Absolutely! Portugal is a beautiful country with a rich culture and history. But being popular comes at a cost - and for parts of Portugal, that cost is Overtourism, where an excessive number of tourists visit a destination, leading to negative social, cultural, and environmental impacts. This can happen when the number of tourists exceeds the carrying capacity of the destination, leading to overcrowding, congestion, and strain on the local infrastructure and resources.
Over tourism can lead to a range of negative consequences, including environmental degradation, damage to cultural heritage sites, increased pollution, higher living costs for locals, and a decline in the quality of life for residents. It can also impact the visitor experience, making it less enjoyable for tourists who have to deal with long lines, crowded attractions, and other issues.
Here are some tips on how to enjoy Portugal while minimizing damage and supporting sustainable tourism:
Travel off-season: Portugal is a popular destination in the summer months, which can lead to overcrowding and higher prices. Consider traveling in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) when the weather is still pleasant but the crowds are thinner.
Stay in locally owned accommodations: Instead of staying in large chain hotels, opt for locally owned accommodations such as small hotels, bed and breakfasts, or homestays. This way, you can support the local economy and get a more authentic experience.
Use public transportation: Portugal has a good public transportation system, including trains, buses, and trams. Instead of renting a car or taking taxis, consider using public transportation to get around. This not only reduces your carbon footprint but also supports the local economy.
Respect the environment: Portugal has beautiful natural spaces, including national parks, beaches, and forests. When visiting these areas, make sure to follow the "leave no trace" principle, meaning you should pack out everything you pack in, avoid disturbing wildlife, and stay on designated trails.
Eat local: Portugal has a rich culinary tradition, and there's no shortage of delicious food to try. Seek out local restaurants and cafes that use local ingredients and support small businesses.
Respect the local culture: Portugal has a rich cultural heritage, and it's important to respect local customs and traditions. For example, dress appropriately when visiting religious sites.
Portugal has many wonderful destinations beyond the typical hotspots. Here are a few off the radar destinations worth considering in your trip:
Azores - The Azores archipelago is a collection of nine volcanic islands located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The natural beauty of the islands is simply breathtaking and offers a wide range of activities such as hiking, whale watching, and swimming in hot springs.
Alentejo - Alentejo is a region located in the south of Portugal known for its rolling hills, cork forests, vineyards, and historic towns. It is a great place to escape the crowds and experience authentic Portuguese culture.
Viana do Castelo - This charming coastal town in the north of Portugal is often overlooked by tourists. It has a rich history, with many beautiful churches and a seafront, as well as excellent beaches and delicious local cuisine.
Évora - Évora is a small city in the Alentejo region known for its well-preserved Roman temple and medieval walls. It has a relaxed atmosphere and is a great place to wander around and explore.
Serra da Estrela - Serra da Estrela is a mountain range in central Portugal that offers stunning views and outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. It is also home to the historic city of Guarda and a number of charming villages.
These are just a few of the many off the radar destinations in Portugal worth exploring. By following these tips, you can enjoy Portugal while supporting sustainable tourism and minimizing your impact on the environment and local communities.