Photo by ATAlgarve©
Photo by Paulo Magalhães
The 12th-century Castle of Almourol rises over the Tagus River in central Portugal.
The country is ready to receive a lot more visitors—here’s what we know.
This is a developing story. We will continue to update as the world changes. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19 and the summer tourism season gets underway, popular tourism destinations have begun opening their doors. This month, places like the Caribbean, Iceland, and the Florida Keys have begun welcoming more travelers. And Portugal—the land of pastéis de nata, Fernando Pessoa, and fado music—is mostly open for business. On June 1, the country began its last phase of reopening, and more air travel options and additional activities are available for visitors once they’re there.
Land borders with Spain opened on July 1 and flights to the country of 10.3 million have started ramping back up. Currently, travelers from EU countries, as well as Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are allowed entry by air, according to information posted at Portugal’s Immigration and Borders Service website.
Permission to enter continues for eligible travelers from Portuguese-speaking countries and those with large Portuguese communities, like the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Canada, South Africa, and the United States—provided that reciprocity is met for Portuguese citizens.
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Because of the United States’ ban on travel from Europe (including Portugal) that went into effect on March 13, that means currently only Portuguese residents, dual citizens, and family members may enter Portugal from the United States, according to information provided by Visit Portugal. The organization previously stated that general U.S. travelers were allowed entry to the country due to the United States’ large Portuguese diaspora population.
There’s already plenty for travelers to do once they’ve landed in Portugal. Shops, zoos, and cultural facilities like museums and monuments are open, and public transit is running. Food service is available at restaurants and bars, which are serving a reduced number of patrons and closing a bit earlier (11 p.m.). Social distancing and masks are required for use on public transportation and at many attractions.
Since June 1, theaters and cinemas have reopened (at reduced capacity), as well as shopping centers. Visitors to Portugal can look for the blue and white “Clean & Safe” seal at travel-related establishments like accommodations and with companies like tour operators. The optional seals, awarded by Turismo de Portugal, last for a year and certify that the bearer meets certain hygiene requirements and follows strict safety protocols to help prevent the spread of illness.
“More than 8,000 hotels and other tourism-related companies in Portugal have earned our Clean & Safe seal, guaranteeing compliance with the Department of Health’s hygiene and cleanliness requirements for safely welcoming tourists again,” said VisitPortugal CEO, Luis Araujo.
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Another important part of reopening for summer travelers to Portugal? The beaches. Those reopened fully on June 6 with health regulations and a color-coded sign system in place to indicate beach capacity so visitors can safely enjoy the country’s 500-plus miles of coastline.
For travelers hoping to head to the autonomous islands of Portugal, somewhat different restrictions are in place. In the Azores, a nine-island archipelago 900 miles west of mainland Portugal, travelers must present negative test results for COVID-19 for the last 72 hours before arrival. Travelers may also opt to get tested upon arrival and quarantine until they receive their results, or quarantine for 14 days upon landing. Brand-new routes connecting Boston and Toronto directly to Madeira will reopen to tourism on July 1; on the same date, its mandatory quarantine will lift.
This story was published on May 27, 2020. It was updated on July 7, 2020, with current information.
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