Travel and tourism in Portugal - statistics & facts

Mild winters, hot summer temperatures, and a diverse offering of coastal and mountain destinations have turned Portugal into an ideal holiday spot in Europe —so much so that in 2021, the country led the ranking of best European destinations to visit by car based, among other things, on its weather, safety, affordability, and landmarks.

Portugal is surrounded to the west and the south by the Atlantic Ocean and it shares borders with Spain to the north and the east. For statistical purposes, the nation with a population of 10 million is officially divided into seven regions: five on the mainland and two insular areas (the Azores and Madeira). Lisbon, the smallest Portuguese continental region and home to the country’s homonymous capital city, was by a wide margin Portugal's most popular travel destination for international tourists in 2019 and 2020. As a result, Lisbon also had the largest number of hotel and hostel openings in the latter year.

Spain: Portugal’s main tourism partner

The geographical proximity between Portugal and Spain has turned the latter country into the main source market for international tourists in Portugal, besides being the most popular outbound destination for Portuguese travelers. In 2020, Spain accounted for more than one-quarter of the inbound tourism volume in Portugal, while representing more than 30 percent of the trips taken by Portuguese international tourists that year.

The role of tourism in the Portuguese economy amid COVID-19

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the tourism sector represented almost one-fifth of Portugal’s economy. However, the global crisis caused the tourism contribution to GDP to drop by more than half in 2020. But despite this setback, Portugal remained among the top three most tourism-dependent countries in the European Union that year. Similarly, the Portuguese tourism payment balance, which shows the difference between the inflows and outflows from international tourism, plunged by over 60 percent in 2020 to only five billion euros —the lowest figure since 2011.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 30 most important statistics relating to "Travel and tourism in Portugal".

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