What To Pack For Portugal
Portugal is one of my favorite countries in Europe. It has beautiful cities like Lisbon, great beaches, perfect surfing conditions and lovely people who love to help you whenever you’re in need of. But due to the strong winds and different temperatures in cities and on the beaches, it’s necessary to be well-prepared for your next trip to the Portuguese country. Thus, you find here my ultimate list of what to pack for Portugal.
In this post, I tell you what luggage you will need, what clothes and travel essentials you should bring and what you can just leave at home. Also, you find further below my travel tips about Portugal and my exclusive checking list. So, if you’re planning a trip to Portugal and don’t know where to start yet, this packing guide is just made for you! Have a look and print out my checking list afterward to have a relaxing vacation with all the stuff you really need.
What luggage do I need?
My boyfriend and I traveled just with our carry-on bags. It’s easier to handle than a big suitcase and for 1.5 weeks it was enough for us. We even could carry our wetsuits. Don’t believe me? Then you better keep reading because further down I tell you what to pack for Portugal to make this possible. But let’s get back to the luggage first. Throughout my journeys, I’ve learned what I really needed and that actually less is better. That’s why I can manage to travel with a carry-on bag only. In addition, we change accommodations very often on our trips so we can discover different places. And in this case, you need a small bag that’s not too heavy.
A big suitcase would be too clumsy, a backpack too big for our things. And I always have a little day bag with me which makes carrying two bags more difficult. So, we’ve found the happy medium, a carry-on bag. But if you’re planning to travel as a backpacker for a longer period, of course, you should consider a backpack. If you stay in a hotel for longer and that’s it, a big suitcase is fine for you. The most important thing is to find the right luggage for your personal preferences. I hope I could make this clear and you have a vision now of the luggage you will need for your trip to Portugal.
What clothes should I bring?
If you have found the right luggage, it’s all about picking the right things now. Ask yourself what’s important? What are my experiences? What did I need in the past on these kinds of trips? If you don’t know yet, find here my list of things you will need. And if you need help with packing, you can read here my ultimate packing guide with lots of packing tips and essentials. But first, read here my list on what to pack for Portugal:
- a jacket or cardigan (especially at the ocean and by night it can be really windy and cold)
- a raincoat (when we were there in August it was drizzling sometimes)
- up to 6 plain T-shirts and tops that can be combined with every outfit
- 1 pair of shorts for hot days in the city
- pants with light fabrics for the evening
- summer dresses or skirts (perfect for city trips or at the beach)
- good sneakers (if you explore a city, you will need them!)
- 1 pair of flip-flops for the beach
- 1 swimsuit/bikini/swim trunks
- a wetsuit if you plan to surf in Portugal (if you just want to start surfing, you can rent one there)
- some pairs of socks (the number depends on how often you will use your sneakers)
- 7 pairs of slips or boxer shorts (if you stay longer than a week, you can either take more with you or wash them in your accommodation)
What essentials do I need?
A trip to Portugal can be cool, exciting and so much fun – if you pack the right essentials. So, if you missed things like a book or a camera in the list above, don’t worry. You find it in this list of the most important essentials. Some things are obvious, but I still want to mention them here, because I forgot some really “essential” things in the past and I don’t want you to make the same mistake as me.
- credit card, passport or ID (very important!)
- sun protection (my number one skin essential!)
- after sun crème (if you travel with just a carry-on, don’t forget the 100 ml limitation in planes)
- a hat or beanie (it got really cold in Portugal in the evening, so make sure you stay warm after a shower for example)
- a scarf (it’s perfect when it gets colder in the evening or even in the plane)
- sunglasses (sometimes I take two with me to switch whenever I feel like it)
- Maps.me app (it’s an offline map that works with GPS only and is great for finding and saving locations)
- your camera + charger and SD card (if you wonder what I use, it’s the Sony Alpha 6400)
- international power adapter (if you don’t have type C or F)
- a book or an e-reader + charger
- refillable water bottle
- thin hammam towel
- hanging toiletry bag
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 deodorant
- 1 hairbrush
- 1 small bottle of shampoo and shower gel (also here make sure it’s in a 100 ml bottle)
- feminine hygiene products (it’s what you can buy there, too, like tissues, but I prefer my usual products)
Travel insurance is the last thing I want to mention in this packing guide. Maybe you already have one, but it is so important and makes this list complete. Whenever you go hiking, surfing or even just visiting a new city, something can happen. I don’t want to freak you out now, but I want to tell you that there are always risks – even at home. And here gets travel insurance into the game. While at home, you are covered, on vacation you’re not. For example, if you fall and break your ankle, you have to pay for the hospital costs. And that can get pretty expensive. So, in this case, you want to be well-prepared.
Travel insurance helps you with it. It covers the costs whenever something happens to you. Below you find a search box by World Nomads (one of the biggest travel insurance companies and trusted by Lonely Planet) to find the right insurance for your vacation. If you once have one, you will be more carefree whenever you go on a new adventure.
What can I leave at home?
There is always this one thing you bring on vacation and in the end, you have somehow never used it. Do you also know this? In the past, it happened so often to me. I just brought too many things that I could have left at home. That’s why I made this list for you. Because these are the things you don’t really need on your Portugal trip.
- GoPro (the ocean in Portugal is really rough, so you don’t really can take good photos in the water)
- expensive valuables (do you really need a 300€ watch or an expensive laptop on your vacation ?)
- impractical shoes (high-heels, for example, are definitely not shoes to wear when doing city trips or beach days)
- a hairdryer (most hotels and guest houses have one, but I don’t like to dry my hair anyway in summer)
Portugal travel tips
Book accommodations and flights in advance
When I’ve learned something about Portugal then booking accommodation and flights in advance. When we booked our trip to the Algarve, there weren’t so many options left (although we found a great accommodation), just because we checked it out too late. Also, flights get pretty expensive when you have a look a couple of days in advance. So, my recommendation is to book these things 3 months ahead. Especially during the summer months, in bigger cities such as Lisbon or Porto nice hotels and guesthouses can be booked out. If you plan your trip wisely and foresighted, you will still find great and affordable options and save money on flights.
The best way to get around
Portugal is a widespread country with lots of small cities and a varied landscape. So, if you plan a road trip which is perfect for Portugal, you should consider renting a car. That’s the easiest and fastest way to get around. If you just want to stay in one place and make city trips from there to some places, you can take the bus or train (that’s what we did). This is the cheapest and most comfortable way. But if you just plan a weekend trip to one of the bigger cities, walking or public transportation are the best options for you.
Avoid tourist trap restaurants
Whether you are in Lisbon, Porto or Faro, in bigger tourist destinations, you can notice higher prices, especially in restaurants. But there are differences. You have to look carefully to differentiate between a good high-end restaurant and a tourist trap. Tourist trap restaurants usually have a host who will chase you down to the street to get you in their restaurant. Also, their menu is poorly translated with inflated prices. When you additionally see big pictures of food and drinks, then you are definitely in a restaurant for tourists. Then you should really eat somewhere else to get the real Portuguese flair and quality food.
Starters are not for free
Speaking of the touristy restaurant, this tip applies to all restaurants in Portugal. If you ever have bread, cheese, olives or pastry sticks waiting for you at the table, this is never for free. Even if you only eat one thing, it counts as consumption. If you don’t want to pay for it, just leave it at the table while waiting for your meal. But always make sure to check the bill afterward. We had the case that the restaurant wanted to charge us for it although we haven’t eaten it. They took it back from our bill and we only paid what we ate. Just do the same and you’ll be fine.
Plan your visit to Portugal
If you need help in planning your vacation, here are some links I personally rely on myself. You can just have a look at these sites to book your flights, accommodation and more.
- Flights: Momondo
- Accommodation: Airbnb or Booking.com
- Car Rental: RentalCars
- Tours: GetYourGuide
- Travel insurance: World Nomads
Download my packing list
Have you put everything together on what to pack for Portugal? If not, here is as promised my exclusive packing list. You can just download it here, print it out and check off every single piece step by step. That way, you definitely won’t miss anything.
If you want to read more about cities in Portugal, read for example my Lisbon travel guide and get inspiring tips on what to see and do, where to eat and stay, what the best travel time is, how much the trip costs and so much more! But I’m sure, your vacation in Portugal will be awesome anyway because it’s just a lovely country with so many great things to see. If you have any questions about this packing guide, let me know in the comments below.