Portugal can be an inexpensive country for a holiday, and this is due to the fact that the average wage is only 620 EUR a month. The key point for an inexpensive holiday to Portugal is not to act as a tourist, but live like a local. Travel by public transport, shop at local markets and eat in cafés or supermarkets.
A main meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost you between 5 and 10 EUR. Public transportation is quite cheap: a subway ticket in Lisbon costs only 1.5 EUR, a bus ticket – 2 EUR, a tram ticket – 3 EUR.
It is very possible to visit Lisbon or Porto on a budget of 40 EUR a day (17 EUR dorm room, 15 EUR food and 8 EUR entertainment & transport) or find an out of season holiday to the Algarve for less than 300 EUR (two people, 1 week, flights and accommodation).
Portugal along with the whole of southern Europe, is a summer holiday destination. At the height of the summer flights will be at their most expensive, hotels fully booked, and good value rental rooms/villas sold out.
If you are forced to have a holiday in the summer, due to work or school commitments, always book everything as far in advance as possible. Another summer tip is to look for lesser known holiday locations, or places the Portuguese go on holiday. Why head to the expensive Algarve, when the western Portuguese coastline offers much better value (places such as; Sesimbra, Nazare, Espinho, Costa Nova or Povoa de Varzim).
A much cheaper season to visit Portugal is during the spring or late autumn. May and June are a great time for a beach holiday while the spring months and October are an ideal time for a city break or touring holiday. Lisbon and Porto are bustling cities and can be visited almost year round, so long as you can accept the possibility of the odd day of rain in the winter months.
Tipping is commonplace in Portugal. Expect to tip between 5-10% in restaurants. In bars, tips are not essential but leave 1-2 EUR if the service is good. In hotels, tip the bell boy 1-2 EUR per day and your housekeeper a few euros at the end of your stay. For taxis, round up the fare to the nearest 5 EUR.