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Essential Facts

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Getting there

By plane
There are international airports at Lisbon, Oporto, Faro, Funchal (Madeira), Ponta Delgada (São Miguel Island-Azores) and Lages (Terceira Island-Azores). The national airlines are TAP Air Portugal and Portugalia.

By train Daily international trains run between Paris-Lisbon (Sud Express), crossing the frontier at Vilar Formoso; between Lisbon-Madrid, crossing the frontier at Marvão; and between Oporto-Vigo, crossing the frontier at Valença. Portuguese Railroads.

By coach There are three companies running services between many European cities and Oporto (Inter-Norte), Lisbon (Inter-Centro) and Faro (Inter-Sul).

Getting around

Bus / trams In cities, you pay the driver a flat fare. In Lisbon and Oporto there are special tourist tickets at Carris (Lisbon) and the Lisbon Underground or STCP (Oporto) information kiosks, open form 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Taxi Plentiful and cheap, they are usually painted green and black, although these colours are being gradually changed to beige. They have an illuminated taxi sign at the top. In the city they charge a standard meter fare; outside the city's limits they charge per kilometre and are entitled to charge for the return fare. In cities, luggage travelling in the booth adds a surcharge. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. there is a surcharge of about 20%. The usual amount to tip is 10% of the fare.

Train There are Express trains from Lisbon through Coimbra to Oporto (Alfa trains) and regional trains (Inter-cidades and Inter-regionais) connecting the different areas of Portugal.

First and second class are available except for local and suburban trains. Special tickets include tourist tickets (valid for 7, 14 or 21 days). There are special rates on "Blue Days" offering return tickets with discount for trips over 100 km. People over 65 are entitled to have special discounts. For international, long and medium distance express services, it's advisable to make reservations. Train timetables are available from information desks at stations and tourism offices.
Portuguese Railroads

By coach Services are run in express or ordinary coaches, linking the country's main cities and towns all over.

Car hire Car hire companies can be found in all major towns, and at the international airports. You must show proof of identity (Identity Card for EC citizens and passport for other nationals) and a valid driving license. A green card is essential and it's wise to take out insurance coverage and collision insurance. Cars can not be hired out to anyone under 21.


All motor vehicles drive on the right. Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles approaching from the right have priority at junctions. Seatbelts are obligatory. The law is strict regarding drinking and driving. The maximum speed in towns is 50 km p/h and on main roads and highways is 90 and 120 km p/h respectively. Petrol stations are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. On highways services stations are open 24 hours a day.


Portugal has a mild climate without extremes of temperature. Winters are never too cold and summers are always moderately hot.

The North has an Atlantic climate influenced by the Gulf Stream. The Centre has gentle dry summers and short mild winters. The South has a warm, dry Mediterranean climate without extremes of heat. Madeira offers a pleasant climate all year round. The Azores also offers mild weather tempered by the Atlantic.


Hotels range from luxury to 5, 4, 3 and 2*. There is a wide range of choice between Boarding Houses, Inns, Hostels, Motels and Aparthotels. The Pousadas are very comfortable, special hotels generally located in historical sites and in many cases they are totally restored monuments, castles or palaces. There are three distinct categories: regional Pousadas, Pousadas in historical areas and Pousadas in national monuments. Advanced booking is highly recommended. "Turismo no Espaço Rural" (TER) offers privately owned homes ranging from wonderful farmhouses to manor houses. There are many camping areas throughout the country that allow for an inexpensive holiday and the opportunity for a close contact with nature. Also available, 18 youth hostels spread around the country.

Guides and interpreters

Portugal has excellent guides who will help you to discover the country. For further information contact your travel agent, hotel reception or tourism office.
Sightseeing Guided Tours.

Hot Springs

Portugal is famous for its medicinal waters. Thermal springs offering excellent accommodation can be found almost everywhere, providing for many different treatments.


Portuguese beaches are very inviting offering white sand all over. Be careful not to swim in areas where there are flags warning not to. Red flags mean total prohibition to swim and yellow flags mean you should be very careful. Green flags mean there is no danger at all.

Public holidays

Almost everything is closed on: January 1, April 25, Good Friday, May 1, Corpus Christi, June 10, August 15, October 5, November 1, December 1 and 8 and 25. Check for local holidays too.


Portugal and Madeira time is Greenwich Mean (GMT) time, the Azores are one hour behind Portugal Continental.

Opening hours

Are open from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, closing on public holidays.)

Shops From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. (working days). On Saturdays most shops close at 1 p.m., eventhough there are some open in the afternoon.

Shopping Centres are open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight, every day of the week.

Museums From 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Mondays.


The unit of currency is the Euro (). Some banks have automatic exchange machines. Reception in most hotels will change money and they are entitled to charge a small extra amount to cover fluctuation exchange rates. Traveler cheques and Eurocheques are accepted by all Portuguese banks and exchange bureaus. Visa, Amex, Eurocard, Diner Club and Master Card are the most useful credit cards.


Medical facilities Medical assistance is available in hospitals providing 24 hours a day emergency service. There are also many clinics open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In case of emergency dial the number 115. In case of road accident use the nearest SOS phone (orange). For further information see Phone Directory.

Chemists Are open 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. /3 p.m. - 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings. In every area, you can always find one that is open all night or on Sunday. See the sign on the door (white cross on green background) to find your nearest chemist. The Portuguese word for chemist is "Farmácia".


The current is 220 volts AC, with a continental round pin plug.


All over Portugal, there are crediphones where phone cards can be used. These can be bought in post offices and news agents. At post offices, calls can be paid for at the end of the conversation. To phone abroad, dial 00 then the country code and city/local code.

Postal services

Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. In main cities there are one post office station open on Saturdays.

Stamps are sold here and also on shops bearing the sign of the red horse. The Portuguese word for post office is "Correios" and for stamp is "selo".
Portugese Post Office

Conference halls and facilities

The are many hotels and auditoriums which offer first class facilities for congresses, conferences and business meetings. In the major cities there are organisations that provide services and assistance in congresses and meetings.

Some useful words and sentences

Thank you Obrigado (if you're male)
Obrigada (if you're female)
  one um
Please Por favor   two dois
Good morning Bom dia   three três
Good afternoon Boa tarde   four quatro
Good evening Boa noite   five cinco
Yes Sim   six seis
No Não   seven sete
Bank Banco   eight oito
Change Câmbio   nine nove
How much is it? Quanto é?   ten dez
Do you speak English? Fala inglês?   hundred cem
I don't understand Não compreendo   thousand mil

Portugal > Tourism > Essential Facts


Portugal Virtual

Essential Facts