Portugal – Real great experiences in the 17 districts and 2 regions

Welcome to Portugal

Portugal is a small big country.

Small because you may cross it from north to south in 6 hours and east west in 3.

Big, because it can provide interesting motifs for all kind of visitors, and, with everything at a short distance, surprise with its contrasts.

In these pages I will collect my experiences in my country, trying to deliver then as organized as possible. Each district will have its own page, linking to the pages of the places I think will deserve your visit, with a classification from zero to three stars, according only with my opinion. If what you want is not there…sorry.

I don’t know all the country, don’t remember most of the old visits, and, really, don’t think that everything deserves our attention, but there’s still many places and information to come, so, time is what I need, to keep posting and enriching the information.

It will be slow, because there’s a big world out there and it also calls my attention, but I must confess that I would never exchange My Portugal for any of the many and interesting visited places.

This is how I rank the Portuguese Districts:

*** Not to be missed
Lisbon – monuments, museums, sights, beaches, food, nightlife
Porto – monuments, museums, sights, food, nightlife
Leiria – monuments, sights, beaches, food
Braga – monuments, sights, food,
Évora – monuments, sights, food
Azores – only São Miguel and Terceira, so far
** Very interesting
Coimbra, Viseu, Faro, Santarém, Aveiro, Guarda, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo
* Interesting
Vila Real, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Portalegre, ​Beja

Of course, Azores and Madeira are also not to be missed.

Some tips may help you to understand Portugal, and to ease your trip, but to make it even easier i wrote a helpful tip that you may find here.

Visits by district:

Quick find: AveiroAzoresBejaBragaBragançaCastelo BrancoCoimbraÉvoraGuardaLeiriaLisbonMadeiraPortalegrePortoSantarémSetúbalViana do CasteloVila RealViseu


Algarve district
Algarve district – Portugal

One of the three top destinations, the Algarve is a province that covers the entire southern part of the country. The Mediterranean climate and the quality of its beaches are its biggest attraction. I ran the entire region several times and compiled some travel notes on the pages of the beaches of Albufeira, Altura, Armação de Pera, Cacela-Velha, Carvoeiro, Faro, Ferragudo, Lagos, Manta Rota, Monte Gordo, Olhão, Oura, Portimão, Sagres, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António.
Of the interior towns, I visited Alcoutim, Aljezur, Castro Marim, Guia (the chicken, of course) and Silves. The west coast is wild and beautiful, ending in Odeceixe, where Alentejo starts.

Aveiro district

Aveiro d
Aveiro district – Portugal

South of Porto, this coastal district is often visited on day trips from that city, but there are arguments to justify longer visits.
Aveiro, known as the Portuguese Venice, dominates, with the beaches of Torreira and Costa Nova well placed on the extensive list of beaches where I highlight Espinho and Furadouro. Still on the coast, Vista Alegre, Ovar and Vagos deserve mention. Turning your back to the sea, Bussaco is a must see, Arouca with its monastery and the Paiva walkways is worth the trip, but S. Maria da Feira, the industrial S. João da Madeira and Águeda (with famous festivals), Sangalhos with its exotic museum, Fermentelos with its natural lake and Válega and its curious church do not disappoint. The Luso thermal spa supplies water to all Portugal, and Mealhada is the capital of suckling pig (with sparkling wine from the region, of course).


Azores – Portugal

The vibrant nature makes the 9 islands of the Azores a passionate and enthusiastic destination. I visited two of them, S. Miguel, certainly the most interesting (I repeated), and Terceira, with the special city of Angra do Heroísmo.
I visited in summer and winter, and, with the natural differences, in both seasons it was enjoyable.

Beja district

Beja district
Beja district – Portugal

A much-traversed and little-visited district of Portugal, Beja has some charming features. Mértola surpasses Beja at the top of the list, but I also recommend Moura, São Domingos and its old mines, Ferreira do Alentejo, and, on the coast, Vila Nova de Milfontes.

Braga district

Braga district
Braga district – Portugal

The most religious district in Portugal, it adds to the many beautiful testimonies of this religiosity, the freshness of an evergreen landscape and hospitality supported by excellent cuisine and the famous green wine. Of the many locations visited, Braga and Guimarães, UNESCO heritage, and the purity of Gerês stand out. Barcelos and Famalicão are also worth visiting.

Bragança district

Bragança district
Bragança district – Portugal

The most remote district in Portugal, and therefore the least touristy, benefits from this calm to protect and highlight its traditions, from customs to gastronomy, and preserve the landscape.
Bragança is the capital, but it is worth traveling a few kilometers to see Varge and the curious community village of Rio de Onor, where Portugal and Spain merge.
Vila Flor and Mirandela (“it’s mandatory” to buy alheiras) are interesting, Podence has a fun tradition, and Romeu has a famous typical restaurant.

Castelo Branco district

C branco district
C branco district – Portugal

One of the most inland districts in Portugal, Castelo Branco suffers from the problems of demographic attraction from the coast. The developmental effort with which we try to stop this trend is carried out with deep respect for the traditional image of the region, preserving lands whose authenticity justifies travel outside the traditional circuits. Monsanto, long known as “the most Portuguese village in Portugal”, is the highlight, very well accompanied by Belmonte, Penha Garcia or Castelo Novo. Regional development is especially noticeable in the progressive cities of Covilhã, Fundão or Castelo Branco. Vila Velha de Ródão stands out in the landscape, and Idanha-a-Nova, Sertã, Vila de Rei or Penamacor also have strong attractions. Facing Spain, Monfortinho is famous for its spa.

Coimbra district

Coimbra district
Coimbra district – Portugal

Defined as the capital district of central Portugal, Coimbra extends from a coast where the beaches of Figueira da Foz and Mira stand out, to the mountainous massif of the interior, with some of Portugal’s famous villages – Piódão, Foz de Égua and Talasnal stand out among others, of which I also mention Coja and Avô. Scattered around, some medium-sized cities are interesting stops for a longer or shorter visit – Góis, Arganil, Penacova, Penela and Montemor-o-Velho earned me some notes. Nature is king in Lousã and Vila Nova do Ceira, but the tourist attraction is, of course, the beautiful city of Coimbra, where you can almost include the Roman Conímbriga just a short distance away.

Évora district

Evora district
Evora district – Portugal

Visitors who decide to focus their visit to Portugal on Lisbon and its surroundings often complement their stay with day trips to the surrounding area. To the south, Évora is an inevitable must see, however, the district has charms that justify more than a hasty trip to Lisbon and back.
Monsaraz is precious, with Reguengos de Monsaraz guaranteeing modern life at some distance to preserve its authenticity, which we can also find preserved in places such as Arraiolos, Estremoz, Borba, Portel, Montemor-o-Novo or Vila Viçosa. Evoramonte is an important historical reference with an exotic castle, and Pavia marks the transition to Ribatejo, which extends to the north. Mourão, somewhat isolated by Alqueva dam, is a place where I went a couple of times… to eat, listening traditional songs.

Guarda district

Guarda district
Guarda district – Portugal

The mountain district, home to Portugal’s only winter sports center, Serra da Estrela, with beautiful historic villages (Almeida, Castelo Mendo, Sortelha, Linhares da Beira, Sabugal and others) is bordered to the north by Barca de Alva, marking the entry into Portugal of the Douro River and Vila Nova de Fozcoa. Guarda, the capital and Trancoso are truly beautiful, and on the slopes of the Serra there are many things you can and should visit – Seia, Loriga, Gouveia, São Romão, Manteigas and Cabeça, for example.

Leiria district

Leiria district
Leiria district – Portugal

Portugal’s world-renowned attractions, Óbidos, Alcobaça and Batalha dominate the Leiria district, with many other interesting places around them. There are many beaches, with Nazaré in the spotlight, but where São Martinho do Porto and Salir, Foz do Arelho, Baleal, São Pedro de Moel, Consolação, Pedrógão or Vieira de Leiria deserve special mention.
Peniche adds the boat to Berlengas and the freshest fish to its good beaches (Consolação nearby).
It is also mandatory to visit Caldas da Rainha and Leiria, which can be joined by Bombarral (Budha Eden) and Marinha Grande (glass). Inland, Castanheira de Pera, Figueiró dos Vinhos and Pedrógão Grande are interesting.
Leiria is my district, and, therefore, you will forgive me if, to the many and very interesting tourist destinations, I have added some notes and images of many villages and small towns that are warmly welcomed and visited with pleasure – Alfeizerão, Aljubarrota, Arrimal, Ataíja de Baixo, Azoia, Benedita, Carvalhal Benfeito, Chiqueda, Cós, Évora de Alcobaça, Gaeiras, Guizado, Martingança, Mendiga, Mosteiro, Pedrógão Grande, Pombal, Porto de Mós, Pousos, Santa Catarina Tornada, Vimeiro, and my Turquel.

Lisbon district

Lisboa district
Lisboa district – Portugal

Lisbon needs no words, just like the inevitable Sintra and Cascais, but, in addition to the beautiful walk along the waterfront, stopping, for example, in Oeiras, Carcavelos or Estoril, other destinations can be visited. Nearby, Queluz is the Versailles of Portugal, Amadora a growing lateral city and in Loures you can eat well. To the north of Cabo da Roca and Azenhas do Mar, the western coast, dominated by Ericeira, extends with many beautiful beaches, including Santa Cruz, Porto Novo, Santa Rita or Areia Branca, in the extreme north of the district, where Lourinhã revives dinosaurs.
Away from the beach, Mafra is a must-see, with a short hop to Sobreiro, and Colares and Torres Vedras are pleasant.


Madeira – Portugal

Traveling through Madeira is an encounter with splendid nature, and the human art of highlighting it. I didn’t see everything on my two trips, but I saw a lot, of which I kept images and memories of Cabo Girão, Câmara de Lobos and Estreito, Eira do Serrado, Encumeada, Machico, Paul da Serra, Pico do Areeiro, Portela, Porto Moniz, Rabaçal, Ribeira Brava, Santo António, São Lourenço, São Vicente, Santana, Santo da Serra, Seixal, Serra de Água, and of course, the beautiful and unmissable Funchal.

Portalegre district

Portalegre district
Portalegre district – Portugal

There’s not much to see in this remote district of Portugal, but what there is is good. Elvas, Marvão and Castelo de Vide are in the lead, but Belver is beautiful, and neighboring Amieira do Tejo is worth the detour. Portalegre, the capital, Campo Maior, Avis or Nisa are interesting, in Portagem I had a good lunch.

Porto district

Porto district
Porto district – Portugal

A top tourist destination with strong growth, Porto is a beautiful city, increasingly cared for and beautified (Ramalde is waiting its turn). Its tourist scope naturally expands along the Douro, with emphasis on Amarante, and with the strongest stops in the neighboring district of Vila Real. On a much-used coast, I highlight Matosinhos and Vila do Conde and in the interior Gondomar, Felgueiras and Arco.
Crossing the river, Porto extends across Gaia, to Miramar.

Santarém district

Santarem district
Santarem district – Portugal

One of the most important monuments in Portugal is in Tomar, which shares the leadership of the district’s tourist destinations with Fátima.
Other interesting destinations, in addition to the capital, Santarém and the annexed Ribeira de Santarém, include Abrantes, Alcanede, Almeirim, Dornes, Escaroupim, Ferreira do Zêzere, Ourém, Rio Maior, Sardoal, Tancos (Almourol) and Torres Novas.
Sports dancing is my old sport, and I have danced in Spain, Italy, Belgium, and almost the entire district of Santarém, which reminds me of Alcanena, Amiais de Baixo, Anteporta, Barquinha, Benavente, Benfica do Ribatejo, Cartaxo, Coruche, Entroncamento, Moçarria and São Vicente from Paul.
Samora Correia is an area for wholesale business, and Alcobertas and Arrouquelas are home to good personal and family memories.

Setúbal district

Setubal district
Setubal district – Portugal

Bordered on the south bank of the Tagus, in Almada, and hugging the mouth of the Sado, the district of Setubal is dominated by its relationship with the sea. Setúbal and Sines are important ports, Sesimbra, Tróia, Caparica, Melides and Porto Covo pleasant beaches.
Arrábida is a natural park dotted with beautiful beaches, all the way to Cabo Espichel.
South of Sado, the historic Alcácer do Sal is an important road junction and rice producer.

Viana do Castelo district

Viana do Castelo district
Viana do Castelo district – Portugal

Marking the extreme northwest of Portugal, in this beautiful district it is difficult to choose. So far I registered Arcos de Valdevez, Lindoso, Monção, Ponte de Lima, Ponte da Barca, Sistelo, Valença to add to the capital Viana do Castelo, but I won’t stop there. See you soon!

Vila Real district

Vila Real district
Vila Real district – Portugal

Forgotten for centuries, Porto’s tourist boom allowed the rediscovery of this district, especially its wine-producing area, where Pinhão, Peso da Régua, Murça, Mateus, Favaios and the typical villages of Padornelos and Provesende dominate. On the northern border, Montalegre and Chaves are worth the trip, and, more accessible, Vila Real, Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Vidago or Ribeira de Pena are interesting.

Viseu district

Viseu district
Viseu district – Portugal

For many years I forgot about this district, demobilized by the poor road structure. This problem was resolved, and I corrected my posture by traveling there with gusto. Viseu, Lamego, Penedono, São João de Tarouca, São Pedro do Sul and Sernancelhe are very interesting, but Caramulo, Lapa, Manhouce, Pinhel, Rãs, Tarouca, Santa Comba Dão, Santa Cruz da Trapa and Tondela are towns that I have come to know with great pleasure.

Por do Sol – A8 Loures

Por do sol
Por do sol

Positive impression Drivers Hunter 

Once upon a time, some guys decided to open a restaurant in the main road from Lisbon to Porto, in a empty section not far from Lisbon. It became a reference, because it was well located, the variety and quality were good, the service was quick as needed and the price acceptable.

One day, the highway that stopped at Vila Franca de Xira was enlarged, with a new exit further north, in Aveiras. What to do? Of course, move to Aveiras. And there was born Por do Sol 2, with better parking and facilities.​

More years passed, the highway was finished, and business faded. 

​The new solution? Yes, move to the highway. And that’s why they opened I think that 5 restaurants in Portuguese highways (but not in Aveiras). The service is different, more adapted to the even quicker demands of the highways, but they keep being a good chance for those (like me) that try to never surrender to fast-food. Of course, the now isolated restaurant changed its profile, and it is now a place for… slow, or festive meals.

Directions: Restaurant is in Aveiras, the cafetaria I used in Service point of Loures, in A8

Website: Por do Sol 2

Festas e Romarias – understand Portugal

It’s impossible to drive across the country in summer, without stumbling in one (or more) popular feast. 

You will see the “arraial” – paper flags all over the area – hear the noise and feel the confusion of cars. 

That’s the place.

The Portuguese venerate hundreds of saints, and each town or village chooses some of them to celebrate in summer. What is all about?

Portugal - Real great experiences in the 17 districts and 2 regions

Well, the priest celebrates a mass, if the saint is important there will be a procession, and afterwards the people meets in the “arraial” listening to some (bad) popular music, eating occasional “petiscos” talking and laughing. So… why not? Do you want a better opportunity to meet local people and make friends?

Eating in Portugal – understand Portugal


Eating is the Portuguese’s favorite sport. So, there are “stadiums” all over the country.

​Don’t waste your time asking for the best cuisine – everybody will tell you that the best is their local cuisine.

They are being honest, each one prefers his own recipes.

Wherever you go, you may find some special menus, sometimes exclusively in that restaurant or region, and many of them drag thousands of visitors to… eat.​

Being Portuguese, don’t get surprised if I tell you that, after tasting dozens of different cuisines, I agree that the best one is… yes, Portuguese. I could tell you about lots of dishes, for instance bacalhau, cooked in 1000 different ways (and one more, the one I tasted today at lunch). And Cozido a Portuguesa, and Leitão a Bairrada, and Cabrito, and cataplana of… and…

Excuse-me, I have to stop, it’s dinner time, but do come, and see for yourself. Believe me, if the stomach is supposed to be the entrance to each man’s heart, it surely is the entrance to Portuguese’s soul. Table means… friendship.

​Driving – understand Portugal

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If you decide to drive in Portugal (and it uses to be a good idea, since everything is near and public transport is here and there inefficient), give a special attention to some details:

1 – The roads are usually very good and often jammed, or very bad.

2 – Most of the roads have no shoulders, so you may encounter a pedestrian, a cyclist or an animal in your way.

3- Though improving their behavior in the roads, the Portuguese are “nervous” and competitive in their cars. If you’re Latin, it will be easy, but if you come from a calmer country you may feel uncomfortable.

4- The road signs are acceptable in highways and the new roads, but absent or confusing in most of the old roads, and inside cities.

5-To leave a car unattended uses to be safe in the small towns, but increasing the risk as the town grows, specially with goods seen through the windows.

6- Don’t hesitate to ask for help in any circumstance. Locals are friendly and always willing to be useful and nice.


Portunhol – understand Portugal

Scene in Montejunto mountain

Portuguese are proud of their independence from Spain, and may get offended if CONFUSED with Spanish.

However, Spanish people are well received in Portugal, and the attempts to communicate between both languages created a new concept: “Portunhol”.

That’s what we call to the result of a Portuguese trying to speak Spanish.​

Both languages seem alike when written, but they are very different when spoken, the Portuguese being one of the most  difficult languages in the world, because of its use of closed vowels (Brazilian is an evolution easier to learn, because it uses less closed vowels).

​Portuguese, generally, do understand Spanish, if spoken slowly, but it doesn’t work the other way. That’s where “Portunhol” may become useful.There’s nothing to be afraid of, concerning language, when coming to Portugal. Everywhere you will find someone speaking English (or trying to), French and Portunhol. Get a good dictionary, and enjoy your time, in a real welcoming country, with a welcoming people.

​Taxis stories

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Sunset on the road

Maybe you are alerted to the risks of dishonest taxi drivers (If you weren’t, you are now!), charging in excess.

They exist, and specially when exiting from the airports you must be careful. However, if you set the fare before leaving, you will discover that the taxi driver is a nice and friendly guy, that, in the expectation of a small tip, will assist you far beyond his obligations.

Remember, no one knows better the towns and their secrets than taxi drivers (well, in the villages without taxi drivers, you have the barbers).

​Anyway, the common advice applies: be careful!


Glass Manufacturing
Glass manufacturing

A few years ago, some friends decided to create a shop online for Portuguese crafts.

They have in mind to choose the best in several materials that it is made in our region (Leiria District) and, if succeeded, enlarge the idea to the whole country.

It’s a nice site, and, even if you don’t want to buy, it’s a good place to look at some examples of top quality in Portuguese handicrafts.

Website: Portugal heart

Porto-Algarve in two and half days 

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Someone demanded a suggested itinerary to travel from Porto to Algarve, arriving in the afternoon of the third day. There are many options and this is one of them (scheduling time is just a reference to help you to understand the needed time).

Day 1:

9.00 Leave Porto taking A1 south, exiting in Leiria to IC2 and driving to Batalha

11.00 Visit the Monastery /don’t miss the unfinished chapels)​

11.45 Drive to Alcobaça

12.15 Visit the Monastery

12.45 Drive to Nazaré

13.00 Lunch in Nazaré (Tasca d’Adélia, São Miguel or Bartidor)

15.00 Drive back to Alcobaça until Valado, to pick A8 south, exiting in Óbidos

15.30 Stroll in Óbidos

16.30 Return to A8 proceeding to Mafra

17.15 Brief visit of Mafra convent

17.45 Proceed to Lisbon to check-in in the hotel, refresh and rest a bit.

20.00 Leave the hotel, walk a little downtown, and take the subway to Marquês de Pombal. See the statue, and move up Parque Eduardo VII along its right side, to see the romantic constructions, the lake, and finally to enjoy the sunset from the top of it.

21 – If it is Thursday walk to the restaurant Nini (make a previous reservation) to have dinner with Fado. When tired, take a taxi back to the hotel. In the other nights try to listen to fado in Bairro Alto or Alfama.

Day two:

​Option 1 – Visit Lisbon

Option 2:

9.00 Drive to Sintra, and go straight to Palácio da Pena, that opens at 9.45, giving you the chance to park in a very difficult area. Visit the palace but don’t waste much time with the park.

11.00 Descend to town and visit the strange Parque da Regaleira or the City Palace

12.30 Drive to Cascais for lunch

15.00 Leave Cascais following the Marginal road. You may stop some minutes in Estoril, the remaining road is just a scenery road with several small beaches which means lots of traffic and difficult parking. You may make a few photographic stops, but try to arrive in Belem before 17.00 and go straight to Jerónimos. Visit the monastery, and walk a little eastbound to Casa dos Pastéis de Belém, and taste their exclusive pastry. Return to the parking near Jerónimos and drive a little back to the Tower of Belem. If you arrive before 18.00 you may enter, but the interior is poor.

Drive eastbound in the avenue by the river to stop in the area of Discoveries monument and see the area. Return to your hotel and forget the car.

If you’re not tired enough you may walk a little downtown seeing something of the highlights (Praça do Comércio, City hall, Rossio, Restauradores, Santa Justa lift).

20.30 have dinner in Charcutaria, near Praça Luis de Camões, and end your night strolling in Bairro Alto.

Day three:

Drive to Évora. Visit the city and have lunch in Fialho. According with your time proceed to Algarve. If you have time you may consider a detour to Monsaraz.

And that´s it.

​In my other pages you may get an idea about what I suggest and why I do it. Of course, there are dozens of alternatives (Coimbra, Bussaco, Tomar, Ericeira, Sesimbra, Arrábida are other top destinations) but considering the available time this may be the richest option. The scheduling time is tight but not too much, and you may also decide to skip or to shorten a visit.

Quick travel to Fatima

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Fatima is a common destination, justifying some general suggestions:

If you come from the middle east do have in mind that there are no direct connections to Portugal. You have to make a stop in another European capital. The best (cheaper) are London and Paris, so, if you want to see something in France plan your long distance flight to Paris.

There are several low-cost connections to Portugal from Paris (Easyjet is the best) but you may check several companies in a couple of sites that do a terrific job: skyscanner, momondo and kayak are very known, and I recently found azdreams that seems rather efficient in Portugal and Spain.

I live 50 km far from Fatima and I know that, unless you have strong religious reasons, a couple of hours will be more than enough, but there are several wonders close to Fatima that you shouldn’t miss.

In a shortage of time, I suggest that you stay in Lisbon and book a one day trip to Fatima, visiting, if possible, at least Óbidos and Batalha (but Nazaré and Alcobaça are also top visits). You may check it in City sightseeing.

​Don’t plan to use train to Fátima – the station with the same name stays very far from the city, and the connections are not too frequent.

​Book ahead, if you plan to stay there, around the 13th of each month from May to October


Odd bridge in Alfeizerão

If you plan to visit Portugal, or to deal with Portuguese, there´s a word that you should understand – “Desenrascanço” or in its verbal form “Desenrascar”.

It has no translation in English, and browsing the net searching the best way to explain it, I found a silly text that, despite some nonsense that shocked the few Portuguese that commented it, gives a close idea. The site is called “The 10 coolest foreign words English language needs” and says:

Means: To pull a MacGyver.

This is the art of slapping together a solution to a problem at the last minute, with no advanced planning, and no resources. It’s the coat hanger you use to fish your car keys out of the toilet, the emergency mustache you hastily construct out of pubic hair.

What’s interesting about “desenrascanço” (literally “to disentangle” yourself out of a bad situation), the Portuguese word for these last-minute solutions, is what it says about their culture.​

Where most of us were taught the Boy Scout slogan “be prepared,” and are constantly hassled if we don’t plan every little thing ahead, the Portuguese value just the opposite.

Coming up with frantic, last-minute improvisations that somehow work is considered one of the most valued skills there; they even teach it in universities, and in the armed forces (Ah Ah, Ah!).

They believe this ability to slap together haphazard solutions has been key to their survival over the centuries.(Ah Ah, Ah!) ​Don’t laugh.

At one time they managed to build an empire stretching from Brazil to the Philippines this way.(Ah, Ah, Ah! – my next visit: Portuguese Philipinnes)Yes, don’t laugh! I promise to stop laughing too.

It seems to have been written by one those Americans that we see in TV answering that Australia is the capital of Paris, but it gives an idea – “Desenrascanço” is the ability to go beyond planning if anything fails, and to find a solution.

So, if you travel near S. Martinho do Porto, and find a pillar in the middle of the road, at the exit of a tunnel, don’t be surprised – it is not madness or incompetence . It is a monument to the national “Desenrascanço” by an architect that, probably, studied in one of those mentioned universities.

Ah, Ah… excuse-me, I promised to stop laughing!


“Couvert” was the reason for a strong controversy in Portugal, forcing the government to publish specific regulation, but it keeps originating some confusion.

One day, someone alerted in VT for the risks of being charged “couvert” and another VTer showed her surprise, because “we are supposed to pay what we eat”. Let´s clarify it:

​Many years ago, some restaurants decided to offer their customers small dishes with starters, to calm the client while the ordered meal was prepared. Those starters were not listed and not charged (of course, the meal’s price would largely cover it).

No Couvert

That “gentleness” was well received, and the use spread, even to restaurants whose price policy couldn’t allow “the offer” and they started to charge it.

That was the beginning of the controversy: “Why should I pay something I didn’t order?” But things got worse, with restaurants charging “couvert” for… nothing.

It was a sort of tax for sitting at the table.​That was the time when the government interfered and produced the actual legislation.

What should you expect now?

Charging “couvert” is illegal. If someone puts something in your table that you didn’t order, you don’t have to consume (or pay) it, and may leave it untouched or ask the waiter to take it back.

Though the best keep “offering” some starters, you may expect to be charged for the articles that you started to eat, and only those (eating one olive means paying the whole dish, of course), if their price was listed in the menu.The strongest risk now, is that some restaurants try to charge everything that they brought to table, even the untouched items. That’s illegal!

​PS Another common practice is the offering of a “gentleness” at the end of your meal – there’s no risk in that, except for your health (and, eventually, police control, if you’re driving).

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