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 signup bonus of 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which have a minimum value of $600 (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.
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.
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.
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 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and $200 back at U.S. restaurants as a welcome bonus (must apply by May 15, 2021).
Canadians should consider the BMO World Elite™* Mastercard®* since it typically has a sign up bonus worth more than $200 and the annual fee is normally waived for the first year. There’s also the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which gives you 65,000 Marriott Bonvoy when using a referral link. That’s enough points for up to five free nights at some hotels which could easily have a value of over $700.
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.