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How to Plan a Trip to Portugal

Updated on October 20, 2014

How to plan a trip to Portugal or anywhere?!

Sis is turning 40 and we are digging into our bucket lists for a new adventure! We have two weeks of vacation to use and five priorities when choosing our next destination.

It has to be a country neither of us have yet visited. It must have a lot of warm sunshine, outdoor cafes, a laid back culture with a lot of history, and of course beaches!

What country meets all our requirements?

Portugal it is!

If you are planning a trip to Portugal this page will save you a ton of time on research and a little bit of cash as well. For those planning a trip to another destination, this page will give you research tips, money saving tips, and some cool and useful packing tips.

Follow my research format to stay organized before your trip and have a place of reference during your trip.

I wrote this with a personal twist, however the basics of planning and preparing for your destination are the same.

How to choose the right luggage?

High Sierra AT658 26 -Inch Expandable Wheeled Duffel with Backpack Straps (Graystone/Shadow/Black)
High Sierra AT658 26 -Inch Expandable Wheeled Duffel with Backpack Straps (Graystone/Shadow/Black)

My two week trip to Portugal requires something versatile, yet not too big. Packing light for any trip is a challenge. I ordered High Sierra 26-in. Convertible Wheeled Duffel from Amazon to make my a life a little easier.

There are four features I really like about this bag:

1. wheels

2. two inch expandability

3. internal divider

4. backpack straps

I haven't left for my trip yet, but I successfully completed a "dry run" and I can fit everything I need for my two week vacation. I'm packing one week worth of clothes that I think I will need and will do laundry at the hotel to get me thorough the following week. I even have enough room left to bring back some souvenirs.


1. Ask the boss for time off!


Checked this one off my list on 03/15/2012

I always dread this one, because no boss(in the USA anyway) is a fan of an employee taking off two solid weeks. But it's Portugal! I need months to explore this country, but I'll settle for two weeks so I have a job to come back to.

2. Book a flight!

After 2 months of careful research of many discounted airline ticket websites and price watch with Tripadvisor, I decided to book my flight with Orbitz. The choice was obvious! Orbitz offers "Price Assurance"

This means, if another traveler books the same itinerary at a lower cost, I will receive an automatic refund for the difference in price.

So, if the price drops, I get extra spending money. That's of course not the only reason I choose Orbitz. Notably are they price competitive with other websites they also offer Price Assurance. I booked the flight on Orbitz through Ebates (a cash back site) and got 1% cash back on the purchase price.

3. Research Portugal - Pocket size guide to Portugal

Pocket Eyewitness Travel Guide is always a good place to start your research for any destination. Researching is of course a continuous step and will continue through the last day of my visit to Portugal.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Portugal
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Portugal

I choose eyewitness travel guide for my every destination. Portugal travel guide offers information on what to see and do across the country. The guide divides information by geographic regions and includes maps of major cities, towns and sites as well as large number of photographs and pictures. In the back of the guide you will find listing of accommodations and restaurants to help you find ideal place to stay over night and keep you belly full. The listing includes addresses, phone numbers and a price ranges.

Excellent reading while drinking morning coffee as well as killing time on that 8 hour flight and not to mention dreadfull flight connections and airport delays. The book offers useful information you will need to prepare for your trip and use during the trip.

When purchasing a travel guide always make sure you get the latest edition so all the information is well up to date.


Information on Portugal from other websites

I also found some great web sites on Portugal that compliment information in the Eyewitness travel guide.

Trip Outline
Trip Outline

4. Trip Outline

Outlining this trip was easy with the help of the guide and many of the good websites on Portugal that I listed above.

My sister and I decided we are meeting in Lisbon. I'm flying from the United states and she will be joining me from Croatia. We plan to start with a 4 night stay in Lisbon, after which we will take a train ride to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. Porto is famous for Port wine which of course we will taste and tour the wine country. Next on the list is obtaining the rental car and exploring little less touristy destinations as we drive south of Porto toward the famous beach destinations in Algarve (the southernmost region of mainland Portugal) to finish off our two week tour with some relaxation, warm swims, and a little vitamin D.

This is of course a rough draft of the trip to get us started.

I consider my self a planner, however planning every minute of every day is jut plain boring in my opinion. Some stuff needs to stay spontaneous and unscheduled.


5. Book Hotels

Hotel in Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal. To walk out of the hotel and have my first cup of coffee in one of the street cafe's is our priority when booking the right neighborhood location.

After two months of research and a tip from a friend who visited Lisbon in the past, we decided to concentrate on hotels closest to Rossio Square.

Vincci Baixa's review on Tripadvisor was enough to convince me that this is a resonably priced quality hotel in a great location.

Bingo! The search is over.

Today, on May 9, 2012 I logged into my Orbitz account and booked 4 nights at $134/night. Using a 5% off coupon I found on for total savings of roughly $28.

I priced rooms directly on hotels website at $139/night with no discounts and no rebates. Call me frugal if you want, but $48 I saved will buy me couple cocktails the first night in town :)


Porto Wine Country

Shortly after booking 4 nights in Lisbon I started the search for accommodations in Porto. Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal located in the northern part of the country.

I researched several recommendations from Eyewitness guide and decided on a small, but modern Hotel Malaposta in the historic district close to the train station. Since we will be taking a train from Lisbon to Porto, this was ideal location near a train station for easier haul with the luggage.

According to the Eyewitness travel guide, one of the most scenic drives in Portugal is located in Porto wine country. Another great way to enjoy Porto wine country, and a must to do while in this area, is a

Douro River valley cruise. There are a number of boat charters that run daily and some even have overnight packages. Cruise tickets can be purchased last minute from one of many kiosk vendors located in the city.


6. Car Rental

After a 3 day "Port buzz" we will be renting a car and on our way to explore smaller towns down the coast as well as remote areas of Portugal while treveling south to our final destination of Algarve and Portugal's best beaches.

I visited to my local AAA office to obtain an international drivers' permit (IDP). The permit is required in addition to an American drivers licence when renting a car in Portugal. My AAA office issued the license on the spot at a cost of $15. The whole process was painless and it only took about 10-15 minutes. While I was there I also picked up some driving maps just in case my GPS doesn't work.

Algarve Tourism Video

Courtesy of Essential Algarve Travel Information and Tourism Guide

This video was enough to convince me a road trip to south Portugal will be worth my time and energy :)

Portugal Algarve Video

7. Vacation Packing List

Absolutely do not forget:


Drivers License & IDP (international Driver's Permit) - US residents are required to carry IDP when renting a car in Portugal

Credit Card


Airplane Ticket

Cell Phone + Charger

Try not to forget:

Portugal Guide

Camera + Charger

Gel (got to have good hair days even on vacations!)


Antibacterial wipes


Any other forgotten items may be purchased along the way and there is no need to stress over it.

For travelers who like to stay organized and well prepared, the website offers customized vacation packing lists you can generate yourself by answering a few questions about your trip.

High Sierra 26" Duffel - Get your bag packed!

High Sierra AT3 26" Drop Bottom Wheeled Duffel Black
High Sierra AT3 26" Drop Bottom Wheeled Duffel Black

There are four features I really like about this bag:

1. wheels

2. two inch expandability

3. internal divider

4. backpack straps


Don't forget to:

Make copies of important travel documents like: passport, driver's license, flight info and hotel reservations, insurance cards, credit cards...etc.

Leave copies at home or with a family member. You never know, things can easily get lost or stolen during your trip.


I booked the entire trip through Orbitz. I can log into my account anytime from anywhere in the world and have all the information about my flight and hotels in one spot.

Have you been to Portugal?

Do you have recommendations on what to see or do in Portugal that I may have missed?

Do you have your own trip planning tools and tips you would like to share?

*You DO NOT have to be a Squidoo member to leave a comment.

Do you have travel tips you would like to share?

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Are you planning to visit Portugal?

      We have different models of campervans for those who intend to explore Portugal or any other European country.

      We rent low cost campervans, autonomous and fully equipped.

      For + info:

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      nice lens rgds from Portimao

    • PortugalBestPro profile image

      Portugal Best Properties 

      5 years ago from Portugal

      A visit to Portugal is a must. It's beautiful from North to South with lots to offer to the visitor at the most reasonable prices.

    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      Bookmarked this lens! Thanks for sharing :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      If I ever plan a trip to Portugal, I will come back here again. Thanks! :)

    • peachplanet profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @SteveKaye: Thanks Steve!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You have certainly published a valuable article. I'm sure many people will find this very useful. Wish you the best.

    • peachplanet profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Just came back from my trip. It was awesome! Got some new Squidoo material & can't wait to get started!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      No but we are not far off from it either. Very impressed with the wonderful Algarve Beaches.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent! My wife and I are planning to visit Portugal soon!


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