Youth hostels in Portugal

There are around forty youth hostels (pousadas de juventude) in Portugal, affiliated to the international youth-hostel network. You’ll need a valid membership card, available from your home-based youthhostel association, or you can join on your first night at any hostel. Advance bookings are advised and can be made direct with the hostels or through the central reservations office or online (Wwww .pousadasjuventude.pt).

The hostels themselves are often on the basic side, but are all in good or convenient locations, most with kitchens and lounges. Some of the new ones – at the Parque das Nações in Lisbon and at Guimarães, for example – are extremely comfortable, while others now boast Internet facilities, cafés, bars or bike rental. The price for a dormitory bed varies according to hostel location and facilities, but runs from e7–16 in high season (basically July, August, Easter, Christmas and other public holidays), and e7–11 the rest of the year; over 25s pay e3 more a night. Many hostels also have simple double/twin or family rooms available, costing e25–30 without a private WC, e25–45 with. You’ll usually also be able to hire sheets and blankets if necessary, and cheap meals are often available. The most expensive hostels are in Lisbon, Porto and on the Algarve.

Some rural hostels have a curfew (11pm or midnight), while the ones in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve are open all hours. Among the best hostels in Portugal are those at Vilarinho das Furnas (in Peneda-Gerês National Park), Penhas de Saúde (in the Serra de Estrela – high season here, incidentally, is Oct–April), Areia Branca (on the beach, close to Peniche), Oeiras (on the seafront near Lisbon), Viana do Castelo (in an old sailing ship), Alcoutim (northeastern Algarve), and Guimarães, Lagos and Leiria (good buildings in historic towns).