Portugal Checklist: 20+ “To Dos” For Your Trip to Portugal

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 6 minutes

Coming to Portugal? There’s a lot to think about from booking flights and accommodation to what type of clothes to bring.

Don’t worry, though: this list will help you double check that you have everything prepared and packed.


  • Booked your flights? Skyscanner.net is great for finding the cheapest flights.
  • Downloaded the airline app (or printed out your boarding pass)? You’ll need to have your boarding pass in some form or another – whether that’s on the airline’s app or printed out.


  • Booked your accommodation? Booking.com is great for most types of accommodation but especially hotels, villas, and hostels. While it does have plenty of great apartments to choose from, usually Airbnb.com has a better selection of apartments, houses, and rooms for short-term rent.


  • Booked your car rental? If you’re renting a car, it’s definitely a good idea to book it in advance. Rentalcars.com is a great site for booking car rental, and Skyscanner.net and Kayak.com are also good sites to look at as well.
  • Have car insurance? You’ll need some form of car insurance whether that’s the insurance offered by the car rental company or your own rental car insurance policy (either from your credit card if you have a high end credit card or through a car hire excess insurance company).
  • Bus or train tickets? If you’re taking public transport, booked your train or bus tickets? Most trains and long distance coaches in Portugal can be booked in advance. You don’t usually need to print the tickets off, but some people prefer to do that (train tickets can be booked on cp.pt and long distance buses can be booked through Rede Expressos).


  • EHIC card up to date? Europeans: is your EHIC card up to date? If not be sure to order a new one as it ensures you can get emergency medical treatment while you’re in Portugal.
  • Ordered travel insurance? Even if you have an EHIC card, travel insurance is always a good idea. It not only covers you against medical costs but against the costs of things like missed flights, lost luggage, and stolen personal items.


  • Exchanged money? You’re going to need some Euros while you’re in Portugal and it’s always a good idea to have some cash as still cards aren’t accepted in a lot of places. If your bank charges for ATM withdrawals abroad, then it’s normally a good idea to exchange your money into Euros before getting to Portugal as you’ll probably get a much better rate than at the airport or a money exchange service.
  • Have a credit card? Credit cards are great things to bring with you, and are pretty much essential if you want to rent a car. They also offer a lot more protection than debit cards, and are generally just a good idea if you’re going abroad.


  • Passport up to date? EU Citizens travelling to Portugal only need their passport to be valid until the date of their return (although it’s probably a good idea to renew it before travelling). Non-EU citizens usually need their passports to be valid for an additional six months from the date of arrival.
  • Driving licence: If you’re planning on renting a car, you’ll need your driving licence. It’s also a form of ID to carry on you iIn Portugal, you’re legally required to carry ID on you at all times).
  • Driving licence code: Although it’s almost never asked for, UK drivers now need to request a code rather than bring the paper part of their driving licence with them.
  • International Driving Licence: Some Non-EU drivers will need an international driving licence as well as their normal driving licence.
  • Visa: Depending on your passport, you may need a visa to visit the Schengen Area (which Portugal is in).

Very useful items

There is a longer list of suggested items to pack for your trip to Portugal, but it is

  • Travel adapter: If your electronic items don’t have an EU plug, you’ll need to bring a travel adapter with you. If you like to travel it’s worth getting one that covers the entire world. Most of the newer ones also have USB slots as well, which is very useful.
  • Phone, laptop, and tablet chargers: These things are very easy to forget!
  • Child car seat: Most airlines allow you to bring child car or booster seats with you for free saving you the €10 per day that most car rental companies charge for this service.
  • Sunglasses: Although you can pick of a cheap pair of sunglasses easily in Portugal, this is definitely something you’ll need here as the sunlight reflects off the white buildings and streets.

Useful (but not as essential) items

  • Sunscreen: Sunscreen can be quite expensive in Portugal, so it might be worth bringing some sunscreen (and maybe aftersun as well) with you. Alternatively, Lidl sell affordable sunscreen.
  • Power bank: Using your phone for maps, taking photos, and social media, will quickly drain the battery but a portable power bank will allow you to recharge it while you’re on the move.
  • Mosquito Deterrent: Although there are no major health problems like malaria or dengue to worry about in Portugal, getting bitten by mosquitos is still something you’ll want to avoid. If you don’t have a preference for sprays or armbands, a plug-in deterrent is a popular option to consider.
  • Refillable water bottle: Technically, all plastic water bottles are refillable but there are some benefits to buying a water bottle. Some fold up, which is really useful if you have limited space, while others have a brita filter feature which is great for making the tap water taste nicer. (Yes, you can drink the water in Portugal).
  • A book (or a Kindle): A good book is essential for reading by the pool, on the beach, or on public transport. Most books sold in Portugal will be in Portuguese (and English books are quite expensive), so it’s a good idea to bring a book (or a Kindle) with you.
  • Eye mask and ear plugs: You never know what your accommodation will be like in terms of noise and light, so these are both always a good idea to travel with.
  • A sweater: Believe it or not, Portugal can get cold at night (and sometimes it’s cold in the day). The best strategy for staying warm in Portugal is to pack layers rather than anything too big or heavy. This way, you can easily take them off if you get too warm.
  • A comfortable pair of shoes: You’ll probably end up doing a lot of walking while you’re in Portugal, especially if you’re on a city break, so a good, comfortable pair of shoes is definitely worth packing.

Clothes, swimsuits, and plenty of pairs of socks – there’s a lot that’s not on this list. You’ll find those items on the list of things to pack.

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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There are 5 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. Hi james,
    Heading to tavira mid december with a 9yr old my and parents.
    Can you recommend anywhere to visit which is good for all the family ? Is there any festive events/shows/markets. We do have a car but obviously dont want to spend hours driving to get somewhere.
    Many thanks 4 ur help

    • Hi Penny,

      In terms of events of festivals, I don’t think there is a huge amount happening in December. Faro is probably your best bet for things like Christmas markets: there are usually some rides and things like that in the center. There’s also usually an ice skating rink at Forum Algarve if there isn’t one in the town centre.

      Faro is the capital city, so this is where the majority of things will be happening. That said, expect it to be pretty low key.

  2. Hi James – Thanks for all your helpful information. I’m still a little worried about visas. My husband and I are planning to visit Portugal in March of 2020. I checked the US department of State’s website and it seemed from my reading that for just tourists (about 11 days) as US citizens we didn’t need to get visas. Did I misunderstand? I hope I didn’t. The closest consulate to us is in San Francisco. We live in Oregon on the west coast. Hope you can help. Also, I’m sorry if I asked you this before, but I am still trying to navigate around your site. Thanks for your help.

  3. Hi James,
    My wife and I will be staying in Porto fro 3 day and then taking train to Lisbon for 5 days in mid March. Will there be any festivals going on in March? In Porto, what are some sights we should not miss?


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