What is the legal drinking age in Portugal?

Whether you’re an angsty young lad (or lass) going to Lisbon or Porto on a school trip, with your parents or friends, you may be wondering whether you’re old enough to drink legally. What is the legal drinking age in Portugal? How old do you have to be to legally buy and drink alcohol? We’ll go over that forbidden knowledge today.


How old do you have to be to buy alcohol in Portugal?

There’s a lot of various sources you can find online which tell you all the various panorama of ages that legally bind the young person in regards to alcohol consumption in Portugal. The truth is that for many years, alcohol in Portugal was available from the age of 16. However, a few years ago, the rules were changed yet posts stayed the same. What is it like now?

In 2011, the rules were modified and 16 was still enough to buy light spirits, such as beer, wine and cider. A few years later though, the rules were changed again. The age at which you could buy alcohol officially became 18 years old in Portugal.


What is the legal drinking age in Portugal?

Okay, what about consumption? Okay, so here is the catch. Legal drinking age is also 18 yo. This applies to drinking alcohol in public places, such as restaurants, cafes, concerts, bars, pubs, etc. This also applies to tourists and, if you’re caught drinking while under 18 years old, you can be charged quite heavily. We specifically mention public places, though, because, if you’re at home and under supervision of an adult, there’s theoretically no minimum age that you have to be.

Portugal is not alone in believing that outright banning any form of drinking before 18, even if it’s okay with the parents, leads to even more harm than if the parents could decide when to introduce their child to alcohol. As such, as long as you’re under supervision and you’re not in a public place, you’re okay. There’s also the exception practised in Spain, too, where minors aged 16-17 can consume a glass of beer, wine or cider in a restaurant if they are with their parents and the parents agree to it.

Okay, so that’s the law stuff out of the way. What about reality? It’s as you might imagine. Studies suggest that many minors in Portugal start drinking at 14 and it’s not that difficult for minors to buy alcohol. If you’re worried that your children have access to alcohol on a trip to Portugal, then you’re not completely unjustified – it’s possible, even though fines for selling alcohol to minors range from €300 to as much as €30,000.


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