Essential travel information for your Portugal holidays. Find useful tips that guide you and make life easier when visiting the Country.
Discover essential information about Portugal, namely health, internet and communications, cash and bank cards, opening hours, holidays, electricity, tourist offices and savings tips.
Is Portugal safe for tourists?
Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world.
In major cities such as Lisbon and Porto, it is relatively safe to walk at night on the main streets, but cautious on darker, lonely streets. Like many tourist cities, it is important to watch out for pickpockets, especially where it’s busy, such as in historical areas, public transport and belvederes.
When to visit Portugal? (Climate and weather)
Portugal has one of the most moderate climates in Europe, as it has mild winters and hot summers but mild temperatures (because it is located by the Atlantic Ocean). Thus, it is known to have an average of about 300 days of sunshine a year. So, to choose the best time to visit Portugal, as far as climate, weather and the type of clothes are concerned, you do not have to care much about!
Spring in Portugal
In the Spring (March to June) you will find sunny weather with mild temperatures and flower gardens. The accommodation is more reasonably priced. In that sense, maybe this is the best time to visit Portugal!
SUMMER IN PORTUGAL
In Summer (June to September) you have warm but moderate weather, given the proximity of the sea. For this reason, there are many outdoor events and festivals. The beach days are long. You can enjoy meals and drinks in pleasant terraces. Due to the high season, the accommodation has higher prices and there are more tourists.
AUTUMN IN PORTUGAL
In Autumn (September to December) the days are sunny with pleasant temperatures, and the first drizzle may appear. At this time there are cultural events with small crowds.
Winter IN PORTUGAL
In Winter (December to March), the weather tends to be rainy, interspersed with pleasant sunny days to stroll. The cold is moderate given the proximity of the sea. In fact, it is the low season, with fewer tourists and when the accommodation has lower prices.
Do I need a visa to visit Portugal?
If you are a citizen of one of the countries of the Schengen Area, which includes the countries of the European Union, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, you do not need a passport or a visa to enter Portugal.
If you are a citizen of a third-country to the Schengen Area you must have a valid passport to enter Portugal. And depending on your country of origin or the length of your stay in Portugal you must also have a valid visa that is appropriate for the purpose of your stay, such as studying, working or other purpose.
For more information, see:
- Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF)
- Embassy / Portuguese Consulate in your country.
Emergency and Health
Below you will find essential information about Portugal regarding health.
In case of emergency in Portugal, if you need to call the Police, Fire or Ambulance, always call the European Emergency Number: 112.
To have access to the Public Health Services in Portugal (National Health Service):
- The Portuguese must have the citizen’s card;
- Other citizens of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein must bring a citizen’s card, passport or other identification document and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC);
- Brazilians 🇧🇷 (born or naturalized and foreigners residing in Brazil and Social Security taxpayers) must be informed about the Certificado de Direito à Assistência Médica (CDAM) and its respective conditions, in a Núcleo Estadual of the Ministério da Saúde brasileiro or in a Distrito Federal.
In other cases, we recommend purchasing a travel insurance that covers health expenses abroad.
Medicines and other health and personal care products are sold at pharmacies and parapharmacies, which are spread throughout the streets of Lisbon, shopping malls and the airports.
Vaccines and Immunizations
Given that Portugal is a country with good sanitary conditions, you are not required to take specific vaccines. However, if at the time of travel, your country of origin is infected with a contagious or dangerous disease, upon arriving in Portugal you may have to prove that you have taken the respective vaccine.
Communications and Internet in Portugal
In Portugal to connect to a landline or mobile phone, enter the country code +351, followed by the Portuguese number (with 9 digits).
To make and receive calls on your mobile phone in Portugal you can use the roaming of the operator’s card of your home country. Alternatively, for more intensive use, you can buy a card from an operator in Portugal.
To use the internet the best option will be to use free wifi in the growing number of hotspots in Portugal. In case of unavailability of wifi, we suggest the purchase of a data card for mobile phone, a hotspot / router for tablets and mobile phones or a pen for computer. The main mobile operators in Portugal are MEO, Vodafone and NOS and offer prepaid internet tariffs without monthly payment.
Operations Hours in Portugal
Usually, these are the opening hours in Portugal:
- Public museums close on Monday and open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the last admission around 5.30 p.m.;
- Restaurants open daily for lunch from 12 noon to 3:00 pm and dinner from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. Some restaurants close one day a week;
- Street stores open from Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Small shops can close at lunchtime, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. They close on Sunday and some stores close early on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. In the city center some shops are open on Saturday afternoons and / or on Sundays;
- The shopping center stores are open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. or until midnight;
- Pharmacies will run from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., but may decide to be open 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Access to the service is guaranteed, so when a pharmacy is closed, it indicates the closest one that is open;
- Banks are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.;
- The post office will run from Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In Lisbon, the Restauradores post office opens on Saturday and the Airport post opens on Saturday and Sunday;
- Embassies normally open from Monday to Friday, from 09:00 a.m. to 03:00 p.m..
Money and Cards in Portugal
The Euro (€) is the official Portuguese currency and of the European Union: 1 euro is divided into 100 cents; There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 euros and 1 and 2 euro coins and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents.
Payments in Portugal
Payments can be made with debit card or credit card. Many payment terminals require a chip card and a PIN code. Visa is the most common payment system in Portugal and Mastercard is less frequent but in increasing use.
Cash withdrawals IN PORTUGAL
Cash withdrawals are mainly done at Multibanco (ATM), which is the easiest way to access your bank account or to make automatic payments (purchase of tickets and others). For this you need a bank card with chip and PIN code.
Bank Branches and exchange bureaux
Bank branches are in large numbers and are spread throughout the country. Currency exchange bureaux are concentrated mainly in the most important cities, in the areas with the highest influx of tourists and in the Airports.
Tips: Since some small shops, restaurants and others accept only cash payments and not bank cards, it is best to ask them the means of payment before buying.
In restaurants and cafes usually it’s not charged a service fee. However, if a good service has been delivered then you can give a tip, which varies from € 1.00 up to 5-10% of the restaurant bill.
To enjoy tax exemption or reduction of your purchases check this post: Duty Free.
Eletricity in Portugal
The electric current used in Portugal has a frequency of 230 Volts / 50 Hertz. The electrical outlets follow the European standard, so the use of equipment that follows another standard (such as the American standard) should be combined with the use of a 230 Volt transformer and a power adapter.
If you need more essential information when visiting Portugal, you can get it at the tourism information offices. These are spread throughout the main cities and tourist areas of the country, offering maps and leaflets. Some tourist offices also provide other services, such as accommodation reservations or car rentals.
For instance, in Terreiro do Paço (Praça do Comércio) in the centre of Lisbon, you will find the main tourist office “Lisboa Welcome Center”. In addition to this, there are other official tourism offices “Ask Me”. We highlight the ones located in Humberto Delgado Airport, Foz-Restauradores Palace, Belém, Parque das Nações and the Santa Apolónia and Rossio train stations.
The Portugal official language is Portuguese, derived from the Latin.
The Portuguese language has about 250 million native speakers and is listed as the 4th most spoken language in the world, following Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish (Spanish) and English. It is spread over 5 continents, following the expansion of the Portuguese Discoveries of the 15th-16th centuries.
Portuguese is also an official language in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau and Timor-Leste. Additionally Portuguese is spoken in some parts of the globe, such as Macau (China) and Goa, Daman and Diu (India).
If you do not speak the Portuguese language you do not have to worry, because portuguese love to welcome foreigners and are eager to communicate with them!
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