As countries open up in fits and starts across the world, you’ve probably been wondering whether a Mediterranean beach break could be on the cards this year. Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey all started welcoming international visitors again last summer. And that eternal tourist favourite, Portugal, has also already reopened its borders – to some nationalities.
Travellers from EU and Schengen travel area countries are currently being allowed into the country by air, and so too are citizens and residents of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The land border with Spain, however, remains closed.
Flights from Brazil and the UK are also suspended due to concern over new variants. If your journey originated in either of those countries, then you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days at home on arrival.
Until March 19, Portugal was also on the UK’s ‘red list’ of countries, which meant travellers were subject to a mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense. It has since been removed (travellers must quarantine for ten days at home instead) and mutual travel is set to restart on May 17, which is the earliest date international may be allowed to and from the UK. Last week Rita Marques, Portugal’s tourism minister, said the country would allow in British travellers who test negative or have had the vaccine from that date.
Travelling from elsewhere? Currently, all arrivals in Portugal must fill in a passenger locator form and provide a negative test result from within the past 72 hours. As an alternative, the autonomous archipelago of Madeira has opened a ‘green corridor’ for international visitors who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 within the previous 90 days.
(It’s worth noting that island provinces outside mainland Portugal will apply slightly different rules: visitors to the Azores must fill out this questionnaire, a ‘health declaration’, and bring a negative test result from within the past 72 hours. Madeira, meanwhile, has a ‘health declaration’ to fill out and you must also bring a negative test result.)
With the city delights of Lisbon and Porto and the sunny Atlantic coastline of Albufeira and the Algarve at your disposal, Portugal is a pretty damn dreamy place to be. Right now, though, it may be worth waiting before booking that holiday, as the country is still in lockdown, with most non-essential businesses closed. But it still seems like a trip to the praia could be a goer a little later this year.
Remember, many countries are still warning against all non-essential travel and some are quarantining all overseas arrivals, including their own returning citizens. Check all the relevant restrictions before you think about travelling.