Do you believe when you read that it was never cheaper to travel then today? I didn’t believe it until I started traveling. At the end of December 2016., I compiled a list of my personal wishes – what would I like to achieve, what kind of work I would like to do in 2017, among other things, how many new countries I would like to visit – and I said I want to visit 3 new countries in 2017. Luckily, in mid-March, I visited Sweden and Denmark, so it soon became clear that my wish was easy to achieve. The third country I visited was Spain – the trip that happened quite accidentally, but it was definitely a significant experience. The fourth (new) country I visited, totally unplanned, was Portugal.
IT HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER TO FIND A CHEAP FLIGHT TO PORTUGAL
This is my experience and I believe that there are many of you who traveled at lower prices. Namely, when searching for flights, I always check the three companies – WizzAir, RyanAir and EasyJet and departures from Belgrade, Nis, Timisoara and Budapest. As I live in Belgrade, these locations are closest to me, and at the same time they have a large number of flights to various destinations in Europe.
Sometimes, in order to travel inexpensively, you must be ready for a lot of layovers, hours of waiting at airports or late departures. My route looked like this:
Niš – Milan – Lisbon – Porto – Milan – Niš
All flights were booked through RyanAir at the following prices:
Niš – Milan – Niš – 26.5 euros from October 24th to October 31st
Milan – Lisbon – 45 euros for the flight 25 October
Lisbon – Porto – 12.99 euros for the flight 29th of October
Porto – Milan – 25.5 euros for the flight on 30 October
Three days before I bought the tickets, the price (total) was 100 euros and, fortunately, it increased by only 10 euros, but seven days later it was over 300 euros. There are plenty of online tips about when is the best time to buy tickets, you can find discounts for some airlines etc, but my previous experience with flights (and I had 15 flights this year!) is that when you find a cheap ticket – you should buy it right away! Someone will tell you that Tuesday night is the ideal time to buy tickets – maybe it is – but I can’t tell, since I haven’t had such experience.
TIP: Some companies, like WizzAir, offer the option of purchasing a Loyalty card at a price of 3999 RSD (35 euros) and it’s valid for a year. If you plan more than 2 flights during the year through this company, this benefit will be paid off. On average you will save about 1500 RSD (12 euros) – 1900 RSD (16 euros) per flight.
SPEAKING ABOUT ACCOMMODATION PRICES
…it depends on what your affinities are and when are you booking your accommodation. Before I continue with explaining this, I would like to mention that whenever I purchased airline tickets – I did not have money for accommodation. I always buy tickets from one paycheque, from the second I pay the accommodation, and from the third one – I have enough money for the expense. In my case, this works well and thanks to that, I managed to visit 8 countries until now in 2016.
I book the accommodation via AirBnB, Booking.com or HostelWorld.com – depending on the location, number of people I travel with and prices. As four of us traveled to Portugal, I found an apartment in downtown Lisbon for 300 euros (including taxes) for four people for four nights through Booking.com – which is 75 euros per person for four nights. In my opinion, renting an apartment is the most cost-effective option when you stay longer than 2 nights, because you can prepare your own food and thus save money at least for breakfast and/or dinner. Also, when the accommodation is in the city center, it is easy to go back and rest, and then continue with the sightseeing of the city.
Each accommodation has its own time of check-in and check-out, but that time can be flexible and they usually allow you to enter the accommodation earlier, if you contact the management in advance and let them know you will arrive before the specified time.
When it comes to Porto, I booked a hostel – a four-bed room with a bathroom, which was ideal, because we had one night in Porto. The price of accommodation with breakfast was 49 euros – which is 12.25 euros per person.
TIP: When breakfast is included in the price, it is mostly a continental breakfast, so do not expect to receive a buffet with a large selection of food and beverages for the above mentioned price.
As I visited Milan twice this year, for the second time I realised that the accommodation in Milan is more expensive than the most countries in Europe (Even more expensive than Copenhagen accommodation).
In April of this year, I booked the accommodation one month before the trio – a house in part of Milan called Rozzano, so the price was just over 200 euros for 3 nights for 3 people. This time, we spent the night at the airport because we had a flight early in the morning, and in return I booked accommodation in Bergamo, next to Milan and the price for one night was 95 euros for 4 people. This was also the most expensive price per night during this trip.
TIP: If you travel to Milan or have a layover in Milan, and you need accommodation, try to book it in advance. This way you will save a lot of money. Also, when you find accommodation that at first seems cheap to you, pay attention to the cost of cleaning fare and taxes.
FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY CENTER
When I tell people about my travels, the first question is always – How did you go from the airport to the city center / accommodation? So far, I have never had a problem with the transportation, because it is usually well organized – whether you are taking the metro, train or bus.
From Bergamo airport to the city center (Milan Centrale), the bus is leaving every 10 minutes and it will take you to the central station for 5 euros. As we were waiting for the flight to Lisbon at the airport, we left the luggage in the locker room at the airport for 3 euros/piece and when we came back, we picked them up using the ID number they gave us.
From Lisbon to the city center you can take the metro – the ticket price is 5 euros and you can buy it at the metro station. It’s the same with the airport in Porto – if you walk down two floors below the level of the airport, there is a metro (purple line) that leads you to the city center. If, however, you decide to take a taxi from the airport to the city center, it can cost from 20 euros up, depending on the location. (The taxi price from accommodation in Lisbon to the airport was 25 euros, which was affordable considering that there were four of us).
TIP: You should always look up for a tourist information center when you arrive at an airport, where you can find free maps of the city and ask employees to explain you what is the best way to reach your desired location.
HOW TO EXPLORE THE CITY WITHOUT A TOUR GUIDE
In order to travel without a tour guide, you need to have at least basic knowledge of English (or local) language. You can easily ask for whatever you need (as I write this, I remembered my dad who had drawn a train on the napkin in Greece for more than fifteen years ago and gave it to the bus driver, in order to tell us where to get off and catch a train).
Unlike Spain, in Portugal most local people speak English, so you won’t have a problem to get in touch with them and ask what interests you.
When traveling, I always choose one of the following options in order to get to know the city’s sights:
- Hop On Hop Off bus – a bus where you pay a daily ticket (the price varies from city to city, but it is usually between 10 and 25 euros) and you have the opportunity to go to all the main sights of the city, hop on and off the bus at any station where the bus stops, within 24 hours. This way you can get to know the city better, find what you’re looking for and hop off when it suits you.
- Free Walking Tour – you can easily find them online and you’ll have a tour guide who will show you all the main sights of the city. The tour is free, but it is advisable to give some tip – how much you give, it is only your decision and good will.
- Explore the city on your own – you can always go to the first tourist center, ask for the map and recommendations about what to visit. If you are staying in a certain city for several days and speak English (or local) language solidly, this is a great option, because you can always see some things that you wouldn’t if you were going to organized tours.
Of course, there are many more options – you can hire a local guide (the super website through which you can find local guides at great prices is https://www.toursbylocals.com/) or you can join a tour organized by a travel agency. There are certainly a lot of ways to explore and save the money – it all depends on what your interests are.
THINGS YOU MUST VISIT IN PORTUGAL
..will be shared in my next article. Since the idea of this article was to give you enough information in order to get an idea about how much travel to Portugal can cost, in the following article I’ll share the places you must visit if you’re planning to visit Portugal.
Despite my love for the Spanish language, their culture and lifestyle, I have to admit that Portugal swept me off my feet! This is a country you must visit at least once in a lifetime. Until then, you can discover more about hidden gem of Adriatic sea and prepare yourself for the summer season!