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Practical A to Z

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Practical A to Z

Eating out

Tips and bills

It is customary to leave a 10% tip.

The cheapest establishments often indicate two prices for the same dish: one for a (very generous) half-portion (meia dose) and another for a full portion (dose), which is ideal for two people.

You will often be served a selection of appetisers, which will be added to the bill if eaten. If you don’t want any appetisers, simply tell the waiter.

Most restaurants bill extra for butter, but rarely for bread or a cover charge. Similarly, tap water is not commonly ordered and most people drink bottled water. Fish prices can be indicated per kilogram.

Where to eat

Restaurantes serve traditional or modern dishes. A tasca (tavern) or casa de pasto (small neighbourhood eatery) serves simple value-for-money fare. A cervejaria (literally beer house) is a little more expensive but still very reasonable and serves local specialities, to be sampled with a glass of beer; red meat takes pride of place in churrasqueiras, while marisqueiras specialise in fish and seafood. Finally, an adega is similar to a wine bar.

Meals are often eaten at the counter in the cheaper establishments.


The voltage in Portugal is 220V, but plugs are standard two-pin continental plugs, so you will probably need an adaptor.

Embassies and consulates

British Embassy –Rua de São Bernardo No 33, 1249-082 Lisboa – t 21 392 4000 – http://ukinportugal.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/

Irish Embassy – Rua da Imprensa a Estrela 1-4, 1200-684 Lisboa – t 21 392 9440 – Lisbonembassy@dfa.ie


Also see Know before you leave.


Universal European emergency number: t 112.

Medical emergencies: t 115.

Doctors and hospitals

Portugal’s hospitals are modern and well equipped, but often overcrowded. Expect long waiting times.


Chemists are open Monday-Friday, 9.30am-1pm and 3-7pm and on Saturday morning.



The currency of Portugal is the Euro.

Banks / exchange

Banks are open Monday-Friday from 8.30am to 3pm. Some banks provide coin machines outside their branches.

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques

Most guesthouses and small restaurants do not accept credit cards. ATMs (multibanco) are widely available throughout the country. Euro zone residents should note that bank charges for withdrawals and payments are identical to those in their country of origin.

Traveller’s cheques are accepted in all banks and in most exchange offices. However, they are not generally accepted in hotels. Travellers should also note that commission rates for traveller’s cheques are high (with a fixed rate of nearly €12).

Budget /cost of living

Those on a small budget should expect to spend €50/day per person for accommodation in a guesthouse, residencial or small hotel and a light lunch and dinner in a small value-for-money restaurant (less than €15).

If on a medium budget, plan on spending €90/day per person for a night in comfortable, well-equipped hotel and a light lunch and dinner in a more upmarket restaurant (between €16 and 30).

If you have more to spend, from €120/day per person you will be able to stay in an exclusive hotel or lovely pousada and treat yourself to at least one gourmet meal.

Sightseeing: entrance to museums and monuments (from €2 to 5), and the same amount for transport.


Post offices are open Monday-Friday from 8.30am to 6pm. Postage rates, within the Europe zone, are €0.67 for a standard letter or postcard.

Public holidays

1 January

6 January – Epiphany

Shrove Tuesday

Good Friday

25 April – Anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, Freedom Day

1 May

10 June – National Holiday

Corpus Christi – Moveable feast

15 August – Assumption Day

5 October – Proclamation of the Republic

1 November – All Saints Day

1 December – Restoration of Independence

8 December – Immaculate Conception

25 December

In addition, each town celebrates its own patron saint’s day (Saint Anthony in Lisbon on 13 June; Saint John in Porto on 24 June) and the town’s public holiday.



Visitors should be aware that the currents in the Atlantic Ocean can be extremely strong along the West coast. It is advisable to look for beaches that are watched by coast guards and indicated by green signs.

In towns

In Lisbon, visitors should be vigilant, particularly at night in the Penha de França, Campolide and Campo Grande districts. The 25 and 28 tramlines are particularly popular with pickpockets. Similarly, avoid the harbour and quayside districts in Porto at night-time.


Shops are open from 9am to 1pm and from 3pm to 7pm; shops are closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.


Calling Portugal from abroad

00 + 351 (country code for Portugal) + area code + number of the person.

Calling home from Portugal

00 + country code. For the United Kingdom: 44; for Ireland: 353.

National calls

Always dial the full 9-digit number with the area code, no matter where you are.

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