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Northern and central Portugal
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Practical information Northern and central Portugal

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Northern and central Portugal : Travel Information before you go!

Area

35,645 sq mi

Flights

Count at least 3.5 hours for a flight to Portugal, depending on which city you're headed to. Even longer for the islands of Madeira and the Azores.

Jet Lag

GMT+0 except the Azores archipelago which is GMT-1

Population

10,566,212

Airports

Portela de Sacavém airport is located 4 miles away from Lisbon. Allow 30 minutes to go to town by bus and 10 minutes by taxi. TAP Portugal, British Airways, Easyjet, Ryanair and Monarch are the main airlines flying from the UK to Portugal.

Security

In Lisbon and Porto, it is recommended to leave your car in guarded car parks. As with anywhere, beware of pickpockets in crowded areas, especially touristic areas and the larger cities.

Languages

The language is Portuguese however, English may be more common in the touristic areas.

Required travel documents for

For European citizens, a passport that has a validity of at least 6 months is sufficient.

Religion

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.

Currency

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.

Local transportation

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:
By Air:
Aviation links ensure transportation between all islands. But be careful as certain flights operate only twice a week.
By ship:
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.
By car:
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

Health

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.

Electricity

Voltage of 220 V. Bring an adaptor.

Tourist numbers

In 2010, Portugal welcomed 6,756,000 tourists.

Taxes and tips

Tips of about 10% are always appreciated, especially in restaurants and taxis.

Telephone

To call Portugal from the UK dial 00 + 351 + regional code (Lisbon 21, Porto 22, Faro 289) + the rest of the telephone number.

From Portugal to the UK dial 00 + 44 + phone number excluding the initial 0.

As far as mobile phones are concerned, there are three telephone operators in Portugal: Telecel, TMN and Optimus. They function on the GSM 900 frequency.

Northern and central Portugal : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

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
http://www.portugaloffice.org.uk/

The Portuguese Embassy
11 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PP
Telephone: (020) 7235 5331
Fax: (020) 7245 1287
http://portugal.embassyhomepage.com/

At the destination

British Embassy in Portugal Rua de Sao Bernardo 33, 1249-082 Lisbon
Telephone: +35 1 21 392 4000
Email: consular.lisbon@fco.gov.uk
Website: http://ukinportugal.fco.gov.uk/en