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General Info about Portugal

Visa requirements:
For nationals of the EU a visa isn’t required to enter Portugal although you do need a passport that is valid for 6 months after date of entry. Same applies to nationals of Canada, New Zealand, USA and Australia for a stay of up to 90 days. Natives of South Africa require a visa.

It is advised that you contact the Portuguese embassy in your native country before travelling to ensure you are aware of the proper requirements for both holidays and working holidays.

Currency
The currency used in Portugal is the Euro which is made up of 100 Cent. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.

Language
Portugal’s official language is Portuguese. English is also widely spoken, particularly in the tourism industry.

Climate
Southern Portugal enjoys a Mediterranean climate from March to October while up north temperatures don’t reach quite same the heights. Rain falls more frequently up north also.

Medical Care
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect an E111 form from your local social security office. This form may also be obtained in post offices.

For minor health problems visit the ‘farmacia’ (pharmacy) where trained pharmacists should be able to assist you.

Time Zone
Portugal is located in the Central European Time zone (CET) which is one hour ahead of GMT.

Opening Hours
Shops in Portugal generally open between 9am and 1pm and again from 3pm until 7pm from Monday to Saturday. It is worth noting, however, that in smaller towns and villages they only open until 2.00pm on Saturdays. Office hours are generally the same as the shops but they don’t open at all on Saturdays.

Tourist Offices
Airports always have good tourist desks. You will find tourist offices in all major towns and cities in Portugal. Opening hours vary, although most are open between 9am and 6pm.

Tax
Sales tax in Portugal is 19% and is known as Imposto Sobre Valor Acrescentado (IVA).

Currency Exchange
Banks and bureau du changes are all over Portugal and take both cash and travellers cheques. They all have different exchange rates so your best bet is to shop around.

Credit cards and bank cards can be used in cash machines that display the ‘Cirrus’ sign.

Electricity
220V/50Hz. Plugs are two-pinned.

Telephones
To call Portugal from overseas, first dial the international access code of the country you are in followed by Portugal’s country code (351) followed by the local number. Portugal doesn’t have area codes.

Calling overseas from within Portugal you first dial the international access code (00) followed by the country code for wherever you are calling, the area code (dropping the 0) and the local number.

The easiest way to make calls is by using pre-paid phonecards which are easily obtained.

Post Office
Post offices are called ‘correios’. They open at 9am until 10pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am-6pm at the weekends.

Tipping
Some restaurants include a service charge in the bill. Menus will usually state this. If not a tip of between 5%-10% will suffice. Taxi drivers are usually tipped also.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.

In Portugal they are New Years Day (January 1st), Carnival (February), Easter (March/April), Revolution Day (April 25th), Labour Day (May 1st), Portugal Day (June 10th), Feast of the Assumption (August 15th), Republic Day (October 5th), All Saints Day (November 1st), Independence Day (December 1st) and Christmas Day (December 25th).

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