A small dog’s guide to Portugal

by Gigi Griffis
Luna the traveling pooch in Portugal

We’ve officially landed in Luna’s 27th country: Portugal! As you may already know, this is where the dog and I are putting down some roots for awhile, setting up a home base and learning a new language.

We moved here sight unseen (yes, we know: we’re nuts). And I’m happy to say that I love the sunshine and the language and the people we’ve met along the way. I’m slightly less thrilled with the dog-friendliness here, but that’s mostly because places like Italy and Slovenia have spoiled me by being endlessly dog-friendly at every turn.

So, what does it look like to travel with a dog in Portugal? Here are our first impressions after a few months here:

Dogs in transit

Transportation with a dog in Portugal is a bit more complicated than other parts of Europe. Most trains accept small dogs in a carrier or large dogs with a muzzle on. The metro and bus systems within Porto city proper are very dog-friendly and I’ve seen all sizes of dogs with and without muzzles, on people’s laps, in open carriers, etc. And I’ve heard Lisbon is the same.

That said, buses are where things get a little more complicated. Some won’t take dogs at all. Others will only take them in enclosed carriers. And it always seems to depend on who you are dealing with. On our day trip to Amarante, the ticket seller and bus driver on the way there were fine with Luna in her dog backpack (attached to me and contained but with her head out). On the way back, the bus driver tried to kick me off the bus because the container “must be enclosed.” Which…ok, fine, but tell me when I’m near my house, not when I have no way to get back home without your bus. (In that particular case, I pretended not to understand – and was already in my seat – and dude eventually gave up trying to get me to leave.) The inconsistency is a bit frustrating and the insistence on closed carriers makes day trips where you want to travel light (as in the case of hiking) less possible. 

Dogs in restaurants

I’m so sorry to say that Portugal seems to have taken a leaf from Spain’s book, which means most indoor dining is not dog-friendly. The good news is that it’s sunny here a lot and outdoor dining is possible for much of the year (with patios and balconies being almost universally dog friendly). Still, I do long for places like France and Italy where Luna is welcome to nap quietly at my feet while I have a pizza or a crepe. 

Dog-friendly housing in Portugal

Now, I haven’t had to find much by way of hotels or temporary rentals since we’re living here, but I will say dog-friendly long-term rentals are tough to come by in Portugal. Surprisingly so. And those you do find typically require a massive deposit. So this is where I knock a few points off Portugal’s dog-friendliness. 

Dog supplies + vet care

Dog supply stores are also easy to come by, as are good veterinarians who speak English. As you might expect, vet care is also affordable. Luna’s teeth cleaning here cost less than $100. 

Do the locals like dogs?

Yes! Despite the difficulty of finding dog-friendly accommodations, people here adore dogs. You’ll see them out and about anytime it’s sunny. And if you are out with yours, expect lots of people to stop by to say hi, give the dog a scratch, or ask if they can give them a treat. 

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1 comment

Kristen June 6, 2022 - 6:29 am

So glad to see this update on how things are going in PT!


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