My Portugal packing list is the ideal companion for planning a trip to Portugal. It will help you leave no stone unturned, and pack appropriately depending on the season.
I’ve included everything on a simple checklist you can download for free. Simply read to the end of this article to find the download link. You also have space to add your own items.
Portugal Packing List
Essentials to Pack
It should go without saying, but the first items to pack before heading to Portugal are your documents. You will, of course, require your passport and flight tickets, but that is not all. If you intend to drive in Portugal, you need your driver’s license and an international driving permit (IDP) if you’re not from the EU or other eligible countries.
Other documents you may consider bringing are a student ID if you have one (useful for museum discounts) and your medical information. The same requirements apply whether you travel to mainland Portugal or one of the islands (Madeira and the Azores).
Lastly, you should have copies of each document stored in a different location than the originals, like your suitcase. Copies can come in handy if you lose your original documents or they get stolen. As an extra step, have pictures on your phone.
Medicine & first aid kit
When traveling to Portugal, remember to bring your necessary medication, including birth control, in sufficient quantity for the entire trip. Although pharmacies are available nearly everywhere throughout the country, they may not have the specific medication you need.
If you plan to spend time outdoors, explore remote areas, or go hiking, it’s good to carry a first aid kit with you. You can bring one from home if you have it or purchase it when you arrive.
Chargers for your electronics
You will inevitably bring some electronics with you, but remember to pack chargers for each. This is especially important for larger electronics like a laptop or batteries for your camera or drone.
While you can easily purchase a charger for your phone in nearly any electronic store, finding the appropriate charger for your laptop may be a harder task, and it will make you waste precious time you could dedicate to sightseeing.
Cards & Cash
Don’t forget to bring credit cards, especially travel credit cards, if you have any. However, always carry some cash, too. You can pay by card in many places in Portugal, but shops and restaurants, especially in remote areas, may only allow cash payments.
If you don’t already have the local currency (Euro), you can always exchange when you arrive. But avoid the airport exchange offices as they are notorious for their terrible exchange rates. Head to a bank or office in the city center instead. You can also withdraw euros from any ATM.
For withdrawals, head to bank ATMs rather than independent ones. The most common banks around Portugal are Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Millennium BCP, ActivoBank, Santander, and Banco BPI.
Each ATM has its withdrawal fees, so check before you complete your transaction. I found that most ATMs have free withdrawals, but that also depends on your bank.
An item I always carry with me wherever I go is my portable charger. Having found myself in more than one situation with a dead phone and no other means of communication, I find these little devices to be lifesavers.
The range of options out there is endless. I recommend opting for a compact and light but fast-charging power bank. And don’t forget to recharge it at the end of each day if you use it.
If you travel to Portugal from anywhere outside Europe, remember you need a power adapter. Portugal has type F sockets and plugs, but type C and E plugs are also compatible. These are the same plugs you find nearly everywhere in Europe.
If you already have a European adapter, that will be okay for Portugal. Alternatively, get a universal adapter with plugs for most world countries. This way, you don’t have to think twice every time you travel to a new country. If you can, bring a second adapter, just in case.
If you’re backpacking and staying in hostels, a padlock is an essential item for your trip to Portugal. While many hostels have lockers with keys or provide padlocks, you may come across places that do not provide them.
You can use the padlock for your hostel locker, or to lock your luggage if you ever need to leave it in storage somewhere. The ideal padlock is a combination one, so you don’t have to worry about carrying the key, too.
I usually pack two small bags wherever I go, a small one for evenings and a bigger one, usually a small backpack, to carry more stuff around during the day, like my water bottle, an extra sweater, food, and more.
Especially as a woman, having a day bag is vital. You may take this as your small carry-on on the flight to Portugal or buy one of those lightweight backpacks that pack small and don’t take up much space in your luggage.
Reusable water bottle
Carrying a reusable water bottle is a good idea for many reasons. First, it’s the most sustainable choice, allowing you to avoid buying bottled water. Second, you can always refill them at your hotel or from water fountains around town, saving money.
You can find water fountains in many Portuguese cities. If you travel in the summer, having an insulated bottle helps keep your water fresh while sightseeing.
One more thing to pack for Portugal is your toiletries bag. While Portugal doesn’t lack beauty stores, you may not find your favorite face cream or that specific shampoo in the first supermarket, and you don’t want to waste time searching for cosmetics when you can enjoy the trip.
If you’re staying in a hotel, they will likely provide essentials like soap, shampoo, and conditioner. However, they usually have small toiletries that generate a lot of unnecessary waste. Pack your favorite toiletries for a more sustainable trip. Your skin and hair may also be better off without random hotel toiletries.
If you only travel with a carry-on, you can pack solid toiletries, like shampoo and soap, to avoid the limit of liquids you are allowed to carry on board flights. Remember that each container must have a maximum of 100 ml, and you can only carry up to one liter.
Lastly, while Portugal rarely gets extremely hot, even in peak summer months, you should always wear sunscreen. This is extra important in sunny places like the Algarve and the islands of Madeira and the Azores.
You can buy sunscreen in most supermarkets and any beauty shop in Portugal, but be sure to pack a small one to arrive prepared. Opt for a reef-safe mineral sunscreen if you plan to go swimming or surfing.
What to Wear in Portugal
General advice for any season
Portuguese people usually dress casually, so you can bring whatever clothing items feel more comfortable and practical. Just carry one or two dressy outfits if you plan to go to a nice restaurant for dinner or out to a party.
Portuguese people usually dress up on special occasions. Certain clubs may have dress codes, but they are generally quite loose. If you go out to party in Lisbon’s Bairo Alto, nobody will look at what you’re wearing. But higher-lever clubs may require a button-up shirt for men and an elegant outfit for women. As a rule of thumb, keep it simple and classy.
One note for women, especially when visiting Lisbon and Porto, is to avoid packing high heels. With all the ups and downs and the slippery calçada portuguesa (typical Portuguese pavement with small stones), you risk serious falls when wearing heels. Comfortable, casual shoes are the way to go. If you bring heels for a night out, opt for block heels instead of stilettos.
Lastly, consider the kind of activities you will do. If you want to visit churches and other religious sites, you should always have something that covers your knees and shoulders. If you pack light summer dresses or tank tops, have a scarf to cover the shoulders. T-shirts and knee-length shorts or skirts are okay.
What to Wear in Mainland Portugal
While summers are hot in Portugal, the temperatures are slightly lower than in nearby countries like Spain and Italy. The Atlantic Ocean brings a constant breeze that makes it feel less hot and often even chilly in the evenings.
Unless you visit the Algarve, in the south of Portugal, you should always carry a light jacket, even in peak summer months. Heat waves can happen, and you probably won’t need a jacket in most areas in these cases, but they usually don’t last long.
Lisbon is generally hot in the summer, but can get very windy; Porto usually has pleasant temperatures, but it occasionally gets hot. Northern Portugal tends to have lower temperatures, especially if you head to the mountains near the border with the Spanish region of Galicia. Here, you will very likely need layers, even in summer.
Winters in Portugal are generally mild, although the weather can vary depending on the region. As a rule of thumb, it is warm and dry in the south and cold and rainy in the north. The little snowfall mostly happens in the mountains around Central and Northern Portugal, especially Serra da Estrela.
If you travel to the Algarve, you will mostly find sunny days with pleasant temperatures averaging 15°C (59°F) during the day. You’ll be okay with jeans or long trousers, a long-sleeve shirt or sweater, and a light jacket. Sometimes, it may even get warm enough to skip the jacket.
If you go inland, to Lisbon, and around Central Portugal, you may need a warmer jacket. However, you can still have pleasant sunny days most of the time. Just bring a scarf to protect yourself from the chilly wind.
The weather can be very variable in the north, including Porto, the Douro Valley, and the area bordering Galicia. This region can be rainy and significantly colder. Be sure to pack a rainproof jacket and layers. You may have a spring-like day followed by a cold and rainy one.
Lastly, while Portugal may not be the first country you think of for winter activities, the Serra da Estrela Nature Park is a great destination for skiing and other winter sports. If you plan to go there, pack warm clothes.
Spring & Fall
Shoulder seasons are ideal for visiting Portugal due to the pleasant temperatures nearly all over the country. You can enjoy warm weather from Lisbon south, while the northern regions can be more variable, with occasional rain but pleasant temperatures overall.
Your Portugal packing list for the spring and summer should include light layers, a lightweight jacket, and a warm sweater for the evenings when it can get colder in most areas. The temperatures can vary greatly; you may spend some days in a short-sleeved t-shirt and others with several layers.
In the Algarve, it may even be warm enough to go to the beach, so don’t forget to pack a bathing suit if you plan on heading to that area.
What to wear in the Portuguese islands
The islands deserve distinct sections since they have different weather from mainland Portugal. Portugal’s main islands are the Azores and Madeira archipelagos.
The archipelago of the Azores is right in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean and includes nine volcanic islands. One may expect cold weather around here, but it’s pleasant, with little difference between summer and winter.
The Azores have pleasant weather year-round, with temperatures topping 25°C (77°F) in the summer and rarely going below 16°C (61°F) in winter. This means you can pack spring outfits no matter when you go, with an extra layer in winter to be on the safe side. Always bring a bikini, not only for the beach but to enjoy the hot springs.
Madeira is a smaller archipelago just above the Canary Islands consisting of the main island of Madeira and three small ones. Unlike the Spanish archipelago, the Portuguese island gets less hot weather, even in the peak summer months. Think of the weather in Madeira as an eternal spring, with mild winters and pleasant summers.
There is very little difference between winter and summer weather. Winters tend to get slightly colder than in the Azores, and summers seldom get too hot, so you should always bring layers. Pack your shorts and T-shirts, but always bring long trousers, a sweater, and a jacket, especially if you want to go hiking.
Portugal Packing Tips
Buy travel insurance
Before even starting to pack your bags for Portugal, buy travel insurance. Protecting your belongings is even more important than bringing all the right things, so pick a travel insurance policy that includes lost luggage and theft protection.
Travel medical insurance usually offers coverage for a range of medical expenses you may incur when abroad, along with lost luggage, electronics theft, and stolen documents. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind and the reassurance that, if something unexpected happens, you are covered.
Choose the most appropriate luggage type
You may be wondering whether you should bring a suitcase or a backpack. When it comes to packing for Portugal, I believe a backpack is the best choice, for many reasons.
Firstly, big cities like Lisbon and Porto have this beautiful but extremely uneven pavement (the calçada portuguesa I mentioned above) that makes it hard to drag a suitcase around.
Secondly, most places, including nearly every big city, have lots of hills and stairways. Constantly having to carry your suitcase uphill or on stairs is no fun. A good-quality backpack is a much better choice, no matter where you go in Portugal.
Pack according to the region you travel to
As mentioned in the sections dedicated to the weather, each region in Portugal differs slightly, so you should pack according to your itinerary. While there are no big differences, you should always research the region you’ll visit, so you can prepare for any situation, like the constant wind in Lisbon, the rain in the north, and the consistent sun in the Algarve.
While summers are generally warm all over Portugal, the weather varies more in the winter and shoulder seasons. If you travel any time from October to April, do some extra research on the places you’ll visit and pack accordingly.
Always have layers
Portugal is one of those countries where you should always be prepared for sudden temperature changes. Yes, this is also valid in summer. While places like Andalucia in Spain or Southern Italy are nearly guaranteed to be hot day and night from June to August, there is more variability in Portugal.
Always pack layers so you can take them off if it’s unseasonably warm or wear them if it suddenly gets chilly on a summer evening. I lived in Portugal for over two years and learned that I should always carry an extra layer in my bag, no matter the season or place I’m visiting.
Don’t overpack and leave some space
While this list covers everything you may need in every season, you don’t have to bring it all. Pack your essentials and carry a few items of clothing that you can easily mix and match or layer. Pack according to the season and region and bring that one just-in-case item, but don’t overdo it.
You can always purchase extra things if you need them. And this brings me to the last point: leaving some space in your bag. Maybe you want to buy a few souvenirs, an extra sweater, or that cute summer dress. Ensure you have free space in your luggage to buy the things you enjoy without worrying about whether they will fit in your tightly packed backpack.
I’ve spent collectively several months in Portugal over the last few years. I always have a lovely time but, as with any European destination, it’s important to arrive with a good understanding of the area you’re staying in, weather, and so on.
Especially in the winter, Portugal can be colder than you may anticipate. Use this packing list to prepare and plan, so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest!
You Might Also Like to Read
Save and Pin for Later
Don’t forget to save this packing list to your Portugal planning board. When it’s time to start packing, you can quickly download the list and make sure everything is accounted for.