Portugal is a land that has a very generous supply of different types of spring and mineral water – from north to south and east to west – each blessed with its own unique characteristics.
The country’s hydrological richness ensures that there is an abundance of high quality water of such great variety that it’s hard to choose the best one to drink, especially at meal times.
It is becoming increasingly common to sit at a restaurant table in Portugal and ask not just for the wine list but for the water list as well, especially in the more upmarket establishments.
Of subterranean origin, Portuguese water is a very rich source of minerals, most notably calcium (essential for healthy bones and teeth), magnesium (to help protect the body against cardiovascular disease) and potassium, which contributes to the control of arterial pressure.
All of Portugal’s regions, including the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores, are blessed with a wide variety variety of natural mineral and spring water, which comes either as sparkling (com gás) or still (sem gás).
In some parts of the country such as Luso (indicated on the Google map below) in central Portugal and Monchique in the Algarve, it is common to see local residents, young and old alike, publicly ‘taking the waters’ from their root source in the centre of town.
Aware of its many virtues, the Romans were among the first to build spas in Portugal, some of which still stand as a lasting testimony to the importance they attached to the wide-ranging healing properties of the country’s many supplies of natural mineral water.
Today, Portugal has an extensive network of spas (known as termas) which has developed around the country’s many rich sources of mineral and spring water to provide an authentic wellness experience at a much lower cost compared with many of Europe’s more established spa destinations.
As well as affecting the concentration of salts in the body, natural mineral or spring water plays a vital role in the regulation of our body’s temperature, intestinal function and transport of nutrition to the cells.
The fast-growing popularity of bottled water – which is labeled as água mineral natural gasosa ou gasocarbónica (sparkling or naturally carbonated mineral water) or gaseificada (carbonated) - has in recent years led to the introduction of new products such as flavoured water and a variety of other drink types with additional dietary benefits to aid the growing number of people looking to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
With our bodies being made up of two-thirds water, just like Planet Earth itself, we are noticing that mineral and spring water (be it still or sparkling, low in salts or naturally carbonated) is finally getting the prominence it deserves on dining tables in Portugal and elsewhere around the world.
Bottled water in Portugal is 100% natural, in other words it is untreated and totally free of chemicals and other additives. Each respective water source undergoes rigorous testing before going on sale in order to ensure the utmost purity and highest quality of the final product.
The chemical composition of Portuguese mineral and spring water is the result of its interaction with the rock from which it comes, which means that each individual type is completely unique and totally unchanged over time.
Some of the finest Portuguese bottled waters to look out for include Pedras Salgadas, a naturally carbonated mineral water from the north-east of the country with a constant composition that’s free of any kind of pollutant.
Another favourite is Água Castello (this time from the Lower Alentejo region) which was appointed by King Carlos as the only water that could be supplied to the royal court at the turn of the 20th century.
Need more inspiration for your next visit? Why not listen to or download the Portugal Travel Show, the podcast for people planning a trip to sunny Portugal…