Despite Coronavirus, 48% of Tourists Would Visit Portugal in 2020

Last Updated: July 24, 2023 / 19 Comments

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [More Info]

Written by /

Almost half (48.3%) of people who had planned to visit Portugal in 2020 would still do so if travel restrictions were lifted, with the majority (52.7%) hoping to visit Portugal in the autumn or winter.

This is the big takeaway from Portugalist’s April 2020 survey of its readers, which had more than 700 responses. 

Why are people still willing to travel to Portugal?

For many people, the stories they’ve seen in their news feed over the past few weeks has been enough to put them off travel for a very long time.

Others, however, are still willing to travel to Portugal and not just because their airline has only offered them a voucher instead of a refund. One reason could be Portugal’s response to the coronavirus crisis. 

82% of those that plan to visit Portugal this year have been following news stories about the coronavirus situation in Portugal, and even when you include people that aren’t planning to travel to Portugal this year that figure is still high at 76%. 

Of those that been following the news stories, 78.9% said Portugal has done a good job. Just 2.9% said that Portugal has done a bad job, with the remaining 18.1% saying that they didn’t know. 

Why are people not willing to travel this year? 

Naturally, some people aren’t willing to travel to Portugal this year despite how well Portugal has handled the situation.

The main reason for this, unsurprisingly, is health concerns related to coronavirus (51.9%) while 27.8% cited concerns about how restrictions on bars, restaurants, or other amenities could affect their experience of Portugal this year. 

Surprisingly, money concerns and concerns about job security weren’t a major factor with just 11.7% listing it as their reason for not travelling this year. 

How people travel was another factor: 55% of people who normally travel alone plan to still travel this year compared to just 38% of those who normally travel with friends.

Age, similarly, had an effect on the responses: 57% of those 54 years of age or under would still travel this year compared to 46% of those aged 55 or over. 

And there’s always next year, at least according to 35.9% of those surveyed who said they still plan to visit Portugal but won’t do so in 2020.

How could all this affect your trip? 

Of course, the big question is: how could all of this affect your trip to Portugal? 

Autumn &Winter Could Be Busier

While July and August are normally the busiest months for tourism in Portugal, particularly on the Algarve, the majority of those surveyed said they were waiting until the autumn or winter to travel. 

For those wishing to avoid the crowds, and still get good weather, it may actually be worth considering a summer trip to Portugal this year as so many people are now thinking of travelling in the second half of the year instead. 

A change in how people travel? 

The majority of people won’t be changing the way they travel as a result of Covid-19 (according to these survey results at least), but many of those surveyed will make changes – changes that suggest less interactions with other people. 

  • 35.9% said they would be less likely to take public transport while 29.6% said they would be more likely to rent a car. 
  • 26.7% said they would be less likely to stay in a hotel while 34.8% said they would be more likely to book a private apartment or house. 
  • 66.4% said they would be less likely to take a cruise, although 31.1% said that that the Covid-19 situation has made no difference as to whether or not they’d take a cruise. 

In practice, it means there could be more demand for car rental and certain types of accommodation among those that do choose to travel in 2020 (although this might be offset by the reduced travel overall in 2020).

It also hints at a world in which those travelling keep to themselves a lot more. This is one of the reasons that other respondents didn’t want to travel this year, but for the majority of respondents it’s a price worth paying.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply want to travel to Portugal this year. As long as the borders are closed and airlines are no longer flying, holidaymakers will effectively have their travel plans made for them.

733 people responded to the survey from 46 countries, particularly the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. The majority of the respondents (69.3%) were aged 55 or over.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing or via the site's contact form.

There are 19 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. Wrong..

    Look at our world in data.

    80-90%+ of within CFR data set were at the median age of death or outlier cases of people with chronic diseases.

    Why lock down or bother wasting money on a vaccine for a virus that does not affect, in volume - yes, outliers exists but they are exceptions, the majority of the population. Most importantly healthy children.

    Nevermind, those countries that experience a '2nd wave' in terms of increase of cases, 3-4 weeks ago, have not seen any increases in CFR data sets - these range from country to country but CFR is flawed - particularly in places like the US that class any death where someone happened to catch C19 as they were dying as a C19 death - including terminal patients with days/weeks to live.

    Back to the point the CFR data has not increased, even with inaccruate data reporting, if we had accurate reporting and IFR data the data would be even lower.

    So, everyone's genius plan is to follow the hype train poured over everyone via the media and social media; potentially lock down many parts of the world again - causing what will inevitably be a global recession into a global depression.

    Let's make decisions based on the health of elder sections of the pop. who are in volume at the median age of death or very close to it. That then escalate the risk of a dramatic economic collapse, that will result in volumes of deaths (including young families - parents and children) due to homelessness and extreme poverty.

    Eventually when the penny drops that CBs cannot save the econ and mass unemployment when the structure of the primarily consumption based global econ we all live in hits a brick wall in 6-9m - maybe we get another 3m or so of deluded pop. and synthetically propped up markets before the loss must be taken.

    That should be the concern.. Quarantine the elderly or those in high risk groups, everyone else back to work, get the global supply chain moving again and at least people the choice to travel - even those in risk groups who wish to gamble with their lives.

    An economic contraction of sizable magnitude is as high a prob as it gets, even from the first wave econ. stall - now, people are still calling for more lock downs and wasting money and resources on vaccines for something that, by volume, effects a tiny and well aged portion of the pop. - is utter nonsense.

    It is not that vaccines do not work, it is that this is a horrible waste of resources and money on a vaccine that is unnecessary. By the time a vaccine is even potentially ready, the econ. fallout will be so severe it will be meaningless.

    Based on the totality of the data available through sources like our world in data, calling for lockdowns and forcing bizes and employment levels to tank - would be as reasonable as shutting down each side of the equator every winter due to the flu - which, while not as infectious, kills and affects a far broader portion of the pop. than C19 does.

    Amjen: I would respond with - typical poorly informed dogmatic drivel from someone who clearly gets their data from the news than actually using the freely available source data models available and updated daily.

    Vaccines are useful, without a doubt, for certain infectious diseases - to claim they are a panacea for all is nonsense.

    Not to mention the complete lack of understanding of what exactly is going to cause the true volume of deaths around the globe in 6-12m.

  2. Very helpfull I plan on traveling in the September / October time frame. My concern is not Portugal but traveling on an airplane. I am not sure of the health that someone on the plane may have as social distancing will be a problem.

    There needs to be a clear safe protocal as to how people can travel safely. I have spent a lot of time in Porto, Lisbon and the Azores. When I land I will simply stay in my Airbnb and stay safe.

  3. Hi Margaret and David,

    It's something they're currently discussing so I don't know yet, but obviously I'll be writing about it on Portugalist when they do.

    Don't forget you'll also need Spain to open up as well, if you're going to drive through.

  4. We have an apartment in Tavira and would like to come over as soon as possible. We normally drive down from Santander and would like to know when the border with Spain is likely to open up. We have been on lockdown for nearly 6 weeks now and, thank God, we are both as healthy as can be expected at our age. We are missing our time in Portugal and the lovely people who we class as friends.
    If you could let us know the dates of the border opening we would be most grateful.
    Wishing you all you wish yourselves.

    M argaret and David

  5. I visit the Algarve, Praia da Rocha and Armacao De Pera, several times a year, already in February and again March this year but sadly had to cancel my April/May trip but am so looking forward to getting back asap in June.
    I plan to move from Ireland this year and am so excited to be more permanently in this beautiful corner of Heaven

  6. Hi Terry,

    It's hard to say at the moment. There's talk of hotels opening up in June/July, but it would also depend on whether or not the borders are open.

    Hopefully it'll become clearer in the next few days.

  7. in .portugal in FEB .April and June holidays canceled October should be o.k Been to praia da oura for 31 years KEEP SAFE everybody WE WILL get through it Ricky and MARY Remember the oura bar dario and lesley and antonio Fanta orange and vodka and lemonade

  8. We are hoping to come to Portugal June 1st staying at fairways in Quinta do lago for three weeks is this going to be possible? It’s a private country club

  9. I agree a natural immunity is the best answer, BUT, unfortunately far too many people have been freely using antibiotics to cure all sorts of ailments, that they have destroyed their natural immunity, so a vaccine will be needed

  10. Sadly we should be in Alvor now and for the next two weeks.
    We would certainly be willing to come in the Autumn.

  11. "With all due respect, a vaccine is NOT THE ANSWER as it has been proven time and time again, especially when one looks at who’s backing such a development and searches further into the vaccine scam taking the world by storm."

    Typically antivax speech.

  12. I will pray for Portugal. The most beautiful place on earth. The most beautiful people on earth. And there are some of the smartest on earth there too. Please be good to yourselves and stay safe and be a little lucky. And please be there in the fall and winter and extend to the tourist the privilege to visit you again. Obrigado! Bruce

  13. I would define travel to the algarve this August/Sept we have been coming to cabanas for 13 years and would move there if I could afford it. The people are so good and accommodating hopefully we can be there again

  14. With all due respect, a vaccine is NOT THE ANSWER as it has been proven time and time again, especially when one looks at who's backing such a development and searches further into the vaccine scam taking the world by storm.

    My advice is, rather help to build herd immunity, the human body is an amazing piece of engineering, and we should allow the natural process to assist us. Furthermore, anyone that wants to travel should ensure that they build up their immune system, follow proper hygiene (like washing of hands with water and soap) ... and you should be fine.

    This entire "Virus" pandemic should leave all your readers with many answered questions. I suggest that they use this time to really do some deep research away from TV's, Mainstream and Officially authorized channels ... because a world of knowledge awaits you. Trust your gut instincts, and don't be guided by fear.

  15. Hi Karen,

    Until there's a vaccine I don't think it'll be safe to travel (or do much else), but it looks like most countries are planning to go back to some kind of normality for the time being. There's still going to be some level of risk, but at the moment we don't really know how much.

    It looks like hotels could re-open here in July and that will give some indication of what things will be like.

  16. I have moved my holiday from April to October. Do you think it will be safe then or should o put it off till next year? Flights and Accom already booked. Karen x.

  17. Solid piece of work, James, and an interesting read - Thanks.

    (Minor addition in third to last paragraph: This IS one of the reasons...)

  18. Solid piece of work, James, and an interesting read - Thanks.

    (Minor addition in third to last paragraph: This IS one of the reasons...)

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.