How to Not Look Like a Tourist in Portugal
Portugal, with its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. While immersing yourself in the local culture is a wonderful experience, standing out as a tourist can sometimes result in missed opportunities to truly appreciate the authentic Portuguese way of life. To help you blend in and make the most of your visit, here are some tips on how to not look like a tourist in Portugal.
1. Dress like a local
One of the easiest ways to blend in is to dress like the locals. Portuguese people tend to dress well, even for casual occasions. Avoid wearing bright or flashy clothing, and opt for a more understated and elegant look. Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes for all the walking you’ll be doing exploring the charming streets of Lisbon or Porto.
2. Learn a few Portuguese phrases
While many Portuguese people speak English, it’s always appreciated when visitors make an effort to speak the local language. Learn a few basic phrases such as “bom dia” (good morning), “por favor” (please), and “obrigado/a” (thank you), and use them whenever possible. This small gesture will go a long way in showing respect for the culture and will help you connect with the locals.
3. Be mindful of your belongings
Pickpocketing can be an issue in crowded tourist areas, so be mindful of your belongings at all times. Avoid carrying large bags or purses that can be easily snatched. Instead, opt for a small crossbody bag or a money belt to keep your valuables safe. Also, be cautious when using your smartphone or camera in public, as they can be attractive targets for thieves.
4. Take public transportation
Using public transportation is not only a great way to save money but also a way to blend in with the locals. Portugal has an extensive network of trains, trams, and buses that can take you to most tourist attractions. Avoid relying solely on taxis or rental cars, as they may give away your tourist status. Instead, venture out like a local and experience the charm of Portuguese public transportation.
5. Avoid tourist traps
While it’s tempting to visit the most famous tourist attractions, they are often crowded and can feel commercialized. Instead, seek out lesser-known spots that offer a more authentic experience. Talk to locals or do some research to discover hidden gems, such as local markets, neighborhood bakeries, or traditional fado houses, where you can truly immerse yourself in Portuguese culture.
6. Embrace the local cuisine
Portugal is known for its delicious food, so don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the local cuisine. Skip the familiar fast-food chains and try traditional dishes like bacalhau (salted codfish), pastéis de nata (custard tarts), or francesinha (a hearty sandwich). Venture into local restaurants and ask for recommendations to experience the true flavors of Portugal.
7. Respect local customs and etiquette
Lastly, be respectful of Portuguese customs and etiquette. Avoid being loud or disruptive in public places, and always ask permission before taking photos of people or religious sites. It’s also polite to greet shopkeepers or restaurant staff when entering an establishment. By showing respect for the local culture, you’ll not only blend in better but also leave a positive impression on the people you meet.
1. Is it necessary to learn Portuguese before visiting Portugal?
While it’s not necessary to be fluent in Portuguese, learning a few basic phrases can greatly enhance your experience. Most people in tourist areas speak English, but locals appreciate the effort to communicate in their language.
2. Are credit cards widely accepted in Portugal?
Credit cards are widely accepted in most establishments, especially in tourist areas. However, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller shops, markets, or public transportation.
3. What is the best time to visit Portugal?
The best time to visit Portugal depends on your preferences. The summer months (June to September) offer warm weather and lively festivals, but they can be crowded. Spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) provide milder temperatures and fewer tourists.
4. Can I drink tap water in Portugal?
Tap water in Portugal is generally safe to drink. However, if you have a sensitive stomach or prefer bottled water, it is widely available in supermarkets and convenience stores.
5. How do I avoid pickpocketing in crowded tourist areas?
To avoid pickpocketing, keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Use a small crossbody bag or money belt to keep your valuables secure and avoid displaying expensive items such as cameras or smartphones in public.
6. What are some off-the-beaten-path destinations to explore in Portugal?
Some off-the-beaten-path destinations in Portugal include Évora, a historic city in the Alentejo region, Aveiro, known as the “Venice of Portugal,” and the Douro Valley, famous for its vineyards and stunning landscapes.
7. Is it customary to tip in Portugal?
Tipping in Portugal is not mandatory but is appreciated for good service. A common practice is to leave a 5-10% tip at restaurants, cafes, and taxis. However, always check the bill, as some establishments may include a service charge.