Travel to Portugal: Travel advice and last-minute getaways

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The UK has formed an air bridge with Portugal!

For many people with friends or relatives in the country, or who love an annual trip there, it was welcome news. It was previously not possible to visit Portugal without going against Foreign Office travel advice, and having to self-isolate for 14 days after returning to the UK.

That all changed at 4am on Saturday 22nd August, when the UK formed its ‘air bridge’ (also known as a ‘travel corridor’) with Portugal, meaning no period of quarantine is required in either country.

There are still some things to think about before booking a trip. Like most countries, Portugal remains in a “state of alert”. So while the majority of shops, restaurants, leisure parks and other facilities are open, social distancing guidelines must be followed. Beaches may be subject to crowd-control restrictions, masks must be worn in enclosed public spaces, and drinking alcohol in public places (excluding those attached to bars/restaurants) is not permitted.

When arriving into the mainland you will have your temperature checked, and if you show any signs of being unwell you may be asked to take a Covid-19 test and have to self-isolate at your accommodation until the results are known.

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If you’re travelling to the islands of Madeira or Porto Santo, you will need to submit a traveller questionnaire 12 to 48 hours before departure, as part of which you should include the results of a negative Covid-19 test received 72 hours before departure. If you haven’t done so, you will be required to take a test on arrival.

The rules are even stricter in the Azores, where you will have to present a negative test on arrival (or take one at the airport), and take another one locally during your trip if it lasts longer than seven days.

Finally, the UK government has repeatedly reminded people that a country’s air bridge status can change quickly. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said no one should travel abroad unless they’re theoretically prepared to self-isolate on return.

Still, Portugal is ready and waiting to welcome visitors. Here are a few tips for places to stay (all prices were correct at time of publication).

Family fun

Muthu Clube Praia Da Oura

This four-star apartment complex is located in the resort of Albufeira, in the Algarve, and is within short walking distance of some gorgeous beaches. Activities on offer include tennis and bowling, and there’s a spa, children’s pool and kids’ club.

When we checked, Love Holidays was offering seven nights in September for £250 per person.

Club Alvorferias Apartments

Club Alvorferias, also in the Algarve, is in a quiet location 15 minutes’ walk from the beach and from Alvor, a historic town. It has a tennis court, on-site supermarket, restaurant, bar, kids’ club, playground, two main pools and two kids’ pools. Rooms have self-catering facilities if you fancy eating in.

TUI was offering seven nights in September from £309.49 per person.

Adults only

Vila Gale Collection Praia

Vila Gale Collection Praia is one of the highest-rated hotels in Albufeira on TripAdvisor. It’s a stone’s throw from the beautiful Galé beach and has just 40 rooms, a large pool, two restaurants and extensive spa facilities.

Jet2 was offering seven nights in September, with breakfast, from £760 per person.

TUI BLUE Falesia

Set on a section of dramatic shoreline in Albufeira, the TUI BLUE Falesia has extensive grounds to explore, with access to a small cove. It has three restaurants, three swimming pools, a bar and gym.

TUI was offering seven nights in September from £620.71 per person.

Isolated villas

This chilled-out family apartment sleeps seven people across three bedrooms. It’s a little further inland within the Algarve, but with a bit of sun you’d be set for days with a pool, large garden, barbecue and cute rooftop deck. It’s available on Home Away for seven nights in September from £772.

Popular website James Villas has a range of lovely properties available, starting at £165 per person for seven nights in September.

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