The climate in Portugal varies significantly depending on the region. Land mass, latitude, and proximity to the sea, are factors that influence local weather patterns. The regions closest to the sea, especially those in the south of the country, and, of course, the Algarve, have mild winters. In the regions of Porto and Northern Portugal, and the Beiras, (those areas closest to Spain), the winters are colder, although temperatures are still quite moderate when compared with the rest of Europe. There is some snowfall, most frequently in the Serra da Estrela, where the highest point in Portugal is to be found (1991m) and where there are skiing facilities. Summers are hot and dry, especially in the inland regions. On the coast, the heat is tempered by the influence of the sea. During autumn, there are frequently sunny days with mild temperatures.
The Euro is now the official currency of 12 EU member states (including Portugal). One Euro (A^EUR) = 100 centimes. Notes are in denominations of A^EUR500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of A^EUR2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 centime.
The design on one side of the coins is common to all (the European side) while the reverse side features a national symbol. All Euro coins can be used in every member state irrespective of their national origin.
Currencies can be exchanged in banks, open to the public between 8:30am and 3pm throughout the working week, or in a bureau de change or an automatic machine (only for buying Euros). In Portugal, the most commonly used credit cards are American Express, Diners Club, Europay / MasterCard, JCB, Maestro, Visa, and Visa Electron. There is a national ATM network, identified with its abbreviation MB (Multibanco) that enables money to be withdrawn 24 hours a day.
UTC / GMT (+1 hour in summer)
Throughout the year, apart from Festivals, businesses are open during the following hours:
Offices: Mondays to Fridays 08:30 - 18.00
Banks: Mondays to Fridays 08:30 - 15:00 (Monday 15:15 - 16:45)
Stores: Mondays to Saturdays 09:00 - 19:00 (with a break at 13:00) Saturdays 09:00 - 13:00
Many stores are open on Sundays, mainly in shopping centers in cities.
Post Offices are open from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Post Offices and those at airports are open on Saturdays. Stamps are sold at Post Offices, street kiosks and at all locations marked with a red horse, or a white circle on a green background. Many Post Offices offer the Netpost service featuring E-mail and Internet access.
Telephone kiosks work with coins, specific cards (Telecom cards) and credit cards. Telecom Cards are on sale at Telecom Portugal shops, at Post Offices and at some kiosks and tobacconists. All telephone kiosks indicate the nearest place where these cards can be purchased. The codes for other countries are displayed in the kiosks. To telephone from Portugal to an overseas country, dial 00, the code for the country and the city, followed by the number required.
230 / 400 volts at a frequency of 50 Hertz. All sockets follow European standards. To use American type plugs, a 230-volt transformer should be applied together with an adapter plug.
Of Latin origin, Portuguese is the third most widely spoken European language in the world and is mother tongue to about 200 million people. Countries in which Portuguese is the official language include Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Brazil, and East Timor in Asia. In Portugal, a considerable number of the citizens can communicate easily in English, French, and Spanish.
Dress is conservative. Women usually wear dresses, and male dressing is based primarily around a jacket and tie. There is little difference in dress between work and social life. For business, men should wear suits and ties or sports coats and ties. Women should wear dresses, suits, or pantsuits.
Taxis in Portugal are currently ivory beige in colour, although there are still some older ones that are black and green. The price to be paid within the city limits is shown on the fare metre at the end of the journey. The price includes four passengers. At the beginning of the journey, the fare metre shows the amount displayed on the windscreen. An additional rate of is applied for a taxi radio phone call. Luggage must be carried in the boot (trunk) or on the roof of the car, (an additional fee may be levied irrespective of the number and weight of the items of luggage). Baby carrycots, prams and pushchairs or other aids to locomotion (disabled) are exempt from the additional fee for luggage. Between locations, any toll payments are the responsibility of the customer. Tips are voluntary and are generally about 10%. For information on tariffs, etc. please consult the sticker on the back left hand window of the car or ask the driver for the national price list. Lisbon has an extensive underground metro.
It is possible to enter Portugal by road at several points along its border with Spain. There is a good and extensive road network. All motorways are clearly signposted and a toll must normally be paid. There are regular coach services between all of Portugal's cities and towns. For detailed information about routes, timetables and prices, you should consult the Rede Nacional de Expressos. It is usually quicker to go by bus than by train, especially as a number of private companies operate express services between major cities and the Algarve.
Should you wish to travel around Portugal by train, you will always be able to enjoy the valuable help of the national railway company CP - Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses. CP has a vast rail network with trains to destinations all over mainland Portugal. Connections with other trains are provided at almost all railway stations. The high quality and comfortable "Alfa" trains offer you the fastest connection of all between Lisbon and Porto. They also stop at the cities of Coimbra and Aveiro. The "Intercidades" service has trains serving the following major intercity routes: Lisbon-Porto-Braga, Lisbon-Guarda, Lisbon-Covilha, Lisbon-Alentejo and Lisbon-Algarve. The Sud-Express and the Lusitania hotel-train provide the main international connections, departing from Lisbon and Porto. A network of public transports connects the stations to the main places in the region. Note that bicycles are not permitted on trains.
Portugal has a number of airlines serving domestic and international routes including more than 50 cities in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Macau and North and South America, as well as domestic flights between Porto, Lisbon, Faro, the Autonomous Regions of Madeira, and the Azores. Domestic flights to between points on the mainland are relatively expensive considering the short distances involved.
If medical assistance is required, it is advisable to go to the nearest Health Centre. All municipalities have Health Centres. The major cities have many. Some Centres have permanent emergency services called SAP / CATUS. Hospital Emergency Services should be used only in very serious situations, such as serious trauma, poisoning, burns, heart attacks, strokes, breathing difficulties, etc. EU citizens have the same benefits as Portuguese citizens in accordance with Community Law. For access to health services, EU citizens who are not resident in Portugal should have their passport or identity card and the E111 and E112 forms.
Dial 112 - at any time of the day or night from anywhere in Portugal.