Travelling to Portugal: A comprehensive guide

Figures suggest Portugal is one of the most popular foreign places to visit among Brits, with around 1.9 million people making the trip across the Atlantic Ocean every single year.

A large amount of this group will be jetting off on their all-inclusive holidays, more than ready to exchange their desks for plenty of sun, sea and sand. However, for some, Portugal is the home of their overseas property and there's nothing wrong with checking how their investment is keeping with a trip to this delightful part of south-western Europe.

Regular visitors of Portugal will find that getting across to the country can usually be done without complications. This area of Europe is serviced with plenty of flights and even trains from Britain, but there are certain entry requirements that set the country apart.


As is the case in most countries, your passport must be valid throughout your stay in Portugal. It's best to check this at least two months before you travel, as the government's quickest turnaround for travel document renewal is still three weeks. Applications can take even longer between April - September, so it's best to check this as early as possible - preferably before booking your travel.

Fortunately you won't need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. Though if you're open the possibility of extending your stay, it's best not to take any chances by renewing your right to travel up to the appropriate date. You can apply for a passport renewal up to nine months before it runs out, which creates plenty of room for you to play it safe.


Rules state you can stay in Portugal as a tourist for up to three months. This should be enough time for a lengthy holiday or an in-depth review of business abroad. However, if you need to stay in the country for longer, you can apply for a Registration Certificate while you're over there.

This can be done at any Camara Municipal (town hall) providing they have the power and facilities.

Best times

Portugal's glowing reputation among holidaymakers means flights are always the most expensive during the school holidays. Account for higher rates during July - August, as well as the October and February half-terms.

Off season lasts from January up until early February, although temperatures in Portugal are still at a reasonable height even then. Though if it has to be said, March and April (avoiding Easter) are probably the best months for visiting Portugal. The sun is usually still shining at this point and the tourist crowds should have scaled back.


Most of the key airports in Britain offer flights into Faro Airport (FAO), including Gatwick, Stansted, Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and Belfast. This is located around two miles to the west of Faro, so it's not too hard to find yourself back into the city centre.

Flights to Portugal are also available thanks to services into the Francisco Sa Carneiro (OPO) Porto Airport, Lisbon Airport (LIS) and Joao Paulo II Airport (PDL) on the island of Sao Miguel, but Faro has the biggest selection of flights from the UK.


Flight isn't the only method of travelling to Portugal and those looking to shave a few pounds off their travel bill might want to consider the train as a more cost-effective option.

The route starts with the early morning Eurostar from London to Paris, followed by a trip on the Sud Express - the famous night train that connects Paris with southern Lisbon. With sleeping carriages as well as a bar and restaurant on board, this is still a highly civilised way of travelling to Portugal.

Otherwise it's a trip on the Eurostar onto the overnight 'train hotel' (Francisco de Goya) into Madrid. You've then got time to see what the Spanish capital can offer before taking the Lusitania overnight train to Lisbon.

In the country

You can go straight from Lisbon into many of Portugal's major cities by train. However, aside from trains on the main Lisbon to Porto line, long-distance services do not pass by on a frequent basis. Thus, it's best to search for times before you travel to the country so you know how long you're likely to wait.

Most train times and fares can be found at the Portuguese Railways website, for state railway firm Comboios de Portugal (CP), which can be found at www.cp.pt. Suburban trains operate around Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra, with these also connected to local metro, tram and bus services.

Bus is a perfectly sensible way of travelling around cities, while taxi services could be useful if you're unsure of directions. Still, for travelling outside a city, it's best to either hire a car or try looking for the soonest train.

Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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