Where are the best budget-friendly destinations in Portugal? (2023)

There's so much more to Portugal than the Algarve. Here are our favourite picks for a low-cost sunny getaway.

If you're on a budget and looking for a sunny getaway that's not too far away, Portugal may be the one for you.

Though it may not be mighty in size, with a mainland land-mass of just88km2, Portugal offers an intoxicating mix of stunning beaches, beautiful architecture and incredible food. Not to mention a number of paradise islands.

It also boasts around 300 days of sunshine per year.

So if you're looking to book a trip and want something a little different from Portugal's classic Algarve, here are a few of our recommendations.

9. Azores - the eco-archipelago

The Azores are a collection of nine Portuguese islands located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. They're around a four to five hour flight from western Europe.

Split into three groups, the islands are home to a wealth of biodiversity and numerous volcanic cones and craters. They have been hailed an ‘eco-tourism’ paradise and are home to numerous historical buildings, including 15th century churches and manor houses.

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The easiest island to fly to is Sao Miguel, but the best island to escape the busy tourist hotspots is Corvo. It has its own domestic airport which offers flights between three of the other islands. Alternatively, you can travel to Corvo via ferry from Sao Miguel.

Corvo is the smallest island and the entire island is in fact an extinct volcano and was formed from its previous eruptions.

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8. Sintra - an architectural beauty

Make like 19th century nobility and head to Sintra to escape the heat of Portugal's capital Lisbon.

Known for its slightly cooler climate, Sintra is less than an hour away from the capital and was the summer home for many artists and social elite of the past.

Located in the hills of Serra de Sintra, this town is known for its villas and castle ruins. Many visit as a day trip from Lisbon, but we recommend staying for a few days as there’s plenty to see and do.

If you like architecture, you'll be stunned by the bright colours of the Pena Palace and the intricate detailing at Monserrate Palace and, well, basically everything.

Train tickets between Lisbon and Sintra start as cheap as €2.30.

7. Coimbra - a history student's dream

From 1139 until 1260 Coimbra was the capital of Portugal and is now known as the ‘City of Students’. Despite being the fourth largest urban centre in Portugal it has a population of just 106,582 people - around one fifth of the population of Lisbon.

The city is still medieval in its feel, with many of the buildings dating back to the Roman Empire, as well as an aqueduct and numerous original cryptoporticus (a covered corridor or passageway).

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The university buildings are also recognised as being a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.Tours around the university start at €8.

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6. Aveiro - the Venice of Portugal

Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Aveiro is one of Portugal's most important ports. The region is popular with boat enthusiasts, boasting an extensive canal network it is often referred to as the 'Portuguese Venice'.

Aveiro also has a number of sister cities including locations in Tunisia, Japan and Mozambique, and is well known for its historic production of salt and ceramics.

5. Cascais - the surfers’ paradise

Known as the 'heart of the Portuguese Riviera', Cascais is great if you like the beaches of the Algarve but are looking for something a little quieter.

If you’re seeking an all-rounder holiday, Cascais is the ideal destination for families. A former fishing town, it’s now a popular spot for watersports and nature hikes.

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If you’re a keen surfer, or just up for trying it, head here. It’s growing in popularity as a surf spot but still undiscovered enough that you won’t be fighting for waves.

Cascais is 35km south-west of Lisbon where there is a wealth of cheap travel connections.

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4. Braga - the perfect city break

Braga is Portugal's third-largest city and is heavily connected to the historical and spiritual ties that still exist in the country.

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The highlight of Braga’s calendar is Holy Week in April. This elaborate affair is popular with people from all over the world.The atmosphere created is medieval, reminding tourists and locals alike that Braga is still the ecclesiastical centre of Portugal.

Taking place over four consecutive days, the main events take place in the city’s 11th century Roman cathedral.

But don't worry if you're not religious - there's still plenty of things to do whilst your roam Braga's beautiful streets.

3. Douro Valley - the capital of wine

Home of all the wines, Douro Valley has been producing wine for over 2,000 years. It has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001.

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The valleys are mostly quiet throughout the season, except for when the autumn harvest takes place, then it becomes a bustling hive of vineyard owners and wine enthusiasts.

If you want to spend your holiday wine tasting while looking at stunning views of acres of vineyards, Douro is your best bet.

Winery tours with a tasting start from as little as€13.

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2. Reserva Natural das Berlengas - a haven for wildlife

Just 10km off the coast of Peniche, Reserva Natural das Berlengas or the Berlengas Archipelago is a largely untouched part of Portugal.

Consisting of three islands, Berlengas is home to a number of birds including endangered species such as the puffin. The region is also brimming with marine life - perfect if you are a diving enthusiast.

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Of the three islands, only Berlenga is inhabited by people, many of whom live on the island to work in services which are deemed necessary, such as the operation of the lighthouse.

If you’re looking for the ultimate sanctuary, Berlenga is it, with only 350 people being allowed on the island at any given time. Visiting the island is only possible by ferry which makes two trips a day between the months of May and September.

Tickets for a return ferry crossing start at€22.

1. Peniche - our top pick for Portugal

Once a former island, geography has made Peniche much more accessible to tourists and the residents of Portugal. We’ve made it our number one recommendation because it encapsulates all of Portugal's modernity whilst paying homage to its past.

Just an hour’s drive from Lisbon, the coastal town of Peniche is famous for its historical harbour and old walls. The best part about Peniche remains in the old town where the fortress has been since the 15th century. It was used by the military until the 1970s and has since been home to refugees from the then independent African colonies.

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Today the fortress is home to a museum, which contains artefacts from when it was used as a prison by former dictator António de Oliveira Salazar.It is also a short ferry journey from the stunning Berlengas Archipelago.

Entry into the fortress costs€1.60 for adults and is free for children.


Where are the best budget-friendly destinations in Portugal? ›

Low season months of November to March are a cheaper time to visit. If you want to escape the crowds and enjoy rock-bottom prices on accommodations, plan your trip for the low season. Many museums and other attractions keep shorter hours, though you'll still find a full lineup of performances in cities and bigger towns ...

What is the most affordable city in Portugal? ›

Cheapest Cities To Live in Portugal
  • Aveiro.
  • Bragança.
  • Caldas Da Rainha.
  • Castelo Branco.
  • Évora.
  • Portimão.
  • Santarém.
  • Viana Do Castelo.
May 8, 2023

What is the cheapest month to go to Portugal? ›

Low season months of November to March are a cheaper time to visit. If you want to escape the crowds and enjoy rock-bottom prices on accommodations, plan your trip for the low season. Many museums and other attractions keep shorter hours, though you'll still find a full lineup of performances in cities and bigger towns ...

How to travel to Portugal for cheap? ›

Portugal budget travel guide
  1. Embrace the off-season. ...
  2. Book last minute hotels. ...
  3. Keep flight costs down. ...
  4. Sleep cheap in pensions. ...
  5. Walk. ...
  6. Skip the taxis. ...
  7. Spend less on dining out. ...
  8. Pick up a fresh meal at a local market.

Which city is cheaper Porto or Lisbon? ›

Lisbon and Porto are the largest and most famous cities in Portugal. This popularity increases the cost of living in both towns compared to the rest of the country. However, Lisbon is known to be more expensive than Porto. The below chart will give you an idea of the expenses in both cities.

Which is better Porto or Lisbon? ›

Lisbon offers some of the most popular tourist attractions, museums, and sights in Portugal. While Porto has some worthwhile cathedrals and sights (like the Harry Potteresque bookstore), Porto is more about enjoying the city, strolling the streets, taking in views, and tasting Port wine at the Port lodges.

Which is more affordable Spain or Portugal? ›

Generally speaking, Portugal is cheaper than Spain, although the flight there will likely be the most expensive part of your Portugal vacation. A standard flight from North America to Lisbon in May will cost around $1,200 to $1,300CAD for a round trip.

Is it cheaper to live in USA or Portugal? ›

Portugal is actually considered one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe and is an average of 50 percent cheaper than living in the United States.

Is it cheap for Americans to live in Portugal? ›

Portugal is cheaper to live in than the US. Just about everything, healthcare, groceries, transportation, and properties are available at a reasonable price. In Lisbon, rent for a property is 46.37%, consumer prices are 37.8%, and restaurant prices are 57.21% lower than in Washington, DC.

How many days do you need to see Portugal? ›

Spend at Least 10 Days in Portugal

Most travelers automatically plan for a week-long vacation. Seven days to spend in Portugal gives you enough time to see some of the country, but you'll probably miss a lot of things when you only have a week.

Do they speak English in Portugal? ›

English is widely spoken in Portugal, especially in the larger cities and in the Algarve. Plenty of foreigners live comfortably and reasonably efficiently speaking only in English. (In fact, it can be difficult to find a Portuguese who will speak to you in Portuguese.)

How many weeks do you need to see Portugal? ›

Any Portugal travel itinerary should be a minimum of seven days long to ensure you can immerse yourself in the local culture, customs, and traditions. Those with more time can enjoy traveling further afield or staying longer in one destination to scratch beneath the surface.

What is the cheapest time of year to fly to Portugal from us? ›

High season is considered to be July and August. The cheapest month to fly to Portugal is November. Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest Portugal flight deals.

Is it cheaper to go to Portugal or Italy? ›

Portugal is cheaper than Italy, particularly when it comes to eating out. Overall, Portugal is a cheaper place to buy and rent property, however some parts of Portugal (like Lisbon) are above average in terms of cost.

Is Costa Rica cheaper than Portugal? ›

The average cost of living in Costa Rica ($1000) is 7% less expensive than in Portugal ($1073). Costa Rica ranked 73rd vs 57th for Portugal in the list of the most expensive countries in the world.

Should I go to Porto or the Algarve? ›

Winner: The Algarve. There's no way a city can compete with a region that offers some of the top beaches in Europe!

Where is the most expensive place to go in Portugal? ›

It is important to note that Lisbon and Cascais are the most expensive cities in Portugal, followed by Porto. As opposed to the expensive cities, Braga, Viseu, and Coimbra are the most affordable places you can find in Portugal.

Is Porto more walkable than Lisbon? ›

You want a more walkable city. Although Lisbon's center is quite small and walkable, Porto is undoubtedly much smaller and I found it extremely easy to cover the city by foot in just a matter of days.

Why is Porto so popular? ›

Porto is home to centuries-old architecture, intricately tiled churches and buildings, and some of the best food and drink in Europe. As a bonus, Porto makes a great spot for a beach holiday too. Porto is a vital port of trade between the fertile valleys of Northern Portugal and the rest of the world.

How many days is enough for Porto Portugal? ›

Four or More Days in Porto

For a truly unforgettable experience, we recommend spending four days or longer in Porto. With extra time, you can venture beyond the city centre to discover some of Porto's hidden gems, such as the nearby countryside and charming fishing villages.

What is the best time of year to visit Porto Portugal? ›

The best season to visit Porto is late spring (May/June) or early autumn (September). This is when there are fewer tourists about the city, but the weather is still glorious.

Is Portugal or Greece cheaper? ›

Portugal is slightly more affordable than Greece, and it also has a lot to offer visitors. It has a very diverse landscape that includes mountains, beaches, and almost desert like settings. There are vibrant cities like Lisbon and Porto, and natural areas where you can enjoy a more peaceful setting.

Is food and drink cheaper in Spain or Portugal? ›

On average, the cost of living in Spain is 4.3% more expensive than in Portugal, with Spain being cheaper on average for public transport and grocery costs.

Is Spain or Portugal friendlier? ›

Portugal definitely feels safer and friendlier than Spain!

Where do most Americans move to in Portugal? ›

The main places American expats live in Portugal are Lisbon, Cascais, Porto, Algarve, and Coimbra. Lisbon: Lisbon is Portugal's capital city and offers a vibrant cultural scene, a bustling nightlife, and easy access to the rest of Europe.

Can you retire in Portugal as an American? ›

You need to apply for residency in order to retire in Portugal as an American. The process is straightforward, but it may take a while. You need to provide (1) your passport, (2) proof of income, (3) proof of health insurance, (4) criminal background check, in order to apply.

Is Portugal friendly to U.S. citizens? ›

In general, the people in Portugal are warm, welcoming, and helpful. This is very important to new expats trying to figure out the Portuguese language, the bureaucracy, or even where to find a grocery store. A little friendliness on your side will always be greeted with the same.

How much is $100 US in Portugal? ›


How hard is it to move to Portugal as an American? ›

As an American, you need to get a Portuguese residence permit if you're planning to stay there for longer than three months. If you reside in Portugal with a proper residence permit for five years, you can then apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship.

How much is the average apartment rent in Portugal? ›

Housing in Portugal is exceptionally affordable. Small apartments in the interior of the country sometimes rent for USD$315-$385 a month(though typical prices come closer to USD$500-$610.) However, a similar-sized home in a trendy Lisbon neighborhood could easily cost four times as much.

What is the most beautiful part of Portugal? ›

5 Most Beautiful Regions in Portugal
  1. Algarve. The Algarve is one of the best regions to visit in Portugal if you're looking for a sunshine-filled beach break. ...
  2. Lisbon and the Tagus Valley. ...
  3. Alentejo. ...
  4. Porto and Northern Portugal. ...
  5. Central Portugal.
Jun 16, 2021

Do I need a car in Portugal? ›

A car is not needed in Lisbon and Porto but there are lots of other amazing places to explore in Portugal. Once you go outside Lisbon and Porto public transportation options are limited. If you want full freedom to explore any area that interests you, then a car rental is really the best option.

Can you get around Portugal without a car? ›

Portugal is not a large country and you can get almost everywhere easily and efficiently by train or bus. Regional trains are often cheaper and some lines very scenic, but it's almost always quicker to go by bus – especially on shorter or less obvious routes.

Is Uber in Portugal? ›

The good news is that Uber is available in Portugal. You can also use your Uber account from your country in Portugal without any problems.

Where do most English live in Portugal? ›

Brits are the biggest expat group in Portugal, and have been for many years. The majority live in and around the Algarve, but you'll also find people of other Brits in places like Lisbon, Cascais, Porto, and Madeira.

Is Portugal Socialist? ›

The 21st cabinet of the Portuguese government since the establishment of the current constitution. It was established on 26 November 2015 as a Socialist Party (PS) minority government led by Prime Minister António Costa.

What is the best way to travel within Portugal? ›

Metro. Metro Transportation, or rapid transit is a great way to get around Portugal within larger cities, such as the capital city of Lisbon, Porto, and the addition of Metro cars for the area of Lisbon South Bay.

How much money will I need for 7 days in Portugal? ›

The average price of a 7-day trip to Portugal is $1,233 for a solo traveler, $2,017 for a couple, and $1,905 for a family of 4. Portugal hotels range from $45 to $199 per night with an average of $75, while most vacation rentals will cost $140 to $480 per night for the entire home.

Is it easy to drive in Portugal? ›

Driving in Portugal is fairly easy. The only difficulty might be in the city centres where the streets are very narrow and the roads are made of cobblestone. The motorways are all quite new and so the road conditions are extremely good and if you don't mind paying for tolls, you will get around very quickly.

How much is a flight from the US to Portugal? ›

Cheap flights from United States to Portugal from $380 | Skyscanner.

Who flies nonstop to Portugal? ›

TAP Air Portugal - offers direct flights all year round between the USA and Lisbon. Also offers direct flights to Porto depending on the season. United Airlines - offers flights all year round from New York to Lisbon and seasonally from other US cities. Offers direct flights to Porto in the summer months.

What is the best day of the week to fly to Portugal? ›

If your travel plans are flexible and you're looking to save money on flights to Portugal, then be sure to book your departure on a Wednesday. Flying out on a Wednesday, as well as a Monday, is your best option. Departing on a Friday tends to be the most expensive day of the week to fly to Portugal.

Is Portugal expensive for American tourists? ›

Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe, with food available at affordable prices, cheap options for accommodation, and reasonable costs for transport. It's not surprising, then, that so many American expats are making this beautiful country their home.

Which part of Portugal is cheaper? ›

The Algarve

According to recent research, the stunning Algarve region is also surprisingly one of the cheapest places in Portugal. Portugal's southernmost region boasts the finest beaches in the country.

Why is Portugal so cheap to fly to? ›

One of the reasons these cheap flights keep popping up to Portugal is because of of TAP Air Portugal. Its reputation may not be the best after denying refunds to travelers throughout the pandemic. And other travelers have also had concerns about getting through to TAP's customer service to chance or cancel flights.

Is Spain or Portugal cheaper for tourists? ›

Generally speaking, Portugal is cheaper than Spain, although the flight there will likely be the most expensive part of your Portugal vacation.

Can I live in Costa Rica on $2000 a month? ›

The low cost of living

With housing costs and consumer prices much lower than in the U.S., it's easy to stretch your dollars and live like a king in Costa Rica. In fact, most people should be able to live relatively well on just $2,000 a month in Costa Rica.

How much is two weeks in Costa Rica on a budget? ›

Traveling for two weeks in Costa Rica on a mid-range budget will cost you around $2,000 – $4,000, including accommodation, meals, day trips, and car rental.

Is Portugal or Costa Rica cheaper? ›

According to data from Numbeo, Portugal is cheaper than Costa Rica on many fronts. To put this into perspective, consumer prices in Costa Rica without rent are 15% higher than in Portugal. Also, the cost of groceries is about 35% higher in Costa Rica.

Is Portugal as cheap as Spain? ›

Cost of living in Spain vs Portugal

Spain and Portugal have very similar cost of living. While Portugal tends to be on the cheaper side for most things, it's also possible to have a cheaper cost of living in some Spanish cities.

What is cheaper in Portugal than us? ›

In comparing the cost of living between Portugal and the USA, Numbeo found that the consumer prices (including rent) in Portugal are 74.9 percent lower than in the USA. Rent prices in Portugal are 112.3 percent lower, restaurant prices are 78.7 percent lower, and grocery prices are 96.6 percent lower than in the USA.

Is Portugal or Italy more expensive? ›

The average cost of living in Italy ($1320) is 23% more expensive than in Portugal ($1073). Italy ranked 36th vs 57th for Portugal in the list of the most expensive countries in the world. The average after-tax salary is enough to cover living expenses for 1.3 months in Italy compared to 1 months in Portugal.

How many days should I spend in Portugal? ›

Spend at Least 10 Days in Portugal

Most travelers automatically plan for a week-long vacation. Seven days to spend in Portugal gives you enough time to see some of the country, but you'll probably miss a lot of things when you only have a week.

Is France or Portugal cheaper? ›

The cost of living is relatively cheaper in Portugal compared to France, not to mention the warm climate that is appealing to most expats. The Portuguese government also has several tax incentives to make life bearable for anyone who migrates to Portugal.

Is it cheaper to live in Greece or Portugal? ›

While the cost of living in Greece is higher than in Portugal, it is still less than in other European countries. Even the tax laws are favorable for retirees, but we'll get into more details later on in the article.

Why is Portugal so cheap to holiday? ›

Portugal can be an inexpensive country for a holiday, this is due to the average wage being only €620 a month. The key point for an inexpensive holiday to Portugal is not to act as a tourist but live like a local. Travel by public transport, shop at local markets and eat in cafés or supermarkets.

Is it better to retire in Italy or Portugal? ›

Firstly, the Global Peace Index 2021 ranks Portugal as the fourth-safest country to live in, while Italy is ranked at thirty-two. Of course, this doesn't mean Italy is completely unsafe, but an environment where you don't have to worry about your safety is an added benefit for older people.

Why is everything so cheap in Portugal? ›

The cost of food is lower in Portugal because the average wage is lower than in places like the US. The typical worker in Portugal makes about €925 per month (based on 2019 figures). That works out to a little over $12,000/year.

Who has better beaches Portugal or Spain? ›

The verdict. Deciding which country has the best beaches for you really depends on what you're looking for. Whereas Spain is graced by the warmer waters of the Mediterranean and the chilled-out beach life that comes with it, Portugal benefits from the lively waters of the Atlantic and some truly epic scenery.

Can you take a train from Spain to Portugal? ›

There are only two rail links between Spain and Portugal: the night trains from Madrid and Irun to Lisbon and the "Celta" trains in the north from Vigo to Porto. There is no rail connection in the south.

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