Promoting the development of tourism in the interior will be done via the network of Historic Villages, which includes Almeida, Belmonte, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Novo, Castelo Rodrigo, Idanha-a-Velha, Linhares da Beira, Marialva, Monsanto, Piódão, Sortelha and Trancoso.

Portugal’s Historic Villages are an excellent alternative to the more touristy spots and represent an attractive option for travellers who look for a more sustainable way of going on holiday, centred more on national heritage. The partnership’s goal is to direct the flow of tourism to these municipalities and their surroundings, supporting national balance, diversifying the supply and demand of tourism services in the less sought after destinations, promoting the local economy for sustainable production and consumption, potentialising revenue sources for sectors that tourism directly or indirectly positively impacts, contributing to the lessening of seasonality and to the valuing of endogenous resources.

As part of this collaboration, Portuguese Historic Villages and Airbnb are working together to create a dedicated site to promoting the Historic Villages Network, with useful information about what to do, where to visit, and exceptional local businesses and Airbnb hosts that elevate the hospitality in Portugal’s interior. Besides that, Airbnb will organise webinars for members of Portuguese Historic Villages with information about becoming hospitality sector businessmen through Airbnb.

This partnership presents itself as of great importance for its contribution to the strategy defined for the Network, namely the fact of it being another jump towards the digital transition that’s been a defining strategic through point of European and national policy and, naturally, of the Network too.

“Airbnb is an example of global excellence where the Historic Villages will benefit with their dynamics, but on the other hand, the attractiveness of the Portuguese Historic Villages brand in the chance of partnering with prestigious entities that can and should make a lasting change to territorial cohesion is clear. We are already a prized destination for different bodies of national and international level, and the stage that’s now beginning will, without a doubt, solidify the economic and social development of a network representing 12 icons of our Portugueseness,” Carlos Ascensão, President of the Portuguese Historic Village association, explained.

“Over 70% of Portuguese Airbnb properties in the Historic Houses category are located in rural areas, as such we’re very excited about the potential that heritage tourism will contribute to the economic development of small, rural communities. With this partnership, we want to show these benefits to more people and spread the word through the cities, villages and lesser-known locals across the whole country,” Mónica Casañas, General Manager of Airbnb Marketing Services SL, said.

According to an internal study by Airbnb in 2022, and contrary to the presumption that most accommodations in Portugal are owned by large real estate investors in big urban areas, 9 in every 10 Portuguese hosts confirm the living spaces they list for rental are owned by themselves or their family. Accommodation is and will continue to be fundamental for the country’s economic recovery and growth and it’s spread throughout the territory, from the big cities to the smallest villages: in 2022, almost two thirds of short-term stays in Portuguese Airbnb were outside of Porto and Lisbon, demonstrating that they can be a tool for creating viability for rehabilitating the interior, an example being the Portuguese Historic Villages Network.

According to new data revealed by Airbnb in June, during 2022 guests stayed at over 100 000 different cities and towns throughout the world. The number of communities around the planet where guests stayed in local accommodation increased by 25% last year, compared to five years before, diffusing tourism to new and different destinations. Since March of 2020, over 13 000 cities across the Earth have received their first Airbnb stay. This tendency was also reflected in the 2022 Airbnb report “How Airbnb Supports Sustainable Travel in Europe,” which showed that guests who use flexible Airbnb search tools booked the 20 most popular Airbnb destinations in Europe less frequently (-17.5%), while preferring the less visited destinations outside of Airbnb’s top 400, whose bookings are up 35.5%, when compared to guests who book through Airbnb’s traditional search tool.

Airbnb supports the preservation and development of patrimonial tourism on the European scale. In the last few years, the platform signed various partnerships with heritage associations in Portugal, Spain, France, the UK, Italy, Germany and Belgium.

To ease the search for accommodation that offers an authentic cultural and historical stay, Airbnb added the Historic Houses category to their platform last year. Nowadays, there’s over 45,000 historic house adverts over the world. A previous report by Airbnb about the impact of flexible search functionalities, including categories like Historic Houses and I’m Flexible, shows that these functions help divert booking away from more saturated tourist spots and peak holiday days, supporting more sustainable travel tendencies.

Portugal possesses an exceptional cultural heritage. The Historic Houses category on Airbnb already has over 300 historic houses in Portugal, contributing to disperse the benefits of travel and tourism to a greater number of destinations. Over 70% of the ads in the historic houses category in Portugal are in rural communities. Beyond that, to reinforce this partnership, Airbnb established an accord with the Portuguese Old Houses Association.


Star in the 2015 music video for the hit single “Headlights” by German musician, DJ and record producer Robin Schulz featuring American singer-songwriter Ilsey. Also a journalist.

Jay Bodsworth