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Tourism In Portugal Statistics 2023: The Ultimate Guide

Ajitsa A.

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Ajitsa A.

Last updated : Apr 11, 202422 min read

General

Portugal Tour Guide

 

Trying to tour a nation as magnificent as Portugal without the right information is like attempting to dance the Vira without anytraining. Entertaining at first, but bound to end in chaos. If you’re already at the chaos stage, you can breathe now. We’ve got the best of Portugal wrapped up in this article.


From dos & don’ts and when to hire a Portugal tour guide, to food recommendations and the best travel seasons, it’s time to try a different approach. One that leaves you excited to scale the Douro Valley’s terraced vineyards, or get lost in Praia da Marinha’s limestone cliffs without a care in the world. Vamos!

We’re Setting Sail! The Nation of Explorers By The Numbers 

In a dance between data and culture, Portugal beckons travelers, and if these numbers are anything to go by, the spell is only getting stronger. So, how many tourists visit Portugal each year? Well, in 2022, tourist arrivals in Portugal climbed to a hefty 22.3 million, despite suffering drastically low numbers in 2020 due to the global health crisis. Though this is not the 27 million tourists who showed up in 2019, it’s pretty close. 

 

A Collection of Yearly Tourism Statistics In Portugal

 

So does Portugal have a lot of tourism? Yes! Within just the first 7 months of 2023, Portugal had already set a new record for the first half of any recorded year, with 16.8 million tourists flocking to taste some salty Bifanas and relax near the Atlantic. If you’re wondering what percentage of Portugal’s economy is tourism, the pre-pandemic GDP contribution was 15%. While that’s a large contribution, this dipped in 2020 to 19.2 billion, but slowly leapt to 25.5 billion in 2021. Talk about a quick recovery. Ready to see which nations couldn’t stay away? Keep reading. 

For The Love Of Portugal: The Nation's Top Visitors 

Not only is Portugal the 9th most visited European country of 2022, with its capital Lisbon as the 9th most visited city, but it’s quickly becoming Europe’s not-so-hidden travel jewel. So what nationality visits Portugal the most? Spain, The UK, France, The US & Germany all have their numbers. 

  1. Spain - Coming in at number one is the former ruler of the exploration nation with 2.17 million visitors in 2022, a trend that remained the same with Spain on top at 2.28 million visitors in 2019. 
  2. The United Kingdom - With 2.11 million visitors in 2022, the UK maintains second place, which is similar to 2019, when the Kingdom brought in 2.14 million visitors. 
  3. France - At number 3 is the Republic, with 1.57 million in 2022. Much like the top 2 countries, France maintained its number 3 position from 1.62 million visitors in 2019. 
  4. The United States - A new entry into the top 5, the United States brought in 1.51 million in 2022, but in 2019, they were number 6 with 1.20 million visitors. Wonder why? Keep reading. 
  5. Germany - Rounding out the great 5 is Germany. 1.43 million in 2022 is great, but it’s a knock down for Germany, who were position 4 in 2019 with 1.54 million visitors. Back then, Brazil was in the top 5, with 1.28 million visitors.

 

Travel Trivia: Why Is Portugal so popular with Americans? American tourism in Portugal has increased. Why? The safety, ease of entry, laid back atmosphere, history, culture, great overall climate and high percentage of English speakers makes it popular. The US is now considered the most important non-European traveler market for Portugal, having brought in the largest non-European crowd in May 2023. 

 

Ola Portugal: Welcome To Sites, Stories & Tastes 

If there are two things you need to know about Portugal, it’s that the Portuguese have an ongoing romance with the sea, and that there’s more to this nation than the cobbled streets of Lisbon. When you touch down in Portugal, these are some must see sights, sounds, stories & tastes! 

Standing on Cliffs & Sand: Portugal's Breathtaking Scenery 

Mountainous and hilly at one end, and filled with golden beaches and rolling cliffs in another, Portugal offers a variety of landscapes that can easily fill up your itinerary. Ready to dive into some seriously stunning places? Keep reading.

 

Portugal

 

  • Laurisilva of Madeira- If you’re looking to escape into an otherworldly, lush, green world with unique flora and fauna, head towards the Parque Natural da Madeira where you will find the largest laurel forest in the world. This 20 million-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site stands out as an eco-haven with many protected (and, shall I add, adorable) animals. 
  • Sete Cidades: Tucked away in São Miguel Island is the mythical, natural wonder of Sete Cidades. The twin-lake complex nestled within volcanic craters creates hues of blue and green, surrounded by lush landscapes and charming villages, create a captivating scene that epitomizes the Azores' enchanting charm. It’s almost like transporting Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings anyone?) to Portugal. 
  • Porto Santo Beaches: The golden sands of Porto Santo, a small island in the Madeira archipelago, stretch along a serene coastline. With crystal-clear waters and a tranquil ambiance, these beaches are a haven for relaxation. The contrasting colors of the sea and sand, paired with dramatic cliffs, make for an idyllic seaside escape.
  • Douro Valley Vineyards - Doubling as a fantastic wine tasting trip & a beautiful backdrop are the Douro Valley Vineyards, where Portugal’s affections for all things wine melds perfectly with the natural terrain to create a UNESCO World Heritage Site that speaks to the nation’s love for the finer things in life. 
  • Ria Formosa Natural Park: If you liked Madeira’s Laurisilva, the Ria Formosa is an adventure worthy of your explorer’s soul. The coastal gem features a mosaic of barrier islands, salt marshes, and lagoons. This protected area is a haven for diverse bird species and boasts the collision of land and sea, providing a haven for both nature lovers and photographers alike.

 

Celebrating The Nation: Portugal’s Lively Festivals 

Portugal is a perfect mix of modern comfort, traditional flare, and that quirky in between that are its festivals. Here are some festival dates to keep in mind. 

 

A Calendar of Festivals In Portugal

 

  •  Festa da Coca 

Where: Northern Portugal

What: Known for its lively processions, traditional music, and the iconic Coca figure—a dragon also known as Saint Coca, that can either bring good or bad fortune. Locals and visitors alike come together to revel in the festive atmosphere, with lively dances, delicious local cuisine, and a strong sense of community spirit.

When: First Week of August

  • Lazarim Carnival 

Where:  Lazarim Village, Lamego Portugal

What: Embrace the otherworldly with this whimsical, art centered festival that takes place days before Ash Wednesday. Locals don intricately carved masks and colorful costumes, parading through the streets in a joyful display of creativity and tradition. The festivities include music, dance, and a friendly competition for the best handcrafted masks

When: February 10-13th

  • Festas dos Santos Populares

Where: Nationwide

What: Better known as the Festival of Popular Saints, or the sardine festival, these nationwide celebrations honor three saints: St. Anthony (Lisbon), St. John (Porto), and St. Peter. These lively festivals feature street parties, parades, traditional folk music, and the iconic "Marchas Populares," where neighborhoods compete in colorful processions. Of course, they also feature sardines grilled to perfection. 

When: Mid-June

  • Sintra Festival 

Where: Sintra, Portugal 

What: As if Sintra wasn’t enchanting enough, this cultural celebration of music, dance, theater, and visual arts brings the magical Sintra to the forefront. The festival's diverse program appeals to a broad audience, making it a must-attend for those seeking a blend of culture and natural beauty.

When: Late June-Early July

  • The Fatima Pilgrimage

Where: Fatima, Portugal

What: A spiritually significant event in the Catholic calendar, the Fatima pilgrimage celebrates the 1917 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children. Pilgrims from around the world gather at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima to participate in prayer, processions, and religious events.

When: 13th May

Sweet, Spicy & Savory: Portugal’s Culinary Journey 

Food is the stuff of life, and the life force of any traveler’s journey, so there's no way you can touch down in the seafood capital of Europe and not enjoy these locally beloved culinary delights. 

 

Portugal

 

  • Ameijoas a Bulhão Pato: Get ready for a seafood overload of fresh clams bathed in a garlic-infused cilantro broth. Ameijoas a Bulhão Pato packages Portugal's coastal essence into one bowl.
  • Sardinhas Assadas: If you’re wondering how devoted the Portuguese are to sardines, I’ll tell you. Ever heard of the Sardine festival? It’s real. Grilled to perfection, Sardinhas Assadas captures the essence of Portuguese seaside dining. These sardines boast a crispy exterior giving way to tender, smoky flesh.
  • Bifana: A Portuguese street food staple, Bifana is a succulent pork sandwich that packs a punch with tender slices of marinated pork, seasoned with garlic and paprika, and a crusty roll. The result is a spicy, savory explosion. Want to see how it’s made? Check out this Bifana recipe
  • Pastel de Nata: With a history that dates back to the 18th century, Portugal's sweetest treasure, Pastel de Nata is a divine custard tart crowned with caramelized perfection. The delicate, flaky pastry cradles a silky custard center, harmonizing sweetness with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Bacalhau: Portugal's national dish, Bacalhau, features salted cod in several culinary forms. From Bacalhau à Brás to Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, this versatile fish weaves a tapestry of flavors, marrying the richness of cod with herbs, olives, and potatoes


Travel Tip: Want to learn more about Portuguese cuisine? You can check out our Top 8 Most Popular Foods In Lisbon.

 

Planning The Perfect Trip: The Portugal Edition 

Alright, so you've fallen in love with the idea of sampling Portugal’s port wine, and getting lost in its lush botanical gardens. You’re not the only one. Portugal has become quite popular over the last 4 years, so if you're wondering where to go, when to go, and how to get around, we’ve got you covered. 

 

Where To Go: Portugal’s Most Popular Regions

If we’re talking numbers, Portugal has some seriously popular attractions. Let’s take a look at Portugal’s greatest hits. 

 

Portugal

 

  • Lisbon: Welcome to the capital city, aka the White City, aka the City Of Light! Portugal’s beloved capital is the centerpiece for tourism and travel, drawing in 5.98 million visitors in 2019 and 5.4 million in 2022. From Fado music, and the seven hills, to creamy custard tarts and deep blue aquariums, Lisbon is jam packed with adventure. 
  • The Algarve: Welcome to the land of sunshine that saw 3.6 million visitors in 2019. With only a slight decline to 3.2 million in 2022, these numbers show how quick the Algarve can bounce back. 
  • The North (Porto): As one of Portugal’s largest cities, and the home to charming, colorful architecture, Porto welcomed 3.1 million visitors in 2019 and retained the same numbers in 2022. Those Ribeira district views are really worth the trip. 
  • Madeira:  Portugal’s premiere island is a botanical nature haven that drew in 1.1 million visitors in 2019, and 1.3 million in 2022. Through small, the beautiful beaches and lush green forest more than make up for its size.

 

Off The Beaten Path: A Closer Look At Portugal 

After you’ve explored Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, you can unwind with these lesser crowded yet equally breathtaking destinations. 

  • Peniche 
  • Monsaraz 
  • Monsanto

 

Travel Quick Facts: What Are Portugal’s Tourism Trends? 

 

Top Travel Trends In Portugal

 

Average Time Spent In Portugal: 4.1 days

Overseas travelers spent an average of 7.2 nights 

Top Reason for travel: leisure, recreation & holiday, which accounted for 12.4 million trips in 2019. 

Second-largest reason: Visiting relatives or friends, which brought in 9.2 million tourist trips. 

 

Travel By The Seasons: When To Touch Down In The Atlantic’s Jewel

With over 200 days of sunshine, and that envious Mediterranean climate, Portugal is nearly perfect all year long. Lisbon has 2,800 hours of sunshine yearly, but what about the rest of the country? Here's a breakdown of the weather patterns and the best times to visit, along with activities you can enjoy throughout the calendar year. 

 

Major Weather Seasons In Portugal

 

Spring (March to May):

Weather: Spring is a pleasant time to visit Portugal, with mild temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).

Activities: Ideal for hiking and exploring the countryside. It's also a good time to visit cities and cultural sites without the peak tourist crowds.

 

Summer (June to August):

Weather: Hot and dry weather during the summer, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F) and sometimes reaching even higher.

Activities: This is the peak tourist season, and the beaches along the Algarve coast become popular for sunbathing and water sports. Festivals and outdoor events are also common during this time.

 

Annual Tourists and Weather Numbers In Portugal

 

Autumn (September to November):

Weather: Autumn sees a gradual cooling down, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). Rainfall increases towards the end of the season.

Activities: Autumn is an excellent time for wine enthusiasts to visit, as it coincides with the grape harvest season. You can also enjoy hiking and exploring nature, taking advantage of the milder temperatures.

 

Winter (December to February):

Weather: Winters in Portugal are mild compared to many other European destinations, with temperatures rarely dropping below 5°C (41°F) in coastal areas.

Activities: Winter is a great time for exploring Portugal's cities, visiting historical sites, and enjoying local cuisine. While the coastal areas remain relatively mild, the interior regions, especially in the north, may experience colder temperatures.

 

Tourists And Weather In Portugal Comparison Chart

 

So when is the best time to visit Portugal? Honestly, it depends. If you enjoy warm weather and beach activities, June to August are ideal. Spring and Autumn offer pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. Winter is perfect for those who are looking for a cooler climate and want to explore cities and cultural attractions without the tourist rush.

 

Trains, Planes & Buses, Oh My! Navigating Portugal’s Extensive Transportation 

Popular Transportation In Portugal


Portugal is magical, but you can’t just float around the nation. Here are some key transport methods to remember. 

 

  • Metro: Lisbon and Porto have metro systems that provide efficient transportation within their cities. In Lisbon, Metropolitano de Lisboa operates four metro lines, while in Porto, Metro do Porto offers several lines.
  • Buses: Cities and towns across Portugal have an extensive bus network, with several companies providing intercity and intra-city bus services. Rede Expressos and FlixBus are ideal for long-distance travel.
  • Trains: Comboios de Portugal (CP) operates the train services in Portugal, connecting major cities and towns. The Alfa Pendular and Intercidades trains are popular for long-distance travel, offering both speed and comfort.
  • Taxis: Taxis are widely available in cities and towns. You can find taxi stands or hail a cab on the street. In major cities, apps like Uber and Bolt are also popular for convenient and often cheaper rides.
  • Car Rentals: Renting a car is a common option, especially for exploring more remote areas or the scenic countryside. Several international and local car rental companies operate in Portugal, and you can organize a GoWithGuide tour that features private car transportation, pick up and drop off. 
  • Air Travel:Portugal has several airports, with Lisbon Portela Airport and Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto being the main international gateways. TAP Air Portugal is the national airline, providing both domestic and international flights.
  • Walking: Many of Portugal's cities and towns are pedestrian-friendly, with well-maintained sidewalks and pedestrian zones. Walking is an excellent way to explore historic areas and city centers.

 

Dos & Don’ts When Exploring Portugal

Dos & Donts In Portugal

 

Você fala inglês? Tackling Language In Portugal 

Alright, so we’ve established that Spanish is a no-go in Portugal, but what about English? Well, if you’re looking to stick to major cosmopolitan areas like Lisbon, Portugal, Madeira, Vila Nova de Gaia and their surrounding areas, you can rest easy knowing that most people will be able to understand English. In fact, Portugal overall has a high English proficiency of 607, making it the 8th most English proficient country in the world. 

 

Ficando Seguro: Staying Safe In Portugal 

Alright, now that we’ve got an idea of how our Portuguese adventure will look, let's tackle one major topic, safety. So is Portugal a safe place? Absolutely! Portugal is one of the safest, most peaceful countries in the world, with a Global peace index ranking of 7th place, beating out Australia, Canada, France and Germany. 

 

When it comes to everyday living, Portugal has a low crime index of 29.2 and a high safety index of 69.3. This means that unless you’re in heavily crowded metro areas like Lisbon or Porto, there is little to nothing to worry about when it comes to pickpockets, scams and social unrest. With that said, Portugal’s regions carry specific safety advice, so let’s dive a little deeper to make sure you stay safe no matter where you are. 

 

Tips On Staying Safe In Portugal

 

Ocean Safety in Algarve: To stay safe, always adhere to posted warning signs, especially regarding strong currents. Choose beaches with lifeguards, and if you're not a strong swimmer, opt for sheltered coves. Be cautious of sudden waves, and keep a close eye on changing weather conditions.

Driving Vigilance in Lisbon: Lisbon's narrow, winding streets and hilly terrain can be challenging. Watch out for trams, pedestrians, and fellow drivers. Park in designated areas to avoid fines, and be mindful of pickpockets in popular tourist spots. Familiarize yourself with local traffic rules and signage.

Trail Safety in Madeira: When hiking, stick to marked trails, carry sufficient water, and inform someone of your hiking plans. The island's weather can change rapidly, so pack layers and rain gear. Respect local wildlife, especially in protected areas, and follow the Leave No Trace philosophy. Check for trail conditions and closures, and avoid risky paths during adverse weather.

Street Smart in Porto: Porto's historic districts can be crowded, making it an ideal environment for pickpockets. Keep your belongings secure, use anti-theft bags, and be cautious in crowded places. Opt for well-lit streets at night, and avoid poorly lit or deserted areas to ensure a safe and enjoyable exploration of the city.

 

Conclusion 

As the perfect fusion between old world charm and modern magnetism, Portugal proves itself as Europe’s next greatest destination. Ready to join in on the fun? Get in touch with one of our Portugal tour guides and let the laughter commence, and the Portuguese escapade unfold!

Lisbon Tour Guide - Duarte P.

Duarte P.

5.00 / 5
(3 reviews)
Portugal

Hello my Friends, My name is Duarte and it's with great pleasure that I have been working in the tourism industry in Portugal for over 10 years. I´m specialized in organizing and executing private and exclusive tours for small groups. Take a look at my proposals for private tours and select the one or those that interest you most. Since all my tours are customizable, feel free to ask me about possible changes you would like to make to the original itinerary. On the tours, there is total flexibility within the time and itineraries planned. ALL MY TOURS INCLUDE FREE OF CHARGE: * Mercedes-Benz Van, V Class Model VIP Extra Long up to 7 passengers. * Pick up and drop off at your hotel / flat. * Free Wi-Fi in the vehicle. * Bottled water.                                                                                                                                  

Porto Tour Guide - Susana A.

Susana A.

5.00 / 5
(5 reviews)
Portugal

Olá! Hi! I’m Izzy! Thanks for coming to my page and hopefully soon, Porto! Originally from Lisbon, I moved to Porto in 98 to get my college degree in Biology. So quickly I fell in love with this city, its people, its food and wine - Porto is the homeland of the famous Port Wine and Francesinha, one of the best sandwiches in the world - its rich diverse history and world-renowned cultural treasures that I have been living here since then. After University, I lived in Paris for one year, where I got a graduate degree in Image, Communication and Protocol - communicating with people is my passion – and I have been working in Tourism and Hospitality for the past years. Traveling is all about exploring and understanding the place you visit, its people, history, culture and heritage diversity, as well as experience their traditions and gastronomy. Only this way you’ll be able to make unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. As your guide, I´ll show you the city of Porto beyond the standard and conventional tourist-made itineraries, with all the well-known highlights, on tailor-made experiences, often along unexpected routes. Whether it’s a Walking Tour through Medieval Porto, a Culinary Tasting at Porto’s most iconic restaurants, or a Guided Tour in the North of Portugal, for small groups, couples, families, students, business professionals or solo travellers, anything is possible. Just choose from one or more of my predesignated tour options or contact me and I will create the best itinerary based on your interests and needs! See you soon!                                                                                                                                  

Lisbon Tour Guide - Filipe D.

Filipe D.

5.00 / 5
(1 reviews)
Portugal

Olá! I'm Filipe. I was born and raised in Lisbon and I’m really passionate about my city. I am very familiar with the city's many sights and attractions thanks to my long experience living in this city. I have been working in the tourism field for almost 10 years and have guided many foreign tourists as an English, French and Spanish speaking tour guide in recent years. I always like to guide all tourists with my best hospitality. I always try to adapt the tour to the interests and needs of my clients so that they have the best possible experience. I am very dynamic, fun and passionate about Lisbon and I love showing how unique my city is to everyone who visits Lisbon. When you have a chance to visit Lisbon, contact me anytime and join my tour! I look forward to spending a wonderful time with you. See you soon!                                                                                                                                 

Lisbon Tour Guide - Luis P.

Luis P.

5.00 / 5
(2 reviews)
Portugal

Hello My name is Luis and I'm your local guide from Lisbon. Welcome to my city and I will very happy to be your next GPS on your journey to Portugal. My curiosity for traveling and getting to know new cultures in the world was always evident. My life in tourism has already taken me to travel and get to know different realities, I started by going to the Highlands, where I worked in the various departments of Marriot Dalmahoy in Edinburgh, I also had the possibility to check out the madness of the Balearic Islands as a hotel animator for some seasons. But it was my country that I fell in love with, its history, traditions, gastronomy, the relaxed way we always find solutions to problems. I think the main feature on my tours is the enthusiasm. I am a local guide in the city of Lisbon, but I know Portugal and islands well and for this reason, if you need a guide and want to get to know Portugal in a more exciting, curious and historical way. Getting to know Lisbon in a relaxed way and telling you travel story. Storytellers, is one of the main objectives was Tour Guide. I make the difference because of my experience and knowledge of 11 years in this market of tour guiding. Unfortunately, the profession of official guide is not accredited in Portugal, making anyone who has historical knowledge, tour guides. There are only two entities accredited in Portugal Snatti and Agic. I am a member of Snatti. My business is due to 3 big sections: Walk Tours, Daytrips and multi days tours. I have a variety of themes in my tours: Cultural, gastronomic, historical, street art, nature, wineries, etc.                                                                                                                                  

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