We all love traveling, but most of us struggle with the packing part! And choosing what to pack for Portugal is a reason for indecision, especially if this is your first trip to the country. After all, what to wear when it is cold and when is it possible to wear light clothes? What should you not forget in your Portugal packing list and what is unnecessary? Worry not! In this post, I will tell you all about it and help you pack your bag for the perfect trip to Portugal.
For several years, Portugal was overlooked by tourists, but now it is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Each day, thousands of tourists arrive from all around the world.
The country has earned such fame for a good reason. Among its many appealing attributes are the country’s breathtaking natural scenery, the country’s exceptional wines, outstanding cuisine, and warm, welcoming people. Furthermore, it is rich in tradition and has a vibrant cultural community.
Located on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is bordered on the south and west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the north and east by Spain. Another reason for Portugal’s popularity is precise because of its location since as a result, it has a warmer climate than the rest of Europe.
Still, besides considering the weather and the season of the year, when deciding what to wear in Portugal it is also important to consider the number of days you will be in the country as well as the size of your luggage. For example, if you prefer to travel with hand luggage, you will need to choose wisely what to take with you and also follow a few tricks to make sure everything will fit.
So, I have gathered below a few tips on what to pack for your Portugal trip.
General Portugal Packing List
First of all, remember that it is more than normal to forget things before a trip. Before we leave we are so excited about our trip and also nervous. And the desire and hope for the perfect trip usually make us bring the entire wardrobe, which we’ll usually never wear, and forget the essentials.
So our suggestion is first to breathe and read on. 🙂
If that happens to you too, maybe I can help. But before deciding what to pack, you need to think of a few points regarding your Portugal itinerary:
- Weather is a big concern when traveling to Europe. Traveling to Portugal in the summer is very different from traveling in the winter.
- Do you plan on checking-in your luggage or are you packing a carry-on only?
- What are your plans? Are you going to coastal cities, wine regions, or religious sites?
- Do you plan to do a lot of walking while you are in Portugal? Or go on a long hike?
Depending on your answers you will need to pack different kinds of clothes and accessories. In this article, I will help figure out what to pack for Portugal in each situation.
When are you visiting Portugal?
The first thing to consider when packing for a holiday trip is the weather and the time of the year you will be visiting Portugal. And as you might have imagined, the best time to visit Portugal highly depends on what you want to see and visit in the country.
What to take to Portugal in spring
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Portugal is spring when visitors can expect very pleasant temperatures and almost no rain. However, since it is still a transitional period, the weather can be a bit unpredictable.
Therefore, you should bring items that prepare you for warm days, such as light t-shirts, jeans, and shorts, dresses, and skirts. But also layers of clothes that protect you from the cold that may arise, such as light jackets, wool coats, and cardigans. If you are a very cold-sensitive person, you can also pack a thin scarf.
Precisely because spring combines all the seasons into one, it is worth considering all the possibilities when organizing your suitcase for Europe during this period. You might have just as many sunny days as you have rainy ones. Therefore, always keep in mind items such as:
- Jacket and thermal pants for those who are more shivery;
- A waterproof jacket (preferably with a hood) or a trench coat;
- Long sleeves that can be worn underneath the rain jacket;
- Pashminas and scarves.
- Thick socks, sneakers, tennis shoes, and boots;
- Skirts, jeans and fabric pants, cardigans, as well as knit and wool sweaters.
What to wear in Portugal in the summer
In June, July, and August, Europe is an interesting option for those planning to travel. And that is because it is already summer and everything is more vibrant, the days last longer, and consequently the attractions stay open until later.
Also, it is possible to visit several beaches and taste delicious foods and ice creams that you may not find in other seasons.
However, even in summer, the climate can vary greatly across Portugal. For example, northern Portugal can get quite wet, so bring a travel umbrella or light raincoat.
Throughout the rest of the country, and particularly in southern Portugal, it can get very hot, so light clothing is the best option. But as temperatures can drop at night, having an extra warm piece of clothing is also a good idea.
To get an idea of what to pack for summer here below you can find some suggestions
- If your destination is a seaside resort, consider taking beach tunics, a nice dresses, shirts, and kaftans, which result in a neat look that will allow you to take a walk around town or go to the restaurant without any discomfort;
- Pack light, comfortable, and above all, clothes that do not crease. However, do not forget to add a jacket, because at night the temperature usually drops a little;
- Do not pack clothes that are not on your list of favorites – believe me, you will not wear them. Instead, take items that you believe are more essential and that goes with any outfit.
Wrapping up – the essential items to pack in spring and summer:
Enough clothes: Since summer in Portugal is hot, you should always pack a change of clothes for each day, it is normal to be sweating in the middle of the day. But worry not! it is not the desert either and you might be able to repeat clothes or even do laundry!
Sunscreen: Obviously, sunscreen is something that is a must to include in your suitcase to Portugal during the summer months is a sunscreen with a high SPF. (But also remember to drink a lot of water. So a great water bottle will help you stay hydrated and save some plastics)
Sunglasses: As mentioned before, spring and summer in Portugal can sometimes reach high temperatures, and sunglasses, besides the style they give us, also help to protect our eyes from the consequences of the sun.
Hats/caps and hair accessories: Another accessory that helps protect you from the burning sun is a straw hat or a cap. I would say taking a good hat is almost mandatory if you travel during summer.
Also, if you have long hair you might want to take some hair tights and a hair bow to keep all those extra hairs from your sweat around your forehead and neck.
What to take to Portugal in autumn
The months of September and October are, like spring, considered mid-season on the European continent. So, when it comes to organizing what to bring in your suitcase for Europe in the fall, think about the same rules we give for those going in the spring.
However, anyone planning to travel to Portugal in the fall should also know that from this time on, the frequency of rainfall is greater, as are gusty winds. At the same time, some days can be drier and warmer than usual.
In other words, when choosing what to pack for Portugal in autumn, my tip is: go for a mix of items.
Therefore, jeans are always welcome, as they bring comfort and practicality, and are also a great option for both hot and colder days. So are t-shirts and cardigans.
But the biggest tip in the fall is to prioritize waterproof items, both coats, and shoes. And do not forget to always carry an umbrella with you as you might catch a little rain throughout the day.
What to take to Portugal in winter
Winters can be quite cold and, in particular, very humid in Portugal. During the day, however, temperatures can rise. For this reason, it is important to wear layers. As with other seasons, winter also varies a lot depending on where you are in Portugal.
In Lisbon, temperatures average around 60°F, which calls for comfortable jackets along with scarves and closed shoes. In the north of Portugal, in cities like Porto and Braga, for example, the winter is much colder and, as the winds are strong, the thermal sensation makes it more noticeable.
Therefore, you can bet on heavier jackets with good thermal insulation, as well as boots and scarves.
The trick to not making your suitcase too heavy and bulky when packing for winter holidays is to take half a dozen long-sleeved cotton T-shirts to be washed and changed daily, and only two very warm pullovers or fleeces. Over it, all, wear a jacket, or a parka, lined and waterproof.
And keep in mind that clothing in general, especially wool, is not expensive in Portugal. So, leave some room in your suitcase, as you will probably buy clothes there.
Summarizing the essential items to pack in autumn and winter:
Waterproof clothing: Portugal is not usually a very rainy country, however in the fall and winter it is normal to have rainy days, so it is advisable to pack waterproof clothes. The last thing we want is for you to get sick during your stay.
Resistant boots or shoes: Give preference to those boots that do not let water in, in case of a few raindrops. After all, nobody likes to have wet socks and shoes.
Umbrella: The umbrella is an indispensable item in your winter suitcase. Although it is not normal to rain for a whole day or a week non-stop, in winter you can expect overall rainy weather.
Warmer clothes: Pack warm clothes! Not necessarily fur coats, just a warm undershirt, a sweater, and a jacket on top, and you will be ready for the Portuguese autumn/winter.
Binnies, scarf, and gloves: If you consider yourself a shivery person, it might not be a bad idea to bring accessories to feel cozier and warmer, such as binnies and scarves.
What clothes to take to Portugal
In general, Portuguese people dress very casually and the dress codes vary a lot. So, the type of clothing you should pack in your suitcase or backpack depends on the time of year you will be traveling, the regions you will be going to, and the programs you intend to do.
Consider that in the big urban centers, for certain programs (like having dinner in an elegant restaurant or going to a Fado performance) it is appropriate for men to wear a blazer, and for women, a skirt or dress. If this is not your intention, decent jeans, clean sneakers, and t-shirts will suffice. And depending on the time of year, a pullover and/or jacket.
Overall, the items you will need in Portugal depend on the season of the year you travel to the country. For example, if you go during the winter months, you will need warmer and heavier clothing. In the fall, waterproof shoes and items that are easy to dry.
If you are traveling in summer, carry light clothing and sandals as temperatures can sometimes be unpleasantly hot in most parts of the country.
What about shoes?
The important thing about any shoe is that it is comfortable because when we travel, we end up walking all day and there is nothing worse than ending the day with blisters on our feet.
Women should avoid wearing heels, as there are many slopes and cobblestone streets in Portugal. And besides comfortable walking shoes, be sure to pack some shoes with non-slip soles. When you see Portugal’s cobbled streets, you will thank me. They can be pretty, but they are unbearably difficult to walk on with heels or when it is raining since they can easily get slippery.
And never pack a new pair of shoes! Select one that has already been softened. Portugal has so much to discover on foot that it is mandatory to wear a pair of shoes that you feel good in and that does not hurt your feet.
Personal hygiene items to take to Portugal
What personal hygiene items to pack highly depend on your lifestyle. Besides solid shampoos and the obvious toothbrush and toothpaste, it is wise to bring a small kit of basic medicines: painkiller, antipyretic, antispasmodic, fruit salt, adhesive tape, band-aid, disinfectant, thermometer, and all the medicines you usually take, accompanied by the prescriptions.
As in other European countries, a good number of over-the-counter medicines require a prescription to be bought in Portugal.
However, do not overdo it: carry in a waterproof case with one copy of each toiletry, personal hygiene, and the cosmetic products you use.
For women who might get their periods during their holidays, I strongly recommend using a menstrual cup since they take so little space and you do not need to worry about having enough tampons or having to buy more in Portugal.
Some other toiletries you might want to pack include:
- Nail scissors and tweezers;
- A small hairdryer, unless your accommodation provides one in the hotel room;
- Spare glasses or contact lenses and a prescription to have them made in case of loss or breakage, as well as products for cleaning contact lenses.
What to take to the beach
Besides the evident light layers of clothes and the typical summer packing list, there are a few items you should not forget to include in your list if you are also going to the beach:
Swimsuits and wetsuits: It is no news that Portugal is a great place for bathing vacations. The temperatures in summer are around 90°F, warm clothes are the last thing we want these days. Pack bikinis, bathing suits, and shorts. The Portuguese coast is wonderful for a swim with clean, beautiful beaches as far as the eye can see.
Flip flops: There is nothing like the feeling of freedom that slippers give us, it is liberating to walk around the streets of Portugal wearing slippers (especially if you are planning to go to the south of Portugal).
Swimming shoes: Many of the coastal destinations in Portugal have a rocky bottom, including some of the Algarve beaches. These can be hard to walk on without twisting your ankle, so swimming shoes or reef shoes could be really useful.
Beach towel: And obviously if you plan on visiting a beach, a sarong or beach towel is mandatory. How else do you plan on laying in the sun and getting your tan in check?! Keep in mind, these towels can be just as useful if you want to read a book at a park or simply go on a boat tour to the Benagil Cave.
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Specific documents you might need in Portugal
Now that your bag is all ready, there are a few extra items we should not forget. Some of these are just as essential as taking an extra pair of underwear. Maybe, even more important!
Passport: It goes without saying, this might be the most important document to carry with you. So, be sure to always keep it safe! It is worth noting that as a legal requirement the expiration date of your passport must be 90 days or more after the expected date of return of your trip, by the provisions of the Schengen Treaty.
Tickets: Nowadays, most companies accept digital tickets with QR codes. Regardless of them being flight tickets, train, bus,
Copy of documents: You should also scan your documents and save them on your smartphone, ideally on the cloud. Of course, classic paper copies work just as well. This saves you a lot of time and stress in the case of a loss or theft. It might also be a good idea to have some current, biometric passport photographs on hand.
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International driver’s license: Even if it appears to be quite old-fashioned and strange, I highly advise you to obtain an international driver’s license. Not only is this license required if you wish to rent a car but, in some countries, even driving a scooter is prohibited without it.
Vaccination certificate: No vaccine is required to go to Portugal.
Any additional IDs: If you have a boat license, a diving license, or some other additional ID, be sure to pack them as well. I personally always carry my diving license to any trip I take. You never know what opportunities you might encounter during your holidays.
Cash/PayPal/credit cards: Obviously, you cannot do anything without money. Take some Euro with you but also set up PayPal on your phone since many restaurants, stores, and even some public transportations take it as a form of payment.
A safe place to keep documents and money: There are small bags, such as concealed money belts or travel pouches, which are used to keep money and documents in places that are not in natural sight. However, Portugal is a very safe country, so you can walk around calmly without worrying about the world. I only want to alert you to the basic precautions that you should always take.
Given the era we live in now, we cannot live without a few basic electronic items. So, remember to pack the following:
SIM card: We must agree that while living in the 21st century it is practically impossible not to have reception or cell phone connection.
Whether you want to keep in touch with loved ones back home or if you want to check what restaurant to have dinner at, you will most likely be glad to have a working SIM card with you.
But also for security reasons and to be able to use google map and find your way to wherever you want to go.
International plug adapter: Depending on where you are coming from, your electronics might have a different plug connection than the one Portugal uses, so it is always a good idea to be safe and carry a travel adapter with you.
Power bank: If you want to be on the go as often as possible, an outlet is not always within reach. A power bank is essential for not missing out on music, digital reading material, Google Maps directions, and so on.
Depending on the power bank, you may be able to keep not just your phone and tablet charged, but even your laptop. Important reminder: when traveling, use every available outlet!
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Photographic camera: Portugal has fantastic places to be photographed, a camera is essential to be able to record the moments you have experienced. Of course, in the era of smartphones, the camera is often replaced by the cellphone. Be that as it may, record everything and share with the world the beauty of Portugal!
Headphones/earplugs: Do you think you might need some downtime? Not only may it be difficult to sleep on a plane or train, but cities and even nature also have a variety of unpleasant noises in store. If you enjoy a little peace and quiet, earplugs or excellent noise-canceling headphones should be on your packing list.
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Bluetooth jukebox: I cannot function without music. While traveling, your smartphone does it with headphones. But in the evening on the beach, while cooking, or maybe during a spontaneous party, you may wish to share your music with others. Your take-away jukebox should be small, light, and preferably waterproof.
And any accessories? Or other random items?
Which accessories to pack will also highly depend on your style. Some might be considered as essential clothing, such as a hooded raincoat or a hat. Others are more alternative and random, like needle and thread or even an extra padlock for your suitcase.
So, I have listed here a few ideas you might want to consider including in your Portugal packing list. Some of these might seem odd, but they are my suggestions for a great Portugal trip.
Day bag: You will probably not want to carry your suitcase around when visiting a city or a beach town so a day bag is essential to carry all the belongings you might need for your long days of exploring. These might include your documents, money, sunglasses, water bottle, and so on.
Swiss Army knife: Imagine you go for a day trip and only do a pit stop at a grocery store. You might be happy to have a knife to cut your bread or slice your tomatoes during your picnic by the Sintra Castles, for example.
Notebook and pen: I love taking notes. There is something very satisfactory about checking things off a list or circling attractions on the informational maps.
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Extra bags: You might want to separate the dirty clothes and shoes from the rest of your things, so do not forget to pack a few extra bags.
Corkscrew: Portugal is the country of wine, and it is very common to see people sitting along the Tagus River in Lisbon having a bottle of wine, for example. But this is not possible without a corkscrew.
Headlamp: I once met a friend who would not go anywhere without a headlamp, and I have to admit she managed to convince me of its value. You might not need your headlamp at all but if you do, I promise you will be glad to have it with you! Whether you go camping, discover caves, take long hikes that might last until sunset, or even go through power outages… It might end up being an essential item that does not take much space in your suitcase.
Book/Kindle: I do not go anywhere without a good book… To the beach, the park, a train ride, even long queues at the airport. A book can be your best friend and keep you entertained for hours if needed.
Cards: From my personal experiences, I have learned that this is one item that can be more useful than one might expect. This is the most basic and simplest form of entertainment to gather people around the table while having quality time talking and having fun. I highly recommend taking a deck of cards with you, especially you are a solo traveler.
Special tips for packing your bag to visit Portugal
Basic pieces always: If you do not want to make a mistake, opt for basic pieces. Besides facilitating combinations, they can help you reduce the volume of your suitcase. After all, basic clothes are wild cards and can easily be repeated during the trip.
But when I say basic clothes, I do not mean just tank tops and jeans, but clothes that can be worn with several other pieces. The ideal is to wear a bottom with at least 4 tops, so you have 4 different looks.
Hand luggage: It is always advisable to put a change of clothes in your hand luggage because unfortunately your suitcase might get lost. Just be aware of hand luggage restrictions. In addition, you should label your suitcase with your destination address and, if possible, take a picture of it before you check it out.
All set to go?
So, with all these suggestions, are you all ready to go?
Flights booked, accommodation waiting, bags packed with all travel essentials?
One last piece of advice… Be sure, to go through your checklist one last time and always keep your passport safe!
More About Portugal
About the Author
I’m Camila, an Oceanographer from Brazil which is where my journey began. My studies have taken me to unique places around the world since I was a teenager. I found in my academic career the chance to come across different cultures and languages while working as a scientist. By having lived in several countries I have been able to share my experiences as a travel content writer for the last 4 years and I still have plenty more to tell. I have a great passion for the outdoors and animals, especially dogs and seals (which, let’s be honest, are basically sea dogs!).