Rio Douro, Porto
Historic classic yellow tram of Lisbon
Azenhas do Mar im Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

Portugal / Practical guidelines

General Information

The Capital

In Lisbon the past merges with many of today's attractions. The river Tejo and the almost always shining sun illuminate the Portuguese capital like a sea of color, highlighting its beauty and unique architecture.


U.S. Emabssy in Portugal
Avenida das Forças Armadas
1600-081 Lisboa
Phone: +351-21-727-3300
Fax: +351-21-726-9109

U.S. Consulate in Portugal
Avenida Príncipe do Mónaco, 6-2 F
9500-237 Ponta Delgada
Phone: +351 296 308 330
Fax: +351 296 287 216

British Embassy
Rua de São Bernardo 33
1249-082 Lisbon 
Phone: +351 21 392 40 00
Fax: +351 21 392 41 84

British Consulate Lisbon
Rua de São Bernardo 33
1249-082 Lisboa 
Phone: +351 21 392 40 00
Fax: +351 21 392 41 53


Nationwide emergency number: 112


Given the prevalent criminality (especially pickpocketing in places frequently visited by tourists), the following common precautionary measures should be taken into account:
- If possible park cars only in guarded parking lots
- Never leave your luggage unattended
- Leave valuables in the hotel


One of the worst mistakes a tourist can make is to dismiss Portuguese as a dialect of Spanish.

Food and Drinks

In Portugal it is very common to go out for a meal. Especially at weekends, lunch or dinner is always a welcome occasion to meet up with friends or to travel around the country.
The variety of restaurants is considerable and meets different tastes. Normally it is possible to have lunch from 12.00 to 15.00 and dinner from 19.00 to 22.00, but many restaurants also have more generous opening hours, especially in the big cities and in the nightlife areas.

Festivals and Public Holidays

New Year 's Day - 1 January
Freedom Day - 25 April
Labor Day - 1 May 
Portuguese National Holiday - 10 June
Assumption of Mary - 15 August
Proclamation of the Republic - 5 October
All Saints - 1 November
Independence Day - 1 December
Immaculate Conception - 8 December
Christmas - 25 December
New Year's Eve - 31 December 
National holidays with changing dates: Good Friday + Corpus Christi


Portugal has a temperate climate with long warm summers and rainy winters characterized by Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean influences.
The climate also varies depending on the altitude and proximity to the sea. In the mountainous north, it is generally colder and rainier, while Lisbon, the Alentejo and the Algarve have long, hot summers with temperatures of up to 35-40 ° C. The humidity is lower the further you get away from the coast. Inland, there is a fairly mild climate.

Time Zone

During the winter period, ie between the last Sunday in October and the last Sunday in March, the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is valid on the Portuguese mainland.
On the last Sunday in March, time is switched to summer time (which ends on the last Sunday in October). Then on the Portuguese mainland time is GMT + 1 hour.

Electricity and Water

In Portugal, the voltage is 220/400 volts at a frequency of 50 hertz. The sockets comply with European standards.
When using American plugs you also need a transformer for 230 volts and an adapter.

Weights and Measures

Long distances are measured in kilometers in Portugal. A kilometer equals about 2/3 mile.


Shorter distances are measured in meters. A meter is 3.28 feet (1.09 yards).


Weights are measured in kilos. One kilo equals 2.20 pounds.


Local Matters

Opening Hours

Traditionally, the shops open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 10am and close at 7pm. Some will have a lunch break from 1pm to 3pm. From November to January, the shops generally close at 1pm, except for a few downtown shops that are also open in the afternoons. In December, shops are open on Saturday afternoons and, in some cases, Sundays to facilitate Christmas shopping.
The many shopping malls located inside and outside the cities have longer opening hours - usually from 10am to midnight.

To be paid locally

Fuel costs, costs for fuel service (if applicable), costs for rental cars (see rental car conditions, e.g. one-way rental, permits, child seats, etc.), tolls, food, costs for excursions booked locally by yourself, private expenses (e.g. costs for souvenirs, medication, etc.), tips, entrance fees (if applicable), transport costs (e.g. taxi, bus, train, ferry), tourism levy (if applicable), parking fees (if applicable).

Arrival and Departure

Travel Documents and Formalities

Portugal is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens for business or tourism are permitted to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days without a visa within a six-month period. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. 

For updated visa information, contact the Embassy of Portugal in Washington, DC or the Portuguese Consulates in Boston, MA; New Bedford, MA; Providence, RI; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; or San Francisco, CA. The Embassy of Portugal is located at 2012 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, tel. (202) 350-5400. Visit the Government of Portugal's website for the most current contact information for Portuguese embassies and consulates.

Citizens of the European Union and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Romania and Switzerland only need an identity card to enter Portugal.


(International) Driving License

In addition to your regular driver's license an international driver's license must be obtained before you travel to Portugal. Although not all countries require that foreign drivers carry this permit, Portugal is one of the few that does make this a requirement. If you plan to rent a vehicle for your travel, this permit must be shown to the rental agency. In addition, this permit must be shown to law enforcement officials should you be pulled over while you are in the country.

Road Code

The use of seat belts is required by law. According to road traffic regulations, the use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited and is punishable, unless, in the vehicle, a speakerphone is installed or the driver uses a phone with a headset. In Portugal, it is prohibited to drive vehicles with a blood alcohol value of 0.5 or more. Violation of this statutory alcohol limit will be penalized with penalties that vary according to blood alcohol levels.

Speed Limits

Maximum speed limit for cars without trailers and motorcycles:
50 km / h within closed villages;
90 km / h on ordinary roads;
100 km / h on expressways that may only be used by motor vehicles;
120 km / h on the highways.

Breakdown and Accident

With the rental car documents you will receive an emergency number.

Toll Roads

The road network is well developed. In addition to the motorways, there are many motorway-like developed highways (IC), which are chargeable. In Lisbon and Porto you should refrain from driving. Among the road maps, especially the Portuguese Automobile Club ACP is recommended, as it is regularly updated.
Detailed information is also available at

In Portugal, there are two ways to pay the toll: cash at the paying agencies or electronically.
On some sections of motorway in Portugal tolls can only be paid electronically. There are no more toll booths, but the vehicles are registered when passing through the toll gate at the beginning of each section.
On the onramp to these routes, you will find the note "Electronic toll only", a blue sign. Please check with the car rental company at the time of pick up how the electronic toll is handled.

Affected routes:

Norte Litoral
- A27 / IP9: Viana do Castelo - Ponte de Lima
- A28 / IC1: Viana do Castelo - Oporto

AE Transmontana
- A4: Variant Sul de Bragança

Interior Norte
- A24 / IP3: Vila Verde da Raia (border) - Viseu

Grande Porto
- A4: Matosinhos - Águas Santas
- A41 / IC24: Perafita / Freixieiro - Sêroa (West)
- A42 / IC25: Sêroa (West) - Lousada

Centro (Costa de Prata)
- A17 / IC1: Estádio de Aveiro - Mira - Carestrada do Litoral Centro (entre Mira e Aveiro)
- A25 / IP5: Albergaria-a-velha (A1 / IP1) - Vilar Formoso (fronteira)
- A29 / IC1: Miramar - Angeja

Centro (Beira Interior)
- A23 / IP6: Torres Novas - Guarda

Lisboa Região (Pinhal Interior)
- A13 / IC3: Atalaia - Tomar

Lisboa Região (Littoral Oeste)
- A8 / IC36: Variant Sul de Leiria
- A19 / IC2: Variant da Batalha

Baixo Tejo
- A33 - Belverde - Coina

Algarve (Via do Infante)
- A22: Lagos - Castro Marim

If the vehicle does not have an electronic device when it passes the tollgate, the number plate is registered and stored until the toll has been paid.
Payment period: the payment must be made within a period of 5 days from the second day after passing through the toll booth at the post office counter or at a payshop branch.
Costs: toll + handling costs (25 cents per section up to a maximum of 2 euros per payment transaction)
If the driver does not comply with the term of payment, he will commit an illegality and will be fined plus additional administrative fees.

Further information also for motor vehicles with international registration can be found at or

If you drive to Portugal with a German, Spanish or any other non-Portuguese license plate, you should stop at a "Welcome Point" immediately after the border. These "points" are located just after the border crossing from Spain to Portugal on the following highways:
A28 Viana do Castelo
A24 Chaves
A25 Vilar Formoso
A22 Vila Real de Santo António

Navigation System

The best solution is always a GPS. While rented units are often available, downloading an offline software for your smartphone is a good alternative. Free service is available from "HERE Maps". Although you won't be able to search by coordinates when offline, you can do so while connected to WIFI in your hotel and save places to favorites. The directions from HERE are not very detailed. If you prefer a more detailed navigation, other products are available from TomTom or Navigon at an annual fee. Should you already own a GPS unit you can download the relevant maps prior to departure.



The check-in time is normally between 4 pm and 7 pm unless otherwise stated in your travel documents. Earlier arrival can be arranged with your hosts. Please notify your hosts if you will be arriving after 8 p.m.


Umfulana's portfolio includes private houses, country inns and smaller hotels. As a rule, accommodation with breakfast is booked in advance.


Medical Insurance

Check to make sure your health insurance covers travel abroad. If not, you would be wise to take out travel insurance, so that medical costs will be covered by your insurance in case of illness abroad.

Local Health Care

Most hospitals (hospital) have a 24-hour emergency service and an emergency room (urgencia). In the countryside, health centres (centro de saude) will be your first port of call.


Alcohol and Cigarettes

Since 1 January 2008, smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places in Portugal. The smoking ban applies to all public buildings, workplaces, public transport, health care facilities, laboratories and pharmacies, educational establishments, enclosed spaces in sports facilities, museums, food and drink establishments, car parks, theatres, cinemas and concert halls, libraries, hotels and restaurants, service areas and petrol stations. Fines will be imposed for non-compliance.


Restaurant bills include service, but it is customary to tip around 5-10% of the bill amount.
Also for taxi rides, one usually gives a tip that normally corresponds to a rounding up of the amount to be paid.