Travel, Safety, and Medical Insurance Advice for Portugal
Portugal has consistently been ranked as one of the most affordable countries in all of Europe. Its seaside position on Europe’s doorstep allows for a bounty of fresh seafood and beautiful beaches all along the coast. Portugal is home to 23 Michelin-starred restaurants, gourmet food markets, and countless corner taverns. Traditional fado music houses, nightclubs, and upscale wine and cocktail bars also line the streets of the cities in Portugal. Last call? Sunrise!
Travel to Lisbon―The City of Seven Hills and Portugal’s capital. Lisbon is one of the world’s oldest cities and even predates European cities such as Rome and London. It’s ancient architecture, and beautiful views can be seen from a tram ride around each of the Seven Hills. If you are looking for a more traditional spot, Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon, is the place for you. Discover in the early mornings, women selling seafood from their doorsteps and feel a sense of authentic culture. You may also find hidden coffee shops, where you can enjoy a cup of espresso and a pastéis de Belém.
Porto, another favorite city to visit in Portugal, is filled with beautiful street art and cutting-edge architecture. It is the second largest metropolis in Portugal, after Lisbon, and is built in the hills overlooking the Douro River. Porto’s local port wine cellars, located across the river at Vila Nova de Gaia, are what gave the city its name. If you are a connoisseur of wine, Porto is the city for you!
General Safety Tips for Visitors to Portugal
The food and water standards in Portugal are similar to the United States, so you should not have a problem eating or drinking. However, if you plan on traveling to rural or remote areas of Portugal that are served unregulated water, then you should plan to take special precautions.
While traveling around the cities of Portugal, be sure to use safe transportation. Buses and trams are a great way to travel around the city, but they can become overcrowded and be a threat to your safety. If you are traveling by foot, use sidewalks marked crosswalks, and watch for trams driving up and down the streets.
Lastly, maintain personal security and do not carry essential documents or expensive belongings with you. Portugal’s cities are frequently busy and crowded, which makes it easy for pickpockets and purse snatchers. It is in your best interest to leave important documents and belongings locked in your hotel room or place of residence.
Portuguese Healthcare System and Types of Insurance
Portugal has a state-funded universal healthcare system offered to all of its citizens. Private healthcare sectors are also available in Portugal, and some citizens and permanent residents do opt for private health insurance rather than the state-funded healthcare.
Travelers are not offered the same state-funded healthcare as Portuguese citizens. Therefore, it is important for travelers to purchase travel medical insurance before their date of travel. Travel medical insurance will give you access to doctors and emergency treatment at any of the public and private hospitals in Portugal. If you are on a visit from EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may access public healthcare through your European Health Insurance Card.
If you are planning to stay in Portugal for more than 90 days, you can ask for a certificate from your local council office. The certificate allows you to access Portugal’s public healthcare.
International Insurance Options in Portugal
- Comprehensive trip protection for U.S. residents traveling abroad.
- Optional rental car collision coverage available.
- Optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage available (if eligible).
- You choose between the basic essentials and more extensive coverage.
- Meets Schengen visa insurance requirements.
- 24/7 worldwide travel and emergency medical assistance.
- Access to Cigna Global’s network of trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
Emergency Health and Safety Services
A list of emergency numbers to call if you ever find yourself in trouble:
- US Embassy―Lisbon +(351) (21) 770-2122
- Emergency +(351) (21) 727-3300
- US Consulate―Ponta Delgada +(351) (296) 308-330
- Emergency +(351) (296) 282-216
- Ambulance and Police 112
Hospitals in Portugal
There are a mixture of 200 public and private hospitals in Portugal all staffed with English speaking health professionals. The quality of care at these hospitals are reasonable by international standards and will be able to care for whatever ailment you may have. In a World Health Organization study, Portugal’s healthcare quality was ranked 12th in the world. Hospitals in Portugal have heightened their management responsibility and upgraded their efficiency and effective assessment of professionals.
In an emergency, foreign travelers will not be denied treatment. Once you are stabilized, you will be required to show a form of insurance to pay for the treatment. Therefore, it is a good idea to purchase private travelers insurance.
Top 5 Hospitals in Portugal
- Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central (Hospital Dona Estefania)
- Centro Hospitalar do Porto (Hospital Geral de Santo Antonio)
- Instituto Português de Oncologia de Lisboa
- Clínica Central do Bonfim Lda.
- Centro Hospitalar do Barlavento Algarvio
Vaccines and Staying Healthy
Currently, Portugal does not have any vaccine requirements. However, you should stay up to date with routine vaccinations regardless of destination. A common few are the Hepatitis A and B vaccines and the rabies shot.
Passport and Visa Requirements
When applying for a visa to travel to Portugal, applications should be made at least one month before your intended travel dates. There are no visa requirements if you are a United States citizen and will be traveling to Portugal for less than 90 days. If you are planning to travel to Portugal for more than 90 days, then a visa is required. Students who are traveling to study abroad should apply for a student visa that will allow the applicant to enter the country for the purpose to study.
Portugal’s passport requirement states you should have a valid passport for at least three months from the date planned to return. If your passport is not valid or is about to expire, make sure to apply for a passport renewal a month before your planned departure date.
You are also required to provide proof of international health insurance when applying for your visa. The insurance must have a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 (about USD 50,000), be in effect for the entire length of your stay, and have an emergency medical evacuation and repatriation benefit.
Traveling to Portugal and other European countries? Read about the insurance requirement when applying for a Schengen Visa.
Final Word on Traveling to Portugal
Accidents and medical emergencies can happen while you are traveling abroad, but do not let them ruin your travel experience. Make sure to purchase international health insurance, which will ensure that you are completely covered for any accidents or illness that may occur. Travel to Portugal worry free and enjoy the beautiful coastal views and marvelous architecture.