Is Portugal expensive? We’ve got the answer. So, read on if you’re considering a jaunt to the sunny Algarve or the historic walks of Lisbon, the arty city of Coimbra or the surf breaks of the Silver Coast. This guide will run through the sort of outgoings you can expect on your trip to the very western end of mainland Europe.
We’ll break all the costs of a holiday to Portugal down into several bits, by taking a look at the amounts of money you’ll need to set aside for food, drink, accommodation, and travel while on the ground and getting there. We’ll also try to offer a good ballpark figure for what an average trip to Portugal might cost in 2022.
It’s worth pointing out before we begin that costs vary hugely here. You can do a super-budget trip to Portugal if you like, hopping Couchsurfing beds and staying in sub-$10 hostels. But there’s also scope to go luxury, with stays in the royal palaces of Sintra and luxury restaurants on the Cascais beaches. A lot of what you’ll spend depends on what you want out of your vacation.
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The average cost of a holiday to Portugal
A rough estimation of what most people will spend on a holiday to Portugal would be around €1,500 ($1,690) per person, per week. Midrange trips that include stays at three- or four-star hotels could fit anywhere in the range of between €1,200-€2,500 ($1,350-$2,800) per week. If you’re really sticking to a budget and traveling outside of the peak season then that could go down to <$600 per week, while luxury travelers can spend tens of thousands without any issues if they really push the boat out.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how we arrived at our weekly estimation:
- Airfare – Portugal is now really well served by low-cost carriers. That helps to keep the cost of flights to around $150-200 return from most European destinations. Long-haul flights to and from the USA can cost anywhere from $400-1,000+ with bags, so you’ll need to up the budget if you’re coming transatlantic.
- Accommodation – This can vary hugely, but we think a fair estimation is about $50-100 a night in Lisbon and around $40-80 a night outside of the capital. You’ll also notice that the cost of hotels in Portugal goes up a lot in the high season summer months, but more on that later.
- Food and drink – Eating well in Portugal shouldn’t cost too much. The local seafood taverns and country bistros here don’t break the bank but are still great quality. We’d say it’s roughly in line with the cheaper end of Western Europe, at about $20 per head in a restaurant, adding up to about $60 a day for lunch, dinner, and snacks.
- Transport – We recently scored a rental car in Portugal for 30 straight days that cost just $350 total. That was a bargain, but hires are generally cheap. So is public transport, so set aside about $15 a day for this.
- Sights and activities – You can explore Portugal for free (just wandering around Porto or Lisbon is a great joy!). However, we’d say plan about $20 per day each to really make the most of it.
Is Portugal expensive for accommodation?
Here’s some good news – Portugal is probably a touch cheaper than other major European destinations when it comes to hotels. For example, you can score a very cool inner-city pad in Lisbon for about $50-80 a night in the middle of the peak summer season (just try doing that in London or Paris or Rome!). What’s more, the price of places to stay tends to drop even more as you leave the capital, with Porto coming in cheaper and regions like Alentejo even cheaper again. The only place that bucks that trend is the Algarve, the summertime vacay mecca of the lot.
We also really like the very wide spread of accommodation options that are on offer to all budgets across the country. You can score converted royal palaces with on-site spas inspired by the Moors and chic fine-dining restaurants for upwards of $500 a night if you want. Or, you can choose to bed down with the backpackers in a surf hostel for just $20 a night.
Here’s a look at some options from all levels of the accommodation spectrum in Portugal:
- Penha Longa Resort ($$$) – Prepare to be stunned by the sheer majesty of this palatial resort in the lush Sintra Cascais Nature Reserve. It even has its very own golf course!
- Archi-Pelago Alfama Design Suites Guesthouse ($$) – A very cool urban bolthole in the heart of Lisbon that’s bright, breezy, and has a balcony overlooking the historic streets of the capital.
- Hostellicious ($) – A stylish and clean backpacker hostel with pod-style beds that offers shared-bathroom doubles in the heat of the Algarve.
Is Portugal expensive for food?
Portuguese food is one of the best things about a trip here. The good news is that you probably won’t have to skip out on it just because the budget is tight. Good eating doesn’t cost too much, especially since the essence of the local kitchen is simplicity and rusticity, with a heavy focus on regional ingredients.
Here’s a quick look at just some of the costs you can expect to see when it’s time to chow down in Portugal:
- One of Porto’s famous francesinha sandwiches served with a side of chips – €6.50 ($7.30).
- A bacalhau com natas cod pie in a local tavern in Lisbon or Porto – €10-12 ($11.29-13.55).
- A glass of red wine in a restaurant – €1-5 ($1.12-5.60).
- A McDonald’s combo meal – €6.50 ($7.30).
Of course, you can spend WAY more than the above on food in Portugal. There are now some seriously chic eateries on the menu, especially in the upscale resorts of the Central Algarve, in Lisbon city centre, and in Sintra. Wine tends to be cheapest straight from the vineyard, but is also reasonable in supermarkets – you’re looking at €6 ($6.70) for a good bottle.
Is Portugal expensive for nightlife?
Portugal isn’t really like other countries in Western Europe when it comes to nightlife. Things are noticeably cheaper in the bars and clubs here than in neighboring Spain (especially Ibiza) and nearby France (especially Paris and the Cote d’Azur). It’s all very casual, you see, with unpretentious bars that attract locals to the beachside for food and drinks from an early hour.
It’s normal to bag a glass of wine during your pre-drinking session for just €1 ($1.12) if you know where to go. Beers – the local Super Bock and Sagres – are roughly the same – about €1-1.50 a bottle ($1.12-1.69) and a little more for a larger draft. What’s more, there’s no need to tip on just drinks, although the waiting staff might deserve it, but we’ll leave that up to you.
When it comes to nightlife later on, the only places that really charge a premium are the bigger clubs in Lisbon and Porto, and then the 18-30s mega-clubs in Albufeira, the nightlife hub of the Algarve. Still, they won’t be anywhere near the cost of similar places in Ibiza, Ayia Napa, or Mykonos, so don’t worry about having to fork out $50+ for a ticket.
The cost of things to do in Portugal
The cost of activities in Portugal is generally very reasonable. You can even check off some of the most important things without spending a penny – there are frequent free walking tours of Lisbon and Porto for example, which offer to show all the major sights for just a voluntary tip at the end. Oh yea, and a day’s lazing on the beaches of the Algarve or the Silver Coast shouldn’t cost you a thing, as parking for the sands is usually 100% free.
Here’s a look at what some other top-of-the-list activities usually cost in Portugal:
- A two-hour surf rental in Ericeira or Peniche or another popular surf town – €15-25 ($17-22.50)/day.
- A day trip to see the UNESCO palaces of Sintra from Lisbon – €70 ($80) per person.
- A wine-tasting tour into the Douro Valley – €75 ($85) per person, but these usually need to be booked as a group.
- Entry to a water park in the Algarve – €26 ($29) for an adult.
The cost of traveling to Portugal
What it costs you to get over to Portugal all depends on where you’ll be starting from. If you’re already in Europe then there’s good news, because low-cost airlines offer oodles of services to the three major airports of the country (Faro Airport in the Algarve, Lisbon Airport, and Porto Airport in the north). Most of the connections are seasonal, which means they only run between May and September, but there are great bargains to be had – think <$150 return with bags, and even less if you go in spring or autumn.
Long-haul flying into Portugal is a whole different ball game. The cheapest tickets on routes in from the USA tend to be with airlines like TAP and United. They sometimes fly the route for about €300 ($338) return, but you might need to pay extra for bags. Almost all long-haul connections to Asia will need to stop at another European hub (often London or Frankfurt) before arriving in Portugal.
Is Portugal expensive? Our verdict
There’s some great news for travelers hoping to get stuck into the golden-sand beaches of the Algarve and the Moorish castles of Lisbon this year – this part of Europe is actually very affordable. We’d say it’s among the cheapest of all Western European countries, with the price of an average midrange trip coming in at about $1,350-$2,800 per person, per week. High-season trips in the middle of summer might cost towards the top end of that range, while winter trips will almost always be less.