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Portugal has a wide range of all kinds of accommodation to choose from. Whatever your preferences, you're guaranteed to find a space which adapts to your own special needs.

Hotel Accommodation
The vast supply of hotel establishments available all around the country provides tourists with accommodation, either with or without the provision of meals and other accessory services, according to the following classification:

- Hotels (H)
The supply of hotels is diversified, with a large number of such units on offer, classified from 1 to 5-star depending on their location and the quality of their facilities;

- Aparthotels (HA)
Classified from 1 to 5-star, these are the ideal choice for tourists seeking greater independence, but still wishing to enjoy all the services of a hotel;

- Pousadas
Housed in historic buildings or located at sites of great natural beauty, these are classified under 4 categories: Historic, Historic Design, Nature and Charm.

Tourist Villages (A)
Classified from 3 to 5-star, tourist villages consist of interdependent accommodation units contained within a specially marked out area, where tourist support services are also provided.

Tourist Apartments (AT)
Classified from 3 to 5-star, tourist apartments are the ideal choice for those who prefer to stay in an independent accommodation unit with access to shared areas and services.

Resorts (CT)
Resorts are a good choice for those wishing to enjoy a variety of leisure services and equipment in the same area with access to different accommodation options, either in the form of a 4 or 5-star hotel or another type of tourist establishment.

Tourism in a Manor House (TH)
Those who prefer to receive accommodation in a family environment can choose to stay in manor houses, palace-like houses or residences of recognised architectural, historic or artistic value, in either a rural or urban setting.

(Source: Turismo de Portugal, I.P.)

Tourism in the Country (TER)
Offering accommodation in country residences exhibiting the distinctive features of their particular rural setting, Tourim in the Country enables tourists to enjoy more direct contact with the local populations, their customs and habits, as well as with Nature itself. These accommodation units may be classified as:

- Country Houses (CC)
These are houses located in villages and rural areas that still preserve the original design, building materials and other typical features of the local architecture;

- Agricultural Tourism (AG)
This consists of accommodation on a farm, where tourists can take part in the agricultural work if they so wish;

- Ruiral Hotels (HR)
Classified from 3 to 5-star, these hotels are to be found in rural areas, respecting the original layout and architectural characteristics of the surrounding region.

Scattered all around the country, Camping Sites enable tourists to enjoy direct contact with Nature. Camping Sites may be considered either public (if they are open to the general public) or private (if access is reserved to members or beneficiaries of the site's operating body). These latter sites are identified with the letter "P", and the possibility of staying at the camping site must always be checked beforehand. Depending on the infrastructures and services provided, Camping Sites may be classified from 3 to 5-star, although such classification is not mandatory.

Nature Tourism
Whenever a tourist establishment is located in a nature protected area or in an area classified as being of natural value, it is included in the category of Nature Tourism, a practice that is recognised by the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Biodiversity. In this case, equipment and services must be provided that enable tourists to enjoy and interpret nature.

Youth Hostels
Youth hostels are located close to beaches, in the countryside or in the main cities, offering accommodation at attractive prices. They are aimed above all at people who have a youthful spirit and enjoy sharing the same space in an atmosphere of conviviality, although some Youth Hostels also have double or family rooms.





Portugal uses the common official European Union currency: the euro (€).
1 euro is divided into 100 cents. The coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euros.
The notes are differentiated by their size and colour and come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros.
One side of the coins has a common design (the European side), and the other side has a national symbol.

All euro coins can be used in any euro-zone country, irrespective of which national symbols they display. 

Banking Hours
Banks are open from 08h30 to 15h00 Monday to Friday, closing on public holidays.

ATMs - Automatic Teller Machines (Multibanco)

Portugal has a national network of cash machines (ATMs) identified by the symbol MB (Multibanco), from which you can withdraw cash 24 hours a day.

Currency Exchange
You can exchange money at banks, at bureaux de change, and at automatic currency exchange machines (these are for currency sale transactions only).

Credit Cards
In Portugal, the most commonly used credit cards are: Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Europay / MasterCard, JCB and Maestro.






Winter Time
Universal Time Coordinated (UTC)
- from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October to 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March

Summer Time
Universal Time Coordinated plus one hour (UTC+1)
- from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March and 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October


Winter Time

Universal Time Coordinated minus one hour (UTC-1)
- from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October to 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March

Summer Time
Universal Time Coordinated (UTC)
- from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in March and 1 a.m. on the last Sunday in October


Open from 08h30 to 15h00 Monday to Friday, closing on public holidays.
ATMs, identified as MB (Multibanco) available 24 hours a day.

Medical Facilities
Medical assistance is available in hospitals providing 24 hours a day emergency service. There are also many clinics open from 08h00 to 20h00.

Petrol Stations
Open from 07h00 to 22h00 every day of the week. On highways services stations are open 24 hours a day.

Open from 09h00 to 13h00 and from 15h00 to 19h00 Monday to Friday, and Saturday from 09h00 to 13h00. In every area, there is always a pharmacy open all night and on Sunday.

Post Offices
Open from 09h00 to 18h00 Monday to Friday. In main cities there is one post office station open on Saturdays.

Shopping Centres
Open from 10h00 to 22h00 or later, every day of the week.

Open from 09h00 to 13h00 and 15h00 to 19h00 Monday to Friday and Saturday from 09h00 to 13h00, even though there are some open in the afternoon and on Sundays.

Subway (Metro)
The subway (metro) starts operating at 06h30 and closes at 01h00.





Portugal uses right-hand drive, as in other mainland European countries, and road signs comply with international rules.

At plazas, crossroads and junctions, unless signposted otherwise, vehicles coming from the right have right of way. Vehicles that are already on roundabouts have right of way.


- Personal ID

- Driving Licence

- Motor Insurance Certificate

- Vehicle Registration or Equivalent

- Vehicle Logbook (livrete) or equivalent


All cars must carry a legal reflector vest within the interior of the car, and it must be worn by any person carrying out repairs when outside the vehicle and the vehicle is stationary on the road.

An authorized warning triangle is mandatory, and it must be displayed on the road to warn oncoming drivers that your vehicle has problems.

A replacement bulb set is also mandatory. First-aid kit is advised, but not compulsory.


All occupants must wear seat belts (front and rear seats).


Crash helmets on motorcycles are mandatory.


Children under 12 years old are not allowed to sit in the front seat (unless they are over 150cm tall), and are required to be fastened in the appropriate style chairs for their age in the back.

Baby and booster seats are required by law up to age of 12 and must be used with their fastening system when travelling.


Driving regulations for disabled persons relate solely to their physical and mental fitness and may result in restrictions or adaptations that must be mentioned in the driving licence.

Disabled persons with a driving licence that is valid in Portugal may drive vehicles provided that they comply with the restrictions or adaptations relating to their situation.

Parking cards for people with disabilities, based on the standardised Community model and issued by any of the Member States, are recognised in Portugal.

The spaces reserved for this purpose are clearly signposted.

Parking is permitted in other places, in situations of absolute necessity, provided that this is only for short periods of time and does not interfere with the normal and free circulation of pedestrians and vehicles.


The Portuguese Highway Code forbids the use of mobile phones while driving, unless you are using hands-free equipment or an earphone.

GPS devices can be used but should be programmed while the vehicle is stationary.


Speed limits for cars without trailers and motorcycles:

 50 kph - in built-up areas
 90 kph - on normal roads
100 kph - on roads restricted to motor vehicles
120 kph - on motorways


It is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.5 grams per litre or more.

A blood alcohol level between 0,5 g/l and 0,8 g/l is considered a serious offence, and it is sanctioned with a driving inhibition between 1 month and a 1 year and a fee payment of an amount from 250 up to 1250 euros.

A blood alcohol level between 0,8g/l and 1,2g/l is a very serious offence, sanctioned with a period of driving inhibition between 2 months and 2 years and the a fee payment of an amount from 1250 up to 2500 euros.

A blood alcohol level of 1,2g/l or more is considered a crime, that can be punished with imprisonment up to 1 year or fee penalty up to 120 days, and driving inhibition between 3 months and 3 years.


The Portuguese Highway Code forbids the use of mobile phones while driving, unless you are using hands-free equipment or an earphone.

GPS devices can be used but should be programmed while the vehicle is stationary.


Many motorways in Portugal have tolls.

To use a toll road, take a ticket from the machine at the start of the route.

At the exit, present your ticket at the toll booth or automatic payment machine.

Cash and credit cards are accepted.

Some roadways have overhead electronic gantries that collect tolls automatically from a device fitted on the windscreen.


Always park on the right - you are not allowed to park your car facing oncoming traffic.

Parking laws are strict and if violated, vehicles can be immobilized.

Vehicles parked on pavements other when permitted as indicated by signs, are subject to the vehicle being impounded for a period of one month up to one year.


In case of accidents, the
Emergency number for Police/Fire/Ambulance Service in Portugal is 112.

If your car breaks down, put on the safety vest before exiting the vehicle.

The reflective warning triangle should be placed at a safe distance from the rear of the vehicle to alert oncoming drivers.

Orange SOS telephones are regularly positioned along motorways in case of emergency.


There are car rental services at airports, international rail terminuses and in the main towns and cities.

Drivers with mobility difficulties, or anyone who prefers to, can rent automatic or adapted vehicles.

To rent a car you must:

- be at least between 21 and 25 years old, depending on the company's rental policy

- show identification (identity card for EU citizens or a valid passport in case of South Africans)
- an International Driving Permit, accompanied by a South African driver's licence.

- have had a driving licence for more than one year, depending on the company's rental policy

- Drivers younger than 25 may need to pay a young driver surcharge (paid locally).

Your car hire agreement must include 3rd party insurance (compulsory in the EU).




1 January
   New Year's Day

25 April
   Freedom Day

1 May
   Worker's Day

10 June
   Portugal Day

15 August
   Assumption Day

5 October
   Implantation of the Republic

1 November
   All Saints' Day

1 December
   Restoration of Independence

8 December
   Immaculate Conception

25 December
   Christmas Day

Moveable national holidays

Good Friday
(first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox)

Corpus Christi
(Thursday after Trinity Sunday)




Portugal has a modern and flexible telecommunications market and a wide range of varied media organisations. .


Portugal's country code is 351 (+351).

All telephone numbers functioning from the national network provider and the numbers of mobile phones purchased in Portugal are composed of nine digits.

For Portugal's dialling codes, numbers beginning with 607 or 707 are charged a premium rate.

Portugal's calling code for toll free numbers start with (+351) 180.

Portugal's calling code for emergency services is 112 (also possible for messaging and from mobile phones without SIM cards).

To call abroad from Portugal, dial 00, the country code, the area code and then the desired number.


If you use a landline in Portugal, it is cheaper to make calls overnight from 21h00 to 09h00 and on weekends.


Portugal has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world; the number of operative mobile phones already exceeds the population.

The three major mobile phone service providers - MEO, Vodafone and NOS - have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone companies and provide users with a good coverage nationwide, including 4G network.

Mobile phones are available either on contract or you can buy a prepaid SIM card in Portugal.


Deals vary considerably between providers and based on what kind of usage you need (data/international calling etc.).

You may also buy a pay-as-you go phone and you'll be able to top it up through an ATM, or you can pay in cash or by debit card in a phone shop.

International calls can be expensive from your mobile, especially if you don't have a designated call package.

If you make a lot of overseas calls, you could consider using a service such as Skype instead of your mobile phone or buy an international calling card.

If you intend taking a mobile phone from South Africa to Portugal, make sure it is compatible with the Portuguese networks. If in doubt, ask your service provider.


Country code (Top level domain): PT

Portugal has the distinction of being one of the few European countries to have internet coverage in virtually the entire territory.

There are several service providers offering ADSL, fiber and wireless services to the residential and the professional markets.

However, only residents can subscribe to an Internet service in Portugal.

Paid Internet connections are available at many cafés, as well as many post offices.

One can also connect to the Internet at hotels, conference centres and shopping centres, where special areas are reserved for this purpose.

Free Internet access is also available at "Espaços de Internet" across the country.




At its best, Portuguese food is simple ingredients impeccably prepared. Based on regional produce, emphasising fish, meat, olive oil, tomato, and spices, it features hearty soups, homemade bread and cheeses, as well as unexpected combinations of meat and shellfish.

Each region has its own set of products and a characteristic way of cooking them. Trás-os-Montes is known for its blood sausages and smoked meat, the coast is visited for its grilled fish and prawns, in Alentejo you can taste black pork and in each district there are a number of delicacies that you can't find in other areas of the country.

If there is one thing that typifies traditional Portuguese food, however, it is fish. Portugal has Europe's highest fish consumption per capita and is among the top four in the world for this indicator

"Bacalhau" (salted cod) is the Portuguese fish and said to be the basis for some 365 recipes, one for each day of the year.
Shellfish, including clams (amêijoas) and mussels (mexilhões) are of a high quality.
Crab and squid are often stuffed, and "lulas recheadas" (stuffed squid) is a great example of Portuguese seafood. Visitors to Lisbon can find traditional shops by the docks selling snails (caracóis).

For the meat-lover, suckling pig (leitão) is popular. "Cozido à portuguesa", a one-dish meal of beef, pork, sausage and vegetables, reflects the resourcefulness of traditional cooking.

A rather more unusual combination is the pork and clams of "carne de porco à alentejana" (pork Alentejo-style). Pork is also cooked with mussels na "cataplana", with the wok-like "cataplana" sealing in the flavours.

Meanwhile, the city of Porto boasts "tripa à moda do Porto" (Oporto-style tripe).

Broiled chicken (frango grelhado), seasoned with peri-peri, garlic, and/or olive oil, is well known outside Portugal.

Madeira has its own characteristic gastronomy, which mixes the Atlantic with the exotic.

Fish and seafood are cooked in traditional ways, such as fillets of black scabbard fish (peixe-espada preto) or tuna steaks (bifes de atum), served with crispy fried maize (milho frito); there is also octopus and delicious seafood, such as limpets and winkles.

The most traditional meat dish is the famous beef on a skewer made of a laurel stick (espetada), which gives it a unique flavour.

The gastronomy of the Azores includes some species of fish and seafood which are unique in Portugal.

Fish can be grilled freshly caught, or cooked in "caldeiradas" (fish soups). Stewed octopus is another common delicacy.

The rump of beef from Terceira island is well known throughout the islands as well as the much enjoyed boiled meat dish "Cozido das Furnas", on the island of S. Miguel, where hermetically sealed containers are placed under the earth and the food is cooked in the natural heat present in the ground.

Portugal's typical pastries were created in the Middle Ages monasteries by nuns and monks, and their names are usually related to monastic life, such as, "barriga de freira" (nun's belly), "papos de anjo" (angel's chests), and "toucinho do céu" (bacon from heaven).

Originally from Lisbon, but popular nationwide, as well as among the diaspora, are "pastéis de nata" (custard tarts). Other typical pastries are the "bola de Berlim" (doughnut with no hole), the "pão-de-ló" (spong cake) and the "bolo de arroz" (rice cake).

Traditional pastries in Madeira include "bolo de mel" (honey cake) and according to custom, is never cut with a knife, but broken into pieces by hand.

Azores has a variety of pastries, including the tasty "queijadas" from the island of Graciosa.




The wines of Portugal are a legacy inherited from the Romans, subsequently nurtured & developed by the Portuguese.

Portugal rates fitth (2005) in the world as a wine-producing country and records show exports dating back to 1367.

Portugal has two wine producing regions protected by UNESCO as World Heritage: the Douro Valley Wine Region (Douro Vinhateiro) and Pico Island Wine Region (Ilha do Pico Vinhateira, Azores).

Portugal has a big variety of local kinds, producing a very wide variety of different wines with distinctive personality.

Port, a fortified wine produced in Douro's delimited region, is undoubtedly one of the great wines of the world .

Styles of Port include Vintage Port, Single Quinta Vintage Port, Late Bottle Vintage (LBV), Ruby Port, Tawny Port and White Port.

Madeira, a fortified wine made in the Madeira Islands is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines which can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines more usually consumed with dessert.

Vinho Verde (Green Wine) is an unique product in the entire world with a blending of aroma and petillance that makes it one of the most delicious natural beverages!

Vinho Verde is not really green. It is produced from green grapes that have not fully matured.

Vinho Verde is not really green. It is produced from green grapes that have not fully matured.

More red Vinho Verde than white is made, but most of the red is consumed locally.

The wines are trained high on trellises to keep acidity levels high and this tartness really does characterise a typical Vinho Verde.


Portugal produces good quality white and red wines.

The reds from Dão are the most famous wines in Portugal. These reds are velvet, smooth, and very popular internationally.

Other wines of distinction include Bairrada dry fruity whites, Bucelas dry whites, Carcavelos sweet whites, and Colares red wine made in the phylloxera-free sandy vineyards, Setúbal moscatel dessert wine.

Lancers and Mateus Rosé are two internationally known rosé wines.

In the Azores, Pico's most famous wine, the fortified verdelho, is now classified as a Vinho Licoroso de Qualidade Produzido em Região Determinada (VLQPRD), or "quality liqueur wine produced in a specific region."




Fado originated in sailors' bars in Lisbon towards the end of the 18th century and its name is derived from the Latin fatum, fate.

From the last quarter of the 19th century it was adopted by the aristocrats to express their romantic feelings using the words of great Portuguese poets and writers, and became linked to the word "saudade" (a longing for home and familiar places).

The voice of Amália Rodrigues has made fado known internationally.

Fado is considered the typical musical form of Lisbon and can be heard in the typical areas of Alfama and Bairro Alto in places known as "casas de fado".

Coimbra fado, sung in this city by students in their black gowns, is closer to troubadour origins.

One of the differences between these two types of fado sung in Lisbon and Coimbra is, that the second is traditionally sung as a solo by a man.

In the fado, the singer - the "fadista"" - stands dressed in black in front of the audience, and behind the fadista are the musicians.

Fado was include in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Lists in 2011.

Folk music and dancing is the other major fundamental form of Portuguese musical expression.

Each region of Portugal has its own style of dances and songs and the most traditional songs are of a slower rhythm than those in Spain.

Some of the best examples of the regional dances are the "vira", "chula", "corridinho", "fandango", "tirana" and "bailinho", many of which reflect the courting and matrimonial traditions of the area.

Cante Alentejano, from the Alentejo region, was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Lists in 2014

Music in Madeira is widespread and mainly uses local musical instruments such as the "machete", "rajão", "brinquinho" and "cavaquinho", which are used in traditional Folklore dances like the "Bailinho da Madeira".

The people of the Azores islands maintain some distinct musical traditions, such as the traditionally fiddle-driven chamarrita dance.




The beaches of Portugal are among the cleanest in Europe.

There are over 150 beaches that line the Atlantic Ocean, which accounts for over 200 kilometres of coastline.

Swim in the crystal clear waters of the Algarve or dip your toes into the wild Atlantic.

Many of these beaches are jammed with tourists during the summer months, though there are a few hidden gems that only a few know about.

These beaches vary in size, with small, sheltered coves accessible only by step stairs, contrasting with the vast stretches of white sand that sweep endlessly.

The main beaches are patrolled by lifeguards (Portugal has the highest number of supervised beaches in Europe) and have a wide selection of refreshment and water sport facilities.

Many beaches have the added charm of being part of an old Portuguese fishing village, where the everyday fishing activity attracts tourists.

The unparalleled quality of Portuguese beaches is reflected in the award of the blue flag, a European initiative, which campaigns against polluted beaches and is presented to beaches with good environmental management.

The Algarve is, undoubtedly, Europe's sunniest spot: a unique jewel where the finest beaches and weather on the continent meet traditional historic Portugal.

Beach Flag System:

Blue - EEC approved
Green - Safe to swim
Yellow - No swimming allowed
Red - No bathing allowed