Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Portugal Travel
Portugal is one of my favorite countries in the world. And it’s one of the most under-rated. Within the geographically-blessed continent of Europe, Portugal often takes a back seat to the pleasures of Italy, the famous landmarks of France, & Spain’s exciting cities. But Portugal offers much of the same: with more down-to-earth charm & a lower price tag. And with regards to solo female travel, Portugal is the #3 safest country in the entire world!! Which is great if you’re setting out on your first solo adventure ~ or simply if safety is a concern to you. Let’s get more into specifics in this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Portugal Travel!”
**Author’s Note: Article updated as of December 2022.
Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Portugal Travel
When I think of Portugal, I think of bright yellow buildings & white cathedrals, & the seven hills of Lisbon ~ a place that reminds me of San Francisco, with its steep hills & breathtaking views. Yet it’s significantly cleaner & definitely has more charm. Then there’s Sintra, about 45-minutes from Lisbon, with its beautiful views & sumptuous palaces. You may want to stay awhile, unless you feel like heading to the beach…in which case, the Algarve is where you’ll want to go ~ Portugal’s famous southern coast line. Or if wine-tasting is more to your liking, head up to the Porto region, & visit some of its wine cellars or the many vineyards in the surrounding Douro Valley.
All of this & more awaits you in underrated & laid-back Portugal!
Map of Portugal
Temple of Diana in Evora
Portugal Travel Overview
- Safety = VERY Safe! In fact, Portugal is the #3 Safest Country in the World! 99% 99%
- Cost = One of the cheapest destinations in Western Europe 40% 40%
- Adventures = Plenty ~ though most are of the more relaxed variety: wine-tasting, beach-combing, castle-gazing, etc. 85% 85%
- How Safe I Felt as a Female Traveler = VERY Safe 99% 99%
Portugal Travel Quick Facts
- Portugal in One Word = Underrated.
- Portugal in One More Word = Bright.
- Wi-Fi = Wi-Fi is available in Lisbon & major cities, but is harder to find in more rural & off-the-beaten path places.
- Global Peace Ranking = #3 out of 163 countries (U.S. is #103) = One of the SAFEST countries in the entire world, & the safest country in all of Europe ~ except for Iceland.
- Hotels = Considerably cheaper than most of Western Europe, & generally cheaper than the U.S.
- Must-Do’s = Wander Lisbon’s colorful streets. Listen to Portugal’s signature fado music in Lisbon’s lively Barrio Alto. Marvel at the beautiful yellow Pena Palace in Sintra. Fly out to the Azores. Sip wine & admire the beautiful tile work in Porto. Find the Temple of Diana in Evora. Rent a car with Auto Jardim & meander your way through the peaceful countryside. Stay in a Portuguese castle, called “Pousadas” ~ such as the stately Pousada Castelo Alvito.
- Is Portugal Good for Solo Travelers = YES!! Portugal is at the top of my list for solo travel ~ in terms of both safety and price. And typically, it’s not overwhelmed with tourists, which is a plus for the independent traveler. The only detractor is that Portuguese is a difficult language to pick up, & most locals don’t know English.
- What to Expect as a Female Traveler = Expect bright buildings, a laid-back vibe, & friendly locals who are helpful, even if they don’t fully understand you! You may experience rowdy youngsters in the Barrio Alto (Lisbon’s lively, central bar district) ~ but other than that, Portugal has a very relaxed, non-machismo vibe.
- Would I Go Back = Yes!!! I could see myself retiring here…
Photos of Lisbon, Portugal
I’ll never forget the first moment I set foot in Lisbon: my friend Lea & I disembarked from a local train, & literally felt the city vibrating beneath our feet. It felt like there was a stampede going on. We looked at each other in confusion: what the heck was going on??! The year was 2004, & there was a minor little event called the Euro Cup taking place (which we knew nothing about)….& the city was absolutely vibrating with pandemonium & excitement.
What I learned: Portugal is pretty much always relaxed ~ except when it comes to football (aka soccer)!! That trip still remains one of the best & most serendipitous trips I’ve ever taken, where everything seemed to fall exactly into place….
Taking a Trip Around Portugal….
Now, let’s leave the capital of Lisbon & venture further out: to the whimsical Pena Palace in Sintra, then up north to Portugal’s wine capital, Porto. Next, we’ll head down south to Portugal’s glamorous beach resorts in the Algarve, & finally, travel even further afield to the island of Madeira….which has an otherworldly beauty all its own.
And keep in mind while you’re making your Portugal travel plans: something particularly unique to Portugal is their network of pousadas throughout the countryside. Pousadas are historic properties ~ some were former monasteries, others were castles or palaces in the past, & the wonderful news is: you can STAY in them now!! I’ll never forget, my friend & I booked one in a remote part of the country, & as we drove our rental car up the major hill to reach it: we looked at each other like, “Where are we??!” The grand property is still one of my most memorable, if slightly haunted, European hotel memories!
Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Portugal Travel!
Thanks for reading this “Ultimate Girl’s Guide to Portugal Travel!” Whether you’re looking for a safe, relaxed place to embark on your first solo travel journey, or you’re a couple looking for a romantic & understated adventure ~ Portugal is sure to delight. Ask me any questions in the comments below!