Travelling to Portugal

Language

Portuguese is the official language, but English is widely spoken and understood, especially among younger generations.

Climate

You can get the best weather in May, June, September and October. In some years July and August can be really hot.
March and April may be wonderfully sunny and warm or rainy and cool, it's hard to guess...
From November till February it's cold and often wet but it's when the best waves arrive!
Algarve has a warmer weather than the rest of the country, especially during winter time.

Cuisine

Portuguese cuisine is very appreciated by foreigners. It has a big diversity of flavours of Mediterranean influence.
You can have a full meal for very reasonable prices, especially away from Lisbon and the Algarve – the most tourist places.
One of the Portugal's most unique customs is the almost obligatory cover charge for bread, butter, olives and some kind of paste.
Seafood is particularly impressive, and of this type, sardines are the best value.
Bacalhau - salted cod - is the national dish and is served in a zillion different ways, but don't ever ask for "óleo de fígado de bacalhau".
Other particularly appreciated traditional items are "pastéis de nata", Portuguese coffee, perceves, Portuguese beer and wine – ask connoisseurs for cheap but good wine. They'll surprise you!
Service charges are usually added to hotel and restaurant bills, otherwise it is customary to leave no more than 10% tip. Bar staff and taxi drivers also expect tips, which usually entails rounding up of the bill to the nearest Euro.

Time

Local time is GMT (same as UK).

Electricity

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. outlets will fit the Europlug - round two-pin plugs.

Health

There are no health risks attached to travel to Portugal. Health facilities are good and reciprocal health agreements exist with most European countries, including the UK, whose citizens can receive low-cost emergency care at state hospitals. It is advisable that travellers obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travel. Dental care and repatriation costs are not covered under this agreement, and medical insurance is therefore advised.

Safety

Safety is not a problem for travel in Portugal but there is a rising incidence of petty theft and pick pocketing in crowded tourist areas, so reasonable care should be taken.
Portugal used to have a very poor road safety record but the situation has been changing lately since new roads and highways have been built all over the country and new severe laws have been imposed. So, exploring the country in a rented-car may be a good thing to do since distances are never too far and there's plenty to see.

Duty Free

Travellers arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 2 litres of liquor; 50g of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette; gifts up to the value of €33.50.

Entry requirements - Visas

The Schengen Treaty is fully applied in Portugal.
For EU countries or those under the Schengen Treaty, you may remain in Portugal as a tourist for a period not exceeding three months. If you intend to settle, you must apply for a Registration Certificate from the local Camara Municipal (Town Hall) or from the nearest office of the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (Portuguese immigration authority).
It is a legal requirement for foreigners to show some form of identification on request.
You need a valid passport or identity document for entry to and exit from Portugal. There is no minimum passport/document validity requirement but you should ensure that it is valid for the proposed period of your stay.
For other nationalities, procedures and required documents change according to different protocols established with those countries. Please check it in your country before travelling.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is necessary for entry for anyone travelling from an infected area and destined for the Azores or Madeira.
A minor under the age of 18 travelling to Portugal must either:
  • be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • carry a letter of authorisation to travel from a parent or guardian. The letter should name the adult responsible for the minor during his/her stay.

How to get there

You can get to Portugal by plane, car, bus or train.
Many flight companies, including low-cost, operate more than one daily flight to Portugal. There are plenty direct flights from almost all countries in Europe and overseas to Faro, Lisbon or Porto airports. Madeira Island airport or Azores Islands airports also have regular flights between Europe and USA.
You can check here all the flight companies flying to Portugal.
International trains and buses also head up to Lisbon or Porto everyday from Europe's main stations.

The last way from the airport/station to the surf camp can be done by bus, taxi or transfer. We always send to costumers all customized info about "how to get there" between the arrival point and the selected surf camp. Surfinn transfers must be booked in advance.

For bus information: http://www.rede-expressos.pt/
For train information: http://www.cp.pt/

Communications

The international access code for Portugal is +351. There are no area or city codes required. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Portugal is well covered by all modern mobile phone networks. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts.

Useful Contacts


  • SOS: 112
  • Tourist Information: 808781212
  • National Information Service: 118
  • Service Call for International Assistance: 120
  • National calls to be paid at the destination: 120
  • International Numbers Information Service: 177
  • Weather Information Services: 12150
  • Sports Information Service: 12157
  • Poisoning: 808250143
  • Civil Protection: 213148213
  • GNR - Guarda Nacional Republicana: 213217000 / www.gnr.pt
  • PSP - Police: www.psp.pt

Credit Cards

American Express: 707504050 / 21427820502
Master Card: 800811272
Visa: 800811107

Airports:

Faro: 289800800
Funchal: 291520700
Lisbon: 218413500 / 218413700
Ponta Delgada: 296205400
Porto: 229432400

Transport Information: www.transport.pt

Bus: 707223344 / www.rede-expressos.pt
Train: 808208208 / www.cp.pt
Post Office: 707262626