Tap water in Portugal: Yes, it is generally safe to drink in urban and touristic areas. However, before Portugal joined the EU there were lots of issues with the water infrastructure and therefore many people still prefer bottled water.
In addition to this, many people prefer bottled water because of it’s taste, especially in the south, where the water is very hard, and Lisbon where it’s slightly hard. The taste of tap water can be vastly improved with a high quality water filter such as TAPP 1.
Here’s a more in-depth analysis of tap and bottled water in Portugal.
Tap water in Portugal
The tap water in Portugal is regulated by ERSAR – the Water and Waste Services Regulation Authority – and delivered by local municipal water companies. All are strictly bound to and inspected in accordance with the EU drinking water directive, and thus comply with international water quality standards. In 2005 there were several reports of issues with coliforms and faecal coliforms in the tap water during an EU inspection, but by 2015 98.7% of public water was reported safe . More in-depth information about coliforms here .
Actually, Portugal is among the top countries in Europe when it comes to making test results of drinking water available to citizens. The reports for local tap water (updated at least every 3 months) are available online here.
One common complaint from Portuguese citizens is taste, due to chlorination and high mineral content of water in some areas. This can easily be solved with a water filter such as TAPP 1 that will cost you as little as €5 per month.
In recent years the government has also begun to actively promote the drinking of tap water. In 2017, EPAL and the Hotel Association of Portugal joined together to promote the consumption of tap water in the city of Lisbon with the launch of a bottle designed by the renowned architect Siza Vieira.
Another tip is to get a reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle such as Retap for travel, sports and other activities where access to fresh tap water may be limited.
With of 114 litres per capita of bottled water per year, Portugal is among the top countries in Europe in terms of bottled water consumption. There are lots of great local brands such as Luso by SCC, as well as other brands such as Pedras, Vidago, Vitalis and Frize. Generally these are marketed as mineral water. Although perceived as the safest and healthiest choice, the risk of getting sick from bottled water is probably similar to public tap water since both are extensively tested.
Unfortunately, Portugal has one of the worst recycling rates in Europe with approx 10% of the plastic waste being recycled. Therefore, it is recommended to either buy water on glass bottles or avoid bottled water entirely. If you prefer sparkling water, then you can get a soda maker like SodaStream.
Drinking water in restaurants
When you ask for water in restaurants they normally serve bottled water, but it’s fine to ask for tap water in a jar. Also, the good news is that thanks to recent regulation, restaurants are obliged to only use glass bottles, which is much better for the environment.
Tap water in Portugal – Conclusion
If you live in or travel to Portugal:
- It’s generally safe and healthy to drink the public tap water across Portugal.
- Get a water filter such as TAPP 1 to improve the taste and reduce the risk of contaminants.
- Avoid plastic bottled water in Portugal as most plastic doesn’t get properly recycled.
- Although restaurants will serve bottled water by default, it’s fine to ask for tap water.