Please sign in to post.

potential trip to Lisbon December 18-24

Hi, all. I have posted previously for advice on an itinerary for a trip to Portugal next summer. However, I also have a trip scheduled for next week. I scheduled this by myself in the spring of 2021, when it seemed we were nearing the end of the pandemic. Obviously, things have changed.

My schedule would be to fly from Washington, DC, overnight to Lisbon, arriving on the morning of Saturday the 18th. I would then fly back on Thursday, December 24.

On a somewhat serendipitous note, someone I follow on Instagram posted that she had just returned from Lisbon this week (I believe on December 4, but it was definitely after the new, Omicron-related restrictions went into place.) I thought I would post her thoughts here in case they could be useful to anyone else:

Following up on email here with more info on traveling to Lisbon. I think some things have changed even in the time since we've returned from our trip, but sending a few resources below that were super helpful for us:

US Embassy in Lisbon: https://pt.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
this page gets updated quite frequently with any new travel restrictions/guidelines and has details for entering Portugal as well as entering the US and all the forms/paperwork you'll need. We didn't realize there was a form we had to complete to get back to the US, it's like buried in the flight check-in process, so definitely be on the lookout for that. You'll need to have it printed to hand at the gate.

Portugal Tourism Page: https://www.visitportugal.com/en/content/covid-19-measures-implemented-portugal
resource for restrictions while in Portugal - now, you have to show a vaccine verification card (photo of your paper card worked just fine for us, but we did also bring our paper cards). Some places like bars/discos require a negative test as well as a vaccine card to get in. Double check with where you're staying as some places require a negative test now too.

Prior to leaving, we also purchased travel insurance here, just in case: https://www.portugaltravelinsurance.com/. And I would also recommend enrolling your trip with the State Dept via STEP...they'll send email updates if there's anything going on. Before you enter Portugal, you'll have to complete the Passenger Locator Card (they also distribute on the flight, we flew TAP airlines) and you'll have to show your negative covid test before boarding the flight to Portugal (we got our rapid antigens done at a CVS the day before our flight and printed it out; double check what the requirements are for your airline).

A few things to note, the US changed their travel requirement so that you now have to provide a negative covid test (PCR or rapid antigen works) one day before your flight home. Since Portugal has implemented stricter rules and some establishments require a negative test to enter, we did find it hard to source a rapid test for our trip back, despite there being so many pharmacies and walk-thru testing sites - it felt like everyone was out to get a test. We ended up scheduling using https://safecheck-in.app/. It was more expensive, just a heads up.

Lastly, leaving Lisbon was a bit crazy. They didn't announce our gate until 30 mins before boarding and we turned the corner to go to the gate and were met with a 400+ person line at Customs with only two people working the non-EU line and they had one passport stamp between them. It took a long time, and thankfully they delayed the flight a bit, but definitely be ready to stand in line and pad in some time if you're able to.

That's the information my contact had for me, which I found helpful. As I am traveling alone, vaccinated + booster, and do not plan to eat or drink indoors, I feel somewhat safe. But, will I be able to get a test to return to the US, and where would I stay should I happen to fail that test.

I hope to still make the trip, but at some point the risks outweigh the benefits.

Posted by
1269 posts

We recently returned from Lisbon and I'm pretty sure we went through customs before we knew which gate we were boarding. When we saw our gate number on the overhead board 30 minutes before our flight we just walked down to our gate.

Posted by
23 posts

Right, but as we've noted in the other threads, these designations don't have any teeth and are rather uninformed.

Posted by
23 posts

I just wanted to share that I'm still planning to head to Lisbon overnight on Friday from Washington. I have a test scheduled at CVS on Tuesday night (just inside the 72-hour window) and have purchased a box of Abbott self-tests (taken with a telehealth administrator) for the return trip. Of course, the sunny weather in Lisbon this week has given way to rainy weather next week, but unless there is a monsoon I plan to spend my time walking around. Lisbon is such a gorgeous city that even if I do little more than walk around outdoors, get food taken out and sit on the beautiful balcony of the apartment I've rented, it would be a nice break from life here in the US.

Of course, there are any number of areas where the trip could hit a snag, but hopefully things go off without a hitch. It seems key to do research and scenario plan as best you can during these times.

Posted by
34 posts

I hope you have a great trip and please do report back on how things went when you return. I think there's more than a few of us here that would appreciate some first hand information. Cheers!

Posted by
8422 posts

arriving on the morning of Saturday the 18th. I would then fly back on Thursday, December 24.

On my calendar the 24th is Friday ( or is the 24 on Thursday in the metric system?)

How are things going?

Posted by
2682 posts

Please keep us updated on how it goes! I am looking at a March trip and I know things will change by then but I especially want to know

-is the cdc card widely accepted in museums/restaurants as proof of vaccination

-if not, how do you get a test that works for these things, and how long is is good for? Is it daily? 48 hours? 72?

-does any place newly require appointments or reservations?

Posted by
52 posts

I suspect many of us are wondering if, in fact, you were able to make the trip and, if so, how did it go?

Posted by
23 posts

Hi, everyone! So sorry for the delay in responding. I try to unplug while on a vacation (aside from using technology for navigation purposes) and sorry for not bringing you up to speed.

I did indeed go to Lisbon and had a wonderful time. I was there for six days, arriving early Saturday morning on the 18th and leaving on the morning of the 24th. The 18th and 19th were absolutely gorgeous and the next four days had varying degrees of rain--definitely not unusual for December but had I gone the previous week it would have been all sun. Alas!

Because of the US requirement to test negative the day before you depart Portugal (the 23rd in my case), I was very cautious because I wanted to get home to my family for Christmas. I actually did not eat inside at all -- I ordered takeout and ate on my beautiful balcony or ate outside, since so many of the restaurants have nice outdoor setups. I also used the quiosques all over town for quick drinks, espresso and snacks.

I went to two places that required an EU digital vaccine card -- the Wonderland Lisboa Christmas market and the Timeout Market (I didn't eat there, but wanted to go to the wine shop). Both were familiar with the CDC card and accepted them without any hesitation. I also had no issue with the testing requirement to get back to the US. I purchased the Abbott’s BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag At-Home Test Kit 6 Pack and took one with a telehealth specialist on the morning of the 23rd without issue -- no wait time or anything. Lisbon also has free testing, but it was fully booked up when I got there. You can make a scheduled appointment at a farmacia for around 90 Euros using the website safe-checkin.app, but I did not need to do that. I did check the site the day I flew out and there were tests available that same day.

I had no issues at the airport--you just need to present your proof of a negative test, and at least for United, you upload all of the required documentation during the check-in process so that once you get to the airport, you're good to go. I also purchased travel insurance for about 50 Euros, which covers the cost of hotel quarantining should you test positive in Portugal and not be able to fly back to the US as scheduled.

I did not go to any museums just because I was being very cautious. I walked about 50,000 steps a day and saw pretty much everything there is to see between Park of the Nations and Cascais. I was extremely apprehensive before the trip, but I really think that if you plan for any scenario you may encounter, you can travel with peace of mind. Once I was in Portugal, the anxiety I had washed away and it was a wonderful time to visit. I went straight to the Castelo de São Jorge when I got to Lisbon, and found it to be almost empty on a gorgeous sunny day, whereas if you go in the summer, it can be overrun. The Christmas displays in Lisbon and Cascais are incredibly beautiful, too; it really was a special time to be there and I'm so glad I went. (As an aside, I remember some folks saying going to Cascais in December was not a good idea; I could not possibly disagree more if you have a sunny day. Who doesn't enjoy walking a waterfront path past beautiful mansions and stopping for a waterfront meal and sangria when it's 65 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is warm?!--this might have been the highlight of my trip.)

I should add that I left just before the explosion of Omicron cases in Washington, DC, where I live. Cases in DC are up 1300 percent since the beginning of December. In fact, I haven't seen my partner yet because he tested positive while I was in Lisbon (he's got a mild case and is fine; I traveled on to my family in Kentucky and will go back to DC in a couple days). The COVID situation is still fluid but I would recommend planning travel. If you're waiting for certainty, you might be waiting months if not years. Plan for any scenario you might encounter, decide what you're comfortable with, and make your decision based on that.

Posted by
23 posts

I should also add that mask adherence was universal throughout Portugal. I didn't see a single person take one down in the airport, on transit or in a store. Most people wear them outside, and nearly everyone wears them outside in areas that might be crowded. It is hilarious to me (in a bad way) that the US has Portugal on a Do Not Travel list when the Portuguese people are complying with regulations exponentially better than people in the US. In fact, as soon as I landed in Newark, I encountered Americans not wanting to wear masks and someone was nearly kicked off of my flight from Newark to DC (a 45-minute flight) for refusing to wear a mask. Come on, people.

Posted by
132 posts

Glad it all went well.
Good friends of mine landed in Lisbon this morning (I awoke to a text and photo from Praca do Comercio) and are staying for New Years. I will pass along any information I get.

Dennis

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you so much for the detailed and wonderful recap. You made my day! Very helpful and encouraging.

I'm going to revisit going to PT around Jan 9th once the mandatory work from home order will reportedly lapse. Current plan: a month visit from late Mar thru end of Apr, depending on covid.

Glad you had a great trip!

Posted by
13 posts

What's the deal with the binaxnow test kits and doing them via telehealth? Do you have to have this arranged in advance with a US clinic/office? You can't just take it on your own? I'm going to Portugal in March, and need to make sure I'm prepared!

Posted by
9525 posts

@winchdaig - There are 2 different kinds of Binax Now test kits. One you buy over the counter where you do it on your own for unofficial test results. The other is a proctored one that provides an online monitor to watch you do the test and certifies the results. They are different.

Here is a youtube explanation of the difference and how to order the correct one for travel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=felpqrm6lzI

@Blake, glad you had a wonderful time and thanks for coming back with a report.

"It is hilarious to me (in a bad way) that the US has Portugal on a Do Not Travel list when the Portuguese people are complying with regulations exponentially better than people in the US."

Truth! Someone nastily said at a Christmas gathering last week they saw France was on the do not travel list. I expected him to make a comment and was ready with "Well if the CDC was rating Idaho, which has a paltry 45% vax rate as opposed to France's vax rate and masking compliance, we'd be a big old 5 and a really Do Not Travel zone."

Posted by
23 posts

@winchdaig, you download an app to do the telehealth test. You log on when you're ready to take the test and a proctor will watch you. It's the same test as the self-test, but you have to have someone observe you take the sample and read the results. Otherwise, people would just lie and say they tested negative with no proof.

Posted by
52 posts

Thanks so much for your detailed response. It sounds like you had a wonderful visit.

I’m curious about the insurance that you bought. Do you know of anyone who has used it? It looks like a good option for travel to a Portugal but am curious if anyone has benefited from having it.

Posted by
23 posts

I don't know anyone who has needed to use it, unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess, since it means they got back without testing positive). A friend who went a couple of weeks before me purchased it but she didn't need to use it, either. It might be worth researching to see if there are any reviews from folks who needed to use it to cover the cost of a hotel stay.