The short answer is: yes, you can drink the tap water in Portugal. It isn't as nice as tap water from other parts of the world (Ireland and Scotland, for example), but it's perfectly safe to drink. You'll see plenty of Portuguese people buying bottled water, but that's just because it tastes nicer.
Alternatively, some people who live in Portugal long-term invest in a Brita filter. This takes away the unpleasant taste, and means you don’t have to buy as many big plastic bottles of water. The filters last around 2 months each, and you can buy them in bundles from Amazon and in the supermarkets as well. If you’re just visiting Portugal, a Brita Filter would probably take up a lot of room in your suitcase, so go for one of the travel Brita Filters instead.
If you don’t have any bottled water or a Brita Filter, add a squeeze of lemon juice. It hides the flavor somewhat.
10 Curious Facts for Travelers
- Portuguese tap water is safe to drink across the country, yet locals still guzzle bottled water as if it were 2007 Cristiano Ronaldo on the field.
- Portugal has among the strictest quality controls for public water in Europe - over 36,000 water analyses are performed annually nationwide.
- The taste of tap water varies by region, from soft and sweet in the north to hard and mineral-rich in the south. Be ready for some surprises!
- Parts of ancient Roman aqueducts dating back over 2000 years are still used to channel spring water for public taps in places like Conimbriga.
- Asking for tap water in restaurants is acceptable, though you may need to insist on "água da torneira" instead of bottled "água mineral."
- In older buildings, lead pipes can affect tap water quality. Check with your accommodation if you have any concerns.
- Locals commonly filter hard tap water at home before drinking. Or you can let water sit so minerals precipitate.
- Filling up your bottle from the bathroom sink is fine, but requesting tap water at a café counter is a no-no.
- Chlorine and other disinfectants in tap water can upset sensitive stomachs. Let water sit open first.
- Bring a reusable bottle and embrace água da torneira like a local! It's safe, eco-friendly, and you'll save euros.