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Guide to Solo Travel in Portugal

Portugal is one of my all time favourite Travel destinations and it’s a great place to go solo. Portugal is rich in everything that a culture vulture looks for in travel – art, architecture, museums, old towns, castles and cathedrals. There are phenomenal beaches along the Algarve and silver coast (between Lisbon and Porto) that make for great places of relaxation. And the gastronomy – Portuguese food is out of this world! I’ve been travelling around Portugal on and off for the last two years and today I bring to you my ultimate guide to solo travel portugal.

When to go to Portugal

Portugal can be very hot in the summer (avoid July and August if you don’t like hot weather) and very cold in the winter (avoid December and January). Also December and January many clubs and restaurants in the Algarve will be closed as it is the tourist ‘off season’. A lot of restaurant and bar owners take their holidays at this time. 

So the best time to go to Portugal in my opinion is the shoulder season from April to June and then September to October. October and May are my favourite months to visit, when it’s mild but still warm and not jam packed with tourists.

If you are travelling to the Algarve consider the Portuguese and UK school holidays (a lot of Brits travel to Portugal in school hols – many of them with a brood of screaming kids!) If business and kids are not your thing then avoid these times of year. 

Also consider if there are any particular festivals that you want to go to in Portugal. There are a lot of music festivals on in the Algarve during summer. Also local towns have their own ‘festas’. If you are interested in Palm Sunday and Easter parades then Easter is a great time to visit to see some of the religious processions. Portugal is still a predominantly Christian country with an active Christian community. 

Ponte de São Gonçalo Amarante

What to pack for Solo Travel in Portugal

This packing list is presuming that you have checked luggage as well as one hand luggage, and is suitable for 2 weeks in Portugal. If you are in one location mainly and getting an airport transfer ten suitcases are fine. However, if you are moving locations (for example doing this Northern Portugal Itinerary) then I would recommend a big 50-60L backpack). If you are checking in a backpack you will need to seal down the straps (to avoid it being torn) and take it to irregular sized luggage check in. Also your hand luggage should be a really sturdy day pack such as a Karimoor or a Vango. Remember that your hand luggage will need to be within the guidelines for the carry on bags w

  • Smartphone and charger – I use an OPPO and the OPPO lightening charger for super fast charge.
  • Laptop and charger – I use a MacBook Air and have a European Macbook charger as well as a UK one, so my Laptop charger that I take is compatible with Portuguese plugs.
  • Charging battery pack – so that you don’t lose smartphone power on long journeys (this is vital when you have tickets on your phone!)
  • European plus adapter – it’s the one with two pins that you need for Portugal.
  • Camera and spare batteries
  • Gimbal for video content creation
  • Walking Boots or study and comfortable trainers – these are essential footwear and what you should wear on the plan so that they don’t take a lot of room up in your luggage.
  • 2 x Bikini or swim shorts – In the summer in Portugal you will use these a lot!
  • Flip flops and sarong for the beach – You need the flip flops as Portuguese sand can get very hot and you don’t want to burn your feet. A sarong can be used in lots of different ways to give you some coverage and also protect you from the sun.
  • Sunglasses – I prefer to use my prescription ones and I now have glasses that will automatically tint with the sun so I never need to pack a second pair!
  • Underwear including walking socks and sports bras – I have found that 7 pairs of socks and pants and 2 bras in enough for a fortnight in Portugal – you can do a hand wash half way through your trip and clothes will dry quite quickly on your balcony.
  • 1 pair of jeans – I usually travel in those as they are comfy and suitable for all weathers on the plane (thinking mainly about getting on the plane in UK here!)
  • Comfortable and lose fitting clothes – I like to take T-shirts, vest tops, cycling shorts and leggings. Light cotton summer dresses are great for Portugal. A pair of light walking trousers are also a good option. Tale a scarf or some long sleeved top for appropriateness when visiting places of worship, for example the Churches of Lisbon.
  • Smart clothing – Girls, take a few skirts and dresses as they are comfortable in the Portuguese heat. Men should take one smart pair of trousers and a shirt
  • A pair of nice shoes for evening meals if you wish.

Medical Kit for Solo Travel in Portugal

  • Pain killers – Paracetomol and Ibuprofen.
  • Dioralyte sachets – for dehydration.
  • Anti-septic cream – for bites, stings, cuts and grazes.
  • antibiotics for any infections that you are prone to (such as ear infections or UTIs),
  • Canisten (for thrush which can occur in hot weather).
  • Plasters and triangular bandage.
  • DEET or some alternative insect repellant plus hydrocortisone for Mozzie bites.
  • Antihistamines – Such as Clarytin.
  • Regular medication that you need on a daily basis – e.g. asthma inhalers, insulin if you are diabetic, tablets if you are epileptic or have any other medical condition at all).
  • Sanitary towels and tampons for girls
  • Contraception (if needed)

Getting there and away

Most people fly into Porto or Lisbon airport and both of these destinations are rich in monuments and well connected by an extensive metro system. The Lisbon Metro connects the airport directly with downtown Lisbon (head to Baixa or Oriented for transport links). The Porto metro also connects the airport to the city centre (head towards Trinidade). There are always tacos available and Uber works in Portugal too. 

If you are flying into the Algarve you will probably land in Faro. You can take a bus or a cab from Faro airport to the centre of Faro. 

Guide to travel around Portugal

Portugal is easy to get around even if you don’t have or rent a car. However, some of the more remote areas of the Algarve are best explored by car if you can hire one. Remember that Portugal is right hand drive. You can rent a car in Portugal for about €60 a day. 

Personally I don’t drive and I wouldn’t fancy it on those hilly cobbled roads either! 

It should be noted that it’s easier to get around Portugal by public transport along the coast. Most coastal Algarve towns and cities are connected by train other than Sagres. There are direct trains from Porto and Lisbon to destinations such as Coimbra, Aveiro and Faro. So you can even travel by train from the North to the south. You can book you trains on and it’s easier and cheaper to book them in advance. 

If you download the CP app you can buy digital tickets. Just remember that you will need to put in your passport number to book and carry your passport on the train with you. Mine has been checked by conductors before. Also, make sure that you have enough charge in your phone at all times. A charging pack is an excellent thing to bring so that you don’t run out of battery on your smartphone. Mine nearly ran out on the train from Aveiro to Porto – luckily it lasted until the second he checked my ticket – and died thebminte after!!!! I learnt the hard way! 

Another fantastic option is the buses – just be aware that sometimes they can run a little late. Also some of the roads may be a little windy especially inland to Northern destinations such as Lamego and Vila real. You can book with Rede Expressos and Flixbus – both have apps that you can download and allow you to book online. Rede Expressos is more local and Flixbus is more long distance (they will also take you to destinations in Spain). 

The cost of travelling in Portugal by bus is very cheap – I was travelling between the main northern towns and cities of Portugal (Porto, Amarante, Lamgeo, Aveiro) for between €9-15 per ticket booking only one day in advance. Again make sure that you phone is fully charged and arrive at the bus station at least 15-20 minutes before your bus is due to depart. 

Download these apps

  • Rede Expressos – National coach travel within Portugal
  • Flixbus – National and international coach travel for Portugal, Spain and the rest of Europe.
  • – Comboios de Portugal for booking your trains in Portugal
  • Duolingo – Language learning app for Portuguese (please note that it is Brazilian Portuguese but it still helps for vocabulary sometimes pronunciation is slightly different).

Solo travel Portugal – is it safe?

Obviously all travel comes with a bit of risk and you always need to consider who you are hanging out with and where your stuff is. But I can honestly say that I have taken over 12 solo travel trips to Portugal in the last 2 years and I have literally never had a safety problem. The biggest risk I would say is theft in Lisbon – don’t set your phone down on a table in a bar or restaurant or take it out on the metro. The portuguese are very receptive and positive to solo travellers especially female solo travellers. Whenever I have had a problem there has always been someone to stop and help me. 

A brief history of Portugal

Portugal is very rich in history and its worth ready up and researching a bit about it before you go. It has been invaded several times and throughout history Portugal was conquered by the Celts, Romans, Visigots (Barbarians from the North), Moors (Islamic invasion) and then the Christians. Portugal did not become independent from Spain until 1142 and so a lot of Portigals early history is entwined with Spanish when it was the Iberian peninsula. 

Unmissable Destinations in Portugal


Lisbon is absolutely stunning. It’s very tourist friendly and digital nomad friendly with a lot of hostels and co working spaces. It’s rich in monuments including Sao George castle and Lisbon Se Cathedral. I’d highly recommend a journey on the yellow tram 28 which goes past the main sites. Also take at least half a day (even a day) to go to Belem for Jeronimos monastery and tasting the Pasteis de Belem (custard tarts recipe by the monks!) Why not check out my blog on how to spend 4 days in Lisbon?


Porto is my absolute favourite city in Portugal. The city is vibrant and diverse, with people from all over the world. Don’t miss Se Cathedral, Igreja de São Francisco and Livraria Lello. Even if you are not travelling through São Bento train station you need to go in to visit and see the amazing blue tiles (azulejos) that decorate the inside. Then head down to Ribeira on the evening to see the colourful houses overlooking the river Douro. The riverside is lined with amazing bars and restaurants. You should also cross over to the other side of the river because Vila nova de Gaia (the South side) is where all of the port houses are! A visit to Port wouldn’t be complete without a good Port wine tasting session!


Sintra is home to some of the most beautiful sites in Portugal, including Palacio de Pena – a colourful hotcpotch of architecture influenced by the moors. Many people do Sintra as a day trip from Porto, but I would say that it warrants an overnight stay. Also don’t miss Castelo dos Mouros, Palácio Nacional de Sintra  and Quinta da Regaleira.

Pena Palace – Sintra

Although most people with limited time focus on Lisbon and Porto, there are some amazing smaller beautiful towns or cities if you have more time.


The medieval city of Braga in the North of Portugal is famous for it’s Cathedral, which is the seat of the Archdiocese of Braga and of the Primate Archbishop of Portugal and Spain. Due to it’s historical significance it is one of the most important religious buildings in the whole of Portugal. he stunning pipe organ inside the Cathedral is in Baroque style and is so famous that they have a festival dedicated to it. Braga is also home to the University of Minho and the gardens in front of the university buildings are stunning.


Guimaraes is famous for it’s 10th Century castle overlooking the city. Near to the castle you will also find he Romanesque Sao Miguel do Castelo Church and the Dukes of Braganca palace. It is possible to visit Guimaraes as a day trip from Porto but again I feel it warrants an overnight stay, especially if you prefer a relaxed pace of life and enjoy opportunities to taste local cuisine.


Amarante is one of the most beautiful towns in Northern Portugal. The view of the Ponte de Sao Gonçalo is stunning with the beautiful Igreja de São Gonçalo. The contrasting white Church of Sao Domingo is next to it and you can enter both of these fabulous Churches for free. This relaxing town has some fantastic pastry shops and eateries on both sides of the river Tamega. Visit the Amarante museum for art and artefacts from the local area. Also finally you can walk up the town to visit Igreja de Sao Pedro with the elaborate bell tower.


Lamego is home to one of the most beautiful Churches in the whole of Portugal – Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. There are also several other treasures in this small town – don’t miss Lamego castle, Se Cathedral and the Lamego Museum. This relaxing destination is small and you can see the main sites within one day, so you only need to stay here for 2 days max.

View of Lamego from high up near the castle


This small city in the mountains is a pleasant surprise with some stunning architecture. The city is famous for its blue and yellow tiled wall in the centre of the city – Painel de Azulejos. Don’t mis Viseu Cathedral, Museu National Grau Vasco and Igreja da Misericordia.


Coimbra is famous for being the oldest university city in Portugal – a bit like the Portuguese version of Oxford. You can buy tickets to visit the inside of the old library which is one of Coimbra most famous sites. The city itself is beautiful – don’t miss Se Velha and Igreja de Santa Cruz. On the other side of the Mondego river you can visit a 14th Century monastery – Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha and also the 17th and 18th Century Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova. It is rich in history and I would recommend two or three days here in Coimbra.


This beautiful inland city has a gorgeous old town square and beautiful bridge running over the river with a water wheel. The gem of Tomar is the Convent of Christ – a former Catholic convent which was originally a 12th-century Templar stronghold.

The Algarve 


Faro is a nice town and has good cafes and restaurants and a univesity. however. You can see most of the town in just one morning or one afternoon. Most people use faro as a stepping stone to other destinations such as Tavira and Loule. The train from faro goes all along the Algarve coast though, so it’s actually a good base if you want to stay put and see smaller destinations as day trips. 


Tavira is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful destinations in the Algarve. Built around the river, this town is full of churches and chapels overlooking the river. Tavira castle is much a ruin, but the setting of the gardens and the view from the top are what make it truly spectacular. 


Lagos is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Brits on the Algarve. It’s famous for its selection of sandy beaches including playa Estudiantes, Meia Praia and Praia do Camilo. The museum in Lagos includes the spectacular Igreja de Santo António guided in gold. It’s a good destination to take boat trips out to the coastline and caves. You can also do kayaking and other activities from Lagos. The town centre is a great attraction for holiday makers with beautiful old town architecture and some great bars and restaurants.

Further Reading on Solo Travel in Portugal

If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like to read some of my other articles on Portugal:

  • Four days in Lisbon
  • Churches of Lisbon
  • Free walking tour Lisbon
  • Taking a Lisbon to Sintra day trip

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Guide to Solo Travel in Portugal


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