Work and Travel in Portugal

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Travel in Portugal is not as common amongst backpackers as you might think. Due to how far it feels from the rest of Europe, so many travellers simply skip it. And they’re missing out because this is Western Europe for Eastern European prices in a place with plenty of chances to volunteer and a populace that nearly all speaks English.

So if you want to get away from the classic backpacking destinations, Portugal is the place to be. We have lots of volunteering opportunities in Portugal available for you to try your hand at.

Take a look at our travel guide to Portugal and jump into a whole new experience!

1. Make Wine on a Vineyard in the Douro Valley

Portugal might be less famous for its wine than other places in Europe, but the Douro Valley is where you’ll find vineyards big and small.

Working on a vineyard will take you out into the rural areas and give you a chance to mix in with the locals. It’s hard work when it comes to planting and harvesting, but a rewarding experience all the same. Plus there’s work on vineyards throughout most of the year, so it’s a great volunteering option for work and travel in Portugal.

2. Work in a Hostel in Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital and is simply full of hostels. Throughout the summer months, these are packed with everyone from backpackers to those looking for a weekend-long city break.

Volunteer in a hostel and you’ll get free accommodation and, sometimes, free food. The work is easy as you’ll usually only have to clean the rooms or work the reception desk.

Sometimes you may even be lucky enough to find a paid hostel job. Hostels are in abundance in Lisbon, Porto, and Faro in the Algarve.

3. Join an Eco Farm in Rural Portugal

Due to its low cost of living, many eco farm projects have made their way to the rural areas of Portugal. If you care about the planet and you don’t mind joining in with a community, working on an eco farm could be the option for you.

This is all about sustainable living and you’ll be able to learn about sustainable farming practices and running a homestead using green technology.


Travel in Portugal is quite easy because it’s part of the Schengen Zone, which means that the majority of nationalities can enter Portugal without the need to apply for a pre-approved visa.

People from the UK and the rest of Europe can work and travel in Portugal for as long as they like without any problems. For North Americans, Australians, Kiwis, South Koreans, and the Japanese they can get a visa-on-arrival. This entitles them to stay in the whole Schengen Zone for 90 days in any 180-day period.

South Africans, Russians, and Chinese citizens must apply for a Schengen visa in advance before they land.

Unlike those who don’t need to arrange anything in advance, these nationalities must apply for a new visa every time.



Spring in Portugal is the month where the vineyards and farms begin to open their doors again. It’s the prime planting season, so these are ideal roles to search for during spring.

You should remember that spring comes earlier in the south of the country. It’s still quite cold in the north of the country until the middle of March, so bear that in mind when deciding where your volunteer opportunity in Portugal is located.


The summer season is the prime season for heading to the major cities. The tourism industry is in full swing and you can find everything from handing out fliers for nightclubs to working in hostels.

This is generally true for the whole country, but if you want to maximise your chances of finding work in Portugal you should head to Lisbon or anywhere south of Lisbon.

The Algarve is especially popular at this time of year.

If you like working with children, there are also opportunities to work in summer camps. These often revolve around sports, with football being the most popular.

Another opportunity, if you like to surf, is to work in a surf camp along the coast. Portugal is a premium surfing destination and often has rough seas coming in from the Atlantic Ocean at all times of the year. Experienced surfers can often find paid work at a number of surfing locations in the north of the country.


Autumn is very much a continuation of the summer season. For the majority of backpacking volunteering opportunities in Portugal, refer to the previous section.

However, this is also the second big chance to work on farms and in vineyards. This is the harvest season and farmers often need extra hands to keep up with the work. For most vineyards, the autumn is the more hectic of their two ‘high seasons’.


Winter is the worst time to be in Portugal if you want to work in the country. It goes extremely quiet outside of Lisbon, as there are few tourists, and the country can get extremely cold.

Most outdoor jobs are unavailable during the winter months, so your options are usually limited to finding work in hostels. We don’t recommend working in Portugal from November until March.


The Portuguese are like most Southern Europeans in that they’re extremely open to welcoming foreigners. Another advantage of working or volunteering in Portugal is the majority of the population speak a good level of English. Only the older generation don’t speak any English at all. It’s an incredibly easy country to travel and work around for this reason.

But take note that whilst the cities and touristic regions are developed the same can’t be said for the countryside. You’ll still be welcomed but communication can be an issue at times.

Do you want to work and travel in Portugal?

Recent Contributors

  • Edited on May 22 2018 by
  • Edited on Apr 23 2015 by Conor

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