After a full year without travel and tourism, Portugal has reopened its borders to visitors with immunity. Read below for a comprehensive post-pandemic travel guide before booking your trip.
Along with a number of popular European destinations reopening after the COVID pandemic, Portugal is finally welcoming back fully vaccinated or COVID-free international travelers. To ensure a smooth and safe return to tourism after a stagnant year for the hospitality industry, the coastal country is relying on pre-departure health measures and remaining regulations meant to control case numbers and provide long-awaited adventure for millions.
On June 15th, Portugal reopened for nonessential travel after a year of economic hardship and numerous deadly waves of COVID infections. Those wishing to enter the newly opened country must present proof of vaccination through cards issued by the CDC or proof of a negative COVID test taken 72 hours before departure. A rapid antigen test performed within 24 hours before boarding will also be accepted with a negative result. Those conducting essential travel for work or health purposes must also provide a negative test result and adhere to further health guidelines upon arrival.
As numerous COVID hotspots throughout Portugal continue to report lingering cases, the Portuguese government plans to review its travel measures every two weeks to determine proper health protocols for incoming travelers. If nationwide case numbers decrease or remain steady, current documentation requirements will be renewed on July 11th. Prospective tourists should track COVID numbers across Portugal and review updated travel information here.
While Portugal has effectively monitored COVID cases throughout 2021 to allow for international travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still categorizes the popular vacation destination as a high-risk area due to recent outbreaks. A major hub of tourist traffic, Lisbon has reported one of the highest case numbers per capita and is currently enforcing a daily curfew in lieu of peak travel season. Those wishing to visit the hilly capital city on Portugal’s stunning coastline should follow local regulations and stay up to date on municipal case numbers.
Though many travelers flock to the west coast of Portugal to visit its many beaches and major cities, the majority of COVID hotspots are also centered on its western borders, so health-conscious visitors should seek out more rural destinations in the east. Travelers can enjoy rich, historic culture in the Alentejo region where small towns like Monsaraz offer breathtaking panoramas from atop lovely medieval villages overlooking the Guadiana River and green countrysides below. Nature lovers can also find some of the best views on the Iberian Peninsula at the Peneda-Geres National Park, home to protected landscapes and ecosystems as well as secluded villages surrounded by rolling hills and valleys.
Throughout 2020, airfare and reservation fees across Portugal dropped significantly during a desolate year for the nation’s hospitality and tourism industries. As vaccination rates steadily increase around the world, millions of travelers are booking their first trips post-pandemic, and major airlines and hotel companies are struggling to keep up. As a result, prices are quickly rising to meet the increased demand for tickets and reservations.
Higher costs are also affected by fluctuating regulations for international travelers, which may lead to canceled flights or last-minute bookings depending on changing health and safety circumstances. In early June, the U.K. removed Portugal from its green list of safe countries and reinstated quarantine rules for citizens returning from their Portuguese vacations. As hundreds of U.K tourists scrambled to book flights from Portugal before the requirement was officially enforced, tickets rose to roughly $1,000 per person. Travel savvy vacationers should be aware of new health and safety variables and frequently check costs and guidelines when booking trips in an uncertain post-pandemic world.
Incoming travelers must follow both local and nationwide regulations upon entry into Portugal to prevent further risk of infection, particularly as the Delta variant continues to pose a risk to many locations still struggling to keep case numbers down. Mask ordinances are still in effect, and social distancing is also enforced in many public areas crowded with tourists and locals. Most restaurants, cafes, and shops are operating at limited capacities with shorter hours of operation.
On July 1st, a night-time curfew was also introduced in several municipalities, including the Lisbon area and the major city of Porto. The curfew will last from 11pm to 5am each day and will be enforced in 45 high-risk regions to mitigate the Delta surge. A negative COVID test or vaccination certificate may be required to enter or leave some high-risk municipalities, so travelers should stay informed about domestic travel limitations before planning trips to areas with high risks of contagion.
Tucked in the coastal southwestern corner of Europe, Portugal is a hub of international tourist traffic with charming cities and rustic beauty in its quaint towns beyond. After a quiet and dormant year without travel in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Portugal is finally open and ready to welcome millions of visitors to celebrate the end of a difficult era with relaxation and exploration.