Tourism in Portugal has been growing exponentially in the last few years. In 2019, over 16 million foreign tourists visited the country and in cities like Lisbon and Porto, it's responsible for around 20% of the GDP and employs over 150 thousand people. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the sector completely stopped and most workers lost their income overnight. With quarantines coming to an end and boarders starting to open slowly in Europe between EU members, the tourism industry is getting ready to try to save the summer season. Although many people are still uncertain to board a plane and travel to a foreign destination, we’ve listed 5 reasons why Lisbon should be visited this summer.
1 – Clean and Safe Badge
Portugal, different from neighbors Spain, France and Italy, was one of the less affected countries during the Pandemic and was considered an example in the combat to control it.
When the first cases were reported in early March, Portugal already started to recommend its citizens to stay home and start a voluntary quarantine, which many already followed. As situation started to escalate in Spain, boarders were closed on March 16th and on March 18th, the Government declared state of emergency for 15 days (the maximum allowed by Portuguese Constitution) but if still needed, it could be renewed for another 15 days each time (It lasted 45 days and ended on May 3rd).
In April, Turismo de Portugal, the office responsible for Tourism in Portugal has created the “Clean and safe” badge. The idea is to recognize hotels, accommodations, tour operators, tour agencies, car rentals and restaurants that are safe environments and have created an internal protocol, assuring sanitation and social distancing procedures are followed, complying with the guidelines of the Tourism and Health Authorities to reduce the risk of contamination by SARS-Cov-2.
2 – Amazing beaches and weather
Lisbon has an average of 250 sunny days per year and in the summer, the average temperature is around 28 Celsius but you can always feel a nice breeze blowing from the Atlantic.
With such great weather, there is nothing better than relax at a nice beach and the coast of the greater Lisbon area won't disappoint you. There are many options for those after a place to enjoy the sun and work on your tan while on holidays.
Beaches are already open and season starts on June 6th but this summer, some rules will have to be followed. Activities like surf or anything up to two people are allowed but not group sports like football and volleyball. A 1,5 meter distance between different groups have to be respected and there will be a limited number of people allowed in the beach at a time. An occupancy status system will be implemented through signage. Green: low occupancy (1/3), yellow: high occupancy (2/3) and red: full occupancy (3/3). The information will be updated in real time on the "infoPraia" app and on the website of the Portuguese Environment Association .
Cascais is the most famous coastal destination and a wonderful place. The downtown area is a gem with its historical buildings and a great place to shop, have a very good meal in one of the many restaurants and relax.
The best beaches you can reach by train from Lisbon are: Caxias (15 minutes away), Santo Amaro (20 minutes away), Carcavelos (30 minutes away), Praia da Conceição (35 minutes away), Praia do Tamariz (40 minutes away) and downtown Cascais, the last stop of the line.
If you are feeling adventurous, at Cascais Station, it’s possible to rent a bike and ride to Praia do Guincho, a more remote beach about 40 minutes from the downtown area. It’s a very pleasant ride, by the bike lane with several stops to enjoy the view of the Atlantic Ocean. The most famous one is called Boca do Inferno.
Across the Tagus River, you can also get to Costa da Caparica by bus (around 45 minutes) or by car (around 25 minutes). The beaches are very long and the perfect place to practice surf (although in the summer, waves are not so big and good for beginners).
3 – Fewer tourists
Even with the boarders opening soon, the numbers of tourists will be much lower than previous years and that’s an excellent opportunity to enjoy the best of Lisbon without the crowds and long lines.
Museums are opening from May 18th with a limited number of tourists at a time and also following the guidelines of the Health Authority.
Last summer, the lines to visit Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery and some sites in Sintra like Pena Palace, were an hour long but this year, they’ll be much smaller.
Joining a walking tour in Lisbon will be much better for the tourists. Groups are normally much bigger this time of the year but they’ll be limited to a maximum of 10 people and the guide, giving the opportunity to enjoy a more personalized experience of the city.
The famous trams are normally packed, specially the line 28 and this summer they will be much easier to ride (in the public transport, everybody must wear a mask and numbers are also limited). Enjoy a meal in a nice restaurant will also be much easier without the lines and waiting lists.
4 – Value for money
When it comes to value for money, Lisbon is almost unbeatable in Western Europe. A couple can stay in a 4 star hotel for around 90,00 euros per night, an espresso with a pastel de nata (custard tart) cost 1,65 euro, a pint of local beer 2,00 euros, a meal for two in a local restaurant should cost less than 20,00 euros including wine. Also for 20,00 euros you can buy the Lisboa Card valid for 24 hours, which includes entrance to several museums, historical sights and unlimited rides in the local transport. It’s hard to beat right?
5 – Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in the World.
Colorful buildings, unique architecture, imposing monuments, Unesco Heritage Sites, charming narrow streets, incredible tiles on the walls, fantastic view points all over the place, friendly locals, delicious food, amazing sunsets, the list just keeps going.
Everybody visiting Lisbon agrees with something: the city has a different atmosphere, a kind of energy that makes you feel welcome wherever you go. It’s pleasant to get lost while walking around the neighborhoods of Alfama and Mouraria, to wonder around the charming areas of Baixa and Chiado, or to visit Belém with its Unesco Sites, incredible museums and Palaces.
No matter where you go, there is something interesting to see and an opportunity to take a beautiful picture and post on your Instagram page.