Useful information : When to go, Getting around...
When to go
The Portuguese climate is particularly pleasant in springand autumn. A season of religious celebrations, folk festivals and verdant landscapes, spring offers the perfect climate for a visit to the Algarve, in the south of the country.
Autumn, meanwhile, is a great time to admire the vines and sweet chestnuts of the provinces of Minho and Trás-os-Montes, when the Douro valley, close to Porto, gears up for the grape harvest, and to escape the heat – particularly trying inland – and the crowds that the summer brings. In summer, tourist numbers and, as a result, prices in the coastal resorts go through the roof, particularly in the south of the country. This is unfortunate because the sea here remains delightfully warm, whilst further north the waters of the Atlantic, though a veritable surfers’ playground, are cold and unpredictable. The summer is also the season of romarias (processions), festivals and sporting events.
Inwinter, it can get quite cold, particularly inland where the flowering almond trees transform the landscape of the Algarve and offer a spectacle not to be missed!
Formalities and useful addresses
EU nationals must be in possession of a valid identity card or passport.
American citizens can enter Portugal visa-free for a period of up to three months and must be in possession of a passport which is valid for at least three months beyond their intended date of departure.
British Embassy – Rua de São Bernardo 33 - 1249-082 Lisbon - [TEL] 213 92 40 00 - www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-lisbon
US Embassy – Avenida das Forças Armadas - 1600-081 Lisbon - [TEL] 217 27 33 10 - www.portugal.usembassy.gov
Money and budget
Banks open Monday to Friday, 8.30am-3pm.
Most pension-style hotels and small restaurants do not accept credit cards.
ATMs are widespread throughout Portugal.
Double room in a very basic hotel: €50/60.
Double room in a comfortable hotel: €80/100.
Meal in a restaurant: €15/25.
Category A car rental (for a week): around €300.
Bike hire for a day: €10/15.br/>Espresso: €0.80/1.20.
Admission to a museum or monument: €2/10.
Health and safety
Before leaving home, British travellers should consult the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, which provides up-to-date information on travel around the globe: www.fco.gov.uk br/>American visitors can check the US State Department website for travel advice (www.state.gov).
European emergency number: [TEL] 112
220 V. Plugs have two round pins.
25 April – Anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, Liberation Day
10 June – Portugal’s National Day
8 December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
In addition, all towns celebrate their own patron saint’s day and public holiday.
Pousadas (similar to Spanish paradors) are luxury hotels which often occupy historic sites. Booking is recommended.
Post offices open from Monday to Friday, 8.30am-6pm.
Stamps (selos) can be bought in post offices, souvenir shops and some newsagents.
International airports in Lisbon, Porto, Faro (Algarve), Funchal (Madeira) and Ponta Delgada (Azores) – www.ana.pt
Taxis are beige in colour and reasonably priced.