How Much Does it Cost to go to Portugal?
Many people know that Portugal is cheaper than Spain or the U.K., but how much does it cost to go to Portugal? If you’re not going to the Azores, Portugal is an inexpensive country that is full of culture.
It’s actually shocking to see how affordable attractions, accommodations and food are compared to many other cities in Europe. Best of all, just because Portugal is a budget-friendly destination, it doesn’t mean you’re getting less of an experience.
For the purpose of this article, I’m recommending you spend one week in Portugal, but you could easily add another week if you wanted to see more of the country or travel slower.
|Food & drink||$210|
The above estimate is in Canadian dollars since I’m Canadian. If you want to figure out the costs in your local currency, use xe.com to do the conversion.
I should note that the numbers I use are for average travellers. Obviously, some people will spend less while others will spend more. The idea is to give you a rough sense of how much you should budget for your trip.
If you’re Canadian, you may want to consider applying for one of the best travel credit cards in Canada to help offset your costs by collecting points. For example, the American Express Platinum Card gives you a generous welcome bonus that’s often worth more than $900 (potentially more if you transfer your points to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy). There’s also the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card that has no foreign transaction fees, and it comes with airport lounge access.
Depending on where you live, airfare can change dramatically. When you fly will also play a factor into your ticket price. Generally speaking, flying from North America (and Europe of course) offers excellent value.
If you plan on visiting Porto and Lisbon, I recommend looking for a multi-destination flight to save you time and money. With multi-destination tickets, you fly into one city and out of the other so it saves you time and money since you don’t need to backtrack.
Portugal has two major airlines in TAP Portugal and Azores Airlines. In addition, many international carriers fly directly to Portugal so it’s easy to get to. If you’re flying from outside of Europe, a flight will cost you roughly $800. Those living in Europe probably won’t spend more than $300 for a return flight.
I’ve estimated $100 for hotels since I was consistently finding rooms at mid-range hotels for $80 – $120 a night (although they may cost more during the peak season). In Lisbon, you’ll want to stay in Baxia, Chiado, or Barrio Alto, while in Porto, a spot near the water or around São Bento are ideal. For some reason I found the name brand hotels were further away from the “downtown” areas, so you’re probably better looking at a local chain.
Hostels – When in Lisbon, you’ll be spoiled for choice of hostels. There are multiple award-winning hostels in great locations so you really can’t go wrong. All the major cities also have good quality hostels, you just won’t have as much choice. You shouldn’t have to pay more than $20 a night per person.
Recommendations: Goodmorning Hostel (Lisbon), Bluesock Hostels (Porto), Boutique Taghostel (Lagos)
Mid-range hotels – Prices for mid-range hotels across the country are quite reasonable. You could easily get a room anywhere from $70 – $150 a night which is quite reasonable.
Recommendations: Hotel Excelsior (Lisbon), Hotel ibis Porto Centro (Porto), Tivoli Lagos (Lagos)
Luxury hotels – There aren’t a ton of luxury hotels in Portugal, but more have been coming online as luxury travellers have realized that Portugal is the place to be.
Recommendations: Iberostar Lisboa (Lisbon), InterContinental Porto (Porto), Boutique Hotel Vivenda Miranda (Lagos)
Airbnb – When I went to Lisbon, I stayed at an Airbnb in the Baixa area of Lisbon for just $80 CAD a night. I saw other good apartments for as little as $60 and even saw some nice ones for just $100. When I researched prices in Porto, prices were similar. The point is, you can get some beautiful private apartments cheaper (or the same price) of a hotel.
Where to book your accommodations – My preferred booking site is booking.com since it lists hotels, apartments, B&B’s, vacation homes and inns. In addition, they price match and you’re not required to pay until after your stay for almost all accommodations. After five bookings, you become a member of their Genius program which gets you an extra 10% off on selected properties. If you haven’t tried booking.com, use my affiliate link now to get $25 CAD off your first stay (this applies after you complete your stay).
If you have the right credit card, you can save a fair amount of money on hotels. Americans should strongly consider the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card since you can earn up to 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $300 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus.
Canadians should consider the Marriott Bonvoy American Express, which gives you up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That’s enough points for a few free nights at some hotels, which could easily have a value of over $500.
Since this article covers all of Portugal, I’m not going to get into details about local transportation, but I did want to say that the country does have an extensive network.
In Lisbon, there’s the subway, buses, trams, and even ferries that will get you to wherever you need to be. Each ride was less than €2, so I didn’t exactly spend a lot of money. In Sintra, the round trip tourist bus was €5.50 which was all I needed for the entire time I was there.
For “long distance” travel, think Lisbon to Porto or Lisbon to the Algarve, you should expect to pay about €30 – €40 ($42 – $56 CAD). If you’re travelling a shorter distance such as Lisbon to Evora or Coimbra, you can expect to pay about €12 – €20 ($17 – $28) one way. I’ve budgeted $200 above, but since I stayed in Lisbon, all I spent less than $20 total.
Taking the train between cities isn’t always the best option as sometimes the bus may make more sense. Just do your research in advance to figure out what’s best for you.
Besides Lisbon and Sintra, Portugal doesn’t have many traditional attractions that tourists MUST SEE. Generally speaking, Portugal is more about enjoying the culture and living life like a local.
That said, attraction prices are very low. In Lisbon, the most I paid to get into an attraction was €10 Euros, but many things including art galleries were free or just a few Euros. Pena Palace in Sintra was a bit more expensive at €13, but considering this is a major tourist area, this is not surprising at all. An overall estimate of $100 is pretty reasonable.
Some attractions allow you to purchase your tickets online in advance at a discount. Although this is a good way to save money, you’ll have less flexibility if you want to adjust your schedule on the fly. The official Lisboa card gives you free travel and admission to certain attractions, but while browsing TripAdvisor, I noticed that no one recommended it, so I doubt it’s worth it for most tourists.
Food and drink
When calculating how much does it cost to go to Portugal, people end up in shock at how cheap food is in the country; I certainly was. As soon as my wife and I arrived in Lisbon, we headed to a coffee shop where we got an espresso, a croissant, and a pasteis de nata for €4. That was our breakfast for two. I’ve been in countries where the espresso alone cost €4.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to budget the following for your meals.
- Breakfast – $3
- Lunch – $7
- Dinner – $15
- Snacks – $5
That works out to $30 a day which seems crazy low, but food is pretty cheap in Portugal. As mentioned, pastries are inexpensive and most people eat that for breakfast.
For lunch, getting a sandwich or fast food would be $3 – $7. Dinner will obviously cost you more, but there are many inexpensive restaurants available, especially if you avoid the touristy restaurants where you’ll be overcharged. E.g. anywhere where they have a person with a menu approaching you.
Another thing to note, you will always be charged for bread and any butter or cheese you use. Always reject that as they rarely make an indication that you need to pay for it.
As for alcohol, it’ll cost you $2-3 for a beer or a glass of wine. If you plan on buying water, always do it at grocery stores. A 2L bottle was about 50 cents whereas a small bottle at a convenience store or restaurant will cost you $1-3.
How much you spend on random things is up to you, but I always include this category so you can have an accurate idea of how much you need to spend. Portugal is famous mainly for their tile work and cork. Those two things are pretty niche, so it’s unlikely most travellers will be itching to spend a ton of money on them.
Portugal has many of the major clothing chains so the prices won’t be much different from what you’re seeing at home. If you check out some of the local shops, that’s where you’ll see better prices.
Many bakeries have packaging so you can take a 6-pack (or more) of pasteis de nata home with you. The packaging is shaped like a tube so it protects your food and makes it easy to pack.
So how much does it cost to go to Portugal? Assuming you’re doing two of the major cities and one day trip, you should expect to spend about $1,760 USD.
Portugal is one of the cheaper places I’ve ever visited. Even if you decide to splurge on a few things, I don’t think you’ll be spending that much more. For more inspiration, check out my guides to Malta, Greece, Prague Amsterdam, the Maldives Dubai, Bali, Laos and Vietnam.
Great comments, very helpful!
Perhaps you mentioned the length of your trip and i missed it….in another post? How many days did you stay in Portugal total? Thanks. Great article!
I personally went for 5 days. However, my estimated budget in this article is for 7 days.
This was really helpful, I’ve been wanting to go on a trip with my Mom and found this to be helpful! Thanks!!
Great article! This question it might be stupid but what about service tips? I’m asking because in other part of Europe is not needed so I just wanted to confirm thanks
At coffee shops people tend to round up to the nearest Euro. At restaurants, about 10% is pretty normal for a tip.
This is wonderful, gives me a better idea of the money I need to save for a week or two visit to a friend in Portugal. Now I just gotta get the savings going!
This is all great information. I see you included Lagos on your article, can you please tell me in which city were you before you went to Lagos and what method of transportation did you use? I have read that the best way to get from Lisbon to the Algarve is renting a car so that you can drive to different beaches on the south of the country.
What is your opinion this? and when you were in Lagos how did you move around?
I didn’t make it down to Lagos but the people I know who have said that a car is the easiest way. You may want to ask for advice on Tripadvisor.
Thank you for these trips! My husband is going to stay for a short while in Portugal for work. It’s his first time to travel abroad, and alone, so we’re gathering all the info that we can about living in Portugal. How about being sick in Portugal? Are hospitals easy to access? How about buying over the counter meds? My husband is diabetic and I’m afraid he might get sick during his stay.
Portugal is a pretty developed country so I don’t think he’ll have any issues seeking medical attention or getting over the counter medication. THat being said, if you know where he’s going to be, look up local doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals before he departs.
My husband and adult daughter are about to leave for Portugal. We have booked airbnb accommodations in Carvoiero, Porto and Lisbon as we are there for just over 2 weeks. We could not find an airbnb for under $200 per night. Once we paid the extra fees etc we spend $3500 on accommodation alone. I have looked at the cost of buses from Carvoiero to Porto and Porto to Lisbon and that will add another $100 per person to the trip. We got flight for $900 each out of Toronto and that was a deal for this time of year. I know that your budget was made with 2017 costs in mind but it seems quite different now. Would you mind giving a general break down of what you paid per meal for 2 people? You posted that you spend $250 for the whole week on food. That seems very low. Thanks so much for posting your information. I am trying to budget for the two weeks for our family.
Thanks for sharing. My budget is based on non-peak travel for a single traveller. I wouldn’t be surprised if Airbnb has gone up in price, in April, May, October and November, you can still find some reasonably price accommodations. As for food, I really didn’t find it that expensive, mind you, we weren’t eating at restaurants every meal. Quite often we would just snack or get a sandwich, that said, I recall even nice places costing us only about $15-20 CAD per person
That is great news! Thanks 🙂 We are hoping to do some shopping in a market and have some food in our airbnb so that we are not eating every single meal at a restaurant.
TBH, there are a lot of tourist traps that are overpriced, but it’s not hard to find places that are inexpensive. We ended up eating a lot at bakeries cuz they’re sooooo good!
In your breakdown of what things cost can you estimate how much cash in euros you would need vs using a credit card? We are traveling to Lagos soon and want some cash but we don’t want to be left with euros when we are back home in Canada. How much cash for a 10 day visit for 2 average people not including accommodation, airfare or car rental?
It’s hard to say how much cash you’ll need since everyone is different. Like you could get $500 Euros in advance and then just start using your credit card if you’re getting low on funds. Alternatively, you can just get more cash from an ATM if you run out.