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Fitness and Sport for Expats in Portugal

Submitted: July 2014

Football and futsal (indoor football) are the most popular sports in Portugal, followed by rink hockey (on roller skates), basketball, volleyball and tennis. It should not be difficult to find a club devoted to any of these in your local area. Most Portuguese speak at least some English, so joining a local club should not present too many language difficulties, and you will have a chance to get to know some locals. If you prefer to play sports with people who speak your own language, you may be a little more limited in your choices. One suggestion is to join the local Hash House Harriers, this has many advantages; you get some exercise, you see parts of the local area you might otherwise miss, you get to meet people, many of whom may have an interest in sport, and will be able to advise you on where to play other sports, and you get to have a drink somewhere at the end of the run.

Most cities and major towns are well-equipped with both independent and commercial chain gyms. These may offer not only standard gym and weight-lifting equipment but also swimming facilities, massage, yoga and other classes. Often personal training is included in the package.

There are plenty of public swimming pools in Portugal. This website has details of public swimming pools all over Portugal, giving  their location on a map, their address, the size of pool and whether it is indoor or outdoor. It also links to the pools own websites. You can of course swim in the Atlantic if you are living near the coast. There are many public beaches close to the major coastal cities and towns. A good example is Cascais which is about half an hour by train from Lisbon, and not only has popular beaches, but also plenty of restaurants and an interesting old part of town.

Cycling and walking in the Portuguese countryside are popular activities. There have been several encouraging changes regarding the treatment of bicycles and pedestrians in the last year or so. Bicycles can now be taken on most trains, and even on the Metro. There are some restrictions so it is best to check first. It is now relatively simple to travel by train to various parts of the country, spend the day cycling around sightseeing and then return home in the evening.

Portugal has a lot of open water, so sailing, canoeing and other water sports are also very popular, and readily available. Portugal’s long Atlantic coast means that sports such as surfing, water-skiing, diving, kitesurfing and kayaking are also popular.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can try some of the native Portuguese sports which include:



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