Budget friendly tips for your next trip to Portugal!
Working in travel and being an avid traveller myself, I get it, you’ve saved up all your heard earned money and now you’re almost ready to get on that plane! But the dreaded question always lingers…have I saved enough spending money! Well, as always, my mission is to help you travel better and offering smart travel savings tips.
So in this post I’m going to share with you a couple of my top money saving tips for your next Portugal trip!
Before you go, be sure to plan & book your Portugal Travel Essentials:
- Search & Book flights here on Skyscanner
- Book your car rental through AutoEurope
- Search hotels here on Booking.com, or on VRBO for apartment-style stays
- Click here to browse & book bus and train tickets
- Lastly, don’t forget about travel insurance for your trip!
Pssst…Don’t forget to read our Portugal packing list post to ensure you’ve got all your travel essentials packed and ready for your holiday to Portugal!
1. Saving money on Food & Drink
1.1 My favourite free restaurant app – The Fork
Possibly one of my favourite apps on my phone has to be The Fork. It’s a free app that myself and my partner use all the time and it saves us a ton of money on dining out!
The app allows you to check out restaurant reviews, look at the menu as well as book a table at a preferred time slot. Go a step further and tap the ‘filter’ icon and enable ‘only with promotions’. Now you will see a list of restaurants that offer you up to 50% off your main meal when you book at specific times. How awesome is that?!
And as a bonus, you also earn Yums. They are points you earn for every booking done through the app and once you reach 1000 Yum points you can exchange them at select restaurants to get €10 off a meal.
So head on over to your app store and download The Fork today!
1.2 Don’t be shy to eat where the locals do!
We’ve been there and done it ourselves. Too scared to go check out the local restaurants dotted on every street corner in Portugal. It may seem daunting but if you truly want to experience the very best of Portuguese hospitality and cuisine whilst also saving money at the same time, then you have to try out one of the local Tascas and grab a bite to eat.
Top tip, have a look out for the ‘Menu do Dia’ (Menu of the Day) which is often advertised right as you enter the restaurant. These Tascas will offer a different menu option every day and it often includes a soup, main meal, a juice and an espresso coffee. And normally for under €10 all in. So it’s fabulous value for money and well worth a visit.
So don’t be shy, go check out the local Tasca down the road from your hotel and thank me later for the delicious food you’ll get to enjoy.
2. My top transport tips for getting around and saving a penny or two!
2.1 Travel by train and not by plane.
When we first moved to Lisbon we decided to travel by air to visit the northern city of Porto. Boy have we come along in leaps and bounds since moving to Portugal. As anyone who lives here would know, it’s just not worth flying between Lisbon and Porto. And if you looking to save money on your travel budget, then travelling by train is definitely your best bet.
Not only are the trains clean, of a high standard and very comfortable, you also get to skip all the airport queues and security checks. Overall, the experience is much more seamless and hassle free. The journey between Lisbon and Porto averages around 3 hours and in all honesty, once you consider your total travel time by plane including check-in, security procedures as well as your actual flight time, then you might as well catch the train in any case!
Train Tip 1 – Avoid ticket booth queues
The Portuguese train company (Comboios de Portugal) has a great website (and in English as per the link provided) and app that you can download. You can book and pay for your tickets online and travel with the e-ticket that the system emails to you once booked. So, no more waiting in long queues at the train station ticket desk!
Train Tip 2 – Book in advance
Well…2 months in advance to be exact. That is how far in advance they open up bookable train schedules online and on the app. But there is a benefit to doing this. By booking well in advance you could bag yourself a promo ticket fare. These fares save you around 40% off the normal ticket price. So it’s well worth planning and booking ahead!
Train Tip 3 – Group discounts
Are you travelling with a group of friends or family? Then another money saving tip is booking all your tickets in one go. If you travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and you buy 3 or 4 tickets then you may qualify for a whopping 50% off on your tickets. Now that’s a bargain.
2.2 Don’t assume the metro will work out cheaper, a cab may just save you some money instead.
Portugal, unlike some of it’s other European counterparts, do not at this point (as of 2019) have any regulations in place barring cab and taxi hailing services. As a result there are a number of well known operators currently present throughout the country. These include Bolt, Kapten, Uber as well as MyTaxi. And whilst you may think that taking the metro might be more cost effective to get around the bigger cities, you may actually be wrong! To save some money when travelling in Portugal, especially when travelling as a group of two or more, always compare the cost of a cab versus the underground.
Let’s do the math: say you are a group of 3 friends travelling. The Lisbon metro will set you back €1.33 per person for a journey (price as at 2019). So that would work to €3.99 for your trip. I cannot tell you the amount of times that both myself and my partner have travelled around Lisbon for well under €3.99! This is partly due to the fact that Lisbon is quite a compact city. We’ve often been surprised by the low cost of using taxis.
Of course, in saying this, you do also need to consider how much you plan on travelling around by public transport and whether one of the daily passes may work out cheaper. Thus, moral of the story is to always compare to ensure your not overpaying.
Bonus savings tip: Use my sign up codes
As always I want to help you save even more. So when you sign up for any of the above-mentioned taxi-hailing services for the first time, why not use my referral coupon codes. It will be a win-win situation for both you and I. The list of codes include:
- Uber – promo code you enter is – marcos7506ui (you will get a discount off your first ride)
- MyTaxi – promo code you enter is – marco.san37 (you will get 5€ off your first trip)
- Kapten – promo code you enter is – MARSAN333 (you will get 3€ off your first 2 rides)
- Bolt – promo code you enter is – BP31D (you will get up to 3€ off your first ride)
**Disclaimer – as mentioned above, apart from you earning a signup bonus, I will also receive a discount in return. But this will in no way affect the price you will pay.
2.3 Why not travel by bus? Tips on how to save even more.
Another great way to get around Portugal is by taking a bus / coach. Especially when you are planning quick day trips out of the city centres. Buses are a great way to get around affordably and you may even find that the travel time works out faster than the train.
We’ve used various bus services to explore towns outside of Lisbon. An example is when we took a day trip to visit the Palacio de Mafra as well as the seaside town of Ericeira. We also travelled from Lisbon to Coimbra by bus and found it both cheaper and quicker versus if we had taken the train to get there.
So make sure to research and plan your routes and compare train and bus before booking.
3. Additional money saving tips for travel in Portugal
3.1 Consider your travel dates before booking
One of the best tips I can offer that will likely save you the most money when planning your trip to Portugal, is to consider your travel dates. When booking off-season, prices drop drastically and you can benefit from phenomenal deals & rates.
During the high season in Portugal, which is around July to September, prices are noticeably more expensive. Shoulder season, April – June as well as October sees slightly lower prices than during the high season. But for the best deals, plan to travel between November – February and I can assure you, you will save a ton on your trip. And why not travel during winter?! Portugal has a much more temperate climate compared to some of its European neighbours and there is still plenty to see and do.
Especially during the Christmas month, markets, events and shows happening all over. So if you want to avoid the crowds and save a buck or two, then head over to Portugal during the low season. You will not be disappointed.
3.2 Check out our list of free things to do in Lisbon
My last tip rounding out my 7 essential money saving tips relates to a previous article I posted. If you are visiting Lisbon during your stay, then go check out my post for a list of awesome things to see and do in and around the city at no cost. Yes, free of charge. You’re welcome!
So there you have it. My list of money saving tips for travel to Portugal. I will continuously be updating this blog post with additional tips (as and when I think of them!). So if you aren’t travelling for some time yet, then feel free to check back for more budget friendly updates!
If you have any comments or suggestions that I may not have thought of, then please feel free to share. I would love for other travellers to have access to any and all available tips and tricks.