Make sure you have peace of mind before your holiday
Portugal has plenty to offer, whether you’re looking to relax at the beach, step onto one of the many golf courses or just explore one of Europe’s oldest countries.
Tourism in Portugal is continuing to grow with around 11 million people going there between January and August in 2019, making it one of the most popular destinations in Europe.
It is also one of the safest places to visit and is ranked third on the Global Peace Index, making it an ideal destination for families looking to soak up some sun by the pool.
Whatever you plan to do during your time in Portugal, make sure that you have your travel insurance in place so that you can enjoy your holiday stress-free.
Do I need travel insurance to go to Portugal?
Holidaymakers are advised to get travel insurance before their flight. The EHIC entitles UK residents to state provided medical treatment for free or at a reduced cost when travelling in Europe but travel insurance cover may still be needed to help with funds for certain treatments, while some countries also charge for the use of an ambulance and other services. Ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment are also not covered by the card. Brexit also means that the EHIC may no longer apply to people living in the UK, and if there is no deal then it will become immediately invalid.
Travel insurance can also be important for other aspects of your holiday, including flight delays, lost baggage and other emergencies that could occur while you are abroad.
You don’t require a visa to enter Portugal if you have a British passport, but this could change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. You should check that you have at least 6 months’ validity on your passport from the day that you travel.
Things to do in Portugal
Portugal has plenty to offer and provides a variety of options for holidaymakers whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled trip, or the chance to relax and unwind at the beach.
Lisbon is one of the main destinations for tourists, with the capital city offering plenty to keep you busy during your break. Visitors can see some stunning architecture, while the limestone paving, known as calcada portuguesa, is a well-known trademark of the city.
There are also plenty of shopping outlets and markets to visit if you’re interested in picking up local foods and fashion, while the restaurants are a perfect spot for fans of seafood.
In central Portugal there is the The Alcobaca Monastery, which was first established in 1153. The Roman Catholic complex was among the first gothic buildings to be built in the country. The monastery has a long history and it is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.
Portugal has become a favourite destination for golf fans, providing warm weather and several high standard courses. The country has won the World’s Best Golf Destination award five years in a row at the World Golf Awards.
Some of the most popular choices for golf courses include Monte Rei, West Cliffs and San Lorenzo, with each offering unique challenges and stunning views for any player who steps onto the green.
If you do plan to play golf during your trip, you can protect your equipment from theft, loss or damage up to £1,000 with additional golf cover. We also provide you with cover for hiring replacement equipment, while you are also protected for loss of green fees.
There are also plenty of other activities that you can get involved with on your holiday, including mountain hikes, surfing, zip-lining and scuba diving. Many of these are part of the 150 activities that are covered for free with Columbus Direct travel insurance*.
How to stay safe in Portugal
Portugal has a low crime rate in most areas, but visitors will still need to stay vigilant and be aware of pickpocketing, especially when travelling in major cities and tourist hotspots. You will also need to be careful of potential dangerous nature spots when exploring the country, especially the levadas, which is an irrigation channel in Madeira.
It is a popular location among tourists and there are locals who can take you on walks to see the stunning surroundings. It can be a difficult journey for some people, and you are likely to come across uneven paths. You should wear suitable clothes and shoes for the trip, and it is advised to travel along the levadas with a guide, but if this is not possible then you should travel in a group and leave your details with your hotel before you start.
Swimming in the sea can also be dangerous because of jellyfish in the water and there is the chance of strong waves becoming overwhelming, even for strong swimmers. To stay safe you should pay attention to the flags that are on the beach. They indicate whether the water is safe, with red indicating that you shouldn’t enter the water, while the yellow flag means you can go into the water but not swim, and green means that it is safe.
There is also the risk of forest fires during the summer months when there is hot, dry weather, and visitors are advised to check conditions before heading into woodlands and to report fires immediately.
Portugal travel advice
Portugal currently uses the Euro as its currency like many other countries within the European Union. The main language is Portuguese, but English is also widely spoken, while Spanish and French are used by a small percentage of the population as well.
Drivers in Iceland use the right-hand side of the road, and currently a British driving licence can be used to hire and drive a car in the country. This could change if the UK leaves the European Union with no deal, and you would instead require an International Driving Permit.
There is no time difference between Portugal and the UK, making it the only country in mainland Europe where you don’t have to adjust the time on your watch.
The emergency services in Portugal can be contacted by calling 112, while the British Embassy is located in Lisbon and can be contacted on +351 21 392 4000.
*Scuba diving is restricted to 30 metres, and surfing has no cover under the Personal Liability section.