Useful Information About Portugal
Portugal is situated at the south-west point of Europe and also includes the Madeira and Azores archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean. Mainland Portugal occupies an area of 88,889 km2. It is 218 km wide and 561 km long. It has 832 km of Atlantic coast and a 1,215 km border with Spain.
The climate in Portugal varies considerably from one region to another and is influenced by the relief, latitude and proximity to the sea, which offers mild winters, especially in the Algarve.
Lisbon, Portugal's capital city, and the Estoril coast, are among the few cities in Western Europe located on an ocean. Lisbon also has one of Europe's mildest climates and warmest winter (December to February) seasons. Weather in Lisbon during the spring (March to May) has daytime temperatures that average over 17°C .
In the Porto e Norte area and Beiras region, particularly inland, nearer Spain, the winters are colder, although the temperatures are still mild when compared to the rest of Europe. There is some snowfall. It occurs most in the Serra da Estrela mountains, where we find the highest point in mainland Portugal (1,991 m) and where it is sometimes possible to ski.
The summers are hot and dry, especially in the inland areas (Trás-os-Montes in north-eastern Portugal and Alentejo). Temperatures are slightly lower in the coastal areas, because of the influence of the sea.
There are often warm, sunny days in autumn. Nice weather at the beginning of November is often called "St. Martin’s Summer" as this saint’s day is on 11 November.
Portugal has a population of about 10 million.
The population density is at its greatest in Lisbon, the capital and its suburbs, where about 1.9 million people live. The second largest city in Portugal is Oporto in the north.
Generally speaking, there are more people living in the country’s coastal regions than in the inland areas.
The majority of Portuguese are Catholics, but the Portuguese Constitution guarantees religious freedom and there are a number of different religions in Portugal.
One of the Latin languages, Portuguese is the third most spoken European language in the world and the native tongue of about 250 million people.
The Portuguese-speaking countries are scattered all over the world. Portuguese is spoken in Africa (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé e Príncipe), in South America (Brazil) and in Asia, (East Timor, the youngest nation in the world), and it is also the official language in Macao Special Administrative Region of China.
In Portugal there are lots of people who are able to communicate in English, French and Spanish.
Portugal’s excellent geographical position makes it a stopover point for many foreign airlines atairports all over the country:
Lisbon - Portela Airport - Phone: 218 413 500
Oporto - Dr. Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport - Phone: 229 432 400
Faro - Faro Airport - Phone. 289 800 800
Funchal, Madeira - Funchal Airport - Phone: 291 520 700
Ponta Delgada, Azores - João Paulo II Airport - Phone: 296 205 406
ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal, SA is the Portuguese airport authority and provides departure and arrival information on www.ana.pt
There are several Portuguese airlines offering regular domestic and international flights.
TAP - Air Portugal (www.tap.pt) is the country’s "flagship" airline and has scheduled flights to more than 50 international destinations and domestic flights between Lisbon, Oporto, Faro, Madeira and the Azores, and also between Madeira and Porto Santo.
SATA (www.sata.pt) has regular flights between all the islands of the Azores and from the Azores to Madeira and mainland Portugal. SATA also offers regular flights to a number of international destinations.
Taxis are usually cream in colour, although there are still some painted black with a green roof in the traditional Portuguese style.
The fare is shown on the taximeter. The prices are affixed inside the car or you can ask the driver about them.
If you phone for a taxi you have to pay an extra 0.80 euros. There is a charge of 1.60 euros for luggage, regardless of weight or the number of pieces.
Carry cots, pushchairs, wheelchairs and walking aids are carried free of charge.
Outside towns, transport by taxi is paid per kilometre, and the passenger is informed of the amount in advance. Where they exist, the passenger has to pay the road tolls there and back.
Tipping is at the passenger’s discretion, though it is normal to tip 5-10% or round the amount up to the nearest euro.
Banks are open from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. five working days a week.
Portugal has a national network of cash machines (ATMs) identified by the symbol MB (Multibanco), from which you can withdraw cash 24 hours a day.
In Portugal, the most commonly used credit cards are: Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Europay / MasterCard, JCB and Maestro.
If your Visa or MasterCard credit card is lost or stolen, contact the following telephone numbers for assistance:
- Visa: Tel. 800 811 107
- MasterCard: Tel. 800 811 272
Portugal is one of 17 European Union countries whose common official currency is the euro.
1 euro is divided into 100 cents. The coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euros.
The notes are differentiated by their size and colour and come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros.
One side of the coins has a common design (the European side), and the other side has a national symbol. All euro coins can be used in any euro-zone country, irrespective of which national symbols they display.
You can exchange money at banks, which are open from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. five working days a week; at bureaux de change; and at automatic currency exchange machines (these are for currency sale transactions only).
Service is included in the bill in restaurants, though it is customary to leave an additional tip of about 5-10% of the total.
It is also normal to tip taxi drivers 5-10 % or rounding up the amount paid to the nearest euro.
The electric current in Portugal is 230/400 volts at a frequency of 50 hertz and sockets comply with European standards.
You will need a 230 volt transformer and an adaptor to use American-style flat-prong plugs.
Before travelling, learn more about the facilities available in Portugal for persons with restricted mobility. In light of the inevitable travel constraints experienced by persons with motor disabilities, we recommend that you seek detailed prior information concerning the services you intend to use.
Many hotel units have accommodation facilities adapted for persons with motor disabilities. Nonetheless, we recommend direct contact in order to obtain information on the type of facilities available. At www.visitportugal.com, the hotel units with facilities for persons with restricted mobility include the indication “Facilities for disabled” in their Characteristics and Services.
Public transport normally reserves certain seats for persons with motor disabilities, but these are not accessible for wheelchair users.
Lisbon Metro is not completely accessible for persons with motor disabilities. Only certain stations have access lists. Visually-impaired persons may travel in the company of their guide dogs, provided that they use a collar and muzzle.
Oporto Metro is completely accessible for persons with restricted mobility.
In Portugal, the driving regulations for disabled persons relate solely to their physical and mental fitness and may result in restrictions or adaptations that must be mentioned in the driving licence.
Disabled persons with a driving licence that is valid in Portugal may drive vehicles provided that they comply with the restrictions or adaptations relating to their situation.
Parking cards for people with disabilities, based on the standardised Community model and issued by any of the Member States, are recognised in Portugal. The spaces reserved for this purpose are clearly signposted. Parking is permitted in other places, in situations of absolute necessity, provided that this is only for short periods of time and does not interfere with the normal and free circulation of pedestrians and vehicles.
All Portuguese airports have adapted toilet facilities and transfer facilities for persons with restricted mobility and wheelchair users. A special assistance service may be provided whenever requested.
74 bathing zones – maritime and river beaches – are accessible for persons with restricted mobility. These beaches are identified with a white flag, including the respective symbol, and have reserved parking areas, pedestrian access, beach walkways and adapted toilet facilities. Several beaches also have equipment items that facilitate access to the sea, thus enabling persons with restricted mobility to go swimming, although assistance of another person is always required.
For further information concerning the facilities available for persons with disabilities, please contact:
Rua João Freitas Branco, nº 21 D 1500-714 Lisboa
Tel:+351 21 720 31 30 – Fax: +351 21 720 31 39
www.accessibleportugal.com - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Portugal Acessível / Associação Salvador
Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo 14, 9º 1050-121 Lisboa
Tel: +351 21 318 48 51 - Fax: +351 21 357 22 60
www.portugalacessivel.com - E-mail: email@example.com
Wide HealthCare Services
Av. Almirante Gago Coutinho, 28 – C
Tel: +351 21 043 69 70 – Fax: +351 21 043 69 79
www.widehealthcareservices.com - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Institute for Rehabilitation
Tel: +351 21 792 95 00 - Fax: +351 21 792 95 96
www.inr.pt - E-mail: email@example.com
112 is the European emergency phone number, available everywhere in the EU, free of charge.
It is possible to call 112 from fixed and mobile phones to contact any emergency service: an ambulance, the fire brigade or the police.
When a person dials 112, a specially trained operator will answer the call. Depending on the national organisation of emergency services, the operator will either deal with the request directly or transfer the call to the most appropriate emergency service.
112 doesn't replace the existing national emergency numbers. In most countries, it operates alongside them. However, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Malta and Romania have opted for 112 as their main national emergency number.
Traditionally, shops are open from Monday to Friday, from 9 or 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some close for lunch from 1 to 3 p.m. On Saturdays from January to November, shops generally close at 1 p.m. though in city centres some are open in the afternoon.
Shops tend to stay open on Saturday afternoons and sometimes even on Sundays in December for Christmas shopping.
There are plenty of shopping centres inside and outside the cities that are usually open from 10 a.m. to midnight every day of the week. They generally have stores with the main international brands.
However, traditional shops with Portuguese products can be found particularly in the streets of the older neighbourhoods of towns and cities.
During winter time, i.e. from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October to 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March, the official time in mainland Portugal and Madeira is the Universal Time Coordinated (UTC).
The rest of the year (between 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March and 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October), summer time is in effect and the official time in mainland Portugal and Madeira is Universal Time Coordinated plus one hour.
In the Azores, the time is one hour earlier than in the rest of Portugal and therefore one hour earlier than the Universal Time Coordinated during winter time and two hours earlier during summer time