Though not as widespread as Spain, bullfighting takes place in Portugal – albeit in a less overtly bloody way than its Iberian neighbour. For many years, Portuguese bulls were not allowed to be killed during the contest – though since they were inevitably slaughtered afterwards because of their injuries that seemed a moot point. Recently, however, legal challenges from those claiming the killing of bulls is a long historic tradition have led to bulls being 'legally' killed in the arena
during 2014, for the first time in 15 years. The magnificent trained horses and period costumes worn by the mounted cavaleiros (or cavaleiras if a woman) and forcados (men who face the bull on the ground) may make for a spectacle – but for many it remains something that can be considered barbaric to anyone concerned with responsible tourism in Portugal.
Bull-running also takes places in parts of Portugal. Be aware two participants were killed in Setubal in September 2014. Clarisse Santos, one of that event's organisers, defended the situation: “The bull runs will continue. For many years we have provided all the security and safety measures possible for the event and warn that it is dangerous but we cannot control the thousands of people.”
What you can do:
At Responsible Travel, we don’t support watching the killing or injuring animals for sport as part of responsible tourism in Portugal – and anyone taking part in the bull runs is also putting themselves at risk of injury or death. It may well be part of local cultural history, as in Spain - but if you want to get a sense of what's involved, we suggest reading Ernest Hemingway’s classic 1920s account of Iberian bull traditions in The Sun Also Rises