Portugal Travel Guide | Moon & Honey Travel

Portugal

Portugal

With its vast rugged coastline, beautiful beaches, and historical coastal towns, Portugal is a dream destination. Prices are lower than other Western European Countries, which makes traveling here much more affordable.

We spent a week hopping from village to village and from beach to beach in Portugal’s southernmost region: Algarve. We were so impressed by the delicious seafood, the Moorish architecture, and the pristine sandy beaches. We’ve detailed all our recommendations in our Algarve Travel Guide.  Next time we visit, we hope to explore the North.

 

This Guide Includes:

  • Portugal Basics
  • Where to Go (Interactive Map)
  • What to Experience in Portugal
  • What to Eat & Drink in Portugal
Burgau, Algarve, Portugal | Moon & Honey Travel

Portugal Basics

Official Name:  República Portuguesa

Capital: Lisbon

Government: Parliamentary Partycracy – “A pseudo democracy where people do not elect representatives directly instead voting for a Party. The parties appoint its representatives via pre-formed lists usually consisting of party cronies, family, friends and favor-givers.” (Source: Portugal.com)

Regions:  Portugal is divided into 18 districts and 2 autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira). The 18 districts are: Aveiro, Beja, Braga, Braganca, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Evora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Portalegre, Porto, Santarem, Setubal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Viseu.

From a tourist’s perpective, Portugal’s main regions are: (1) Porto and the North, (2) Center, (3) Lisbon and Tagus Valley, (4) Alentejo, (5) Algarve, (6) Azores Islands, (7) Madeira Islands. 

Population: 10.32 Million

Language: Portuguese (official), Mirandese (official, but locally used)

Currency: Euro

Tipping Etiquette: It’s customary to leave a tip of 10% on restaurant bills. Taxi drivers can be tipped by rounding the fare up to the nearest 5 Euro. 

Water Quality: Historically, Portugal has had a poor reputation in terms of its water quality control. However, between 1993 and 2004, the coverage of safe drinking water increased dramatically. CDC says, “Most travelers do not need to take special food or water precautions [in Portugal] beyond what they normally do at home.” (Source). That being said, when we stayed with some local families during our trip, they always filtered the tap water using a Brita water filter.

Something Interesting: Portugal is the oldest nation-state in Europe. The country’s borders have barely changed since 1139. 

Where to Go in Portugal

Click the dots to explore specific destinations
Portugal Placeholder
Portugal
Regions
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A vida e o amor que criamos são a vida e o amor que vivemos.

 

 

 

Portuguese Saying

The life and love we create is the life and love we live.

What to Experience in Portugal

Our favorite things to see and do
Praia do Camilo, Algarve, Portugal | Moon & Honey Travel
Praia do Camilo

Beach hopping in Algarve

From small intimate coves to broad stretches of endless sand, exploring Algarve’s beaches is an ever unfolding adventure. Algarve has 200 kilometers of coastline and nearly 100 beaches to choose from.

Over 80 beaches in Algarve are marked with the prestigious Blue Flag, which is an ecolabel award for beaches and marinas that demonstrate good practices with regards to water quality, environmental management, safety and services, and environmental education. Beaches awarded with the Blue Flag will fly the Blue Flag emblem during the official bathing season.

The most striking feature of many Algarve’s beaches are the limestone rock formations that stud the beaches. The contrast between the yellow rock and teal water is breathtaking.

What to Eat & Drink in Portugal

Portuguese Custom: Couvert

In restaurants, waiters/waitresses will bring you a choice of different meal starters (known as couvert) to your table without an explicit request. These starters typically include bread, butter, and olives. They may also include cheese, sliced sausage, and sardine spread. The couvert are not complimentary, so make sure the waiter/waitress removes what you don’t want to eat from your table. You are obliged to pay for what you try, and what’s left on your table. So, if you just want the olives, just say “Azeitonas.”

 

Algarve Regional Gastronomy

Arroz de Marisco – Razor Rice with seafood. The seafood generally consists of clams, prawns, mussels and other fish. It’s similar to paella, but a bit more broth-y. This dish serves a minimum of two people and is prepared freshly when you order it. You may wait up to 30 minutes, but it’s worth it.

 

Cataplana de Peixes e MariscosCataplana of Fish and Shellfish is a regional dish served in a pot. The base consists of onions, peppers, potatoes, garlic and coriander. Fish and shellfish are added in afterwards. This dish also serves a minimum of two people and is prepared freshly when you order it.

 

Frango Piri Piri (Chicken Piri Piri) – Piri Piri is a spicy pepper. Chicken Piri Piri is roasted/barbecued chicken that has been marinated in a flavorful sauce containing crushed piri piri, citrus peel, onion, paprika, oregano, basil, tarragon and lemon juice. 

@moonhoneytravelers
  • We’ve spent the last few days in Pokhara and have done absolutely nothing, apart from slowly hop around from smoothie joint to restaurant to coffee shop. Pokhara is a city located on Phewa Lake and a favored destination among trekkers pre- and post-trek. After a long multi-day trek, Pokhara satisfies all your cravings and indulges you with its stress-free atmosphere, clean air, cafés, and spas. We’ve really loved our time here. However, we do acknowledge, that Pokhara is probably not best destination for travelers (if you didn’t do a long trek). It caters unabashedly to tourists, with happy hour offers, hippie clothing, German bakeries, Pizzerias, and tattoo shops. So while we’ve been enjoying the comforts of this inauthentic tourist hub, we can’t help but ask “is this a good thing?”
  • We received a question about AMS and insurance as it pertains to the Annapurna Circuit. AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at higher altitudes. Your body can adjust and adapt to higher altitude, but it needs time. Doctors recommend that you sleep three nights around 3,500 meters before ascending further. They also recommend that above 3,500 meters, you only sleep 500 meters above where you slept the previous night. If you don’t feel well (nausea, dizziness, headaches, etc...), you’re supposed to descend to the last place you felt well. Slide right to see AMS Symptoms.  Apart from slow ascension, it’s important to avoid alcohol. In Manang, during the trekking seasons, there’s a medical facility staffed with western doctors. They conduct a free daily talk about acclimatization and how to recognize and respond to various symptoms of AMS. Definitely attend this session. In terms of our personal experience, most people we met experienced some degree of AMS - some at 2,500 meters, while others only at the pass. It’s common to take diamox (Acetazolamide) to help your body adjust to the altitude gain. Unlike ibuprofen, it doesn’t mask the symptoms of AMS, it actually prevents and reduces the symptoms. Consult your doctor about diamox usage, before you go on your trek. Re: insurance, you absolutely need it!!!!
  • Let’s talk about food on the Annapurna Circuit. The main staple food is Dal Baht, a traditional meal consisting of steamed rice, lentil soup (dal), curried vegetables, and pickles. We ate dal baht daily, sometimes twice. With free refills, it’s the best thing to eat when you’re hungry. Most menus also offer curries, momos (dumplings), fried noodles and rice, thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) as well as pizza, pasta and various soups. There are also bakeries that serve excellent cakes, crumbles and pastries. We’re going to wrap up our Annapurna Circuit posts, so let us know if you have any questions about the trek. #dalbahtpower #dalbahtpower24hour #hikeforfood
  • Annapurna Circuit Days 22 & 23: Tatopani - Ghorepani - Hile - Nayapul. Our final days of the trek were marked by stairs, leeches, mule caravans, water buffalo and good food. Though mountain views were seldom, we saw beautiful terraced fields and hiked through verdant rainforest. The final stretch was a never-ending staircase descent that was physically and mentally taxing. When the trail intersected with the dusty road just after Hile, we opted for a Jeep to Nayapul. At Nayapul, we grabbed a local bus to Pokhara. Shortly after getting on the bus, it stopped. Our fellow bus riders explained that we’d be here for 1.5 hours, because of road construction. We chatted with a few locals, who shared their views on their government, its rampant corruption, and their personal struggles. We arrived in Pokhara at 8 pm, after an enlightening and bumpy journey.
  • Annapurna Circuit Day 21: Kalopani to Tatopani. We started hiking at 6:15 am, because we were determined to end our day in the natural hot springs of Tatopani. When we reached the town in the late afternoon, people were still recovering from a landslide. Unfortunately, a few homes and lodgings were demolished. Some trekkers even lost their belongings in the landslide. When we soaked in the warm springs, a friendly Nepali family (who were touring the region) asked us where we were from, if we could swim and whether we liked Nepal. Their 12 year old daughter was really excited to speak English and shared her career (science) and travel aspirations (visit a developed country).
  • Annapurna Circuit Days 19 & 20: Kagbeni - Marpha - Kalopani. Most of the trail followed the riverbed Of Kali Gandaki. The wind picked up with a vengeance and funneled down the valley, making this part of the trek dusty and miserable. We understood why most people opted for a jeep or bus to their next destination. After lunch in Jomsom, we walked another 1.5 hours to the beautiful town Marpha, where we spent the night. Each stone building is painted white and all the wooden door and window frames are painted burgundy. The streets are immaculate - barely any mule, horse and ox poo. After a night in Marpha, we headed to Kalopani. We followed the forest trail on the east side of the river almost all the way. Only a few parts of the path were washed out. Luckily, the trail was sheltered mostly from the wind. Photos of Marpha.

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