Traveling Portugal on your ace might just be the best decision you will make this year.
Seriously, there is not much negative to say about the country. Portugal offers a tapestry of experiences for the solo traveler. From the historic cobblestone streets of the capital to flakey pastei de nata’s in Cascais to the honey-lit coastline of The Algarve, you’re in for a real treat for the senses.
It’s also one of the region’s more affordable countries, with good quality accommodation and food that will make sure your hard-saved cash goes a long way. It’s also considered relatively safe and is packed with friendly locals practically yearning for you to visit. Basically – it’s a win-win-win.
That said, planning a solo trip through this large and diverse country can be daunting. You might ask yourself: ‘Where to go, at what time of year, and what places should be avoided?’ But don’t fret; this is where I come in – providing you with the ultimate guide to traveling solo in Portugal – you’re welcome.
Follow along as I help you craft the perfect itinerary, plan out the necessities, and avoid any obstacles, with a dose of hype and excitement to motivate you…
- 5 Things to Do in Portugal When Traveling Solo
- 5 Best Solo Destinations in Portugal
- The Best Travel Apps for Solo Travel in Portugal
- Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in Portugal
- Tips for Solo Traveling in Portugal
- How to Meet People when Solo Traveling in Portugal
- Final Thoughts on Your Solo Trip to Portugal
5 Things to Do in Portugal When Traveling Solo
Backpacking Portugal is NEVER a bad idea. The country is overflowing with gorgeous natural scenery, dynamic cities, a wealth of culture and history, and some of the most welcoming locals in Europe.
With this, here are some indoorsy and outdoorsy activities I recommend checking out as you make your way through the country as a solo traveler…
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1. Sip on Portuguese Port Wine in The Duoro Valley
The Duoro Valley is one of the most beautiful parts of the Duoro River. While traveling solo in Portugal, take a trip to the winding terraced vineyards that produce the country’s beloved sweet port wine. The only place in the world where port is legally produced, there is a lot to learn about this generations-old grape blend and fermentation process.
Visit the valley for a day tour and wine tasting, but make sure to stroll through the sleepy countryside villages and towns that line the river, too.
2. Unwind in a Natural Geothermal Pool in The Azores
You have to visit The Azores, a series of islands in the heart of the Atlantic that belong to Portugal. While this might be considered an entirely different trip to the Portuguese mainland, a guide to exploring Portugal would be incomplete without it.
Other than lounging on beaches and enjoying the adrenaline-packed adventures the islands are known for, soaking in a natural hot spring is a must-do here. The Poca da Dona Beija is a hot springs facility with five thermal pools set amongst a tropical landscape. Sign me up!
One of Portugal’s most exquisite natural phenomena, Benagil Sea Cave, is a massive cave along the rugged Algarve coastline. Only accessible from the water, you can swim or rent a kayak and paddle into the cave from the shore, passing through a natural opening.
Once in the cave, you’ll be rewarded with otherworldly scenery made up of a massive natural domed ceiling opening up into a near-perfect skylight of blue sky.
4. Experience the Magic of Fado Music in Alfama, Lisbon
You’re undoubtedly going to visit Lisbon if you head to Portugal solo and there are so many things to do here.
The faint sound of Fado music can be heard in just about any big city in Portugal, but the traditional music genre traces back to the 1820s in the capital of Lisbon. Head to the Alfama district to soak up the bittersweet sounds typical of the sorrowful musical genre.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars that organize performances of the melancholic music in the Alfama neighborhood, where it was supposedly born.
5. Cruise Through Aveiro on a Moliceiro Boat
The historical Aveiro is known as the Venice of Portugal, for good reason. The west-coast city is set along a lagoon called the Ria de Aveiro, which is known for its intricate network of canals and colorful boats.
Exploring the city from a traditional Moliceiro boat tour is an incredible way to absorb the colorful pastel-hued buildings and unique art nouveau architecture that dominates the city. Just across the lagoon, the Sao Jacinto is a nature reserve that will make you feel a world away from the historic city.
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5 Best Solo Destinations in Portugal
One of the most important things in life is to be happy spending time alone. I’ve often found that I spent less time alone than expected when traveling solo in Portugal.
Whether alone or with a new friend you’ve made along the way, here are five places you just can’t miss as you journey around Portugal:
Going to Porto was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a solo traveler. It’s safe (even as a solo female), accommodation is affordable, and the food scene is off the charts. It’s also super walkable, which, in my eyes, takes any city to the next level of awesome.
The city has a unique vibe that sets it apart from other Portuguese cities. The historic center is dotted with authentic Portuguese buildings, tiled buildings, and winding cobblestone streets, with a different hipster coffee shop or rooftop terrace around every corner.
First on your agenda, stroll along the Ribeira, which is the historical center and a well-earned UNESCO World Heritage Site. The riverside streets adjacent to the Duoro River are home to beautiful, colorful homes, street tapas, and authentic streetside restaurants.
While painted tiles scatter the country, Porto is the best place to check out the Azulejos. Check out the Igreja do Carmo and Igreja de Santo Ildefonso churches for some epic blue and white tile art. Some even date back as far as the 16th century.
Decked out with art and surrounded by galleries and museums, Gallery Hostel Porto is the place to stay for budget culture vultures. Mingle with other guests on the summer terrace or winter garden and dig into nightly Portuguese family-style meals.
A few days in Lisbon will leave you head over heels in love with the city. Trust me, this is one of those cities you could visit year after year and never tire of. The colorful city is friendly and welcoming and has a unique history packed with beautiful buildings and parks to show for it. Not to mention, the lively art and culture scene.
Best of all, Lisbon is safe AND one of the most affordable cities to travel in Europe. Here, Portugal solo travelers can really experience the lifestyle, food, and culture without breaking the bank.
First things first, spend some time wandering the narrow alleyways and hilly cobblestone streets. You never know what cute cafe or magnificent church might await you beyond every corner.
Take a ride on the iconic Tram 28, which passes through the historic neighborhoods of Alfama and Graca. Grab a bite to eat at one of the stalls at Time Out Market Lisbon, and end your day with cocktails on one of the city’s many rooftop terraces.
I’ve had more fun at YES! Lisbon Hostel than I can remember at any other hostel. One of the most social backpackers in the city, it’s also super central and fitted with comfortable and clean rooms. Highly recommend!
Faro, The Algarve
Traveling around the Algarve alone is a dream come true. It’s safe, welcoming, and packed with adventures. Most specifically, the city is a sanctuary for nature lovers and adventure-seekers, but that isn’t to say there isn’t something for the culture fan and history buff, too.
Faro is the capital of the Algarve and one of the biggest cities in the area. Make time for all the best things to do and places to explore such as indulging in local seafood restaurants and visiting the historical side of the city.
The city is set amongst some of the country’s most spectacular coastal scenery, with steep, colorful cliffs, neverending beaches, and calm, warm seas. Oh, and Faro has over 300 days of sunshine each year. As you might expect, beach days are a must, and I could have easily spent days on end exploring different beaches, coves, and rocky outcrops.
A traditional Portuguese villa in the heart of The Algarve’s capital, there are few places as atmospheric as Casa d’Alagoa. With organized sangria and BBQ nights and world-class local hospitality, you’ll walk away with plenty of new besties after traveling solo in Portugal’s Faro.
Lagos, The Algarve
A thriving town in The Algave’s western region, Lagos is a sanctuary for surfers, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders. It’s an ocean lovers’ dream, with coastal sites and gorgeous views from just about every point in town.
If possible, Lagos comes even more alive at night. A huge nightlife scene and a calendar always packed with social events, music shows, live sports, and theatrical performances – there is always something to do once the sun sets.
Driving is the best way to get around The Algarve, but if you don’t feel comfortable renting a car and navigating foreign roads alone, there are also plenty of bus and train options to get from A to B. Take note: accommodation is slightly pricier in Lagos, but that isn’t to say you can’t visit here on a budget.
Made for the solo traveler who likes to party, Cloud 9 Hostel is located right in the heart of Lagos’s historic center, close to the beaches and the revered city nightlife we love Lagos for. Enjoy sundowners overlooking the sea from the rooftop terrace, prepare a family meal with new friends in the kitchen, and enjoy movie nights together.
Just a short drive or train ride from Lisbon, Cascais is a small beach town with an exciting history. Sure, the coastal town is known for its sandy beaches, picturesque fishing port, and perfectly maintained buildings, but it’s also home to the medieval Nossa Senhora de Luz Fort and the Citadel Palace.
Between beach days, spend your time exploring the iconic forts, palaces, and museums. Throw in some freshly caught local seafood, and we have ourselves a winning location for solo travel in Portugal.
Visit the Boca do Inferno for a slice of natural heaven, and grab a bite to eat at the Mercado da Vila – the perfect day in Cascais. Another great thing about this town is that it’s just a short distance from Sintra, where you can visit multiple palaces, castles, and medieval ruins on a day trip.
Designed to feel like home away from home, Ljmonade Hostel is nestled in a residential street in the heart of the old city. Other than the grand house, the hostel organizes hikes, surfing, paddling, yoga, diving, and horseriding adventures, along with family dinners. You won’t even need to try to be social here, and you will still leave with new friends.
The Best Travel Apps for Solo Travel in Portugal
Having the right apps for travel makes your life a whole lot easier. Here are some of my personal favs.
- Hostelworld: The top accommodation application for finding hostels
- Couchsurfing: To connect with locals renting out cheap (or even free) accommodation. Not advised for solo female travelers in Portugal.
- Booking.com and Airbnb: Your go-to apps for finding hotels, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering rentals
- GetYourGuide and Viator: Tour applications to find tours and experiences in the area. Make sure to check the reviews
- Tinder, Bumble, Hinge: Dating apps with a ‘friend mode’ to help you meet people in your vicinity
- Travello: To connect with other travelers visiting the same place as you
- TravelSmart: A safety precaution with relevant embassy information, national holiday alerts, and other safety features
- Bolt: Portugal’s equivalent to Uber
- DeepL: Translate: Break the language barrier between Portuguese and English
- The Fork: For finding the best-reviewed restaurants and to make reservations
- Too Good To Go: Reduces food waste by filling your tummy with discounted restaurant food
- Holafly: An e-SIM application that allows you to download a data-only SIM card without installing a physical card
If meeting like-minded travellers is your goal, check out the current popular Facebook groups for travellers in Portugal.
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in Portugal
Maintaining a good awareness of your surroundings is essential when traveling solo. It’s always better to be safe and cautious rather than sorry. Learning how to travel safely is of paramount importance – wherever you go!
As always, busy tourist centers are often the target of petty crime. Hold onto your bags and use a money belt when using public transport. Always keep your valuables out of sight (or leave them at home altogether).
There are a few scams around. Make sure to use well-marked bank-affiliated ATMs and be aware of accommodation scams while traveling solo in Portugal.
As a solo female traveler in Portugal, try to stay in a group at night or stick to well-lit areas that are considered safe. Remember – there is safety in numbers. Keep an eye on your drinks, and never accept anything from a stranger. Use marked official cabs or Bolt. You know the drill – trust your instincts.
Tips for Solo Traveling in Portugal
- Book yourself into hostels for at least half of the nights you plan to spend in Portugal. This is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to meet other tourists.
- Sun Lovers Hostel in Albufeira has all the luxuries of a hotel, with the vibe of a hostel. It’s just a short stroll from the party street and hosts BBQ nights, pizza nights, and beer pong events. One of the most vibey hostels in Faro, Casa Da Madalena is a rebuilt authentic Portuguese house with a staff made up of well-traveled locals and ex-pats. Making friends has never been so easy.
- Sure, group tours might not be your thing, but there is no denying the benefits of meeting other travelers on a tour.
- Plan your trip yourself. While others’ advice, online itineraries, and local knowledge provide a good guideline, you should always make sure to design your itinerary based on what you want to see and how you want to spend your time.
- Take the time to understand the local religion and culture. Locals are always appreciative and more open with those who are respectful. A top Portuguese solo travel tip is to learn a few Portuguese words.
- Prepare for all weather conditions. Depending on where you are and the time of year, the weather in Portugal can change quickly.
- Socialise, but appreciate your own space and time. Traveling alone can be lonely at times and rewarding at others. Make the most of this alone time to spend learning about yourself.
- Organise travel insurance. Make sure you have insurance to cover injuries, illness, lost baggage, and flight cancellations and delays.
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
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How to Meet People when Solo Traveling in Portugal
- Go on a pub crawl or food tour: Whether organized by your hostel or externally, I’ve always found pub crawls and food tours to be one of the best ways to socialize. Let’s be honest: is there a better way to meet and mingle with new friends than over an ice-cold beer or plate of food?
- Stay in a hostel: As mentioned, this is a sure way to meet other travelers, those traveling solo, in particular. Most hostels have common areas like bars and restaurants and also organize tours for guests to join in on.
- Use social media for what it was designed for: Open yourself up to new friendships (in a safe environment) using connections from mutual friends you know from home. Facebook groups and Instagram pages often advertise events and festivals happening in each city.
- Attend local cultural events: Check the calendar for any Portuguese festivals or celebrations. An important Portugal solo travel tip: these events are usually attended by locals and tourists and can be a great way to meet people while also learning a thing or two about the local culture.
- Volunteer: Not only will you be making a tangible change and giving back to a community, but volunteering in Portugal is one of the best ways to meet other travelers. Why not try teaching English in Portugal!?
- Commit to a membership at a club: Especially if you’re in a place for more than a week, join a gym, yoga studio, or shared office space to meet people with similar interests in the area.
- Take advantage of shared spaces: Open yourself up to new communities by spending time in social bars and coffee shops. This is especially convenient if you’re a digital nomad.
Final Thoughts on Your Solo Trip to Portugal
Portugal is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s a dream come true for all types of travelers but is particularly wonderful for solo female adventurers.
Why is it such a top contender for solo travel, you ask? Well, other than an exquisite natural landscape and a history spanning millennia, it’s also relatively safe. Oh, and it’s an incredibly affordable option compared with the rest of Western Europe.
Speak no Portuguese? No worries, English is super widely spoken, and friendly locals will almost always be willing to help you when needed. It’s this kindness and local warmth that makes it easy to navigate the country solo. Even as a solo traveler, you’ll never truly be alone while traveling Portugal.
The combination of cultural heritage, exciting history, and natural wonder make it the perfect location for solo travel in Portugal. Hopefully, this guide will help you plan your itinerary, have a good idea of where you want to go and what you want to see, and understand basic safety advice.
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!