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Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Portugal

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Free or Cheap Volunteer Work in Portugal


We've no facts to back it up (and you wouldn't know it looking at the Hostel Work Exchanges category below) but anecdotal evidence suggests Portugal is a hostel work exchange hotspot. When compiling our list of worldwide hostel work exchanges we found over a dozen hostels in this small country willing to give up a bed and food to travellers willing to help their businesses, though few put any formal information on their websites. We gave up after a while to get on with our lives but I'm sure could have found lots more had we been willing to trawl through the listings on help exchange websites.


Grassroots Volunteering in Portugal

The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:


It's been a few years since they last advertised in our Jobs Abroad Bulletin and I wasn't hopeful on first glance at the website of EcoAlgarve that the informaton provided was current. However, after eventually finding their volunteering information (to be fair, they are asking for someone to help with their media and marketing), it appears this small non profit, created to provide a centre for information about products and services in the Algarve region that are considered to be working towards a sustainable future, is not just active but prospering.

Currently they are in the second phase of their CdC project, aimed at creating a multi purpose venue for activities connected with the principle of sustainable living. Development of the site started three years ago and with the help of many volunteers, they have refurbished the residential buildings to create accommodation and improve the efficiency of environmental systems, including water management and energy conversion. The second phase of the CdC project is focusing on the commercial area, which amongst other things will house a cafe and marketplace, as well as a venue for music, presentations and exhibitions. Builders, landscapers,and managers are amongst their current volunteer needs. Volunteers should be serious about living sustainably.

Where: The Algarve.
Accommodation & Costs: In exchange for your services they offer accommodation and a reasonable living wage.

Volunteering in Portugal


Hostel Work Exchanges

Many hostels use help exchange networks (see below) to find volunteer staff but the following either advertise on their websites or are particularly noted for taking on volunteers:

Oasis Hostels

You may be able to stay for free in Portugal with Oasis Hostels, who have a couple of lodgings in and nearby Lisbon. Along with a place to stay, breakfast and internet, a discount on the daily dinners at the hostel and in the bar, is provided in exchange for work. EU ID is a must.

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Peniche Hostel

Peniche’s windswept coastline makes it an ideal surf spot and backpackers here can make their travels cheaper by doing some night shifts.


Other Opportunities to Volunteer in Portugal

Founded in 1985, Grupo Lobo works toward the conservation of the wolf and the wolves' habitat in Portugal. They used to have a full listing on this page but on last checking their site their volunteer information consists of the words 'Become a volunteer' but nothing else. A few years ago now, when being a little less reticent they told us volunteers help with many tasks including helping with the feeding of the wolves, infrastructure maintenance, cleaning, fire prevention and admin at the Iberian Wolf Recovery Centre near Mafra. The volunteering fees at this time were at the limits of our cheapness criterea, beginning at €17 per night for a bunk in a rustic wood house, but made it in thanks to working with wolves being pretty high up on our coolness tests.


Help Exchange Networks in Portugal

Workaway -
HelpX -


Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Portugal

Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). You can also get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.


Volunteer Experiences*

Helping on a Campsite in Rural Portugal - In a secluded corner of Portugal Els cleans showers and toilets in the morning and helps with dinner preparations and the dishes later on.

* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations

Image courtesy Rodrigo Gómez Sanz