A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Portimao vs. Lake Garda for Beaches, Families, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Portimao or Lake Garda?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Portimao and Lake Garda. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Portimao

Portimao is a active, scenic, and adventure-filled coastal city. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. Visitors also love the scuba diving and snorkeling, beaches, and shopping.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a scenic, playful, and fun lake. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Portimao and Lake Garda: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Portimao or Lake Garda?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Lake Garda. Although Portimao and Lake Garda are both popular with visitors, Lake Garda has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Lake Garda is more popular for its museums, food, and hiking, while Portimao is known for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and impressive beauty. Portimao is more touristy than Lake Garda and is popular for it's dramatic and beautiful beaches and its many activities. Lake Garda is popular for its beautiful setting, charming towns, and fun amusement parks. It is also home to Sirmione.

How is Portimao different from Lake Garda?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Lake Garda and Portimao. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Portimao or Lake Garda?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a good destination for its sights and museums. However, Portimao does not have museums and landmarks.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Lake Garda. While most people come for the natural beauty, there are also great castles that you can explore. Castello Scaligeri, Grotte di Catullo, and Castello Scaligero.

Portimao does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Portimao or Lake Garda? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Portimao is not a good coastal city for its restaurants.

Dining out in Lake Garda is an experience not to be missed. You'll find many great local restaurants in the area. Most make use of local ingredients such as olive oil, lemons, wine, and fish. Pasta and risotto are both popular throughout the area as well.

Portimao offers some easy restaurants to choose from. Many resorts have attached restaurants where visitors often find themselves dining. For a slightly more local vibe, you can check out one of the many restaurants around town. Much of the restaurant scene is centered around the Alvor District where you'll find unique options that serve local dishes mixed in with some international choices. The city is most famous for its grilled sardines, which are considered a local specialty.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Nightlife?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Both Portimao and Lake Garda are superb when it comes to partying.

Portimao offers plenty to do in the evening. The city's nightlife scene is mostly found around Praia da Rocha. It's a compact area that makes it easy to hop from bar to bar on foot. Particularly during the summer months you'll find plenty of parties and all night activities that draw a crowd. Sunset boat parties are also a popular activity in the area.

Lake Garda has a large number of nightlife venues. You'll find clubs and bars in various towns that make for a great nightlife scene. You'll even find beach parties and fireworks shows during the most popular times of the year.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Resorts?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Portimao is terrific for its luxury resorts. However, Lake Garda is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Portimao is a great choice. The area has all types of resorts, from all-inclusive options to luxury or more family-friendly. Many of the resorts are surprisingly affordable and offer easy access to the beach.

Lake Garda is not a resort destination.


Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Portimao is an excellent place to visit for its diving and snorkeling. However, Lake Garda is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Many visitors partake in scuba diving or snorkeing while visiting Portimao. The best water conditions are during the summer months but this is also when the beaches are crowded and swimmers can kick up a lot of sand. There are a variety of vendors where you can book snorkeling or diving trips in the area.

Lake Garda is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Beaches?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Portimao is terrific for the beache. Also, Lake Garda is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for the beach.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Portimao. The stunning beaches are a major draw to the area. They are sandy and feature a backdrop of dramatic red cliffs. The most popular beach in town is Praia da Rocha, which can get crowded during the summer months, but it is quite large so you should still be able to find a spot. The strip behind the beach is lined with shops, bars, restaurants, and a casino. If you want to avoid some of the crowds you can make the walk down to Praia do Vau. Families often enjoy Praia de Alvor, which has a boardwalk that leads to Ria de Alvor nature reserve.

Lake Garda is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. Despite there being no ocean, there are many great swimming beaches in the area. Many have sand and great places to relax. There's also plenty of watersports to choose from.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Hiking?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a well-known place for the nearby hiking options. However, Portimao is not a hiking destination.

Lake Garda is a popular spot for hiking. There are many great walking and hiking trails in the area that take you through the natural beauty, connect the charming towns, and offer spectacular viewpoints.

Portimao is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Portimao or Lake Garda?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Both Portimao and Lake Garda are good shopping destinations.

Many visitors go to Portimao to go shopping. It's the second largest city in the Algarve so you'll find several large and modern shopping centers including Aqua Portimão.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Lake Garda. Many villages around the lake are great for shopping. You'll find clothing stores, jewelry shops, and souvenir vendors with something for everyone.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Families?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Both Portimao and Lake Garda are amazing family-friendly destinations.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Portimao is very family-friendly. Kids will love the wide range of activities available near Portimao. They can kayak through caves, see an underwater world snorkeling, learn to surf, visit waterparks, explore nature parks, and more. There are activities that the whole family can enjoy, making this stretch of coastline the perfect option for those traveling with kids.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Lake Garda is a very family-friendly destination. The nearby amusement parks, including Gardaland, make this a popular destination for families. The area also has many places to swim, trails to explore, and castles to experience. Kids and adults alike will love this amazing kid-friendly area.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Couples?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Portimao is terrific for its romantic activities. Also, Lake Garda is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

Portimao makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. This beautiful stretch of coastline offers unique beaches and stunning outdoor activities. It makes a wonderful honeymoon destination for couples who enjoy adventure, pampering, and romantic resorts. There are great restaurants as well as places to relax or activities for thrill seekers.

Couples visit Lake Garda frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. You'll find a lot of families in the area because of the amusement parks, but that doesn't mean that this isn't a romantic and beautiful spot for couples. There are many charming towns to explore and scenic viewpoints to check out. There are also excellent romantic restaurants that you should try.


Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Both Portimao and Lake Garda are good destinations for backpackers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Portimao. Most people think of high end resorts when they think of the Mediterranean coast, but there are a couple of hostels available for backpackers. You should also consider transportation options. While buses are available, many visitors prefer to have access to a car so they can experience the outlying regions. The good news is the area in general is not particularly expensive so you can enjoy a touch of luxury at a lower cost.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Lake Garda. There are a few good hostels around the lake that are affordable and fun. The area also see enough backpackers to keep the atmosphere fun and social.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a well-known place for its public transit. However, Portimao is not a good coastal city for times when you don't have a car.

Lake Garda offers a very effecient public transportation network. There are ferries, buses, and trains in the area.

Public transit is mostly limited in Portimao. There are local buses around town but many routes don't run on weekends.

Is Portimao or Lake Garda a more walkable city?

Portimao
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a well-known place for its ease of walking around. However, Portimao is not a good coastal city for its walkability.

Lake Garda is a very walkable destination. There are walking trails that connect the villages around the lake and this how many people choose to get around.

Portimao is generally not a very walkable coastal city. While there are some nice walks along the coastline, the city is fairly large and spread out with many resorts located far from the center of town.


For even more information, also check out Is Portimao Worth Visiting? and Is Lake Garda Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Lake Garda or Portimao?

How long in Portimao or Lake Garda?

It's fun to spend time in either Portimao or Lake Garda. In our opinion, Lake Garda has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Lake Garda than Portimao. However, 2-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Couples should spend more time in Portimao than Lake Garda. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Portimao that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Lake Garda than Portimao if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Lake Garda.


  • How many days in Portimao or Lake Garda? Ideal Length of Stay
    Portimao 2-4 
    Lake Garda 2-4

One day in Portimao or Lake Garda?

With shopping and nightlife around the colorful coastal city of Portimao, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

The beautiful lake of Lake Garda offers food and shopping. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Portimao or Lake Garda?

With nightlife and scuba diving and snorkeling around the destination of Portimao, there's plenty to do. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this coastal city.

Lake Garda is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this lake makes for a great vacation. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Lake Garda, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Portimao or Lake Garda?

Portimao, a popular coastal city, is full of activities for travelers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Lake Garda is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A week in Portimao or Lake Garda?

Portimao is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Lake Garda is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This lake offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Portugal, The Best Bicycle Tours in Portugal, The Best Tours for Seniors to Italy, and The Best Contiki Tours to Italy.


Which place is cheaper, Lake Garda or Portimao?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Portimao is €152, while the average daily cost in Lake Garda is €166. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Portimao and Lake Garda in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Portimao 78
    Lake Garda 84
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Portimao 156
    Lake Garda 168
Compare Hotels in Portimao and Lake Garda

Looking for a hotel in Portimao or Lake Garda? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Portimao


Hotels in Lake Garda


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Portimao Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Portimao 37
    Lake Garda 66

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Portimao

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Portimao:

  • Transfer Praia da Rocha - Balaia Golf (Albufeira): $59
  • Transfer Praia da Rocha - Alamos Golf (Portimão) : $34
  • Transfer Portimão - Balaia Golf (Albufeira): $59
  • Transfer Lagoa - Boavista Golf (Lagos): $61
  • Transfer Lagoa - Balaia Golf (Albufeira): $41
  • Transfer Lagoa - Alamos Golf (Portimão): $34
  • Transfer From Portimão Algarve To Lisboa: $246
  • Transfer Ferragudo - Balaia Golf (Albufeira): $41
  • Transfer Carvoeiro - Balaia Golf (Albufeira): $41
  • Transfer Carvoeiro - Alamos Golf (Portimão): $47
  • Transfer Armação de Pêra - Boavista Golf (Lagos): $43
  • Private Transfer from Portimao to Faro (FAO) Airport: $85

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Lake Garda

Also for Lake Garda, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Verona Opera Arena: Transfer from Lake Garda & Opera Ticket: $128

Is it cheaper to fly into Portimao or Lake Garda?

Prices for flights to both Lake Garda and Portimao change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Portimao 45
    Lake Garda 42

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Portimao

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Portimao.

  • Authentic Market & Food Tour in Portimão, Algarve: $71

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Lake Garda

For Lake Garda, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • 3 Hour Fresh Pasta and Tiramisù Private Cooking Class with Meal : $71
  • Valpolicella Wine and Food Tour: $75
  • Cusina - Cooking Class: Fresh Pasta with wine tasting: $86
  • Dining Experience at a local's Home in Cecina with Show Cooking: $93

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Portimao 41
    Lake Garda 30

Tours and Activities in Portimao

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Portimao are as follows:

  • Kayak Tours to Benagil & Marine caves - From Benagil Beach: $27
  • Portimão to Benagil: Adrenaline Wave 90 Minutes Cave Tour: $25
  • 2 Hours Cruise Portimão to Benagil Cave & Marinha Beach: $33
  • Algarve - Exclusive horseriding in Portimao (no experience required): $55
  • Algarve Private Tour with Typical Lunch: $82
  • Alone in Benagil, perfect pictures Kayak tour with @StarToursAlgarve: $60
  • Arade River Boat Tour from Portimão to Silves Medieval Town: $49
  • Benagil Boat Tour with Local Guide : $30
  • Benagil Catamaran Sailing Cruise with Lunch from Portimão: $52
  • Benagil Cave Guided Kayaking Tour Caves & Secret Spots : $38
  • Benagil Cave Kayak Self-Guided Tour: $27
  • Benagil Cave Sunset Cruise: $38

Tours and Activities in Lake Garda

For Lake Garda, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Gardaland SEA LIFE Aquarium: Open Date Entry Ticket: $9.62
  • Lake Garda Mini Cruise: Sirmione Peninsula: $13
  • Hotel Villa Cariola Pool Entry Ticket: $20
  • Parco Natura Viva: Garda Zoological Park Ticket: $27
  • From San Felice del Benaco: Islands Boat Tour: $27
  • Sunset Tour in Sirmione : $27
  • Andalo: Trekking Tour to Canfedin Peak: $32
  • Tour in the Winery and tasting: $32
  • Bardolino: Vineyard Tour with Wine, Olive Oil & Food Tasting: $37
  • Vineyard Tour and Tasting on the Hills: $42
  • Lazise: Beekeeping Farm Tour and Tasting Experience: $42
  • Winery Tour and Tasting of Garda Wines in Lazise: $43

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Portimao 30
    Lake Garda 19

Sample the Local Flavors in Portimao

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Portimao:

  • Wine Tasting and Art Tour: $39
  • Carvoeiro, Algarve: Wine Tasting & Music Experience: $54
  • Algarve wine tour of 2 wine estates and lunch at the countryside: $154
  • Algarve wine tour and farmer's lunch at wine estate: $182

Sample the Local Flavors in Lake Garda

Also in Lake Garda, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Bardolino: Wine tasting at Cantina Valetti: $26
  • Wine Tasting with Local Food in Lazise Countryside: $32
  • Wine Tasting and Tour of Lugana Wines in Sirmione: $32
  • Garda Hills Wine Tour and Tasting: $42
  • Lazise: Biodynamic Farm Tour and Natural Wine Tasting: $42
  • Wine Tasting in Historical Center of Lazise: $44
  • Art Experience with Food and Wine Tasting in Lazise: $54
  • E-Bike Tour and Wine Tasting in Lazise: $87
  • Lazise: Bike Tour and Wine Tasting: $90
  • Castles boat tour with Bardolino wine tasting and nibbles: $98


When comparing the travel costs between Portimao and Lake Garda, we can see that Lake Garda is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Europe, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Portimao Expensive? and Is Lake Garda Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Portimao or Lake Garda?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Portimao or Lake Garda in the Summer?

Both Lake Garda and Portimao during the summer are popular places to visit. The beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Portimao this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Lake Garda for the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Portimao is generally around the same temperature as Lake Garda. Daily temperatures in Portimao average around 25°C (78°F), and Lake Garda fluctuates around 24°C (75°F).

Portimao usually gets less rain in July than Lake Garda. Portimao gets 1 mm (0 in) of rain, while Lake Garda receives 62 mm (2.4 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Portimao 25°C (78°F) 
    Lake Garda 24°C (75°F)

Should I visit Portimao or Lake Garda in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Portimao and Lake Garda. Many travelers come to Portimao for the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area. Furthermore, many visitors come to Lake Garda in the autumn for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Portimao is a little warmer than Lake Garda in the autumn. The daily temperature in Portimao averages around 19°C (67°F) in October, and Lake Garda fluctuates around 14°C (57°F).

In October, Portimao usually receives less rain than Lake Garda. Portimao gets 67 mm (2.6 in) of rain, while Lake Garda receives 82 mm (3.2 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Portimao 19°C (67°F) 
    Lake Garda 14°C (57°F)

Should I visit Portimao or Lake Garda in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Portimao as well as Lake Garda. Many visitors come to Portimao in the winter for the shopping scene and the cuisine. Additionally, most visitors come to Lake Garda for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

Lake Garda can be very cold during winter. In the winter, Portimao is much warmer than Lake Garda. Typically, the winter temperatures in Portimao in January average around 11°C (52°F), and Lake Garda averages at about 2°C (36°F).

Portimao usually gets more rain in January than Lake Garda. Portimao gets 78 mm (3.1 in) of rain, while Lake Garda receives 55 mm (2.1 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Portimao 11°C (52°F) 
    Lake Garda 2°C (36°F)

Should I visit Portimao or Lake Garda in the Spring?

Both Lake Garda and Portimao are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Portimao for the beaches and the natural beauty during these months. Also, the spring months attract visitors to Lake Garda because of the beaches and the natural beauty.

In April, Portimao is generally a little warmer than Lake Garda. Daily temperatures in Portimao average around 15°C (60°F), and Lake Garda fluctuates around 13°C (55°F).

In April, Portimao usually receives less rain than Lake Garda. Portimao gets 38 mm (1.5 in) of rain, while Lake Garda receives 69 mm (2.7 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Portimao 15°C (60°F) 
    Lake Garda 13°C (55°F)

Typical Weather for Lake Garda and Portimao

Portimao Lake Garda
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 11°C (52°F) 78 mm (3.1 in) 2°C (36°F) 55 mm (2.1 in)
Feb 12°C (54°F) 72 mm (2.8 in) 5°C (40°F) 48 mm (1.9 in)
Mar 14°C (56°F) 39 mm (1.5 in) 9°C (47°F) 58 mm (2.3 in)
Apr 15°C (60°F) 38 mm (1.5 in) 13°C (55°F) 69 mm (2.7 in)
May 19°C (65°F) 21 mm (0.8 in) 17°C (63°F) 85 mm (3.3 in)
Jun 23°C (73°F) 8 mm (0.3 in) 21°C (70°F) 86 mm (3.4 in)
Jul 25°C (78°F) 1 mm (0 in) 24°C (75°F) 62 mm (2.4 in)
Aug 26°C (78°F) 4 mm (0.2 in) 23°C (73°F) 88 mm (3.4 in)
Sep 24°C (75°F) 14 mm (0.6 in) 19°C (67°F) 63 mm (2.5 in)
Oct 19°C (67°F) 67 mm (2.6 in) 14°C (57°F) 82 mm (3.2 in)
Nov 15°C (58°F) 86 mm (3.4 in) 8°C (46°F) 75 mm (3 in)
Dec 12°C (53°F) 94 mm (3.7 in) 3°C (37°F) 51 mm (2 in)