up breaking them or losing them during your trip. They also can look pretty cool while posing in front of the blue-tiled buildings in Lisbon or in the vineyards of the Douro.
Other Items To Consider Packing For Portugal
- Ear plugs: I recommend traveling with ear plugs to keep some sanity when in a hotel or apartment that overlooks a noisy street. They also come in handy when staying in a hotel with thin walls, which happens. They are not easy to find at pharmacies in Portugal.
- Filtered Water Bottle: We’ve never had problems drinking tap water in Portugal from a health perspective, but just like in the US, it can taste a little strange. We try not to buy loads of plastic water bottles when traveling, although I recognize it will happen. To reduce your use of plastic, I recommend bringing a Brita filtered water bottle so you can fill up your bottle from the tap in your hotel or apartment rental and carry it with you through the day.
- Scarf or wrap: I always carry a lightweight scarf in my bag. Not only does this help on flights and trains, but Portugal is located on the Atlantic. That means it can get pretty windy, particularly in the evenings. They also make a great travel accessory to spice up an otherwise neutral travel wardrobe. It’s also a great accessory to use when visiting any churches in Portugal. Women should cover their shoulders in churches and cathedrals.
Things To Take On A Portugal Trip – Technology
When it comes to technology, there are few things to take into consideration when visiting Portugal.
Sometimes people are concerned about flashing fancy smartphones or having big cameras when traveling. This is not as much of an issue in Portugal anymore because everyone and their grandmother has a smartphone.
That said, I had my purse stolen in Spain, in our home town, a few blocks from home, when I became too comfortable with my surroundings. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings.
Camera Or Smartphone
In the past we’ve carried some pretty hefty camera equipment with us when traveling in Portugal.
Sometimes, we still bring our Sony a6300 Mirrorless with a lens that takes amazing food photos. Increasingly, we use our Samsung S21 plus, which takes incredible photos and videos, even at night. The camera has a number of settings including a food set which is perfect for us.
Extra Memory Cards
We uploads photos and videos we take on our Smartphone to Dropbox daily and automatically. But, we also both have big memory cards in our Smartphones and on our camera.
Either upgrade the size of your memory card, or pick up an extra before leaving home. You don’t want to miss out on amazing Portugal holiday photos because you’ve run out of space. This 125GB memory card will mean you will never run out of space for your photos.
Portugal Packing Pro Tip:
When traveling with a digital camera, delete all old photos off of your memory card before leaving home. Then click “reformat” in your function settings. This will clear the memory completely on your memory card leaving it empty for new photos. If you don’t occasionally reformat your memory cards, they continue to hold a lot of old data, which takes up space.
A proper travel adapter will help you charge all of your devices while traveling. I recommend taking multiple converters on a trip.
We generally carry at least four on each trip, two for our laptops and two for our phones, so we can charge most of our devices at one time. This is important when you have long days and might not have a ton of time to charge up back at the hotel. A Universal Adapter is the best value because it can be used in Europe, the UK, and Asia.
We always travel with at least one portable battery to top up our smartphones during long days of sightseeing in Portugal. We also carry our charging cords with us during the day because there are often cafes or restaurants where we can top-up along the way.
We’ve had a few power packs from Anker that have worked well. Some rental cars in Portugal also have USB chargers in the car, which is convenient. We’ve even been on a bus traveling as a group where there were USB chargers in the bus. Still, we always have a power pack with us.
Computer Or Tablet
We always travel with our MacBooks, but that’s because we work while traveling. There are some great laptops for travel, but if heading out on an actual vacation, which we rarely do, an iPad or Kindle Fire might work well.
We have a Kindle Fire HD that I use on long plane rides or train rides and love it. There are a lot of options for Kindles to buy.
How Do People Dress In Portugal
I don’t worry as much about style when traveling in Portugal as I do when traveling in Italy. Portuguese fashion is certainly not as label-focused as Italy.
Sure, people care about what they wear, but Portuguese outfits tend to be more understated and casual. Smart casual wear is sufficient for the evenings and casual wear is good for day time. Near the beach, it’s okay to be a lot more casual.
What Shoes To Wear In Portugal
I already talked about my bright-red heels and how they stay at home when we travel in Portugal. There are two things that can make traveling in Portugal, particularly Lisbon, downright treacherous – cobblestones and hills.
Much of Europe is filled with cobblestones. This makes walking in heels a real pain. Even in flats, the cobblestones are often very smooth and can be slippery. Try to wear something with rubber soles and at least a little bit of traction.
Lisbon is the City of Seven Hills. Although every time we visit I feel like it’s way more than that. This means hills and stairs, and there is no way to avoid it. When we visited in the winter it rained a good amount and these hills became dangerous. Even wearing sneakers or walking boots I still slipped a few times.
For this reason, I would suggest sturdy walking sandals (I wear my trusty Birkenstocks) and flat, comfortable walking shoes or boots depending on the season.
What To Pack For Portugal In Summer
Portugal is a small country, but the weather can vary a lot whether your trip takes your north or south. Even in the summer, the north of Portugal can get pretty wet, so be sure to pack a travel umbrella or a light rain jacket. Through the rest of Portugal, and particularly in the south, it can get very hot, so lightweight clothing and layers are best. The temperatures can drop in the evenings, so a sweater or cardigan is also a good idea.
Here are a few unique items to add to your Portugal packing list. In the summer, it’s best to bring sunscreen with a high SPF. Sunscreen can be expensive in Portugal, so if you have fair skin or plan to spend time at the beach, plan ahead.
Some hotel’s indoor pools and spas require a swimming cap. When we’ve visited a spa at a hotel in Minho, they gave us one, but if you plan on doing this a lot and want to bring your own, it might be worth it.
Last, some of the beach areas in Portugal are rocky and a good pair of swimming shoes can help make swimming more enjoyable.
Packing For Portugal In Winter
Many travelers assume that Portugal is warm all year round. Although many Brits find themselves visiting Portugal in the winter, where the weather is temperate, this is certainly not the case in Lisbon, Porto, and other northern areas.
Winters can get chilly, and in particular very wet. During the day, though, temps can raise. For this reason it’s important to dress in layers. A typical winter coat is probably not needed in Lisbon, but an insulated rain jacket can help, along with lightweight scarves, hats, and gloves. The father north you plan to travel in Portugal, the more warm clothing will be needed.
In the south, it’s tempting in the winter to be wearing sandals and shorts, but the Portuguese fashion tends to be more conservative in the winter. Often, when I think the weather is fine for sandals in October or March, for example, the locals will look at me a little strange. They will be dressed in jeans, sweaters, and jackets, even on a warm day.
What To Not Pack For Portugal
There are a handful of items that continue to be placed on many European travel packing lists. For Portugal, like most of Europe, some of these items are just not needed.
In today’s society, traveler’s checks are no longer needed. In fact, they can be a real pain to use because you need to go to a bank (when the banks are open) to exchange them. I have a strong memory of waiting in line at a bank in Barcelona, sweating, just to exchange traveler’s checks years ago. I remember doing the same in Lisbon years ago. Follow our tips on how to access money in Portugal, above.
Since moving to Spain, I rarely use the fabulous pair of bright red heels I bought while living in Bangkok. We walk everywhere, which means that, at least for me, heels are impractical. Add to that the existence of cobblestone streets, slippery stones, and lots of steep hills and staircases in Lisbon, and heels can be a big problem.
In Europe, remember, it’s function over fashion. A great pair of ballet flats or even low wedges are probably better or a pair of strappy sandals in the summer. There’s an added level of practicality that is required for shoes in Lisbon and Porto, which is described above.
Most Portuguese hotels will have a hairdryer, even if it is not of the best quality. Packing a hairdryer takes up space. It requires an adapter. A lot of times hotel bathrooms in Portugal don’t have an outlet for an appliance like this.
If you are renting an apartment in Portugal, particularly from Airbnb or Booking.com, check their list of amenities to see if they have a hairdryer. If you do want to pack a hair dryer, choose a dual voltage hair dryer to ensure you can use it in Europe.
Other Portugal Packing tips
Money Issues When Traveling In Portugal
This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions about traveling in Portugal, or anywhere in the world, particularly from Americans. I will speak to this from an American perspective. I recommend bringing one ATM card and two credit cards. It’s best to have Visa or Mastercard, as they are most readily accepted by businesses in Portugal. American Express and Discover are not as commonly accepted.
Keep one credit card in your hotel safe, or hidden in a suitcase just in case your bag is stolen while out during the day. For an extra layer of protection, take photos of your cards (both sides) and keep them with your passport images. This can help if your cards are stolen because you will have access to the phone number to call.
Call Your Bank Before Leaving Home
Before leaving home, it’s important to call your bank and you credit card companies. This is important for two reasons.
First, let them know that you are traveling to Portugal and the dates of your trip. This lets the bank know that it is you using your card overseas so they will not turn your credit card off for suspicious behavior. Many credit card companies, including Chase, will allow you to file a travel alert online now as well.
The second reason to call your bank and credit card companies is to confirm whether your bank charges Foreign Transaction Fees. These fees can be 2-3% of every purchase you make, and can really add up. Some credit cards have these fees and some do not.
Obviously, try to use a credit card that doesn’t charge these fees. We’ve had the most luck with Chase, although we also have a Citibank card that doesn’t charge Foreign Transaction Fees. With Chase, when filing a travel alert online, the page will tell you whether you have foreign transaction fees on that account.
How To Access Money In Portugal
As for accessing money, the easiest and best way to access cash when traveling to Portugal is to use the local ATM machines to withdraw Euros. ATM machines are located all over the place in big cities like Lisbon or Porto. We often go to the ATM before heading to a smaller town or village, just in case.
There is no need to convert Dollars to Euros at your bank before leaving home. There is no need to convert at the airport in the US or on arrival in Portugal.
ATMs In Portugal
Generally, the exchange rates and fees are way worse than simply withdrawing money at an ATM. The same rule goes for ATMs and credit cards. See whether your ATM card will charge a Foreign Transaction Fee for accessing cash. We’ve used Charles Schwab and Capital One in the past to avoid these fees.
When in Portugal, avoid ATM machines that are inside or attached to a convenience store or souvenir shop. This is particularly common in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro. Instead, look for major Portuguese or international banks, like BPI (Banco Português de Investimento) or Santander.
Another tip to limit fees is to withdraw larger amounts at one time. If you withdraw €300 or €500 at a time it avoids transactional fees. When we do this, we split up the money. I carry some, Eric carries some, and we hide the rest in a bag or two inside the hotel room.
Money Belt or Passport Belt
A lot of people put a money belt or passport belt on their list of things to bring to Portugal. We have not traveled in Europe with a money belt or passport belt since some of our earliest trips to Europe. For the most part, there is no reason to carry your passport with you during the day. It’s safest at your hotel or apartment rental.
As for money, Eric doesn’t carry a wallet when traveling (or at home in Spain either). He keeps his money in his front pocket where it is most safe. If you follow my advice above about keeping money in various places and not carrying all your credit cards with you, you should be fine.
Remember, traveling to Portugal is not like traveling to Mars. Take the same precautions you would in any big city, like New York or Los Angeles. If you keep your eyes open and your wits about you, you should be fine.
All that said, if you would feel more secure using a money belt, we recommend this neck wallet. It includes an RFID blocker, which means that your credit cards are more secure. It also has room for a smart phone to keep it secure as well.
Check out our post on anti-theft travel bags if you want some more security.
Passport Requirements For Portugal
If you are traveling from within the E.U., a National Identification card is sufficient to enter Portugal. For the rest of us, a passport is required. Most countries require at least six months of validity on your passport to enter a country. For example, if your trip begins on January 1, be sure that your passport doesn’t expire until after July 1.
Carrying Your Passport With You In Portugal
I don’t recommend carrying your passport with you during the day. It’s safer in the hotel. I have read, though, that Portugal requires you to have a photo ID on you at all times.
If requested and you don’t have your passport, show them a copy of your passport along with a driver’s license, and you should be fine. You may be required to show your physical passport at a later time, but I’ve never known anyone personally to have to do this.
Some people recommend that you carry a physical, printed photocopy of your passport in case your bag is stolen or lost. We used to carry several copies, one in each of our bags. With today’s technology, though, we no longer carry printed copies of our passports with us in Europe.
Instead, when we receive a new passport, we scan a copy or take a picture of our passport identification information and store it in the cloud. This includes having it saved locally on each of our cell phones and laptops, as well as having it stored in Dropbox or the Google Drive. Or, email a copy of it to yourself at an email address you can access when traveling, i.e. Gmail.
Schengen Rules For Portugal
Portugal is part of Europe, part of the European Union, and part of what is known as the Schengen Zone. Other countries, like Ireland, are part of Europe and the European Union, but are not part of the Schengen Zone. It can get complicated.
In the end this means that Americans (as well as travelers from other countries, including people from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) can travel within the Schengen Zone (and Portugal) for no more than 90 days within 180 days. This is a complicated and comprehensive travel topic, but just be aware of the Schengen Visa rules for traveling in Portugal.
One of the most important things to pack for Portugal is any prescription medication that you must travel with.
First, pack your medication in your carry-on bag, not in your checked luggage, in case your luggage is lost.
Second, try to bring any prescription medication in the original bottle that shows your name and details. We’ve never been stopped and questioned about medication in Europe, but you never know. This is better than bringing random pills in a pill organizer.
As for other basic medication, I always travel with ibuprofen, Alka Seltzer, and other just-in-case items. It is pretty easy to purchase anything you need at a Portuguese pharmacy if needed.
In Portugal, basic items like this are almost always purchased at a pharmacy rather than at a grocery store. Pharmacies are generally open Monday through Saturday, and some close in the afternoon. In larger cities and towns, there is normally a pharmacy or two open on Sunday, but they may be harder to find.
For this reason, I like to carry the basics with me in case I need them at night or on a Sunday.
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What To Wear In Portugal – Portugal Packing Guide
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