Portugal is the second country in Europe where tourists spend the most time, according to a Mastercard study

Portugal stands out for being one of the European countries where tourists are staying the longest, on average 6.1 days in the year to March 2024, according to the recent Mastercard Economics report Institute, based on the analysis of aggregated data from bank card transactions.

In this Mastercard study, which compares 74 countries, Portugal is in second place in the ‘top 5’ at European level of destinations where tourists are spending longer stays, only surpassed by Greece (with 6.8 days), and followed by Spain, in third place (6 days), Croatia (5.8 days) and the United Kingdom (5.6 days).

This is a significant increase compared to the 3.5 days average stay of tourists in Portugal recorded in March 2020 (based on the average of the previous 12 months). But as Mastercard’s report highlights, “around the world, tourists are spending more time on vacation and extending their trips – about an extra day, on average, compared to what was normal before the covid pandemic†.

The longer time spent by tourists in the places where they spend their holidays, which occurs worldwide, is justified by two main reasons: on the one hand, the tendency to increase travel to more economical destinations, based on the concept of “the cheaper the destination, the longer the stay may be†, and on the other hand, the general preference for warmer climates, noting that “for each degree of temperature at the destination, the longer the stay†.

The conclusion of Travel Trends 2024 is that “despite challenges such as fluctuating exchange rates, climate concerns and different levels of accessibility, the desire to travel remains strong†€ and “people are becoming more strategic about how, when, and where they travel†, with the aim of having “more engaging and meaningful experiences†.

Mastercard’s tourism trends study also points out Portugal is one of the European countries where aviation traffic grew the most compared to 2019, before the pandemic, with an increase of 8%, still appearing in the ‘top 10’ of those who contributed most to the recovery of air transport to the United States.

In terms of demand trends for the summer, namely the period between June and August, Travel Trends 2024 highlights that Lisbon is in the first line of preference for Spanish, French and British people, or that Porto is the main destination in the eyes of Swiss and also British people.

At the same time, Portuguese demand trends for the same period, between June and August, are also analyzed, noting that Geneva comes first among the ‘top 5’ destinations, followed by Nice, Ibiza, Munich and Zurich (which, in a broader list, also includes Menorca, Milan, Vienna, Lyon and Málaga).

Nightlife and experiences total 12% of spending

The most popular destination for the summer, according to Travel Trends 2024, is Munich, Germany, where the opening game of the European Football Championship will take place on June 14th.

“Travelers are looking for memorable events, ranging from solar eclipses to Taylor Swift concerts, Carnival in Brazil or the World Cricket Championship,†highlights the Mastercard study, emphasizing the strong economic impact affected by these events.

“The increase in tourist spending during the 2024 Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, in restaurants, bars and supermarkets, was 156% above what would have happened without the event,†exemplifies the report, also stating that â “restaurant sales within a four-kilometer radius of Taylor Swift concerts in 2023 increased 68% compared to normal business†.

“Travelers are looking for memorable events, ranging from solar eclipses to Taylor Swift concerts”, highlights Travel Trends 2024

One trend that is evident is that “travelers around the world are prioritizing experiences†and “spending on experiences and nightlife totals 12% of tourism sales†. Overall, “tourists spent more on nightlife, and less on retail shopping†.

The passenger industry is also recovering “full steam†, with “global passenger transactions standing around 16% above 2019 levels in the first quarter†. According to Travel Trends 2024, “the growing difference between the prices of cruises and hotels has made cruises a more economical travel option†.

Portugal is also one of the countries where the trend, identified in the Mastercard study, is most evident, in which tourists are diverting their trips from peak periods of the high season (namely July and August, in Europe) for months of intermediate seasons. In addition to Portugal, this change is also prominent in Greece, Italy and Croatia.

This is a sign, according to Mastercard, that tourists’ longer stays are not just explained by “warmer summers†, but by relevant “demographic changesâ€, namely the the fact that there are “more retired people, free from work obligations†, in addition to “more families without children, free from school calendars†.

In 2024, what is expected is a “record travel in Europe†, with levels of demand and “desire to travel stronger than ever†.


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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