Whether it’s been planned for months or just last-minute, booking a trip to Portugal will feel quite the event, and for good reasons. The country is so popular among tourists and visitors all year round, all wanting to see and bask in some of its beautiful architecture and scenery.

But with so many people wanting to see Portuguese cities all at once, the experience can get wholesale pretty quickly. City tour times may get rationed, and coastal beaches get crowded as more peak times show up on the calendar.

Thankfully, you don’t have to come away with a generic Portuguese experience, not if we can help it. Here are 10 tips that will make your next trip to Portugal uniquely memorable.

#1: Pick Up Some Local Phrases

Unless you’re fluent in Portuguese – or at least conversational at it – we’d imagine interactions with Portuguese locals will have some friction for a visitor. You could throw an interesting spin on this little problem by learning some Portuguese phrases.

Granted, all the language barriers won’t go away when you learn how to say “thank you”, “Excuse me” or “Goodbye” in Portuguese, but it’s a fine start. For one, it means your visit doesn’t get confined to the larger cities.

When learning Portuguese phrases, the more the merrier. But If we were to recommend only one Portuguese phrase, it’s got to be “Voce fala Ingles?” (Do you speak English?). It’s such a load-bearing phrase that immediately improves your interactions with the locals.

Also, it does help that Portuguese residents are mostly amiable to see visitors try a few phrases on their trip. You’re more likely to get a few friendly tips from a local if you throw in some Portuguese phrases when asking about the area.

#2: Try Local Foods

You might want to try out traditional cuisines on your next trip to Portugal. It’s great for two reasons: international foods and the restaurants that serve them aren’t very popular in Portugal. As such, the ones you can find will have quite the markup. Hotel restaurants won’t help all that much either.

Also, you’re more likely to have a richer experience seeking out traditional menus. Imagine happening upon a local restaurant whose “Menu do Dia” (Menu of the day) has Caldeirada de peixe on it, or a Pastelaria serving up some Pastel de Natas for breakfast – makes for a top-tier Portuguese culinary experience, and then some.

#3: Ditch Shopping on Tourist Strips

This is more of a general travel tip: Avoid buying from popular tourist routes. Items are often overpriced, and not very authentic after the fact. Instead, shop where the locals shop, and eat where they eat. You’re likely to discover hidden gems that way, all while saving money and time.

#4: Try Not to Tip at Restaurants

While the tipping culture at restaurants might be welcome in other parts of the world, it’s not that popular in Portugal – or Europe, for that matter. Paying the full price stated on the menu is just fine, but if you feel particularly happy with the service, you can round the figure up to the nearest Euro.

#5: Keep All Valuables out of Sight

Here’s one safety tip for you: Keep all your valuables out of sight when touring Portuguese cities. This applies more to the larger Portuguese cities, but erring on the side of caution anywhere else wouldn’t hurt. With the large influx of tourists into Portugal each year, it’s no surprise that thieves seek out a convenient smash and grab situation – and it gets violent sometimes.

#6: Leave Your Passport and Credit Card at the Hotel

This comes in handy in the event of a valuable theft. Leaving your passport and at least one credit card safely at the hotel will mean you don’t get stranded if your wallet or purse gets stolen. 

#7: Use Car Rentals to Get Around

Portugal is quite the navigable country, since it’s not expansive and the roads are well-connected. This means road trips are the best way you can experience Portuguese cities, and car rentals let you have just that. The good thing about this transportation solution is that it’s quite affordable. Even better, there’s a plethora of bus service options if you intend to keep a leaner budget.

Wrapping Up

Portugal is such a beautiful country, and lots of people will want to see it. This means more people vying for the experience each year. But your next Portuguese trip doesn’t have to feel generic and bland due to the crowd. With the above-mentioned tips, you’d get to eke more uniqueness out of your next stop on your trip to Portugal.