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Portugal Travel Tips

Portugal travel tips on money saving, personal safety, sightseeing, and enjoying your trip to the fullest from InfoHub suppliers and community members.

Public transports - Metro
Submitted by M19864
The Lisbon metro has now been substantially extended and also renovated, so that some stations are now authentic art galleries containing sculptures, paintings and decorative tile panels by Portuguese artists. You can buy tickets from the ticket offices or ticket machines at the stations.

When you buy a fare for the first time it will be more expensive as this includes the price of the card. The card can then be recharged and the fares will be cheaper. The metro runs from 6 am to 1 am. Porto also has a metro service.
Public transports - Bus
Submitted by M19864
Buses: You can buy tickets from the driver but it is much cheaper to purchase a set of tickets in advance. They must be validated by inserting them in the machine near the driver. If you travel without a ticket you are liable to a heavy fine.

All buses display their destination on the front. Timetables vary according to cities and routes. Rodoviária de Lisboa (217 899 700; Avenida do Brasil, 45 – Lisboa); Carris (213 632 044; Rua 1º de Maio, 101 – Lisboa)
Public Transports
Submitted by M19864
The most interesting areas in cities are normally the historic centres, which can be explored on foot as no great distances are involved. In large, hilly cities such as Lisbon and Porto, the steep slopes can be avoided by using trams, funiculars or lifts.

Most cities have good bus, taxi and train services. If you can, avoid using public transport during rush hours (8 am -10 am and 5.30 pm – 7.30 pm).
Internet access
Submitted by M19864
In Portugal more and more places are beginning to offer free Internet access, such as the local branches of the IPJ (Instituto Português da Juventude – Portuguese Youth Institute) or municipal libraries, where access is normally restricted to 30 minutes, although if no one is waiting you are allowed longer.

Cybercafés can be found in big cities and some post offices offer netpoints, both of which are paid services. Wireless Internet is now available in many public areas such as airports, hotels, some city ... view more parks and some McDonalds restaurants.
Best time to travel in Portugal
Submitted by M14951
- Portugal has a very mild climate, but Summer can be too hot for biking or walking.
- Best months are definitely March, April, May, June, September and October.
- May is great for wild flowers!
Using the washroom while riding
Submitted by M14951
We get the question a lot - can I go to that café and use the WC? Sure, but please ask first and it´s considered nice to buy at least a café or a bottle of water.
Safety in Portugal
Submitted by M14951
Portugal is definitely a safe country. Very few areas in Lisbon that you should avoid. Crime rate is very low in Portugal when compared to other European countries.
Biking in Portugal - is it safe?
Submitted by M14951
I have been guiding bicycle tours in Portugal for 8 years now. People ask me all the time - is it safe, how are Portuguese drivers?

My experience - Portuguese people drive fast but they do respect bicycle riders. Never had a problem in 8 years!
Submitted by M05876
National Emergency is 112
National Enquiries is 118
International Enquiries is 171
Pre-paid Calls is 172

Public telephones are to be found in the street in major towns and in the Post Offices. The national service is run by a State company named "Telecom" (TLP). Telephones can be used according to the two ways of paying other than with cash. One is by a card named "Credifone" and the other is by "TLP Card". The former is accepted throughout the country and the latter only in ... view more Lisbon and Porto. Cards can be purchased at shops displaying signs advertising their sale.

International calls can be made direct and the dial code for Portugal is "351". A caller must first dial "00", then his country dial number, then the area code without the prefix "0", and lastly the subscribers number. Call charges are cheaper between 22.00 hrs. and 08.00 hrs., and at weekends. Hotels charge a surcharge for outgoing calls.

Within Portugal you can call direct to any subscriber by first dialing the area code if the destination of the call is outside the area in which the call is being made. This area code is indicated by the prefix of "2" – example "289" indicates the area of Faro.

Mobile phones in Portugal use the GSM telephone service. Visitors using this system will have the benefit of Roaming. To contact a mobile phone number from a fixed phone you use the same method described above for dialing outside your area.

General Notes For Eating
Submitted by M05876
Portugal is an ideal holiday location for families with children. In restaurants the children’s misbehaviour may be completely accepted as the Portuguese love children to the point of spoiling them! Often the menu will indicate half-portions or a child’s plate, and if not, reduced amounts and prices can be normally requested.

Recently (Since 1st january 2008)there has been a Act published in our Parliament to introduce no smoking zones. If you see the sign "proibido fumar" (no smoking) you will ... view more this means "No Smoking" - and please respect this sign as heavy fines can be incurred.

One of the main problems in Portuguese restaurants is obtaining and paying the bill. The attitude of every waiter seems to be that once you have eaten you should sit and digest your food! Remember this is a Latin country and the pleasure of eating is taken seriously! A suitable remedy for too long a delay maybe to stand up as though you are leaving.

Somewhere in the greyness of distant times a tip was used as a reward for good service. When tipping at the table the Portuguese tend to leave either nothing or 5% as a reward. It is generally expected for a foreign tourist to leave 10%. There is no law stating what percentage you should use as a tip. When tipping, bear in mind that today the sum of € 1.00 does not buy very much and good service helps to make the meal. Your meal price includes Tax so request a "Factura" (Bill), as many restaurants may wish to pocket this money that you will be paying as an slice of extra profit!

Wines and Other Drinks
Submitted by M05876
The grapes in Portugal produces some very satisfying wines and especially in the case of the red. White wine is also bottled in quantity and is very palatable but their grapes do not generally produce any spectacular results.

After eating it is a must to sample the two most famous Portuguese fortified wines and known throughout the world, Port and Madeira. It is normally quite safe to order the "vinho da casa" (house-wine) to accompany your meal – however, please remember that it can be fresh ... view more country wine and although good, not necessarily pleasing to your personal palette.
The Menu
Submitted by M05876
In the tourist areas it is usual to see restaurants offering a "ementa turística" that is a three-course meal served with a drink and all at a lower price than from the menu. Also, in tourist areas you will find that the menu has been translated into more than one other language.

As soon as you have taken your seats it is normal in Portugal to be served with bread, olives and often some assorted appetizers for which you are charged. You may pay for what you eat but often it is also used as a form of ... view more cover charge.

There is a good reason for these items to be placed in front of you. In all Portuguese restaurant be prepared to wait. The chef will all start cooking after your order is placed and normally only using fresh food.

Vegetarians are not particularly well catered for although there are in major areas a limited number of specialized restaurants. However, as the vegetables grown in Portugal can be excellent I recommend some careful directions to the chef may produce very satisfying results.

Hours of Eating
Submitted by M05876
Generally speaking, lunch is eaten between 12.00 and 14.00 hours. Dinner is from about 19.30 to 23.00 hours. However, it is not uncommon to see a small group of people arriving for lunch at 14.30 hours, as they know the owners and what they are going to eat. In the cities in smarter restaurants it is advisable to make a prior reservation.
Time to Travel
Submitted by M05876
It is safe to suggest that the whole year is a good period to visit. Mainland Portugal has an attractive climate with long hot summers and mild pleasant winters. In the north winters are obviously cool and wet, whilst in the Algarve temperatures seldom ever fall below freezing except in the mountain regions. Inland areas have hotter summers and cooler winters except for mountainous regions that even enjoy snow. Madeira Islands and the Islands of the Azores enjoy a temperate climate the year around.
Tax (IVA)
Submitted by M05876
This tax that is the same as VAT is known as IVA in Portugal, and is at present 20%. Persons from outside the European Union (EU) and visiting for less than 180 days, can reclaim this tax by requesting a form named "Isenção de IVA". This form is presented to customs when leaving the country.
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