Portugal has dropped all of its travel restrictions from 1 July.
Travellers from all countries, both EU and non-EU, are no longer required to carry out a COVID-19 test or present proof of vaccination when entering the country. It means that all visitors – even those that are not vaccinated – can now enter.
There are a few COVID-related rules in place, however. Face masks are still mandatory on public transport and when travelling by taxi or other means of transportation. You’ll also still need them if you have to visit a health facility while in Portugal.
The country joins 24 other EU countries that have so far dropped all of their COVID-19 entry rules.
With unrestricted travel to Portugal making a return, popular destinations like the Algarve are likely to be busy. So where should you go to escape the crowds this summer? Here are a few of our recommendations.
9. Azores – an island eco paradise
The Azores are a collection of nine Portuguese islands located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.
Split into three groups, the islands are home to a wealth of biodiversity and numerous volcanic cones and craters. They have been hailed an ‘eco-tourism’ paradise and are home to numerous historical buildings, including 15th century churches and manor houses.
The easiest island to fly to is Sao Miguel, but the best island to escape the busy tourist hotspots is Corvo. It has its own domestic airport which offers flights between three of the other islands. Alternatively, you can travel to Corvo via ferry from Sao Miguel.
Corvo is the smallest island and the entire island is in fact an extinct volcano and was formed from its previous eruptions.
8. Sintra – the home of Portugal’s stunning history
Less than an hour away from Portugal’s capital Lisbon is the small Portuguese town of Sintra.
Located in the hills of Serra de Sintra, this town is known for its villas and castle ruins. Many visit as a day trip from Lisbon, but we recommend staying for a few days as there’s plenty to see and do.
Known for its slightly cooler climate, Sintra is great for escaping the heat of the capital city. This is what Portuguese nobility, artists and the elite did in the 19th century, as their summer residences were based here.
7. Coimbra – a city with student vibes
From 1139 until 1260 Coimbra was the capital of Portugal and is now known as the ‘City of Students’. Despite being the fourth largest urban centre in Portugal it has a population of just 106,582 people – around one fifth of the population of Lisbon.
The city is still medieval in its feel, with many of the buildings dating back to the Roman Empire, as well as an aqueduct and numerous original cryptoporticus (covered corridor or passageway).
The university buildings are also recognised as being a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This integrated university city is an example of how university students can coexist in peace with locals.
6. Aveiro – the Venice of Portugal
Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Aveiro is one of Portugal’s most important ports. The region is popular with boat enthusiasts, boasting an extensive canal network it is often referred to as the ‘Portuguese Venice’.
Aveiro also has a number of sister cities including locations in Tunisia, Japan and Mozambique, and is well known for its historic production of salt and ceramics.
5. Cascais – surfers’ paradise
Known as the ‘heart of the Portuguese Riviera’, Cascais is great if you like the beaches of the Algarve.
If you’re seeking an all-rounder holiday, Cascais is the ideal destination for families. A former fishing town, it’s now a popular spot for watersports and nature hikes.
If you’re a keen surfer, or just keen to try, head here. It’s growing in popularity as a surf spot but still undiscovered enough that you won’t be fighting for waves.
4. Braga – perfect for exploring churches and a cathedral
Braga is Portugal’s third-largest city and is heavily connected to the historical and spiritual ties that still exist in the country.
The highlight of Braga’s calendar is Holy Week in April. This elaborate affair is popular with people from all over the world.
The atmosphere created is medieval, reminding tourists and locals alike that Braga is still the ecclesiastical centre of Portugal.
Taking place over four consecutive days, the main events take place in the city’s 11th century Roman cathedral
3. Douro Valley – perfect for wine lovers
Home of all the wines, Douro Valley has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001.
The valleys are most quiet throughout the season, except for when the autumn harvest takes place, then it becomes a bustling hive of vineyard owners and wine enthusiasts.
If you want to spend your summer wine tasting while looking at stunning views of acres of vineyards, Douro is your best bet.
2. Reserva Natural das Berlengas – an exclusive gem
Just 10km from Peniche, Reserva Natural das Berlengas or the Berlengas Archipelago is a largely untouched part of Portugal.
Consisting of three islands, Berlengas is home to a number of birds including endangered species such as the Puffin. The region is also brimming with marine life – perfect if you are a diving enthusiast.
Of the three islands, only Berlenga is inhabited by people, many of whom live on the island to work in services which are deemed necessary, such as the operation of the lighthouse.
If you’re looking for the ultimate sanctuary, Berlenga is it, with only 350 people being allowed on the island at any given time. Visiting the island is only possible by ferry which makes two trips a day between the months of May and September.
1. Peniche – Portugal’s crown jewel
Once a former island, geography has made Peniche much more accessible to the residents of Portugal and tourists. We’ve made it our number one recommendation because it encapsulates all of Portugal’s modernity whilst paying homage to its past.
Just an hour’s drive from Lisbon, the coastal town of Peniche is famous for its historical harbour and old walls. The best part about Peniche remains in the old town where the fortress has been since the 15th century. It was used by the military until the 1970s and has since been home to refugees from the then independent African colonies.
Today the fortress is home to a museum, which contains artefacts from when the fortress was used as a prison by former dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. It is also a short ferry journey from the stunning Berlengas.
Source: Euro News