Since the 1st January 1999, the Euro has been the official currency of 12 European Union member states including Portugal. It was physically introduced in January 2002. Now, across the Eurozone, (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain) the Euro is the official currency and used in all transactions.
The Euro is divided up into 100 Centimes. There are eight coins denominated in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Centime and 1 and 2 Euro values. The design on one side of the coins is common to all (the European side) while the reverse side features a national symbol. However, all Euro coins can be used in every member state irrespective of their national origin.
The notes are distinguishable by both their color and size and are available in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euro.
Voltage: 230 Volt at a frequency of 50 Hertz.
All sockets follow European standards (type C and type E/F sockets).
To use American type plugs, a 230 volt transformer should be applied together with an adapter plug.
The official language is Portuguese. English and French are widely spoken.
Portugal mainland and Madeira time is the Greenwich Mean time (GMT) plus one hour except for Azores which is one hour behind Portugal during summer time, i.e. between 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March and 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October.
Lisbon has a mild weather, winters are never too cold and summers are always moderately hot. Lightweight clothing is suitable from June to September. September temperatures typically range between 18-28°C; light rain may occur although it is not common in the beginning of the month. For average climate information check WeatherSpark or Holiday Weather.
For official weather forecast please visit IPMA website.
Restaurants are usually open for lunch from 12 noon to 3 pm and for dinner from 7 pm to 10 pm. Many have longer opening hours.
Banks are open from 8.30 am to 3 pm, from Monday to Friday.
Debit cards for use in the ATM machines system is wide spread (there are often several machines in the same street), and credit cards are also common. Cards accepted in cash ATM machines include American Express, Maestro, MasterCard and VISA, among others. These machines work 24 hours a day and are commonly known as MULTIBANCO. You can use your card to withdraw money or pay for services (at shops, main train stations, etc.). Check with your bank for details on debit and credit cards compatible with those used in Portugal.
During the week, Post Offices are open from 9 am to 6 pm and closed on weekends (for more information please visit the CTT webpage).
Public telephones can be found at airports, seaports, bus and railway stations, in the streets, bars and restaurants. There are two types of telephones that you are likely to come across: coin and card operated (see signs on the booth).
For international calls, dial 00, followed by the country code, then area code, and finally the telephone number.
Working days: open from 9 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 7 pm.
Saturdays: open from 9 am to 1 pm.
When the pharmacy is closed, there will be a notice in the window showing the nearest one on duty, which is open 24 hours a day.
In case of emergency dial 112 at any time of the day or night and wherever you are in Portugal. Clinics and hospitals provide round the clock emergency service.
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.
Smoking is forbidden in enclosed public spaces (unless in clearly marked smoking areas). This ban extends to government buildings, work places, public transports, healthcare establishments, laboratories and pharmacies, schools and other educational establishments, indoor sports facilities, museums, shops selling food and drink, indoor car parks, concert and theater halls, libraries, hotels, and service stations.
Restaurants, bars and discos with a floor area of more than 100 m2 must clearly mark out areas where smoking is allowed, which must have adequate ventilation and may not amount to more than 30% of the total area.
Tipping is optional in Portugal. When the client is pleased with the service, a 5% to 10% tipping is usual in taxis, restaurants and bars.
Shops are usually open only from Monday to Friday, from 9 am or 10 am to 6 pm or 7 pm, and some close for two hours for lunch, from 1pm to 3 pm. Some shops are open on weekends, especially on Saturday mornings. Sales tax (VAT) is included in prices quoted. For non EU residents, tax free shopping schemes are available in many shops, which may give substantial savings to visitors.
Shopping malls are normally not much more expensive, and are usually open for longer periods, generally from 10 a.m. to midnight, and on weekends.
There are big shopping zones in the following streets/squares of Lisbon: Chiado, Rossio, Rua Augusta (Baixa de Lisboa – downtown) and Avenida da Liberdade. There are also three big shopping malls in Lisbon: Amoreiras, Colombo, Vasco da Gama.
Fine leather goods, lead crystal ware, porcelain, vintage wines, golden and silver filigree, pottery and specialist textiles are considered excellent buys in Portugal.
Crime rates in Portugal are among the lowest in the world. Hotels have their own security staff, which is sufficient for most events. Specialist firms are also available if necessary, and the police provide special protection for visiting dignitaries and high risk individuals.