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Portugal Holiday on a budget

Portugal - Holiday on a budget

Portinho da Arrabida. The Silver Coast. Photo credit Mandy Verbrugge

Holiday season is approaching, those travel brochures look so tempting, especially with the special offers in travel agent’s windows, but the car needs a repair, the central heating is playing up and your salary doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Is it time to give up and have a staycation in your garden?


And in case you didn’t read that correctly, I’ll repeat it

No, No, No.

There are ways to holiday on a budget (that doesn’t involve your back garden) and we are going to tell you about them.

Are you looking for a Mediterranean climate? Stunning beaches? Nightlife? Water sports? Or maybe nature? Castles and monuments? Well look no more, Portugal has all of these and much, much more. But best of all it isstill relevantly cheap to eat, travel and stay compared to some other European countries.

We aim to provide your itinerary with tips and advice on how to make your budget go further and allow you to experience this amazing country without breaking the bank.

When should you visit Portugal

Portugal is a year round holiday destination. Obviously the high summer season is very hot and sunny, but during May, June, September or October the weather will still be generally hot and you can enjoy the resorts and cities for a fraction of the price.

There are lots of last minute deals to snap up (but the air fares will generally be more expensive last minute).

If you are tied to school holidays try looking for direct bookings, these are often less expensive than those booked through the big sites as there are no commission fees payable.

If you do not have a destination in mind, book your flights in advance, these can be extremely cheap and then book a last minute accommodation deal.

Weather in Portugal

As there is a Mediterranean climate the weather can be very nice year round, it is not unusual to have sunny days in January or February, but it is also possible to have a week of complete rain, this is a gamble on out of season holidays. But unless you are planning a week lying on the beach, the weather is not as important. And believe me it is far better to walk around a city in a cooler temperature than it is in 30+ degrees.

Although a small country, Portugal’s weather can vary in temperature. Did you know there is a ski resort in winter?

But during summer the temperatures can peak at over 35 degrees Celsius, if you are by the coast, there will usually be a cooling Atlantic breeze.

But what ever time you visit, the temperature and sunshine hours are likely to be better than you have at home.

Eating in Portugal

Whether you are on a budget or not, eating in Portugal can be an amazing experience, there is so much choice and did you know you can even buy a bottle of beer for 80 cents?

But you do need to shop around, if you want to eat in that fantastic restaurant with the views over Lisbon, it is unlikely you will be eating on a budget, but if you buy the ingredients for a picnic and some drinks you could sit with this view at the tables and chairs available to everybody. And then you can still catch the tram home.


View over Lisbon

If you do want to eat at a restaurant, then this can easily be done on a budget look for the restaurants that advertise ‘Prato do dia’ dish of the day or ‘Prato do Menu’which will include the main dish, drink and a desert (often also the bread and olives starter). If you see the word menu in a restaurant it is usually inclusive of drink etc.

If you are out of the main tourist areas the Prato do Menu can be bought for as little as 7 Euros, with a carafe of wine!

If you are looking for a cheap snack lunch, most cafes will sell ‘Bifanas’ these are pork steak, seasoned with garlic and spices in a bread roll and are often between 1.50€ and 2.50€ and are a very traditional Portuguese food, even if you are not on a budget you can’t visit Portugal without trying a Bifana.

We would advice caution about buying fast food as the cost is not that low and the food not that filling compared to the traditional prato do menu’s

However, a big warning, when you sit at a table and the olives, bread, butter etc. is brought to you, check if it is included, if not this can actually cost more than your meal! (yes we found out the hard way, but the bread was very nice!)


a selection of Prato do Dia and Prato do Menu

How to travel to and in Portugal

It is getting easier and easier to travel to Portugal and most airlines have cheap deals if booked well in advance. Especially the low cost airlines. But always compare the total cost. Once all the added extras such as baggage, seats etc. are added on it may actually be less expensive to book the flight that appears to cost more at first sight, but has no additional costs

If you book your flights in advance you can get some very special offers, leaving it till the last minute no longer means discounts.

Public transport in Portugal can be inexpensive and is reliable with trains and busses available to even the most rural of villages, in the big cities such as Lisbon and Porto, Ubers are easily accessible and there is a great metro system. With daily and weekly tickets.

Car hire is available from all over Portugal, but again book in advance and online for the best prices and ensure that you have cash or a credit/debit card that will work in Portugal.

Where to stay in Portugal

So you are definitely visiting Portugal, the big question is where to stay? Depending on the type of trip you are taking, there are many options from the Algarve all the way up to the North of Portugal past Porto. All along the coast are ideal locations for beach holidays. Have you ever heard of the Silver Coast? Less crowded and commercialised than the Algarve, but with stunning beaches and coastlines or the coast line of Alentejo and the coast in the North.

And if you are looking at cities, rather than the big cities like Porto and Lisbon, take a look at Coimbra, which has some amazing buildings and small cobbled streets, or Aveiro known as the Venice of Portugal. Take your time to explore what Portugal has to offer, rather than just accept what the travel agents show you.


Coimbra university. one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world.

There are many websites that will highlight the lesser known areas of Portugal. has a section called Discover Portugal that will give you ideas of where to visit. Or use social media, look on Pinterest or Instagram for photos of places you would like to visit

Budget holiday accommodation in Portugal

There are many different types of accommodation available in Portugal from hostels through to luxury villas (I know, you would not expect to see luxury villas on a budget post, but sometimes cheap does not have to be cheap).

If you are booking out of season, many places will have special offers or price reductions. So if there is a group of you going on holiday, booking that big 5-bedroom villa may be less expensive than booking a hostel.

If there is a group, booking that 15€ per person per night shared dorm, it may be just as expensive as booking that villa!

Did you realise that there are a great selection of B&B’s in Portugal? Many of which have swimming pools and provide outdoor BBQ’s and breakfasts that will fill you for the day.

However, if you are taking children, is the all inclusive more cost effective? Especially if they want ice creams and soft drinks all day?


A holiday to Portugal can be booked on even a low budget if you plan ahead, book your flights well in advance to get the best discounts, contact properties direct or through a website that does not charge commission. If you find a property on a big booking website, it is often easy to then google the actual property and contact them directly.

Always look at the whole cost, that big special offer may be more expensive than booking each part of a holiday separately.

And always look at areas that you may not have heard of, the beaches will be just as beautiful, the food just as delicious and the sun will still be shining.

Finally, where ever you go, have a fantastic holiday!


Author Bio: Jenny Lovett is the founder of A holiday advertising website for Portugal. Finding you the best commission free villas, apartments, cottages and B&B’s and bringing you information and photographs about holiday destinations in Portugal

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