Written by Ben Taylor,
Last Modified: 15th December 2021

Are you keen to move to Portugal and wondering what you could do for a living? How about the prospect of a genuine lifestyle business? One that could enable you to do the things you love and help pay for your property? If this appeals, it’s well worth doing some research around rural tourism in Portugal. Here’s what you need to know.

Rural tourism is booming across Europe, and popular with a huge range of demographics. As per information from The CBI, rural tourism is popular with “three main segments” of travellers. These consist of older, experienced travellers in the 50-70 age group, keen young travellers, including those with “high income(s) and little time,” and families. This leaves most bases firmly covered!

The wonderful thing about getting involved in rural tourism in Portugal is that you can build a business around any imaginable lifestyle. Portugal offers hugely varied landscapes, clement weather (almost) year-round, and a low cost of living. This benefits both you, as a business owner, and your potential guests.

The wonderful thing about getting involved in rural tourism in Portugal is that you can build a business around any imaginable lifestyle.

Best of all, Portugal is home to a huge range of property suitable for rural tourism businesses. Whether you like the idea of restoring something historic, creating a unique set of facilities, or building something low-impact and off-grid, you’ll be sure to find something suitable.


Could you open a rural home in Portugal?

Could you open a rural home in Portugal?

Types of Businesses

Plenty of people have already dived in to the world of rural tourism in Portugal. The great thing about it is that there really is no limit to how much you can place your own mark on this type of business.

Just for starters, how about:

  • Yoga retreats.
  • Artists’, writers’ or musicians’ workshops.
  • Destinations for runners, walkers or cyclists.
  • Fishing holidays.
  • Cookery breaks.

Imagine a “working” life that involves hosting people who share your interests, showing them your new home country, and arranging trips and activities. It may seem like a dream to have a life like this, but people can – and people do.

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Practical Considerations for Rural Tourism in Portugal

For a relatively small country, Portugal provides a huge amount of variety. You can find places suitable for rural tourism just a few miles in from the sea. As such, there’s not necessarily any need to go too far off the beaten track.

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That said, the further inland (and away from the normal tourist trail) you go, the more likely you are to find incredible property bargains. It’s all about finding the right balance between the property you want, and the practicalities of attracting guests. Key to this is accessibility.


You can get involved in rural tourism in Portugal in any countryside area, but accessibility is crucial. In order to attract short-term guests, you’ll want to be within relatively easy reach of an airport with regular flights across Europe.

Portugal’s three main airports are in Faro, Lisbon and Porto. All offer inexpensive hire cars for onward travel. There are also some solid public transport connections across the country. It’s also worth remembering Portugal’s islands – Madeira and The Azores.

You can get involved in rural tourism in Portugal in any countryside area, but accessibility is crucial. In order to attract short-term guests, you’ll want to be within relatively easy reach of an airport with regular flights across Europe.

Suggested Areas

Here are three places that are well worth considering for rural tourism in Portugal:

The Inland Algarve

People may usually think of sun, sea and sand when they think of the Algarve, but the area boasts some stunning rural scenery too. The huge benefit of this area is that the coast is in easy reach of many parts, allowing you to offer seaside activities to your guests as well. Thanks to Faro airport, most of the region is also easy to access year-round.

The area around the East Algarve town of Moncarapacho is worth a particular look. There’s plenty of history and lots of sprawling properties with bags of potential. Both the beach and the airport are a very short distance away.

Central Portugal

Central Portugal covers a huge area, and some parts are more accessible than others. What you get here is stunning country landscapes, complete with mountains, rivers and streams. There’s also some fabulous property, where it’s not beyond the realms to find several usable buildings on one site. There’s also usually enough outside space for any activity you can imagine.

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The villages around Tabua are particularly stunning, and around 90 minutes from Porto airport. This region is close to the Serra da Estrela Natural Park.

Portugal’s Islands

Don’t forget Portugal’s islands! Madeira (and Porto Santo, it’s tiny neighbour) is already well-established, and incredibly popular for walking holidays. Further away, the Azores offer stunning scenery and – in places – a true wilderness feel. All of Portugal’s islands boast a climate often referred to as “eternal spring.”


Life in rural Portugal is a definite improvement to the UK.

Life in rural Portugal is a definite improvement to the UK.

Madeira is easy to reach, with frequent year-round flights from across the UK. The Azores are a little more tucked away, but becoming more popular. There are weekly year-round flights from Stansted, and more from May to October.

Example Properties

Moncarapacho: If you like the idea of a turnkey business, this property in Moncarapacho is ready to go! There’s a completely private owners area, and then six guest suites, all in great condition. As the property has already been run as this kind of business, there’s already a pool, a petanque court, and even a café setup and barbecue area. It’s on the market at €890,000.

Central Portugal: With five bedrooms and four bathrooms, this property near Tomar is definitely suitable for rural tourism in Portugal. Add in the fact there’s a restaurant downstairs and things start to get really interesting! Perfect for cookery classes or any other kind of “foodie” business, it’s on the market for just €400,000.

Madeira: This wonderfully secluded country property has room for plenty of guests, a stunning pool, and arresting sea and mountain views. It’s also not far from Madeira’s airport and capital city, Funchal, both around half an hour away. On the market for €480,000.

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Legality and Bureaucracy

Obviously it’s worth remembering that starting a business anywhere has its challenges. Having good legal support and the ability to speak in Portuguese, or have someone speak it for you, will be a tremendous help.

Generally speaking, however, there are plenty of positives to doing business in Portugal. The country is keen to attract investment from overseas, and there are tax and residency incentives. If you invest in property, you could qualify for easy residency under Portugal’s “Golden Visa” scheme.

Portugal is ranked 34th in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” index. This places the country higher than Switzerland, The Netherlands and Belgium.

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It makes sense to get in touch with trusted lawyers and accountants, to ensure you meet all of your legal requirements. Setting up in business in Portugal is reasonably straightforward, but there are various structures to choose from. Which is best for you will depend on your individual circumstances.

Beyond some clamp-downs around Airbnb-type properties, Portugal is very open to new tourism businesses. However, it’s wise to ensure you follow all of the necessary instructions regarding registering guest accommodation licences (alojamento local), as fines can be steep.

In addition, there are not-for-profit organisations, including the Associação do Turismo de Habitaçãowho work to support rural tourism in Portugal. Not only do these provide a ready-made network for such businesses, they give you a potential avenue for promoting your new accommodation.

More Inspiration!

If you like the idea of setting up this kind of business in Portugal, why not find some inspiration among these existing properties?

Shamballah Yoga Retreat: Near Sintra national park, this small-scale tourism business offers one-week yoga retreats. Located between countryside and sea, this retreat consists of the owner’s home and just three units of guest accommodation. This really serves to demonstrate how possible it is to create a business like this – even with a smaller property.

Pedras Salgadas: At the other end of the scale, this resort shows what can be done with big ideas and a bigger budget. Located inland, around an hour from Porto, this eco-resort offers super-modern eco-houses and tree-houses. There are facilities including a spa and a restored chapel on the grounds.

Casa da Ermida de Santa Catarina: Santa Caterina House is certainly quirky, located on the peninsula of a reservoir near the Spanish border. Here there are just seven rooms, with no TVs to ensure tranquility. Activities on-site include all kinds of watersports, wine cellar tours, and country treks.

Rural tourism in Portugal provides a genuine opportunity to realise a vision and create a new life. To find out more about finding your perfect property in Portugal, download your free Viewing Trip Guide below.

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