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Stunning rooftops of Lisbon | © TTstudio/Shutterstock
Stunning rooftops of Lisbon | © TTstudio/Shutterstock
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20 Things to Do in Portugal in Your Twenties

Picture of Nina Santos
Updated: 22 August 2017
Portugal is, without a doubt, one of the best destinations to spend time in during your twenties. After all, the weather is fantastic, the food and drinks are budget friendly, and the nightlife scene will keep you entertained well after bedtime.

Listen to fado

If you think that fado is only for older generations, you’re truly mistaken. This traditional style can be appreciated at any age so go ahead and spend a night listening to Portugal’s soul music.

Buy cheap beer or wine and hang out at a miradouro

Why spend every night out stuck in a crowd and paying €5–€10 on drinks when a good bottle of wine can be bought for €2 at a market, a large bottle of beer for €1, and many beautiful miradouro (lookout points) can be enjoyed for free? Organize with your buddies, buy snacks like canned fish, cheese and fresh fruits and turn a night out into a picnic with good company. One of the many reasons why Portugal is becoming more popular among 20-somethings is because it’s affordable, so take advantage of this as much as possible. Just throw your trash in a nearby bin once finished – the locals will thank you!

20-somethings will love drinking on a budget | jsnewtonian / Pixabay
20-somethings will love drinking on a budget | jsnewtonian / Pixabay

Hang out in Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto is the neighborhood for 20-year-olds in Lisbon, especially at night when the streets come alive with loud music, cheap drinks, and laughing voices.

Attend as many festivals as you can in one summer

It may sound easy at first, but this is quite an endeavour to take on and will require planning. Portugal is filled with cultural/religious and music festivals throughout the year, and each is worth experiencing.

Summer in Portugal is filled with festivals | Free-Photos / Pixabay
Summer in Portugal is filled with festivals | Free-Photos / Pixabay

Spend the night sleeping on the beach

Portugal has almost 600 miles of coast on the continent alone and much more around the Azores and Madeira islands. After a night of parties, sleeping on the beach may seem tempting, and more people do it than not at least once in Portugal. Of course, be careful about where you choose to close your eyes: know the tides and stay in a group with people you trust. In the right setting, though, there is nothing quite as relaxing and wonderful as falling asleep to the lullaby of waves and a light breeze over your face.

Go dancing until breakfast

Portugal is known for being a laid-back country, but that doesn’t mean that it lacks a party side. On the contrary, many city-dwellers love to dance until the sun comes up, and this is definitely the case in the Algarve during summer. Nightlife doesn’t discriminate against age, but there is no denying the energy we have in our twenties, so go all out and dance the night away during these party-filled years.

Don't go home until after the sun comes up | thomashendele / Pixabay
Don’t go home until after the sun comes up | thomashendele / Pixabay

Stay at a hostel

Portugal is home to truly fantastic hostels. Our thirties, fourties and older mean we want more privacy and are willing to pay extra for comfort, but in our twentis, getting by with fewer expenses is an attractive goal. Plus, hostels are becoming more trendy and provide unique opportunities to meet other travelers from around the world. After all, today’s strangers are tomorrow’s friends.

Head to the Algarve with people you just met

Is there a better way to get to know people than planning a weekend away surrounded by beaches, nature, bars, clubs and shopping? Spending extended periods at a time with people we barely know sounds less and less fun as we get older. In your twenties, however, it’s practically a regular occurrence and the Algarve is one of the best places to go. There is something for everyone, and it’s easy to stay entertained, even if your company is less fun than you expected.

New friends and beachtime. Win win! | Derks24 / Pixabay
New friends and beachtime. Win win! | Derks24 / Pixabay

Walk along the Tagus River from the centre of Lisbon to Belem (or further)

One of Lisbon’s greatest pleasures is walking along the Tagus River in the morning before the crowds take over. Even during the day and at night, the Tagus is a favourite spot, and the walkway is a top running path, too. The distance from Belem to Cais do Sodre is approximately 6.4 km (4 miles), making it a wonderful route to get in a bit of exercise while taking in the beauty of the 25 de Abril bridge and the river.

Road trip the entire coast

Why not spend a week or more discovering as many beaches as possible? Begin near Braga (or as close to the Spanish border as possible) and drive all the way to Tavira. One thing is for sure: the memories would last a lifetime.

Visit as many beaches as possible | ddzphoto / Pixabay
Visit as many beaches as possible | ddzphoto / Pixabay

Explore by yourself

During our twenties, it’s normal to spend as much time as possible with friends, especially while travelling. This is a great time to learn more about yourself, too, however, so break from the crowd now and then to explore solo. Always prepare with basic precautions (make sure your phone has full battery life, for example) but relax and enjoy – Portugal is currently one of the safest countries in the world.

Try surfing (or another water sport)

Portugal is one of the best countries around the world for surfing, but it’s not the only sport to try. Sign up for kite surfing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, and much more. Our twenties are a time for new and exciting experiences, after all.

Surfing isn't the only extreme water sport to try in Portugal | StarFlames / Pixabay
Surfing isn’t the only extreme water sport to try in Portugal | StarFlames / Pixabay

Spend a day at a coworking space

Portugal is a great country for freelancers, startup entrepreneurs, even just those who need a few hours to get some work done. Lisbon, especially, has become one of the best cities worldwide for freelancers and offers many coworking spaces throughout the city.

Attend a football game

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Portugal, and the games are full of energy, especially in Lisbon. Even if you don’t like or understand the sport, attend at least one game to see a wilder side of this otherwise laid-back group of people. Plus, it’s yet another opportunity to drink beer during the day (as if we need reasons).

Follow the crowds to the local futebol game | damonify / Pixabay
Follow the crowds to the local futebol game | damonify / Pixabay

Find a deal at an outdoor market

Outdoor markets are among the best places to find a diamond in the rough, cheap secondhand books in English, traditional souvenirs and much more. From the Algarve’s gypsy markets to Lisbon’s Feira da Ladra and plenty of markets further north, there are many hidden gems to find and deals to be made.

Ride in a tuk tuk in Lisbon

Bounce around the cobblestone streets in a tuk tuk while in Lisbon. These little vehicles are a bit controversial, as some people say they are noisy and dirty, but they are part of the city now and have become one of the most iconic ways to explore (possibly rivaling the historic trams).

Lisbon's tuk tuks are as iconic as its trams | b1-foto / Pixabay
Lisbon’s tuk tuks are as iconic as its trams | b1-foto / Pixabay

Plan a camping and/or hiking trip

From Sete Cidades in the Azores, to Peneda-Gerês National Park in the continental north, to the Serra da Estrela in the center of the country and the spots around Lisbon, there is no shortage of places to spend a weekend camping and hiking.

Kayak through caves in the Algarve

Everyone, especially athletic 20-year-olds, will love exploring the Algarve’s caves by kayak.

The Benagil cave may be the most famous in the Algarve
The Benagil cave may be the most famous in the Algarve | © Bruno Carlos / Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Livraria Lello & Irmão in Porto

Scotland may take much of the credit for Harry Potter‘s origins, but Livraria Lello & Irmão in Porto is actually the spot where JK Rowling first became inspired. Livraria Lello is also a beautiful historical shop and considered one of the most attractive bookstores in the world.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Rua das Carmelitas 144, Porto, Portugal, +351 22 200 2037

Learn to speak Portuguese

Finally, the twenties are a time to grow and experience as much as possible, and learning a new language (especially one like Portuguese) opens you to these experiences like nothing else. Hire a tutor, book a class or attend a conversation group and begin exchanging words.