Portuguese standard fare is comparable to other southern European food. Spain still holds the record in late dinners but dinners in Portugal are usually no earlier than 7:00 pm. Tap water is safe to drink everywhere, but the further you move south along the coast, the less nice it tastes. Be ready to expect large portions within the Alentejo region, offering even larger meals than the Algarve.
Hotel breakfasts generally include coffee, tea, bread, butter, jam, paté, cheese, and ham. We make sure that our hotels on tour provide a substantial breakfast suitable for cycling, and ask them to include fruit, cereal, milk and maybe yogurt. If you are on your own and need more sustenance, you can always go to the supermarket to buy yogurt or cheese.
Lunch and Snacks on Tour
There are several meal options along the way. Most of the towns have small markets where varied supplies can be found to prepare a snack or a sandwich (cheese, bread, cured meats, fruit etc.). Bakeries offer mainly sweet pastries. If you are looking for something prepared, bars offer sandwiches and “petiscos”, which are tapas-style snacks (e.g. olives, bread, butter, paté, sardine paté, etc.). In small bars, ask for “petiscos” instead of “food” because “food” will largely be interpreted as a full hot meal. Note that “pestiscos” will also be served at restaurants before the meal and they will be brought to the table without being ordered. However, you will be charged, even if you only nibble. Turn them down if you do not want them. Other than bars and getting food at supermarkets and markets, you will of course also be able to enjoy full meals at numerous restaurants.
Lunch is usually served between noon and 2.00 pm.
Portugal is better known for its wines rather than beer. The most popular beer types are “Sagres” (pilsener style) and “Super Bock” (dark beer). They are served in different sizes, bottle or draft.
You will find excellent local wines everywhere and you might want to explore a little beyond the famous “Douro”. Another popular traditional alcoholic beverage is the “Medronho”, a strong fruit brandy made from the fruit of the Medronho tree.
There is a whole world of coffee to be discovered in Portugal and coffee is a huge part of the local culture. Espresso-type coffee is common, but don’t expect frothed milk. If you prefer a larger milk than coffee ratio, then order “um galão”. If you prefer it a little bit stronger, e.g. something more like a caffe latte, order an “um galão directo”. Remember that ordering a “galão” is usually a morning thing.
“Um pingo”, also called “um pingado” is an espresso with a drop of hot or cold milk. If you are looking for pure espresso, order “um café” or “um bica”, whereas the latter only applies in Lisbon.
Coffee is usually consumed during breakfast, after lunch, and sometimes mid-afternoon and after dinner.