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Portugal: Enjoy a mask-free holiday in the country with an 85% vax rate

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If you’re in Lisbon, it’s worth joining the long line of people queuing at patisseries to buy the famous Portuguese custard tart, Pastéis de Nata. “They go very well with coffee and cinnamon,” says Portugal’s Tourism Minister Rita Marquès.

Despite COVID-19 decimating tourism, the minister is very optimistic about Portugal’s future; “People’s perceptions of the country are of a friendly, inclusive and authentic place, but its also being perceived as fashionable, innovative, and modern. And this is this creates a wow effect,” says Marquès.

“If you are a repeat customer you’ll always have the chance to discover new things”.

This “wow effect” is attracting Digital Nomads to the country and Portugal is supporting this.

“We have a very competitive fiscal framework,” and this enables people to “not just have fun or holidays, but to work from here and this is amazing,” she adds.

Discovering inner Portugal

According to Marquès, the COVID-19 crisis provided an opportunity for people to discover inner Portugal.

“So if you are fond of adventures, hiking and biking, you can go to places such as Alentejo or the Douro Valley”.

Alentejo on Portugal’s southwest coast is one of the least-developed, least-populated regions in western Europe. While in the north, the Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world.

“Here you can discover the beautiful terraced vineyards where the port grapes are grown and go on a cruise,” she says.

What are the travel restrictions for Portugal?

If you are travelling from the UK or EU to mainland Portugal and are fully vaccinated you just have to carry your EU Digital COVID Certificate or equivalent.

“You don’t need to take tests on the way in, just comply with the rules and social distancing,” says Marquès.

All passengers need to fill a Passenger Locator Card and if you aren’t vaccinated you will need to take an RT-PCR Test 72 hours before boarding, or a Rapid Antigen Test, 48 hours before boarding.

You don’t need to wear a mask indoors anymore, “but if you want to do it, just do, it’s up to you. We are coming back to normality or at least what we thought was normality”.

“One year ago we were the first country in the world to launch a sanitary seal, and we trained people working in the industry, we had a lot of workshops, seminars and meetings with guests, so they understood the rules,” adds Marquès.

“We’re trying to provide an excellent experience at the end of the day, we don’t want to jeopardise these experiences because of COVID-19”.

Should I visit Portugal in 2022?

Portugal is a “pretty convenient location to get to and excellent value for money” according to Marquès.

“You’ll find nice weather, nice wine and nice beer as well. If you’re a golf lover, we have good courses”.

Portugal is also ” the queen of city breaks,” she says.

“You can go to Lisbon, or Porto for wine. If you are a golf lover or a surf lover, then head to the Algarve or Madeira. Or in Nazaré in the centre of the country, you will find nice waves”.

Which islands are Portuguese?

“As for islands, we have Madeira and Azores, which is a hot spot this year as we have good connections with the island.”

Set in the middle of the Atlantic you can have “a huge, genuine, authentic experience, especially if you are an adventure lover”.

Where can I drink wine in Portugal?

Porto isn’t the only destination for wine lovers in Portugal.

“I like Alentejo from the south of the country or the stronger wine from central Portugal called Marialva. For dessert wine, obviously Port from the north is very good and even Madeira”.

Portugal is “one of the best destinations as far as wine is concerned,” according to the minister, which is why their latest campaign pairs wine with everything from adventure, music, art, wellness and discovery.

When is the best time to visit Portugal?

Portugal has good weather all year round, even in October or March, “there are so many good spots to discover” says the minister.

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