Tourism in Portugal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lisbon, Portugal's capital.
Porto and Northern Portugal.
The Marinha Beach in Lagoa is considered by the Michelin Guide as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe and as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. The Algarve region leads in overnight stays.
A view of Óbidos.
Panoramic view of Nazaré and its beach.
Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima.
University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in the world.
Mondego River and Coimbra.
Pena National Palace in Sintra, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Monserrate Palace in Sintra, Greater Lisbon.
Pico, Azores, besides being the highest mountain in Portugal, it is a wine region whose landscape is protected as world heritage.
Aveiro is known as the "Portuguese Venice".
The Douro river in Northern Portugal.

Tourism in Portugal serves millions of international and domestic tourists. Tourists visit to see cities, historic landmarks, enjoy beaches, or religious sites. As of 2019, Portugal had 27 million visitors.[1][2] The most popular destinations were Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, the Portuguese Riviera, Madeira, Sintra, Óbidos and Fátima. The most popular with internationals were Lisbon, the Algarve and Northern Portugal. National tourists prefer Northern Portugal, followed by Central Portugal and the Algarve.[1]


In 2006, the country was visited by 7 million tourists, three million of which came from Spain.[3] By 2018, the country was visited by 12.8 million international tourists.[4]

In 2016, and compared to 2015, most tourists staying in hotels were attracted to Lisbon (6.3 million, up from 5.8), Porto and Northern Portugal (4.4 million, up from 3.9), the Algarve (4.2 million, up from 3.8), Central Portugal (3.2 million, up from 2.9 million), Madeira (1.5 million, up from 1.3), Alentejo (1.2 million, up from 1.1), and the Azores (0.5 million, up from 0.4). The Algarve and Lisbon lead in overnight stays.[5] In 2016, overnight stays grew significantly in other regions: the Azores (+21.1%), Northern Portugal (+14.4%), Alentejo (+12%), Central Portugal (+11.8%), and Madeira (+10.9%).[6][7]

The following table presents the nationality of the largest demographic of tourists from 2017 to 2019:[1]

Rank Country 2017 2018 2019
1  Spain 1,970,850 2,069,645 2,285,829
2  United Kingdom 2,099,008 2,042,867 2,145,902
3  France 1,600,199 1,641,912 1,623,207
4  Germany 1,565,904 1,602,066 1,541,398
5  Brazil 971,453 1,103,718 1,281,675
6  United States 790,141 981,822 1,202,247
7  Italy 650,325 665,930 722,115
8  Netherlands 617,124 610,161 598,375
9  Ireland 345,724 357,542 413,733
10  China - 324,258 385,307
11  Canada - 346,428 380,896
12  Belgium 312,029 327,264 325,799
13   Switzerland - 303,013 304,867
14  Poland - 285,362 277,616
15  Sweden - 190,183 183,717
16  Denmark - 142,573 144,490
17 Other foreign 3,666,674 2,313,413 2,592,941
Total international visitors 14,589,431 15,308,157 16,410,114

In 2016, accounting international tourists, the most popular regions were Lisbon (4.4 million), Algarve (3 million), Northern Portugal (2.1 million), Central Portugal (1.2), Madeira (1.2), Alentejo 370,000 and the Azores. For national tourists the most popular regions were Northern Portugal (2.3), Central Portugal (2.0), Lisbon (1.9), the Algarve (1.2), Alentejo (0.8), Madeira (0.29), and the Azores (0.27).[7]

The following table presents the nationality of the largest demographic of tourists by region in 2019:[1]

Region International Tourist guests
TOP 5 nationalities National tourists
Lisbon 5,986,638 1st Spain, 2nd United States, 3rd Brazil, 4th France, 5th Germany 2,230,043
Algarve 3,592,441 1st United Kingdom, 2nd Spain, 3rd Germany, 4th France, 5th Republic of Ireland 1,471,626
Northern Portugal 3,191,197 1st Spain, 2nd France, 3rd Brazil, 4th United States, 5th Germany 2,771,829
Central Portugal 1,636,776 1st Spain, 2nd Brazil, 3rd France, 4th Italy, 5th United States 2,481,880
Madeira 1,159,739 1st Germany, 2nd United Kingdom, 3rd France, 4th Netherlands, 5th Poland 322,501
Alentejo 550,571 1st Spain, 2nd Brazil, 3rd United States, 4th Germany, 5th France 1,065,487
The Azores 382,752 1st Germany, 2nd United States, 3rd Spain, 4th France, 5th United Kingdom 388,936

Lisbon is, with Barcelona, one of the European cities leading in overnight stays.[8] The urban areas of Porto and Northern Portugal, north of Douro River surpassed Madeira, in 2010, and the Algarve, in 2015, and became the second most visited destination in Portugal. In 2015, most tourists were Europeans, but also from the Americas and Asia. Sleeping in the country's hotels, the most numerous are the British, Spanish, French, Germans, Brazilians, the Dutch, Americans, Italians, and the Japanese, which not only want the sun and the beach, but mostly cultural ones, city breaks, gastronomy, nautical tourism, or business traveling.

Portugal won 14 "Oscars" of the tourism. The national tourism had 77 nominations and won a total of 14 awards in more than 10 European categories, surpassing Spain or Italy, at the gala of the World Travel Awards 2015, whose ceremony took place in Sardinia, Italy. CNN compared Lisbon and Porto head-to-head in order to find who has the best food, culture, old cafés and boutiques, nightlife, and the best beaches.[9]

Travel guide giants Lonely Planet have designated Portugal as one of the top 3 countries to visit in 2018.[10]

Tourism regions[edit]

Tourist hotspots in Portugal are Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, Madeira, Sintra, Óbidos, Fátima, Coimbra and Azores, but the Portuguese government is currently developing new destinations: the Douro Valley, Porto Santo Island, and Alentejo.

Portugal has several other tourism regions such as Douro Sul, Templários, Dão-Lafões, Costa do Sol, Costa Azul, Planície Dourada, etc. Most of them are unknown to tourists and locals alike. As of 2007, these are being reorganized.

All these regions are grouped in tourism reference areas, which are widely known because these are the traditional regions:[citation needed]

Tourist regions[edit]

The main tourist regions can be broken-down into:[citation needed]

Other tourist regions include Douro Sul, Templários, Dão-Lafões, Costa do Sol, Costa Azul, Planície Dourada, that are unknown to many tourists or visitors.

Most of these regions are grouped in tourism reference areas, which continue to be in a state of reorganization and evolution, some based on the traditional regions of Portugal: the Costa Verde (Green Coast); Costa da Prata (Silver Coast); Costa de Lisboa (Lisbon Coast); Montanhas (Mountains); Planícies (Plains); Algarve; and the islands of the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores.

The Rooster of Barcelos is bought by many tourists as a souvenir. The legend of the Rooster of Barcelos tells the story of a dead rooster's miraculous intervention in proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death. The story is associated with the 17th-century calvary that is part of the collection of the Archeological Museum located in Paço dos Condes, a gothic-style palace in Barcelos, a city in the Braga District of northwest Portugal.

The following table presents the number of visitors in each of the protected areas of Portugal, according to ICNF:[11]

Protected Area 2018 2019 2020
Alvão 25,368 58,630 9,303
Arrábida 30,435 28,795 2,668
Arriba Fóssil da Costa da Caparica 1,498 2,267 645
Berlengas 40,505 44,078 540
Douro International 28,743 60,570 0
Dunas de São Jacinto 6,348 5,400 3,219
Estuário do Sado 85,543 82,242 54,643
Estuário do Tejo 1,713 1,853 312
Lagoas de Santo André e de Sancha 12,857 8,942 2,245
Litoral Norte 4,582 6,723 5,752
Madeira 6,180 5,894 5,458
Paul do Boquilobo 2,319 1,956 1,305
Peneda-Gerês 112,227 103,593 39,485
Paul de Arzila 1,236 860 841
Ria Formosa 46,662 60,061 17,202
Serra da Estrela 3,079 18,429 4,202
Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António 7,642 7,999 1,375
Serra da Malcata 4,097 3,951 649
Serra de São Mamede 4,556 9,934 2,620
Serra do Açor 6,124 5,284 3,429
Serras de Aire e Candeeiros 43,435 44,326 15,691
Sintra-Cascais 58,127 52,774 12,912
Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina 15,950 18,027 3,593
Tejo Internacional * 38 *
Vale do Guadiana 332 1,306 32

UNESCO World Heritage sites[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Data and Resources". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Lisbon, a city that moves and grows". The Business Report. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  3. ^ Três milhões de espanhóis visitaram Portugal em 2006[permanent dead link]. January 31, 2007. Público.
  4. ^[dead link]
  5. ^ Estatísticas do Turismo - 2015 - INE
  6. ^ Alojamento turístico acelera crescimento - 2016 - INE
  7. ^ a b Estatísticas do Turismo - 2016 - INE
  8. ^ DN Online: Cidades atraem mais turistas do que os destinos sol e mar Archived 2007-02-18 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Paul Ames, CNN (27 July 2017). "Porto vs. Lisbon: 8 reasons Porto is cooler". {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ "Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2018: Top Countries".
  11. ^ "Número de visitantes que contactaram as áreas protegidas". ICNF. Retrieved 30 May 2021.

External links[edit]