Portugal Currency Exchange Guide

Portugal is a travel destination that encapsulates both old-world charm and natural beauty. With a diverse range of attractions ranging from the bustling streets of Lisbon to the sunny beaches of the Algarve, this country has something for everyone. But Portugal’s draw goes beyond just its cities and coastline – there are also the lush forests of Peneda-Gerês National Park and the stunning castles that dot the countryside. And with fantastic food and wine to be found throughout the country, a trip here truly is a feast for the senses.

General Portuguese Currency Information

What is the currency of Portugal?

The official currency of Portugal is the Euro (EUR).

What do Portuguese euro notes & coins look like?

Portuguese euro notes

As a proud member of the Eurozone, Portugal circulates the exquisite Europa series of banknotes, introduced in phases over several years. The €5, €10, €20, and €50 notes debuted between 2013 and 2017, while the €100 and €200 notes graced the series on May 28, 2019. Celebrating Europa, a Greek mythological figure featured in two security elements on the banknotes, this series elegantly highlights Europe’s diverse cultural heritage. The enchanting image of Europa, symbolising the continent’s unity and human essence, draws inspiration from a vase exhibited in the renowned Louvre Museum in Paris.

Portuguese euro coins

Portuguese euro coins captivate with their intricate designs, showcasing the nation’s magnificent castles and coats of arms against the backdrop of the European Union’s 12 stars. The royal seals of 1134 and 1142 are skillfully integrated into the central areas of the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent coins, paying homage to Portugal’s rich history and culture. These coins artfully blend national and European elements, making them a truly remarkable addition to any collection.

Economy

Portugal’s economy, ranked 34th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2019, boasts a robust and dynamic trade landscape. The European Union (EU) plays a significant role in Portugal’s thriving international trade, with EU countries receiving 72.8% of Portuguese exports and accounting for 76.5% of imports in 2015. In the 2023 Index, Portugal’s economic freedom score stands at 69.5, placing its economy as the 30th freest globally. Ranking 18th among 44 European countries, Portugal’s overall score surpasses both world and regional averages.

The service sector, contributing to over three-fifths of Portugal’s total output, is crucial to its economic success. Tourism has burgeoned into a key industry, attracting millions of visitors each year to renowned destinations such as Lisbon, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley. A diverse array of tourists, primarily from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom, flock to Portugal to experience its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and vibrant hospitality scene.

Brief currency history

Portuguese currency has a rich history, dating back to 1139-1433 AD, when the first currency, the Portuguese Dinheiro, was issued by King Dom Afonso Henriques. Throughout the medieval period, various coins were introduced by different kings, including the gold Morabitino, silver Tornês, gold Dobra, and silver Real. During this time, standardising currency was challenging, resulting in the circulation of multiple forms of currency, such as the Byzantine Siliquae, Moorish Dirhem & Dinar, and Spanish Dinero.

From 1433 to 1911, the Portuguese Real replaced the Dinheiro, with 1 Real equaling 840 Dinheiros. Numerous coins and banknotes were issued in Réis for use across the Portuguese Empire, including Brazil, which continues to use the Real as its present currency. The 1910 Republican Revolution led to the introduction of the Portuguese Escudo at a rate of 1000 Réis to 1 Escudo, further subdivided into 100 Centavos. The Escudo was used across Portugal’s territories until its independence in 1975, with some countries continuing to use it or adopting new currencies.

Portugal adopted the Euro on January 1, 1999, with euro banknotes and coins introduced on January 1, 2002. The transitional period of three years allowed both the Portuguese Escudo and the Euro to have legal tender status, with the dual circulation period ending on February 28, 2002. Today, Portugal continues to use the European Euro as its official currency, while most of its former colonies have either switched to other currencies or created their own since gaining independence.

Taking Travel Money to Portugal

Portugal Travel Banner

What currency should I take to Portugal?

If you’re travelling to Portugal, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Euros (Euro). Get information on how to exchange your AUD to EUR.

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Portugal?

When considering whether to convert currency in Australia or Portugal, it’s generally more advantageous to do so in Australia. One reason is the convenience factor; if you arrive in Portugal late at night, you may find that currency exchanges are closed, leaving you without local currency.

Additionally, having your travel funds converted before departure ensures that you’re well-prepared for any expenses upon arrival. This also allows you to budget your travel funds more effectively, as you’ll have a clear understanding of your spending capacity in the local currency.

How much money can I take to Portugal?

If you’re carrying cash or payment equivalents that amount to €10,000 or more while travelling to or from Portugal, you must inform the customs officials as per the rules. The declaration is mandatory for all types of cash and payment equivalents.

Where to convert currency?

Crown Currency Exchange, Australia’s premier currency exchange destination, offers a comprehensive selection of major and minor foreign currencies without hidden fees or additional charges. Conveniently buy and sell currencies, including Euros, at any of our 50 nationwide outlets providing competitive exchange rates. Our experienced and friendly professionals are committed to delivering exceptional, transparent service, ensuring you receive the best possible exchange rate for your money.

Is tipping customary in Portugal? How much is expected?

Tipping customs in Portugal are modest and often discretionary. While it’s not mandatory to tip, showing appreciation for exceptional service is always appreciated. Here are some guidelines to follow when considering tipping in Portugal:

Restaurants and Bars: Typically, a 10% tip on the final bill is customary, especially at upscale restaurants or with large groups. Alternatively, rounding up the bill to the nearest euro is also common practice.

Housekeepers: Consider tipping between €2 and €5 per day, leaving the total amount in your room upon checkout.

Tour guides: For group walking tours lasting a few hours, a €3 to €5 tip is acceptable. For private, lengthy tours, consider tipping between €10 and €20.

Spas: Although not expected, a 5% to 10% tip on the total bill can be given for exceptional spa experiences.

Taxis: A customary taxi tip ranges from 5% to 10% of the fare, or rounding up the bill to the nearest euro. Uber and Lyft passengers have the option to tip within the app while offering extra for drivers who go above and beyond or assist with luggage is a thoughtful gesture.

What is ATM access like in Portugal?

Portugal has a pretty impressive system with over 11,000 ATMs available; thus, finding an ATM shouldn’t be an issue. They’re usually accessible at bank branches, airports, train stations, shopping centres and popular areas. Just be mindful that there may be a small withdrawal fee, so it’s best to factor that in when planning out your finances.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

If you’re a backpacker looking to explore Lisbon, you can get by on around €40-65 (AUD $66-107) per day. This budget will have you cooking your own meals, staying in a hostel dorm, and taking advantage of free activities like exploring the Old Town, enjoying the beaches, and taking a walking tour. Keep in mind, if you plan on drinking, you’ll want to add a bit extra to your budget. 

Moderate

For a more comfortable experience, aim to spend around €120-145 (AUD $197-238) per day. This will allow you to enjoy the comforts of a private Airbnb or hostel room and explore the local cuisine at inexpensive restaurants. You can save some money by cooking your own meals when possible. Public transportation is a cost-effective option, but don’t be afraid to take a taxi to get around if needed. You’ll have the chance to visit popular attractions like Belem Tower and the botanic gardens. And, of course, you can indulge in a few drinks at the local bar. 

Luxury

Indulging in all the luxuries Portugal has to offer with a budget of €245 (AUD $403) or more per day should do the trick. With that kind of budget, you can wake up in a lavish hotel, dine in the finest restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have your choice of drinks to accompany your meals. And if you want to explore beyond your hotel’s vicinity, rent a car to get around and visit all the museums and attractions you desire. Of course, if you’re looking for even more extravagance, you can spend even more than 235 EUR a day on top of all that!

Currency details

Currency:

Euro

Currency code:

EUR

Currency symbol:

Central bank:

Banco de Portugal

Nickname:

None

Currency sub-unit:

Cent = 1/100

Bank notes:

€5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500

Coins:

1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1, €2

Must-dos while you are in Portugal

Belém Tower

Visit the iconic Belém Tower

One of the most famous monuments in Lisbon, the Belém Tower is a symbol of Portugal’s maritime heritage. The tower is an impressive piece of architecture, and its location is fascinating. You can get mesmerising views of the Tagus River as you look upon the tower from across the river.

city of Sintra

Explore the picturesque city of Sintra

Nestled within the lush hills of the Sintra Mountains, the city of Sintra is a paradise for nature lovers and history buffs. The city’s numerous palaces, castles, and romantic landscapes will leave you in awe. Be sure to include the Pena Palace, Quinta da Régaleira, and the Moorish Castle in your itinerary.

Alentejo cuisine

Savour the flavours of Alentejo cuisine

Foodies, this one is for you! Alentejo is known for its culinary traditions, which are a delight to your taste buds. You can try mouth-watering delicacies like migas, açorda, and sopa de cação. The region is also famous for its wine, so don’t forget to indulge in some local wine tasting.

city of Évora

Stroll through the medieval city of Évora

Another Portuguese city that is rich in history and cultural heritage is Évora. The city is a perfect blend of Roman, Celtic, and Muslim influences. You can take a leisurely stroll through the city’s narrow pathways, visit the spectacular Sé Cathedral, and admire the Roman Temple of Diana.

Algarve

Enjoy the beaches of the Algarve

If you are someone who loves beaches, then exploring the Algarve is a must-do. The region boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world, with turquoise waters and golden sands. Some of the best beaches to visit are Praia da Rocha, Praia do Vau, and Praia de Benagil.

Other helpful guides & resources on travel in Portugal

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