From the narrow streets of Lisbon to the rugged Algarve coast, Portugal solo travel is something you’ll want to experience again and again.
Over the last 2 years, I’ve returned to Portugal time after time, exploring this country from top to bottom, all on my own. After visiting its historic cities, its lush volcanic islands covered in waterfalls, and its colorful fairytale castles, I’ve become convinced that Portugal is pretty much the ultimate solo travel destination!
Not only is it one of the safest countries in Europe, it’s also beautiful, charming, and affordable. Plus, Portuguese cities are super walkable, and public transportation makes getting around easy.
Whether you’re exploring Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, Madeira, Azores, or beyond, there are tons of opportunities to meet new people while exploring Portugal’s culture, food, and history.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the best places for solo travel in Portugal, what to eat and do on your own, how to get around, and tips for staying safe while making the most of your adventure!
SOLO TRAVEL TIPS
- Purchase travel insurance in case of an emergency
- Stay in or book tours through a hostel to meet other solo travellers
- Learn some basic Portuguese, especially if you plan to visit remote locations
- Wear pick-pocket proof clothing and keep your purse or bag in front of you
Is Portugal Safe for Solo Travel?
Before planning solo travel to Portugal, it’s normal to wonder if Portugal is a good place to travel alone, or if Portugal’s safe for solo female travellers.
After a number of solo trips to Portugal, I can assure you Portugal is a very safe country to visit. Most of its popular destinations are counted among the safest European cities for solo female travel. Plus, Portugal consistently ranks among the top 10 most peaceful countries according to the Global Peace Index.
The locals are warm and friendly, and the country has a low crime rate, stable political infrastructure, and little risk of natural disaster.
Not only is Portugal a safe and crime-free destination, this country takes health and environmental protection seriously. When visiting Madeira, I was thrilled to see that the majority of local restaurants voluntarily participated in a clean and safe sanitation initiative.
While you have to watch for pickpocketing like everywhere in Europe, most Portuguese cities are free from any dangerous areas you have to avoid, making it super easy to travel Portugal on your own.
Just remember to stay alert, keep your belongings close, At night, stick to well-lit streets and try to find a friend to walk home with. Or better yet, just call a taxi.
RESPONSIBLE EXPATS & DIGITAL NOMADS
Portugal is a very welcoming place, with lots of American tourists and expats moving to the country thanks to the great weather, affordable housing market, and government-sponsored visa programs.
However, responsible travelers should be aware that this trend has had negative consequences for Portuguese citizens. Anyone planning a long-term stay should be mindful of where they choose to stay, and be sure to apply for the Temporary Stay Visa so that your presence leaves a positive impact on the local economy.
Best Places for Solo Travel in Portugal
With so many charming cities and dreamy beach towns, choosing the best place in Portugal for solo travel is not an easy task!
If you’re lucky enough to have the time and resources, I strongly advise that you actually don’t do any choosing at all. Instead, visit every single one of these Portuguese gems.
Afterward, if you can’t bring yourself to return home, well, I can’t say I would blame you. Just don’t hold me responsible, okay? You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Adorable yellow trams, romantic waterfront monuments, and more character and charm than nearly any other city in the world, Portugal’s capital city is a great place to go if its your first time solo traveling.
Stroll through the dreamy pastel streets of Lisbon’s historic district, fall in love with the creamy signature pastry, pastel de nata, and walk in the footsteps of explorers from Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Lisbon solo travel is an adventure I highly recommend!
One of the best things to do alone in Lisbon is to explore the enchanting neighborhoods of Alfama, Belem, and Bairro Alto. Let’s check out what they’ve got in store for you.
Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon known for the narrow winding streets and traditional Portuguese architecture that survived a major 1755 earthquake. I really enjoyed the neighborhood’s nostalgic atmosphere with its colorful houses, hanging laundry, and lively cafes. Make sure you check out:
- Castle of Sao Jorge: Explore the immaculately maintained 11th-century castle and its breathtaking views.
- Fado Show: Discover the musical genre that originated in Lisbon while you enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner.
- Portas do Sol: Soak in the views at the city’s best miradouro.
Located to the west of Lisbon’s city center, Belem is known for its rich history, often detailed through stunning Manueline monuments with intricate carvings that tell the story of the Age of Discovery. Explore the major attractions:
- Belem Tower: Once the point of disembarkation for Portuguese explorers, and now one of the best Lisbon Instagram spots.
- Jerónimos Monastery: A gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site where Vasco de Gama is buried.
- Pasteis de Belém: Visit the famous pastry shop that keeps its dessert recipe under lock and key! Trust me when I tell you that their pastel de nata is well worth the crazy long line.
BEST LISBON DAY TRIPS
Stay at any of these top hostels and hotels in Lisbon for solo travelers, but make sure you leave time to explore the surrounding towns and beaches on a day trip. Each of these spots is less than an hour and a half from the city.
Land of fairytale castles. Don’t miss the colorful Pena Palace or the mysterious Initiation Well at Quinta da Regaleira.
Beauty and relaxation await at any of the best beaches in Cascais.
Whitewashed buildings and laid-back vibes. Surfing and sunbathing are two of the best things to do in Ericeira.
The cutest medieval town! Exploring the ancient castle is just one of the many incredible things to do in Obidos.
PRO TIP: If you can only choose one, I recommend Sintra, followed by Obidos!
LISBON SOLO TRAVEL RESOURCES
Portugal’s rugged southern coast is absolutely mesmerizing. An Algarve solo travel experience is filled with golden sand beaches, white-washed villages, and rock formations that tower over the blue sea.
I won’t deny it. I fell head over heels for this enchanting land of hidden sea caves and colorful sunsets.
BEST ALGARVE DAY TRIPS
With 300+ days of sunshine a year, it’s no wonder so many people consider the Algarve the best place in Portugal for solo travel.
Be sure to add these stunning spots to your itinerary:
My absolute favorite place in the Algarve thanks to Ponta da Piedade, a breathtaking headland filled with golden yellow rock formations and picturesque arches.
Deserted islands, a chapel made of human bones, and the gateway to one of Portugal’s seven natural wonders. This small town packs a big punch.
Head straight for Praia da Rocha, one of the Algarve’s most famous beaches. Don’t even think about moving from your beach towel until it’s time to reapply that sunscreen.
Some say this is one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve. Are they correct? You’ll have to visit and find out for yourself!
Embark on an excursion to Benagil Cave, famous for its natural skylight and spacious golden sand beach.
Once believed to be the end of the world, this solo travel hotspot is home to some of the best surf waves in the world.
PRO TIP: If you want to explore as much of the Algarve as possible, base your in the same town as the airport. From there, the rest of the region is easy to visit on a number of exciting day trips from Faro.
ALGARVE SOLO TRAVEL RESOURCES
Narrow houses with colorful hues. Boats gliding across the Douro River. Glass of port wine in hand. There’s a reason that Porto solo travel is on the rise!
Don’t let the nickname Lisbon’s little sister fool you, this city in Northern Portugal is an amazing place filled with massive azulejo murals. Plus, it’s home to Livario Lello, the bookstore said to have inspired part of Harry Potter.
Don’t forget to head across the Dom Luis I bridge to check out the historic port wineries and impressive Porto viewpoints in charming Vila Nova de Gaia.
BEST PORTO DAY TRIPS
Have a little more time? Awesome! If Douro Valley’s already on your itinerary, then check out some of these other cool Porto day trips:
Academics and history buffs will love exploring the University of Coimbra, Portugal’s oldest university and the oldest in Europe still in use today.
This two-thousand-year-old destination is home to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, one of the most Instagrammable places in Portugal. Kind of ironic, huh?
Is Aveiro worth visiting? That all depends on how badly you want to see the picturesque Moliceiro boats and canals of the Venice of Portugal. My two cents? This day trip is only worth it if you include the nearby beach of Costa Nova and its famous striped palheiros.
PORTO SOLO TRAVEL RESOURCES
Alright, I’m just going to say it: the Douro Valley is the most beautiful wine country in the world! Bold claim, I know. But after visiting a handful of the best wineries in Douro Valley on my Portugal solo travel journey, I’ll stand by this statement until the end of time.
This place is like stepping into a real-life painting, surrounded by lush, terraced vineyards and the glittering Douro River. Head to the gorgeous quintas for tasting and tours before a quick Rabelo boat trip to take in more of the scenery.
Often called the Hawaii of Europe, Madeiro solo travel is a huge adventure filled with more natural wonders than you can even imagine. I can’t recommend this spot more for avid hikers. The island’s Levada trails have insane views of plunging waterfalls, untamed jungles, and a canopy of clouds.
With beautiful black sand beaches, awe-inspiring sunsets, and refreshing natural lava pools, this island is home to Europe’s first digital nomad community. Plus, Madeira has its own unique world-famous wine and a heavy dose of nature and relaxation. It’s easy to see why this archipelago is one of the best places for solo travel in Portugal!
Thermal baths and epic hiking paths! Azores solo travel is a completely enchanting experience thanks to its steaming hot springs, lush, tropical forests, and incredible outdoor adventures! Like Madeira, the natural environment here is almost surreal. Multi-colored lakes nestled inside craters, volcanos that cook you dinner… Honestly, you’ve just got to see it to believe it.
While these quiet islands are admittedly not the best place for making new friends, staying at the right hostel or booking organized day tours can make things easier… Unless you need some time to yourself, in which case, Azores is absolutely the best place in Portugal for solo travel!
AZORES SOLO TRAVEL RESOURCES
Check out this Portugal solo travel map to plan out your journey and get familiar with all the best places for singles and solos.
Best Things to Do in Portugal
Wondering what to do on a solo trip to Portugal? You won’t be wondering much longer! Portugal is a fascinating European country with an incredible amount of things to do. Open up your notes app, because your Portugal bucket list is about to be filled to the brim.
Learn Portuguese History
One of the most fascinating parts of traveling to Portugal alone is learning about its rich and diverse history. From its Moorish-influenced architecture to its strong ties with the Catholic Church, there’s a lot to uncover. Explore castles, churches, and monuments that remain from centuries past. As you go, chat with locals who are eager to share stories about
- Fado: Fado is a traditional Portuguese genre of music, characterized by its haunting melancholic melodies, often centered around the sea and the poor. You’ll find the best fado in Lisbon along the cobbled streets of the historic Alfama district.
- Azulejos: Azulejos are decorative blue and white ceramic tiles that are a fundamental part of Portuguese architecture and culture. Just walking around Portugal’s neighborhoods is like exploring a living art gallery.
- Age of Discovery: Portugal’s seafaring age shaped the country in so many ways. No Portugal solo travel experience is complete without tracing the footsteps of Vasco de Gama in Belém.
Discover Portugal’s Beach & Surf Culture
Between the golden sand, enchanting rocky coastline, and some of the biggest waves in the world, skipping out on the best beach towns in Portugal would be a totally missed opportunity.
Whether you want to learn to surf in Portugal or just relax on the shore, there are over 500 beautiful beaches with space for you to spread your towel.
- Surfing: Portugal is a surfer’s paradise, thanks to its extensive coastline with consistent waves all year long. Definitely check out Nazaré, known for its record-breaking waves, and Peniche, a renowned surfing destination that hosts the annual World Surf League Championship.
- Beaches: Portugal’s beaches are famous for their breathtaking beauty and diversity from the sun-kissed cliffs of the Algarve coast or the windy shores of Portugal’s best surf towns.
- Islands: Get off the beaten path during your solo trip to Portugal and pay a visit to the otherworldly fanal forest and black sand beaches of Madeira and the Azores.
Taste Portuguese Food & Wine
While not as famous as its eastern neighbors, Portugal’s food scene has witnessed growing international interest in the last decade. Give it another few years and you just might start seeing the best food in Portugal popping up on menus around the world.
- Portuguese Cuisine: Portugal’s gastronomy is a culinary journey through the country’s rich heritage. Fresh seafood, succulent meats, and flaky pastries are a few of the best things to eat in Portugal. Don’t leave without trying bacalhau a bras, or the famous pastel de nata.
- Port Wine: Renowned worldwide, Port Wine is a sweet, fortified wine that originated in Northern Portugal. Your solo travel journey won’t be complete without visiting the traditional cellars and port wineries in Porto to learn about port wine history and production.
- Douro Valley: A UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its breathtaking terraced vineyards that produce Port Wine grapes, a day trip to the beautiful Douro Valley wineries is a day well spent.
Sightseeing in Portugal
From world-famous monuments like Sintra’s Pena Palace to lesser-known gems like the Roman ruins of Évora, there’s no shortage of fascinating things to see and do during Portugal solo travel.
- Fairytale Castles: Portugal’s palaces are absolutely mesmerizing. From Monserrat’s unique Moorish beauty to the baroque grandeur of the Mafra National Palace, it’s no surprise that these scenic castles are some of the best photo locations in Portugal.
- Medieval Villages: Step back in time on a day trip to the well-preserved castle walls and cobblestone streets of Obidos. This charming town is one of the only places you can visit on a day trip from both Lisbon and Porto!
- Miradouros: There’s no better way to appreciate the sunsets in Portugal than from one of the country’s famous miradouro viewpoints. The golden hour panoramas I enjoyed from a few different Porto miradouros are what made me fall in love with this charming European nation.
How to Solo Travel in Portugal
Solo travel in Portugal is an incredibly rewarding and unique experience. With its amazing beaches and vibrant cities, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country.
Whether you’re a first-timer looking to explore the culture or an experienced traveler searching for adventure, here are some tips and tricks on how to make your solo journey through Portugal one of the best trips of your life.
Making friends as a solo traveler in Portugal can seem daunting, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. With an open mind and a little effort, you’ll find yourself surrounded by locals eager to share their knowledge about the country and local culture.
Here are some tips on how to make friends while traveling alone in Portugal:
- Facebook Groups: There’s an incredible network of solo female travelers looking to meet up with others, especially in Lisbon! Find the local Gone Girl International group for your destination and you’ll make new friends in no time!
- Hostels: It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of hostels, but even if you don’t stay at one, you can still book tours through certain hostels which increases your chances of meeting other solo travelers. (PS: You can always book a private room!)
- Food Tours: I’ve had a lot of luck making friends through food tours, particularly the somewhat boozy ones! IMO, it’s way less awkward than a pub crawl since there are small groups and everything is centered around an organized activity.
In today’s world, danger is everywhere, including both at home and abroad. If you want to know how to travel alone safely, do your research and know what to expect.
While nothing can guarantee a lack of surprises, I’d be willing to bet that most solo travelers are thrilled by the process of discovery. I know I am!
Here are some of my top safety tips compiled from 5 years of solo travel:
- Scams: Researching common tourist scams really helps you figure out what to watch for.
- Unwanted Attention: If you find yourself the target of unwanted attention, challenge yourself to set firm, clear boundaries by using intentional body language. Trust me when I tell you that this is a learned skill. You’d be surprised at just how quickly would-be pursuants back off after a display of confidence, even if you’re faking it.
- Common Sense: I really hope this goes without saying, but as long as you research areas to avoid, you don’t wander around alone at night, and limit your alcohol intake, you shouldn’t have to worry about safety in Portugal.
- Emergency Plan: Know what you’ll do if things go wrong. Make copies of your important documents, invest in travel insurance for medical emergencies, and make note of where the closest embassy is located, just in case.
Digital Nomads & Remote Workers
Portugal is becoming increasingly popular among digital nomads and remote workers. With its strong internet infrastructure, low costs of living, and welcoming atmosphere, it has become a haven for those looking to combine work with travel.
Best Places for Digital Nomads & Remote Workers:
- Lisbon: The charming capital of Portugal is an ideal city for digital nomads thanks to its strong Wi-Fi, numerous co-working spaces, friendly hostels, and cozy coffee shops.
- Faro: Located in the southern Algarve region, is a haven for digital nomads seeking a slow pace and sunny weather.
- Madeira: Home to Europe’s first digital nomad village, this island is one of the best destinations for remote workers who want access to some awe-inspiring nature.
PRO TIP: My favorite thing to do in a new location is to take one of the free walking tours on the first day. It’s the best way to start learning your way around!
Where to Stay on A Solo Trip to Portugal
When it comes to Portugal solo travel accommodations, you’ve got tons of options! If you’ve read my other Portugal travel guides on the best places to solo travel in Portugal you know I’m a pretty big fan of hostels. Especially in Lisbon, the hostel scene is pretty incredible for solo travellers.
Hostels make it easy to meet new friends, they’re affordable and most of them are really, really cute. For some people, sharing a room makes them feel safer when traveling alone, but if you’d prefer to be on your own, most hostels offer private rooms!
If a cute boutique hotel is more your thing, don’t worry. Portugal has no shortage of gorgeous places to stay. For example, there are plenty of luxury hotels in Lisbon for solo travelers that have social rooftop bars and coworking spaces!
How to Get Around Portugal
Getting around this Iberian nation isn’t too tricky! With a good public transportation system, getting from city to city or town to town is actually pretty affordable.
In Lisbon and Porto, it’s easy enough to get everywhere by walking and taking trams or buses. The train will take you to most other towns and the line runs straight up and down the coast, connecting Porto to the Algarve within a couple hours.
While I prefer to take public transportation and book day trips for harder-to-reach areas, Portugal is definitely one of those countries where renting a car has plenty of benefits. Since it’s one of the smaller European nations with amazing roads along the coast, a Portugal road trip isn’t such a bad idea!
PRO TIP: If you plan to drive across most of the country with a rental car, definitely grab the Via Verde tag to save on tolls.
Getting to Portugal on Your Own
If I’m traveling from a nearby European country, train or bus is typically my preferred method. Anything to avoid security and that early arrival! Train and bus terminals are usually located closer to the city centers and it’s much easier to just show up and be on your way.
Here’s some information to help you plan for your arrival to Portugal:
Arriving by Plane
Portugal has three international airports. Lisbon, the capital city, is typically the most affordable airport to fly in and out of. There are plenty of direct flights from across Europe and a few from the United States. These are the main airports in Portugal:
- Lisbon Airport: Humberto Delgado Airport – Central
- Porto Airport: Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport – North
- Algarve Airport: Faro – Gago Coutinho International Airpor – South
PRO TIP: TAP Airlines offers stopovers at Porto or Lisbon on your way to another destination, a great option for travelers short on time!
Arriving by Bus
Buses can sometimes be the easiest option when they don’t require a change. The bus stations are typically located at the major train stations within the city center, closer than the airport. FlixBus is my favorite, with fares that rarely go above €15.
Arriving by Train
Trains are a fun way to travel around Europe. Plus, they’re environmentally friendly! You’ll want to note that some countries have totally different train services that make the journey more complicated. Portugal and Spain are unfortunately two such places, but the good news is that an interlinking railway is currently in the works. For now, bus is your best option.
When to Visit Portugal Solo
Choosing the best time to visit Portugal is crucial to make sure your solo trip is everything you want and more. From the ideal months for surfing in Algarve to the best time to enjoy snow in Portugal, here’s a look at what to consider when timing your vacation.
- Best Weather: Summer is filled with sunny months, but you can avoid excessive heat by visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. (March-May & September-October)
- Rainy Season: Portugal gets the most rain in the wintertime between January and February.
- Beach Vacation: If you love the beach, the best time to enjoy sunny beach days and comfortable swimming is in the summer from June to August.
- Avoid Crowds: Steer clear of the summer peak season or opt for shoulder season travel and you’ll deal with far fewer crowds.
- Cheap Prices: Visit any time from January to April to take advantage of the lowest flights and most affordable offers.
- Surfing: The best time for surfing is during the fall and winter months, especially September to February when the Atlantic swells create perfect surf waves.
Portugal Solo Travel Itinerary
Looking for the perfect itinerary for your solo trip? After traveling across Portugal, I recommend the two schedules below depending on how much time you have. Neither of these routes will require a car rental.
You can always adjust by a day or two to suit your own preferences, but use this as a guide to determine how much time you’ll need for your travels.
PS: If you have any questions about your trip, I’m always happy to help out. Just drop me a message!
ITINERARY 1: Hit the Highlights
Perfect for solo travelers who only have so much time or want to see the main before heading to another European country.
Day 1-3: Porto & Douro
- Explore iconic landmarks like Livario Lello, Bolsa Palace, and the Porto Cathedral
- Take a day trip to Douro Valley by train and sip on port wine and vinho verde while admiring the views
Day 4: Obidos
- On your way to Lisbon, make a pit stop in Obidos to explore the medieval castle and try the famous ginja served in chocolate cups
Day 5-7: Lisbon
- Wander the narrow streets of Alfama and enjoy bacalhau a bras during a fado show
- Explore Belem and take a self-guided city tour on Lisbon’s famous Tram 28
- Embark on a day trip to Sintra where you can see the stunning palaces of Pena and Quinta da Regaleira
Day 8-10: Algarve
- Kayak through Ponta da Piedade and visit Benagil Cave
- Relax on any of the golden sand beaches or take surfing lessons in Sagres
ITINERARY 2: Portugal Adventurer
Have a little more time on your hands? Great for slow travel, backpacking or digital nomads, this solo travel itinerary will help you get to know the country even better.
Day 1-7: Lisbon
- Explore Alfama, Belem, and Bairro Alto, full of fado, museums and pastel de nata
- Check out off-the-beaten-path destinations like LX Factory and the street art of Mouraria
- Squeeze in a few day trips to Cascais, Ericeira, Sintra, or Obidos and Mafra Palace
Day 8-12: Madeira
- Chase waterfalls as you hike the levada trails and watch the sunset from Pico do Ruivo or Ponta do Sol
- Take a food tour in Funchal and visit the colorful farmer’s market
- Check out the colorful Santana houses and sled down a hill in a traditional wicker toboggan
Day 13-18: Azores
- Soak in thermal hot springs and enjoy dinner cooked by the heat of a volcano
- Visit a tea plantation on Sao Miguel and tour the world’s only indoor pineapple plantation
- Go wine tasting at the vineyards of Pico or snorkel at Vila Franca do Campo
Day 19-22: Algarve
- Relax at Praia da Marinha and enjoy a dinner of seafood cataplana
- Explore the natural wonder of Algar Seco with its hidden grottoes in Carvoeiro
- Make your way to Tavira castle before visiting the lagoons of Rio Formosa
Day 23-26: Porto
- Admire the azulejo-covered churches and eat fresh seafood along the Ribiera
- Cross the Dom Luis I Bridge and learn how port wine is made in the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia
- Venture to Aveiro, Coimbra or Braga on a historical day trip from Porto
Day 27-28: Douro Valley
- Visit the terraced vineyards of Pinhao and relax at a luxurious retreat (or hostel!)
- Explore Lamego’s famous church before spending the afternoon exploring Mateus Palace
Where to Go After Portugal
Saying goodbye is never easy. But if I’m leaving to head to my next destination, well, then… adios! Ciao! Sayonara!
For the next stop on your solo travel adventure, you won’t have to look far. Portugal’s neighbors, Spain and Morocco, are dazzling countries with incredible sights, but just enough shared history to be familiar.
All in all, the Iberian Peninsula is an amazing first place to travel on your own so make sure you take a look around and pick out the perfect next spot for you.
- The Ultimate Solo Travel Guide to Lisbon, Portugal
- The Perfect Solo Travel Guide to Porto
- The Ultimate Algarve Solo Travel Guide
- Madeira Solo Travel: A Magical Solo Trip Guide
- Azores Solo Travel: An Epic Adventure Guide
- 35+ Things to Do Alone in Lisbon as a Solo Traveler
- 10 Best Places to Stay in Lisbon for Solo Travelers
- The Best Time to Visit Portugal: Season Guide
MORE PORTUGAL TRAVEL GUIDES
- Portugal in Winter: Things to Do in December, January, & February
- The 17 Best Beaches in Cascais, Portugal
- Is Aveiro Worth Visiting?
- 25+ Epic Things to Do in Ericeira
- 23+ Outstanding Things to Do in Obidos
- Instagrammable Lisbon: 37 Best Photo Spots with Map (+Sintra!)
- 16 Phenomenal Port Wineries in Porto
- Lisbon Itinerary: 4 Dreamy Days in the City of 7 Hills
- Porto Viewpoints: 11 Mesmerizing Miradouro Views
- 7 Absolutely Darling Douro Valley Wineries
- 15 Fabulous Day Trips from Faro, Portugal
- Santana Madeira Houses: Traditional Island Homes
- Fanal Forest, Madeira: Tour the Mysterious Woods