If you haven’t read any of the prior expense reports from our trip, check them out below:
Let me start this post by saying that Portugal stole our hearts. We went into Portugal with high expectations based on research that I had done about the cost, quality of life, and climate… and all of our expectations were surpassed. In fact, we are strongly considering spending 3 or more months per year living in Portugal in the future. We seriously didn’t want to leave, even with many more awesome places on the itinerary for this trip. Each area we visited had its own pros and cons, but our two favorite areas were Caldas da Rainha, and Lagos (in the Algarve region). We spent a total of 15 days/nights in Portugal, broken down between the 4 places we visited below.
- 3 days/nights in Porto
- 2 days/nights in Caldas da Rainha
- 5 days/nights in Lisbon
- 5 days/nights in Lagos
I should also note that during the month that we’ve been on this trip so far in Portugal and Spain, as of writing this, it hasn’t rained even once! Every day has been sunny so far with most days being pretty warm. On most of our days in Portugal there wasn’t even one cloud in the sky. Of course it isn’t like this all year, but it seems like we picked the perfect time of year to start our journey in Spain and Portugal.
Stay tuned for Whitney’s next post about all of our adventures on this part of the trip, but for now I’ll focus on the expenses incurred while traveling through Portugal. Keep in mind that all of the expenses that I’ll talk about below are my expenses only, since Whitney and I have quite different spending habits. We split all shared expenses evenly, so I calculate the numbers below with my half of the shared expenses and then my individual expenses.
Accommodations: We stayed at various reasonably priced Airbnb’s (this is my referral link which you can use to get $55 off of your first stay!) in each place in Portugal. All but one of the four were great and in convenient locations. Our place in Lisbon we had some issues with, including the bed immediately breaking when we sat down on it… Our host told us that he had just bought the bed from Ikea a couple of days prior to us arriving and it looked like it hadn’t been assembled properly. He replaced the broken bed with two twin beds pushed together with a queen size mattress on top. There was one hitch in this solution though which was that the twin beds were different heights! We basically slept on a slant for 5 nights. In addition, the place didn’t have AC, which normally wouldn’t have been an issue, but there was a heat wave in Lisbon while we were there with daytime temperatures in the 90s! Needless to say, we were ready to leave by the end of our 5 days, but the location and city itself were really nice.
In contrast, our Airbnb in Porto was the best Airbnb experience that we’ve ever had! The host was extremely nice and helpful and the room/house was amazing. She gave us recommendations for restaurants and activities as well as included free breakfast. Our places in Caldas da Rainha and Lagos were centrally located for convenient walking, had everything we needed, and also had great hosts and accommodations.
Our most expensive lodging was in Lagos at $35/night ($17.50 each) and the cheapest was in Porto at $30/night ($15 each). Overall all of our housing costs in Portugal were very affordable and a good value for the quality (especially Porto)!
- Total for my expenses: $243
Food and drink: I hate to bring up alcohol again like in my last post, but how can you go to Portugal and not take advantage of the delicious Port wines that are everywhere?! We bought many bottles of wine during this 2 week period, and even splurged a little a few times with buying bottles of wine with dinner at restaurants. Whitney’s birthday was at the end of May while we were in Caldas da Rainha, and we went to a very nice restaurant for her birthday which increased costs here a little but was 100% worth it. We ate at least one meal out each day (usually dinner) but did our best to keep food costs down by buying already prepared food at nearby grocery stores for at least one meal or snacks. We found that many grocery stores in Portugal have delicious and affordable rotisserie chicken in their deli, which was a great lunch that we took advantage of a few times.
We found that even some of the nicer restaurants in Portugal are fairly low cost. The most I spent on an entree was around $12, with my average entree cost being closer to $8-$10 for dinner. There are also a plethora of corner pastelarias (pastry/coffee shops) selling sandwiches and soups for a couple euros each.
- Total for my expenses: $225
Transportation: We flew from Madrid to Porto (which was only $35 each for plane tickets!) but then took buses between each place in Portugal. We’ve found that in most cases even though a bus takes a longer than flying as far as actual travel time, it ends up being about the same amount of total time for shorter journeys due to having to get to the airport 2 hours early for flights. Also airports are generally outside the city which means additional time getting to and from them, whereas bus stations are usually conveniently located near the city center. Add to this the fact that buses are cheaper, and sometimes they even have wifi access making it easier to get work done on the computer, then buses are the clear winner for us for journeys of a reasonable distance. Most of our bus rides cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-$20/ticket, which is cheaper than the amount it would cost just in gas if you drove to get from one city to the next!
While in the cities, we took advantage of subways and buses to get around. We found public transportation in Portugal easy to navigate, clean, and efficient. Most subway or bus rides cost between $1-$1.50/ticket, and we rarely needed more than 2 trips per day combined with all the walking that we do while sightseeing and exploring.
- Total for my expenses: $127
Activities: The bulk of our activities in Portugal included walking around the cities sightseeing, as well as a few days of hanging out on the beautiful beaches. We walked an average of 9 miles per day to see as much as we possibly could in each place. We took advantage of “free” (we tipped $5-$10 each) walking tours in Porto and Lisbon, which were nice and gave us a glimpse into the history of the country as well as current challenges being faced.
We took a day trip from Caldas da Rainha to Obidos on Whitney’s birthday. It’s a small town located inside the walls of a castle and was a really cool place to see. It was free to walk around on the grounds of the castle including walking along the top of the walls! We took day trips from Lisbon to Sintra and Cascais. Sintra is a picturesque town full of mansions, palaces, and a castle built by past royalty and ultra wealthy in Portugal. We paid to go in two of the palaces in Sintra which were Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. Both were more than worth the price and hard to put into words how beautiful, elaborate, and intricate the designs were both inside and out. Cascais is a town by the coast with some amazing views along the cliffs on the Atlantic Ocean, as well as some really great beaches to enjoy. In Lagos we took a day trip to Portimao, which is a nearby beach town which we enjoyed, but we felt that it was lacking some of the charm that we loved about Lagos.
While in Lagos we also paid for a day pass to a very well equipped powerlifting gym, which cost us 5 euros each. This was worth the price and long overdue since we hadn’t lifted in about 3 weeks since the beginning of the trip. We also bought some postcards at local shops to send back to friends and family in the US.
- Total for my expenses: $56
My total expenses for 15 days and 15 nights in Portugal including accommodations, transportation, activities, and food were approximately $641!
Running total for entire trip to this point (my expenses only): $808 ($45/day)!
Portugal blew us away, and we couldn’t be any happier with our time in the country. We’re already planning future trips back to the country and looking into Visa information for potentially living there in the future. If you haven’t been to Portugal, I can’t recommend it highly enough! (But don’t tell everybody!)
We headed back to Spain, but this time in the south, so stay tuned for my next update. Keep an eye on the Facebook page where we are posting much more frequently about the trip including our favorite pictures!