Going on a holiday to Portugal is a great choice, with all of the fantastic sceneries, historical and cultural background, lovely people, and overall vibe you get to experience. However, if you wish to truly get to know the country in-depth, genuinely learn about the authentic traditions and locals, and see remote and less-known places, it is best that you choose slow traveling. Giving yourself the time to explore and enjoy everything at your own pace will give you the opportunity to see so much more than just the most popular objects.
That being said, if you are doing slow travel here for the first time, there are some tips and info you should be aware of. So, let’s look through the best suggestions and advice to make your trip as good as it can be!
Generally, when tourists travel to a place and have only about a week of their stay, acquiring knowledge of the native language, while advisable, is not necessary. However, if you are expanding your time and, let’s say, have a month or two in Portugal, breaking that language barrier is step one!
Indeed, you do not need to get on the advanced level of Portuguese, but learning the main basic phrases and some other valuable words should be on your list of preparations.
Mainly, when traveling to such big cities as Lisbon or Porto, you should not face trouble conversing with locals. As these are tourist-heavy cities, many residents will be able to help you while speaking English, Russian, etc. However, when doing slow travel, you will most likely go to smaller villages and towns, such as Aljezur, Aveiro, Monsanto, and so on. Here, the locals are just as welcoming, but it might be more difficult for you to chat with them. So, learning a bit of Portuguese is in your best interest! And it is more than practical too – speaking in their native language will give you a sense of closeness to the culture!
If you need tips on finding convenient transportation, check out the Lisbon to Porto train!
Naturally, when you give yourself more than a few days to explore, you need to prepare a badass itinerary! Here are our thoughts on this.
Depending on how many cities you want to visit on your Portugal tours, keep on planning your itinerary using the same principle: whichever big city you choose, see as many places around it as you can. So, you will get the main course and a bunch of desserts around!
Between the most popular objects, there are lovely towns, striking villages, forests and meadows for you to visit, little remote wineries, and mountains. And that is the whole point of taking your time – it’s that you get to see as many sites as possible!
On the other hand, try to be flexible with your itinerary, too! Make sure you give in and not follow the rules completely, and rather choose a spontaneous dinner with the locals or go exploring nature instead of doing something planned. Unexpected experiences lead to the best memories. So, be free with it! And do not get disappointed if you cannot manage to finish everything on your list. Be curious and brave. Explore and do what feels best!
Take Your Time
Regard this as the second part of our previous advice! Take your time exploring and snooping into every little corner of every town, take your time smelling the clear weather in the middle of the forest, and take your time putting together a sentence in Portuguese while talking to a local.
The mistake many first-time slow-travelers make is that they are so used to rushing through their trips to keep up that they struggle to comprehend that they will not run out of time! Just trust in your instincts and know that this is the exact reason you chose this way to tour.
Make deeper connections with your traveling partner/s or with yourself. Make friends there, try out authentic Portuguese cuisine rather than fast food, and simply give your time to enjoy everything.
Aside from accommodations, knowing how you are getting places is the most essential part of slow traveling. As we have briefly mentioned before, trains are a great choice. The same goes for buses! The railway system in Portugal is very well-developed, so you will not have to worry about navigating. Also, even if you pick speed trains, this way of transportation is literally slow traveling. The places you will see through your compartment windows will be just as stunning as the destinations.
Trains and buses are, of course, cheap and comfortable as well. So we suggest you consider it!
The other popular option is renting a car. This way, you will get complete freedom and travel at your own pace. However, as comfortable as it is, you should be aware that renting a car for long periods is quite expensive, not to mention the struggles you might face while exploring remote places. You can easily get lost, and while it is all a part of the experience, getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is never fun! And do not forget parking! You might find a space a little easier in towns and villages, but bigger cities have many either restricted areas or the ones with high fees.
You can always choose hotels and motels for your stays or Airbnbs. While the latter will probably be cheaper, it has some disadvantages.
For example, if you travel a bit spontaneously, finding an Airbnb available on the spot might be more complicated than finding a hotel room. Hotels are usually never fully packed, so you will most likely find a room even if you end up in an unexpected place and need a place to crash for a night.
However, if you plan on staying in the same area for several days to explore, we suggest Airbnbs for lower fees and a cozier atmosphere!
There you go. Your knowledge of slow traveling is a step closer to making this holiday the best ever! So take your time, and enjoy the Portuguese sun!