Area : 906 km2
Population : 250000 inhabitants
Jet Lag : The Azores islands are GMT-2
A flight from London to the islands' capital Ponta Delgada is roughly 5 hours.
The archipelago has three international airports: Faial, São Miguel and Terceira. The airports of Faial and the city of Horta are 6 miles from each other. The airport of São Miguel is 2.5 miles from Ponta Delgada.
Local authorities do not seem to be disturbed by the active volcanoes of the region. The latest volcanic eruption occurred in 1957 on the island of Faial, while the latest major earthquake ocurred in 1980 on Terceira. Meanwhile, take safety precautions here as you would anywhere else.
The language is Portuguese however, English may be more common in the touristic areas.
For European citizens, a passport that has a validity of at least 6 months is sufficient.
84.5% of the Portuguese population is Roman Catholic, with another 2.2% belonging to different Christian faiths. There are also small minorities of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and atheists.
The currency is the Euro. Travellers cheques and international credit cards are accepted (American Express, Visa, Eurocard, etc). Most banks are open during the week from 8:30am to 3:00pm and closed on Saturdays.
Portugal's international airports are Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Funchal (the island of Madeira) and Ponta Delgada in the Azores Islands and are used by a wide number of airlines, low cost and otherwise. To get to the centre of Lisbon from the airport, a bus provides regular trips every 20 minutes from Praça de Restauradores. In Porto, the number 56 will take you from the airport to the centre, taking no more than 15 minutes. For Faro airport, a bus service is also provided from outside the terminal building, as well as bus numbers 17 and 18, to take you the 5 miles into the city. Taxis are also available from all airports and differ in cost, but are not hugely expensive.
A national network of coaches called the Rodoviária Nacional provides extremely good travel throughout Portugal, especially on the more popular routes and those not accessible by train. In the larger cities, coaches provide many excellent local excursions.
In Lisbon, the metro system is not particularly extensive but still extremely easy to use and cheap. The stations have recently been refurbished and are now decorated with works from contemporary Portuguese artists, well worth a visit for fans of art as well as those just wanting to get around!
The railway, Caminhos de Ferro Portuguese, is state owned and provides very reasonable transport around the country. Lines connect all major cities as well as some smaller towns and all are efficient and comfortable.
For the islands of Portugal:
Aviation links ensure transportation between all islands. But be careful as certain flights operate only twice a week.
During the summer ships operate under a regular schedule linking the islands of Faial, Graciosa, Pico, São Jorge and Terceira. Make sure you know the duration of the trip before setting off.
If you wish to sightsee around the islands' interiors, it is highly recommended that you rent a car. In this case, you would need a driving license, nationally or internationally recognised.
By bus: A bus service is provided only on certain islands
No particular vaccine is required but it's not a bad idea to get a European Health Insurance card. It replaced the E111 form in 2004; it is valid for one year and works in all EU countries.
Voltage of 220 V. Bring an adaptor.
In 2010, Portugal welcomed 6,756,000 tourists.
Tips of about 10% are always appreciated, especially in restaurants and taxis.
To call the Azores from the UK: dial 00 + 351 then the main number; from Portugal: dial 00 + 44 then the main number.
Portuguese National Tourist Office
11 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PP.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 9:00am to 1:30pm by appointment only. Closed during UK and Portuguese bank holidays.
Telephone: 0845 355 1212
The Portuguese Embassy
11 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PP
Telephone: (020) 7235 5331
Fax: (020) 7245 1287
British Embassy in Portugal
Rua de Sao Bernardo 33, 1249-082 Lisbon
Telephone: +35 1 21 392 4000