Volunteering in Portugal – Part I

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Traveling is an expensive pleasure. Consequently, not every resident of any country has a stable income to afford travelling. For example, students. And maybe there are other expenses and there is no money left for travel.

In addition, many travelers are already tired of the usual tourist routes and entertainment. Those people want to know real life, to get in touch with realities and local residents. Or, for example, do a good service to the community, help or work like a local.

Do you also want a new experience, a budget trip and a special adventure? Then, this article is for you.

Volunteering in Portugal - Part I

Work in Hostels

Many hostels in Portugal offer favorable conditions for volunteers. For example, housekeeping in exchange for free accommodation at their hostel. Usually, you pay for the accommodation 30%-40% of the cost of your trip. Therefore, doing some cleaning work will save a significant amount of money.

In addition, some hostels offer free breakfasts for their volunteers. It depends on the conditions that you discus and agree in advance.
However, remember that the employer may be carried away by your help and ask to work more and more. Therefore, discuss your schedule and an amount of hours of work in advance. Because when a person works full time, it is not volunteering.

Moreover, while living and working in a hostel, you will not only learn what it means to work abroad, but also meet people from all over the world. And if the hostel where you work and live is located next to the Atlantic ocean, you can sunbathe, surf, take beautiful photos and blog. Or attend Portuguese classes at our school, right?

Work on the reception desk of Surf School

Some surf schools during the active tourist season accept volunteers to work at the reception. Responsibilities include answering questions of interested people about the price of surfing lessons, equipment for classes and timetables. As a result, in return you also get the opportunity to live in a surf camp or take free surfing lessons at that school.

In truth, it’s rather difficult to agree in advance on this type of volunteering. Therefore, it is better not to look for offers, but to come to the surfing school with your offer.

If you speak several foreign languages, including Portuguese, it will be your advantage.

Work in a restaurant

Some restaurants in Portugal take 1-2 volunteers to work during the high tourist season. At first glance, such work may seem uncomplicated. At the very least, you will be provided with free meals 3 times a day. This is a great way to taste many of Portugal’s national dishes. Also, you can be provided a room for free stay.

However, serving multiple visitors of the restaurants at the same time requires some getting used to.
In addition, to work as a waiter, you need to know at least basic Portuguese. And also, learn all the dishes of the menu. Otherwise, you will not be able to accept orders from visitors.

Similarly, to work as a barker you need knowledge of the basic Portuguese language. And also, an excellent complement will be knowledge of basic German and French.

Do not rush to be upset if you are not a polyglot. Some restaurants also accept volunteers for washing dishes and cleaning the restaurant after hours. In this case, you do not have to contact people of different nationalities. Consequently, English and a small Portuguese base will be sufficient.

The main rules

To get started, register on sites with volunteer offers. Now you know what volunteer options you can come across. Then find a volunteer program there that matches your tastes and requirements. Next, fill out an application, write a motivation letter and attach a scan of an identity document. A motivation letter should show your desire and the reasons why you want to participate in a volunteer program.

Remember that you need to engage in the search for a volunteer program and preparation for it no later than half a year before the desired date of your trip. And in order to surely get the desired result, send applications to the maximum number of programs. Perhaps out of 50 applications, only one of them will receive a positive response.

If you already are in Portugal and the idea to become a volunteer came to you in the country, do not hesitate to ask about volunteer vacancies at nearby hostels, cafes, restaurants and even casual acquaintances.


We tried to show you the pros and cons of the main areas of volunteering in Portugal.

There are also special organizations that are engaged in the search for volunteers officially. Usually, when contacting such an organization, the volunteer has to pay some deposit. But the “receiving side” even pays for your tickets (each program is individual).

As you can see, there are many different ways to be a volunteer in Portugal and immerse yourself in the real life of the Portuguese. But in each of them will be good for you to learn at least the basics of the Portuguese language.

We can help you with this part of your preparing!

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