Portugal is a country known for its favorable climate, incredible nature, and low cost of living. Thanks to this, it attracts tourists and potential migrants, expats, and digital nomads. Those who intend to move to Portugal for an extended period should pay attention to the fact that among the significant number of advantages compared to other European countries, it is pretty easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle here and enjoy the benefits provided by its geographical position and the status of a country that is a member of the European Union.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), environmental quality indicators in Portugal are above average, and the life expectancy of the local population is 82 years, one year higher than the OECD average (81 years). In addition, the average life expectancy of women is 85 years, and men are 79.
Furthermore, the number of sunny days per year in Portugal averages more than 300, temperatures do not experience substantial seasonal fluctuations, and many cities are located directly along the Atlantic coast. Thus, you get enough vitamin D, the salty air has a positive effect on the respiratory tract, and the large number of areas adapted for walking allows you to spend a lot of time in the fresh air, with benefits for your physical and mental health and, in particular, engage in various sports with a view of the ocean.
Let's start with the fact that the healthcare area in Portugal, as in the rest of the European Union, is entirely developed, and residents of the country have the right to obtain services free of charge. Those who visit Portugal for a short period can use public or private clinics, paying for the service themselves or with the help of an insurance policy. EU resident tourists can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), while the rest should take care of having insurance in a private company.
So, if you need medical help, you will definitely be supported. In particular, if you need to learn more about this area or plan a visit to the doctor, you can use the advice from one of our website articles.
As a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle in Portugal, at a certain point, proper nutrition began to be regulated at the legislative level. Because of the large number of health problems caused by consuming junk food, in 2012, Portugal introduced a national policy on food products and dietary practices, The Portuguese National Program for the Promotion of Healthy Eating (PNPAS). PNPAS was created to improve the population's consumption habits and stimulate the physical and economic availability of products. There is even a website with a program to promote healthy eating habits, which recently turned 10 years old.
Programs in this direction were repeated, so the Ministry of Health repeatedly tried to take steps that would improve the nutritional situation among the population. This, as well as the inflow of tourists from more developed countries, who became adepts at such habits much earlier, affected the general picture of the sphere of sales of products and provision of services, which began to adapt to the preferences and requirements of visitors. Cafes and restaurants began to acclimate to the needs by regulating the purchase of products for their menus and adding ingredients and dishes with the prefix "organic " and "bio". At the same time, the starting point for making such changes has already extended quite good prospects.
As a country located on the coast, Portugal, although not a direct follower of the Mediterranean diet, known for its plenty of fish, vegetables, and olive oil, shares many of its characteristics. In addition, it is a country rich in fruits and vegetables, which are grown on productive agricultural lands, gardens, and greenhouses throughout its territory. Vineyards, olive trees, quinces, sweet pineapples from the Azores, various types of cabbage and cereals - these are just some of the extensive list of products of our own production that can be found in restaurants and shops. Therefore, it is expected that many of them are integrated into the national cuisine.
As for vegetarianism and veganism, in Portugal, these dietary patterns are less developed than in many European countries. Many typical regional and traditional dishes include meat or at least fish. Let's remember that the national dish of Portugal is cod (bacalhau). And the traditional dish of the northern region is francesinha, a dish that actually consists of a combination of fried, fatty, and meaty (and, of course, at the same time, it is tasty and filling).
However, as we have already said, the local market is increasingly adapting to the local population and tourists' expectations, thanks to which there are new cafes and restaurants aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle, with vegan options and dishes based on organic ingredients, with a reduced amount of sugar in desserts and a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan alternatives. Such establishments challenge the eating habits of the population, introducing new traditions to eat nutritiously and benefit oneself.
Here are just a few of the many vegetarian and vegan options in Lisbon:
If you prefer cooking at home or like trying local products, some markets and shops have bio and organic products.
The Mercado da Ribeira market, or as it is now known, Time Out Market Lisboa - currently exists as a concept founded in 2014 by the Time Out Portugal publishing team, which united the best ideas and businesses. The website states that the publishing house seeks exciting ideas and discusses those it considers good on its pages. The best get a "point" on the territory of space and can stay there from a week to three years. Currently, there are 26 restaurants and 8 bars with outstanding business projects in various directions.
If you want to buy products for a balanced diet at home, opposite the restaurants, there is a traditional Portuguese market, founded in 1892, with the oldest and most famous kiosks with fish, meat, fruit, and spices.
The market is near the Cais do Sodré metro and train station. It is open from 10 am to 12 pm Sunday to Wednesday and until 2 am Thursday to Saturday. However, this schedule is more about restaurants. As for the food part, for the most interesting (and largest) selection, you should come here around 7 in the morning.
Feira de Produtos Biológicos or Mercado Biológico do Principe Real is a market that works every Saturday near Jardim do Príncipe Real from 9 am to 3 pm, and where you can find a wide selection of organic products. Representatives of small local farms offer their products here, selling fresh fruits, vegetables, famous Portuguese cheeses, etc.
Mercados Agrobio - markets of this brand are located in different locations with different schedules, but the factor that unites them in the system is many offers of fresh seasonal products, wine, olive oil, honey, etc. Agrobio's feature is representative of the declared farms, and the market monitors the quality of their products and conducts testing in laboratories from time to time.
In addition to markets, "healthy" products can be purchased in many supermarkets. Large grocery stores often have shelves or entire departments labeled "bio" with organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and other options. However, some networks focus directly on selling only such products.
One of these networks is Celeiro, whose stores are located in many cities in Portugal. These are supermarkets with organic products, where even the most demanding consumers can find the right products: from groceries, fruits, and vegetables, fresh bread (as well as gluten-free pastries) to Portuguese natural wines and cruelty-free cosmetics. Most establishments also have a restaurant with organic products, the menu of which includes several vegetarian dishes.
By the way, this store was a godsend for my friend who didn't drink alcohol recently when she was going to a party. It was in one of the stores of this chain that she discovered a good selection of non-alcoholic wines.
Miosótis is one of the most popular stores of organic products at the most affordable prices. Fresh baking, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and many Portuguese suppliers - a natural paradise for those interested in healthy food. In addition, this store receives daily deliveries of fresh fish and has many products for vegetarians, vegans, and people with various allergies. You can also find natural cosmetics and household goods here. There is also a restaurant in the area that serves dishes made from organic ingredients.
Go Natural is an organic supermarket with several locations. There is a wide selection of different food and drinks, including such products as vegan cheese, meat, tofu, seitan, and tempeh.
Portugal is one of the most favorable countries for practicing many types of sports, in particular, due to its climatic and landscape features. A humid climate without sharp temperature changes and relatively warm winter months allows you to spend much time in the fresh air at any time of the year without additional equipment.
Sure, the Portuguese are known for their love for such a sport as football. However, this is the birthplace of one of the most famous football players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo.
In addition, Portugal brings up representatives of the "Portuguese Big Three": this is the country where such world-class teams as S.L. Benfica, Sporting CP, and FC Porto originate. So, if you are passionate about football, here you can find many clubs (for example, Lisbon Casuals Football Club) that prepare future champions or where you can find players for your favorite hobby.
Sure, in Portugal, it is convenient to do various sports on the sand. But, also, this is a famous country among cyclists, partly due to many cross-country routes and partly because this mode of transport is popularized and improved in cities (you can read about the possibilities and rules of cycling in Portugal here).
If you enjoy running, this country also has obvious advantages: the large area along the coast allows you to enjoy the scenery and breathe in the salty air, which has a positive effect on your lungs and nervous system, and the uneven parts of the landscape, that is, mountains and hills, allow you improve the work of the heart and vascular system by practicing cardio. Although, of course, some giggle that the Portuguese don't need them because the many hills can be a simple substitute for exercise during such simple activities as a trip to the supermarket to buy groceries (this is true, by the way - my weekly trip to the nearest supermarket involves uphill and downhill two hills:) ), however, the local population does not deny itself additional exercises.
Lisbon also hosts a running marathon every year, which attracts runners from all over the world. The organizer of this event is the Maratona Clube de Portugal (MCP), founded in 1989 by friends who started running to overcome stress and "lose some weight". Now the club organizes the main running events in the city and offers several distances to choose from.
If you prefer to run alone, there are great places to run in and around Lisbon, such as the city's promenade, Parque das Nações or the coast of Cascais.
In addition, there are many sports clubs/gyms in Portugal, so for those who like to keep fit by working out on an exercise machine or "pulling iron", there is a good choice among a wide variety of services for every taste and in every price range.
For example, those who live in Lisbon and expect maximum comfort and a wide selection of services from their gym can consider Holmes Place. A giant gym with a choice of equipment, nutritionist services, swimming pool, sauna, and even a jacuzzi - there are currently 11 locations of this chain in the city, so you can choose the closest gym and start visiting with a free class. The advantage of these institutions for foreigners is that almost all the staff speak English.
If you are interested in gyms with a more narrow specialization, you can consider XXI CrossFit, which is suitable for fans of such a direction as CrossFit, which has gained popularity in recent years, or boxing, and not only that. There are also classes for children and teenagers, so XXI CrossFit has a family-friendly reputation.
One of the most convenient and, at the same time, the most budget-friendly options are Fitness Hut gyms. This inexpensive Portuguese chain also has establishments in Spain (and subscriptions that allow you to visit them in the territory of both countries). There aren't that many gyms here, and you have to come here with your towel, shower gel, and even a lock for your locker in the locker room, but at the same time, you're not overpaying for services that may not be necessary for you. In gyms, involving a personal trainer or a nutritionist in classes is also possible. In addition, you can become a member of the network online, pay for all services by card and come to the hall by scanning the QR code generated in the application, which can also be an argument for those who do not like to go through the process of communicating with administrators.
In conclusion, it is not difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle in Portugal. However, as in any country, you will need the main thing for this: desire. You can use the tips from our article to find locations and methods. We wish you health!