Portugal is my favorite country. It was love at first sight or, shall we say, after the first cup of coffee.
You see, after becoming too familiar with Spanish rare and less-than-perfect rest areas, entering Southern Portugal was a relief. The very first Área de Serviço had an excellent (and much needed) strong coffee which was served in a cute tiny cup with a saucer. How cool is that! This was the art of making the first impression in action.
Like the perfect dish, Portugal has the magic mix of ingredients that makes it irresistible. Hospitable unassuming people, fascinating, albeit controversial at times, history, rich and intricate culture, yummy food and great wines. It is the land that would make any aspiring photographer swoon and go into overdrive. It is also surprisingly affordable. Thus, Portugal is the ideal country for slow travel.
Coming to any new place is a bit intimidating. Staying there for a prolonged period of time could be challenging. Ideally, your host acts as a conduit for any local information. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it doesn’t work. Meanwhile, life happens. You may get sick and need a doctor. Your hair gets out of control and needs a trim. Even trash collection may present a problem (don’t laugh it happens more often than you think).
I was clueless about how things worked in Portugal when we came there. I appreciated any help and advice I could get from locals but also turned every digital stone so to speak in search of any relevant information. I ended up with a list of online resources that helped me survive and enjoy the country. I am sharing it with you hoping that it would allow you to save precious time.
It is important to note that this list is not about what to see and do in Lisbon or Portugal. This is not a visitor guide. You need to look somewhere else for this kind of recommendations. There are plenty of websites and blogs offering this information. That said, there is a small section where I provide links to local tourism authorities websites.
Since we stayed near Lisbon, the majority of links are about the capital area. The list is a work in progress. If you have a useful resource that is missing, send it my way. I’ll be happy to review and add it to the appropriate section (or create a new one).
- Life in Portugal: Online Resources (from Gail At Large) – resources for foreigners living in Portugal – tons of links covering all topics
- Expat Guide to Living in Portugal
- The InterNations Expat Guide for working and living in Portugal
- Portugal Forum – hosted and moderated by ExpatExchange.com
- Portuguese phrases for travelers
- Tipping in Portugal: How much should I give? (from Portugalist)
- ATMs in Portugal (from Portugalist)
- United States Citizens Moving to Portugal: Demystifying the Paper Trail
- Portugal Schengen Visa Application Requirements
- Golden Residence Permit Programme (Residence Permit for Investment Activity ARI/Golden Visa)
- The Portuguese Government website
- SEF – Serviço De Estrangeiros E Fronteiras (Immigration and Borders Service)
- Câmara Municipal de Lisboa – Lisbon City Hall
Health & Medical
- National Health Service website (in Portuguese)
- SNS 24 – 24 hours health line in Portuguese
- Emergency numbers in Portugal
- Healthcare in Portugal (from Expatica) – basic explanation of Healthcare infrastructure and services
- Portuguese Healthcare (from Living in Portugal) – general explanation about Healthcare services in Portugal
- Healthcare in Portugal (from Wikipedia)
- HPA – Hospital Particular de Almada, private hospital in Almada. Urgent care without appointment Mon-Fri 8am-9pm. This was the closest hospital to our home in Sexal, but, ultimately, we decided not to use it
- Walk-in Healthcare Clinic – for general and specialized care including dentistry. Health plans available. English speaking. Locations: Praça de Alvalade, Telheiras, Odivelas, Sintra. From personal experience: perhaps, the cheapest private option. However, the doctor there managed to misdiagnose me. I guess proves that you get what you pay for
- Hospital da Luz – chain of private hospitals
- Hospital da Lus Clínica de Oeiras – used this one after the unsatisfactory visit to Walk-in clinic. From personal experience: modern facility with the ability to perform tests onsite; experience with doctors vary – one was excellent, the other was so-so
- List of hospitals and clinics in Lisbon (from AngloInfo)
- List of medical facilities/practitioners in Lisbon area prepared by British Consular Service, Portugal (pdf)
- Medical assistance in Portugal – list of hospitals and physicians provided by the US Embassy in Portugal
- List of hospitals in Portugal and explanation of how they they operate from Expatica
- Sick in Lisbon – my personal experience: how to find an English speaking doctor and where to go when you are not well in the Portuguese capital
- Carris – operates buses, trams, funiculars and lifts in Lisbon
- 7 Colinas and Viva Viagem cards (from Carris)
- Lisbon Metro – official website
- Lisbon Metro explained (from PortugalVisitor.com)
- Viva Viagem Card explained (from PortugalVisitor.com) – where to buy, how to use, etc…
- Transtejo – operates ferries in Lisbon area (website is in Portuguese only)
- Comboios de Portugal – operates Portuguese trains
- Rest Areas in Portugal (from Rest Stop Finder)
- Information about prepaid data SIM cards
- MEO – we use it and recommend it
- Vodafone – we used it once, but run into problem with their app, so couldn’t top up sim card and switched to MEO
- Airbnb remains the best option for mid-term housing (i.e., 1-6 months). However, Lisbon is a trendy destination. Hence, in the middle of the city, the prices are high, and the quality of accommodations is subpar (often, a place looks worn out, questionably clean(to put it mildly) with some appliances in need of repair). We found a reliable solution to this problem in going outside of the center of the city. Lisbon has a reliable public transportation, so getting around is not a problem. Living across the river saves tons of money – life is much cheaper in Setúbal area. Look for housing in Almada, Seixal, Montijo.
- Uniplaces – an interesting alternative to Airbnb. It is a Lisbon-based online marketplace for booking student accommodation. However, Uniplaces is not just for students: anyone can look for a room or house there, even though the majority of their users are students. TB Note: we haven’t used their services
- CasaSapo – the leading Real Estate Portal in Portugal. If you are looking for long-term rent in Portugal (6+ months), renting privately is the best option
- CustoJusto – Craigslist or Gumtree counterpart. As with all other classifieds websites around the world, be careful with scams.
- Imovirtual – real estate aggregator – among other options, search for long-term places for rent
- Idealista – real estate aggregator – among other options, search for long-term places for rent
- Something you should be ware of, when booking hotels online in Portugal (from Travelling Claus)
Utilities and such
- ERSE – the Energy Services Regulatory Authority
- ERSAR – the Water and Waste Services Regulation Authority
- Drinking water quality (from ERSAR)
- Energy Tariffs and Prices (from ERSE)
- Electricity suppliers in Portugal and how to get connected (from Angloinfo)
- Utilities in Portugal: Connecting your water, gas and electricity in Portugal (from Expatica) – this guide explains how to connect to basic utilities in Portugal including:
- Electricity in Portugal
- Portuguese electrical outlets
- Voltage in Portugal
- Electricity providers in Portugal
- Can you drink the tap water in Portugal?
- Gas in Portugal
- Recycling and rubbish collection in Portugal
- Water in Portugal (from Anfloinfo) – understanding the Portuguese water supply system and how to get connected
- Portugal power adapters – what plugs are used in Portugal?
News & Culture
- CustoJusto – classifieds marketplace similar to Craigslist in the US or Gumtree in the UK and Australia
- OLX – classifieds marketplace similar to Craigslist in the US or Gumtree in the UK and Australia
- Feira da Ladra – Lisbon Flea Market
- Radio Popular – online consumer electronics store
- Seaside – online shoe store
- EZPortugal – step right in, take a seat and enjoy the view. Run by a group of locals to discover everything that is to discover in and around Portugal
- Visitportugal.com – the official website for Portugal as a tourist destination developed by Turismo de Portugal, I.P., the national tourist board
- The Lisbon Tourism Association
- GoLisbon.com – is not associated with Lisbon’s official tourism website, but offers tons of useful information
- Tips and advice about cycling in Portugal (from Travelling Claus)
- Lisbon Audio Tours (from VoiceMap)
- Emma’s House In Portugal – buying a ruin, building a house and eating a lot of pastries
- Gail At Large, a Canadian in Portugal
- Me ‘N’ You in Portugal – Margaret’s take on the lives, culture, food, music etc. of Portugal and the Portuguese
- Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal – discovering and sharing the delights and surprises of living and traveling in Portugal (by Julie Dawn Fox)
- Salt of Portugal – their motto is all that is glorious about Portugal
- All about Portugal from Backpack Me – Zara is a Portuguese native, so she has some sound advice about food, history, culture etc… Are you a foodie? You may want to check her e-book Lisbon in 100 bites
- List of blogs by expatriates living and working in Portugal