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Practical information

Climate

Portugal is a country with a temperate Mediterranean climate with the sun almost always present, sometimes with some periods of rain in the winter. Many European tourists travel to Portugal, even in winter, to enjoy the excellent temperatures that no other European country offers throughout the year. Usually the maximum temperatures range between 15oC (59 oF) and 33 oC (91.4 oF), negative temperatures only in winter in the highest mountains and in certain localities in summer the peaks reach 40 oC (104 oF). The weather also varies with altitude, latitude and sea proximity. The coastal regions tend to be more humid with milder temperatures in the summer compared to the interior which tends to be drier with warmer summers and colder winters. The northern regions tend to have lower temperatures in winter and milder ones in summer. The interior zones with higher altitude also record increased precipitation. The spring and autumn are also good periods to meet Portugal because most of the country has a temperate climate, despite each season bear its own beauty.  Madeira island and Porto Santo have in the north an oceanic climate (high rainfall, without dry season) and at the south a subtropical climate (warmer and less rainy). Azores record, in all islands of the archipelago, a temperate maritime climate, with mild temperatures and high rainfall relatively distributed throughout the year.

For anyone travelling to Portugal we advise to always bring a jacket, because even in the summer nights can be a bit windy, cool clothing and use sunscreen in days of great heat.

Meteorology Institute of Portugal- https://www.ipma.pt/pt/

Useful phone numbers

Emergency Number (Police, Fire, Ambulance) – 112

Poisoning – 808 250 143

General information service – 1820

Tourist helpline 800 296 296 or 808 781 212

Immigration and Borders Service – 808 202 653

Currency and exchange rates

The currency in Portugal is the Euro, which was introduced in banking in 1st January, 1999, and put into circulation in the public market at 1st January, 2002, replacing the Escudo. The Euro currency is used in over 17 countries of the European Union. All coins have a common side and the other side displaying a different image to each country of the Member States, including symbols that represent the origin and nationality of each country. You can find coins of 1 and 2 euro and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cent; and notes of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 euro.

In all country you can find numerous cash machines (ATMs) that are 24 hours available to withdraw money with ATM card or credit card. To change money there are exchange bureau and bank branches for this purpose, being this last one and currency exchange offices at airport the safest place to do it. Banks generally have opening hours from 8h30 to 15h00 from Monday to Friday except holidays. Currency exchange offices of airports have the following opening hours 5h00 to 24h00 in Lisbon, 5h00 to 22h00 in Oporto and 6h00 to 24h00 in Faro. Traveler's checks and Eurochecks are accepted in almost all banks and exchange offices, however for payment in shops the most common way is by cash, debit or credit card. The most commonly used credit cards are Visa, American Express, Eurocard, Dinerclub and MasterCard.

Currency converter: http://www.xe.com/

Times and schedules

The official time of Portugal is equal across the continent and Madeira archipelago, following the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +0:00). In the summer time (late March to late October) the hours come forward 1h. In the Azores archipelago the hours are always less than 1 hour than on the Continent, in winter time GMT +1:00 and in the summer time GMT +0:00.

Restaurant working hours: The restaurants in Portugal are generally open for lunch between 12h and 15h and for dinner between 19h30 and 23h, although you can find some opened later, about 1h/2h am. But there are numerous cafes, bars, cake & pastry shops serving small snacks and delicacies outside mealtimes.

Trade working hours: Generally the shops are opened from Monday to Friday from 9h to 19h, some of them closing for lunch between 13h and 15h. At Saturdays close at 13h, although in large cities remain open until 18h/ 19h. At Sundays and holidays they aren’t generally open. There are many shopping centers in the country that are open every day of the year (except on 1st January and 25th December) from 10h to 23h/24h. The museums usually open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10h to 17h.

Portugal time - http://www.horacerta.com.br/index.php?city=lisboa

Language

The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, however there is a good percentage of Portuguese that dominates fluently English. In tourist areas and in places with greater influx of tourists, especially the Algarve, you can easily find professionals who speak English, Spanish, French and German. The Portuguese also known as "the language of Camões" (in honor of one of the most recognizable figures of Portugal, Luís Vaz de Camões, author of "Os Lusíadas"), derives from the Latin language spoken in ancient Rome and brought by the Romans during the expansion era. The Latin would suffer socio-cultural influences in the various territories of the Roman Empire, and in Portugal it would aggregate Celts, Greeks, Hebrews, and later German and Arabic elements. Portuguese is the 5th most spoken language in the world with about 273 million speakers, and is the official language in Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé e Príncipe. Portugal, despite its small size, has its own vocabulary and pronunciations in certain regions, such as the azorean from Azores, madeiran from Madeira, transmontano from Tras-os-Montes, algarvio from Algarve, alentejano from Alentejo among others.

Driving

Portugal has a good network of national roads and highways across the country, and you can travel through almost the entire Portuguese territory on motorways with excellent conditions (indicated by the A abbreviation) or expressways (IP or IC abbreviation). Almost all of the remaining roads are paved, despite the oldest ones are in poor conditions, winding and with irregularities. The motorways in Portugal are paid (tolls), and are marked with porticoes at various points of the highway where you can pay with cash, debit or credit card. Some of those you must pay directly in the porticoes, while others must be paid within a maximum of 5 days in a post office (CTT) or in a Payshop agent by indicating the vehicle registration number.

Vehicles travelling in the country are fuelled with diesel, gasoline or LPG. There are several fuel stations around the country, generally open from 7h00 to 20h00 and some 24h. On motorways the fuel stations are open 24 hours and have a service area.

In Portugal cars have a manual or automatic transmission and the circulation of all vehicles is at the right side of the road. The maximum speed limit, if not otherwise indicated, is 50 km/h in towns, 90 km/h outside towns and 120 km/h on motorways. The use of seatbelts is mandatory for the driver and all passengers and the use of mobile phone while driving is prohibited, except if you use the hands-free system. If you drive don’t drink alcohol, the maximum permitted level of alcohol in the blood is less than 0.05 g/l and the fines are quite high for those who violate this law. In case of accident or vehicle failure is forbidden to leave the car without the reflective jacket and if the vehicle is immobilized on the roadway is required to put the triangle pre-warning sign. Whenever you drive you must have your identification document, driving license and valid vehicle documents (registration certificate, insurance and rental documents if applicable), in the absence of one of these you may be fined if an agent authority pulls you over.

Portuguese drivers tend to drive with some speed often forgetting to signal maneuvers with flashers, so drive with caution.  Generally the drivers concede passage to the pedestrians in the crosswalk, but there are always exceptions to the rule, so cross the road with caution. In big cities and surroundings during the week there are traffic jam on peak hours (between 8h30-10h and 18h-20h00), if possible try to avoid them because they can be time consuming.

To rent a car in Portugal you need to have 21 years old and have identification document (for citizens of the European Union) or a valid passport, driving license and a valid credit card (for purposes of the rental franchise). In general, car rental companies require that all these documents are in the name of the same person.

Attention to the fact that in some cities the street parking is paid. These areas are clearly marked and the respective amount shall be paid in coins in the nearest automatic machines or with pre-purchased titles. If you fail to do this your vehicle may be blocked or towed and you will have to pay a high fine.

Public transports

If you don’t want to opt to drive in your own vehicle, you can move within the Portuguese territory in various types of transportation. Most cities are served by a good network of taxis, buses and trains.

Taxis: In almost all localities in Portugal you can find a taxi. Traditional taxis are green and black color and the recent ones are beige. They have a signal light on the roof, to identify it as a taxi. However in certain remote localities you can find private taxi services in black or dark blue color, but you should always check if they are properly identified and authorized. The price is counted in fractions of distance travelled and the waiting time, plus an initial base value that differs between day and night and the distance made if you are within or outside locations. Bags that need to go in the luggage, pets and tolls are paid as supplements. The taxi has a visible meter inside the car that will show the amount to pay in each moment. Compared with other cities in the European Union is a transport at an affordable price.

Bus: In almost all localities you can find a network of buses that can take you to another location or to other destinations within it. Big cities are provided with a good bus network with many routes and stops. The ticket can be purchased directly on the bus to the driver, but in the city of Lisbon and Porto will be cheaper if you buy a block of tickets in advance. You can also travel between cities and towns of the country in comfortable buses, buying the ticket in advance.

Train: Portugal is provided with a good network of trains connecting the major centers of the country. The alfa pendular connects directly the city of Faro, Lisbon, Coimbra and Oporto at a good price/quality, the intercity and regional bind several other locations. There are carriages for first and second class, except on suburban trains. The ticket is purchased at the station where you will board the train and must be purchased in advance (there are special discounts for tour tickets, seniors and children tickets, among others).

Metropolitan: In Lisbon you can choose to travel by metro in a widely extended and renewed underground network that connects almost all points of the city. It’s a cultural interesting way to move in Lisbon, not only because of the convenience of not having to face traffic or parking hassles, but also because some metro stations are authentic art galleries with sculptures, paintings and tiles of Portuguese artists. In Oporto you can also opt for the underground metro network within the city or the surface network that connects the municipalities to outside (Porto, Maia, Matosinhos, Póvoa de Varzim, Vila do Conde Vila Nova de Gaia and Oporto). Both in Lisbon and Porto tickets should be purchased in the boarding station, which will be more expensive the first time you buy the card that can be load with titles for each trip (keep it until the end of your stay as it is more economical to reload the same card later on). Once loaded, you must validate the card on every trip in the subway entrance. Lisbon and Oporto Metro operates from 6h00 am to 1h00 am.

National Holidays

January 1st: New Year's Day

February/ March - Carnival/Shrove Tuesday (mobile holiday)

March/April: Good Friday (mobile holiday)

April: Easter Day (mobile holiday)

Abril 25th: Liberty Day

May 1st: Labor Day / May Day

June 10th: Portugal Day

August 15th: Assumption of Mary

December 8th: Feast of the Immaculate Conception

December 25th: Natal

Electricity

The electrical current used in Portugal is 220V AC with the European two-prong outlet (as shown in picture).We advise you to purchase an adapter if you use a different type of outlet.

Public safety

Portugal is considered one of the safest destinations in Europe and in the World and one of the countries with highest rate of foreign reception. It is safe for any tourist to visit Portugal, only need to take common sense basic precautions. There are no internal violent conflicts or terrorist attacks and violent crime is not a serious problem, and is usually related to personal conflicts and rarely with random crimes. Nevertheless in the main cities in Portugal, like in any big city in the world, including Lisbon, Oporto and Faro, you should avoid certain areas with low movement especially at night. Also in areas of high tourist traffic is possible to find some pickpockets, but if you're always aware of your personal belongings you should not have any problems. If you are travelling by car do not leave personal objects in sight. If anything happens call the emergency line - 112 - indicating the location where you are and the service you need (police, ambulance or fire brigade). At motorways, if you are unable to call 112, use one of the oranges phones that are in various spots only to emergency cases. In Lisbon, at the Restauradores Square, you can find a Tourism Squad where public safety police operates. If you lose some identification please contact the Consulate or Embassy in Portugal, of your country of residence.

Public Security Police - http://www.psp.pt/Pages/defaultPSP.aspx 

Health

Portugal have a comprehensive network of hospitals covering the whole territory, both public and private follow European standards. For a medical emergency go to the nearest hospital that has an emergency service 24 hours per day. In an emergency dial 112. If you live in the European Union bring the European Health Insurance Card, which you can obtain at health centers in your country. Foreign citizens of countries with which Portugal has bilateral agreements on conditions of reciprocity, have access to health care in Portugal as regulated by the Health Basic Law. The remaining citizens are also entitled to the National Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde - SNS), however we advise doing a travel assistance insurance because otherwise the expenses could be high.

As an alternative to hospitals, if you don't have anything serious you can go to a pharmacy, where a pharmacist may indicate a medication for your case. In almost all locations you can usually find a pharmacy open from 9h to 19h on Monday to Friday and from 9h to 13h on Saturdays, in the remaining hours search an on-duty pharmacy opened at night and on Sundays (usually at the closed door you can find schedules information on the nearest on-duty pharmacies). You can easily find a pharmacy identified with a bright green panel in the shape of a cross on the door.

To get in Portugal is not required to take any vaccine, but we recommend having the basic vaccines updated, like tetanus, diphtheria, and measles. The International Certificate of Vaccination Against Yellow Fever is only required for travelers arriving from an infected area and have more than one year old.

All spaces allowed to sell food to the public, such as restaurants, supermarkets, snack bars among others, are supervised by ASAE (Authority for Food and Economic Security) and are obliged to meet strict standards of hygiene and quality; as such there is no danger to health in ingesting foods in any legal establishment. It is also effectively safe to drink tap water in Portugal, the report of ERSAR (Regulatory Authority for Water and Waste Services) for 2012 indicated that 98.2% of tap water is safe and with good quality. Make sure however that you drink piped water.

Health Portal: http://www.portaldasaude.pt/portal

On-duty pharmacy: http://www.farmaciasdeservico.net/

Internet

You can find internet hotspots in cafes, post offices, libraries and other places of the Portuguese territory. In some public places such as hotels, airports, restaurants, service areas on motorways, gardens, and others you may find "Wi-Fi" zones clearly marked to access wireless Internet with your own device. Usually this service has a prepaid cost, taxed in periods of 15min, 30min and 60min, however you may find locations where the service is free. Also the two main communication companies, MEO and NOS, offer various points of Internet "Wi-Fi" through pre-paid service packages to use for 1h, 1day, 5days (system connected to their customers’ internet network and as such you may find coverage in various locations).

Telecommunications

Apart from the internet, the telecommunications service in Portugal has a very good quality, achieving coverage in almost all regions. If you have an unlocked phone, or decide to buy a mobile phone in Portugal, opt for purchasing a phone card to one of the major national networks - MEO, NOS, Vodafone or UZO - as they usually offer very attractive and competitive tariffs for national calls and international. To call abroad from Portugal dial 00 followed by the country code and number for which you want to call, to call a Portuguese number simply dial 00351 followed by the telephone number.

Across the country, in the streets, shopping’s, airports and some commercial establishments you can find public phone booths which accept coins, phone cards and sometimes credit cards. Some of these phone cards, on sale at newsagents, tobacco shops, post offices and PT shops, with prices ranging between € 3 and € 10, may also be used in private telephones (as in hotel telephones and mobile phones), ask more at the shop where you buy the card. Also check about the tariff card you acquire because many times they have reduced tariffs on calls in the evening or weekends. The post offices also provide public telephone where you can have collect call, usually they are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 18:00 (you can find them in big cities and shopping centers opened later than that). You can make collect calls for many countries, but it is advisable to contact the Portugal Telecom.

Portugal Telecom - http://www.telecom.pt 

Religion

The religion of the majority of the resident population in Portugal is Catholic, which is due mainly to the traditions and historical contexts experienced by the Portuguese people in the past. According to a study made to the entire population residing in Portugal in 2011, 81% claim to be Catholics, followed by evangelicals and Jehovah's Witnesses with a relatively significant presence. Jews, Anglicans, Islamic, Hindu, Orthodox, Baha'is, Buddhists, Gnostics and spiritualists are the other minority religious groups that exist in Portugal. Despite the large percentage that admits to be Catholic only a third of this population is practitioner. There is complete freedom of religious choice in this country and there is no kind of racism towards other religions and the state is secular. As such, in addition to the many buildings of the Catholic religion some with hundreds of years old and full of history, it can also be found in the Portuguese territory other places of worship of different other religions (mosques, synagogues, etc.). Although it isn't mandatory and only to be respectful when visiting churches or other religious buildings, get dressed with appropriate clothing, not wearing necklines or short skirts or shorts.

Facilities for people with disabilities

In Portugal, as well in all Europe, any new construction must necessarily provide access and facilities for disabled people. For this reason, shopping centers, buildings and newer urban areas have good accessibility for people with reduced mobility. However, in older building areas the access for disable people is still very limited.

In Lisbon metro there are especially reserved seats for people with reduced mobility and in the main railway stations there are moving walkways and elevators that connect the ground floor to the platforms. Most buses in Lisbon already have ramps for wheelchairs. In Lisbon and Oporto there are buses door-to-door for people with reduced mobility (Tel.: Lisbon- 217 585 676, Oporto - 226 006 353) and some cities also have adapted taxis. In almost all major shopping centers, airports and some restaurants you can find bathrooms adapted for wheelchairs.

In most public car parks and underground car parks, there are parking places located near the entrances available and reserved for persons with reduced mobility.

For visually impaired people you can find in some tourist buildings, metro stations and elevators in public buildings, information described in Braille.

Other information

The Portuguese people are considered warm and friendly people and one of the best countries to welcome tourists in the world, as such do not feel inhibited to ask for help or ask directions to a person you find on the street. Portuguese feel a sincere happiness in helping tourists and indicate them with pride the best places in your city.

The law related to tobacco smoke, which entered into force at the beginning of 2008, stipulates that you can't smoke in enclosed spaces intended for public use. Among them are public buildings, catering establishments, night spaces, workplaces, public service, transport and spaces for people under 18 years old, among others. Only enclosed spaces that separate physically the smoking areas from other areas and ensure proper venting to the outside may be exceptions. Areas where you can or cannot smoke are clearly marked with the signals that you can see in the image.

Portugal is considered a country with freedom of sexual choice, but do not expect the same kind of acceptance in small rural areas compared to major cities. Demonstration of intimacy between same-sex couples can get some curious looks and are even considered as inappropriate in some of more conservative areas. In big cities homosexuals are generally respected without any prejudice. In Lisbon there are several spaces geared especially for the gay entertainment like bars and nightclubs. But do not be surprised if you pass by some girls holding hands or embraced, because it is considered a sign of friendship and does not necessarily mean that they are gay.

Testimonials

"Thank you for all the professionalism and homeland knowledge, it was great for us because your customer support exceeded my expectations. Keep up with this personalized and quality service. Good luck, you deserve it. "

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