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Portugal - Traveling

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Entry requirements

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

Lisbon and Porto each have their own bus network.
There are two large public metro networks: that of Lisbon (and its suburbs) and that of Porto (and its suburbs). The metro south of the Tagus is private. The completion of the Sul do Tejo (MTS) Metro is expected in 2009; it will serve the towns situated on Lisbon's south bank.
The other towns have their own municipal transport systems (buses and/or trams).
When you arrive at Lisbon airport, at the tourist counter, there are taxi "vouchers" and a table showing journeys and their respective costs. Nevertheless, it is safer to take taxis which are parked near the departure zone; there is much less risk of paying more. In town, there are not usually problems of this sort. Be careful, too, that the official cost of baggage in the trunk is adhered to: according to the law, the cost is 1.6 EUR for all the baggage (and not for each suitcase or bag) carried in the trunk of the taxi.
Maps of urban networks: Map of Porto bus lines

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

North of the Tagus:
Although there is still no high speed train for the journey between Lisbon and Braga (including Porto), the train remains the most convenient and fastest means of transport. Train tickets can be bought at automatic ticket machines.

South of the Tagus:
Especially for the Algarve, the bus was the means of transport favoured by most people. But, since 2005, the railway has crossed the Tagus and ensures good links with the south of the country.

Rail companies: C.P. Portuguese Railways
Airlines
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
TAP AIR PORTUGAL Major Yes Yes
SATA Air Açores Major Yes Yes
Easyjet Low cost No Yes
Transavia Low cost No Yes
Ryanair Low cost No Yes

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: On the IP5, from Aveiro to Vilar Formoso, it is compulsory to drive with headlights on, even in the daytime. Many checks are carried out and offenders are liable to be fined. The roads are generally in good condition but you should be careful, given the number of road accidents which is above the European average. The Portuguese like to drive at high speed and road signs are often missing or few and far between. Be careful: on some multi-lane roads, there are speed limits under which you may not drive. Many speed cameras have been installed along the roads.

It is easy to rent a car all over the country, especially at airports.

Find an itinerary: ViaMichelin

Visiting

Different forms of tourism

Historical: Traditionally Portugal's main tourist destinations were: Lisbon and the surrounding area (Estoril, Cascais, Arrábida south of the Tagus), Madeira and the Algarve. But local and foreign tourist itineraries have widely diversified. Portugal is one of the oldest states: it has 9 centuries of history. Its monuments bear witness to this historic past: the Romanesque cathedrals of Coimbra and Porto, the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha from the second part of the Middle Ages, the tower of Belém, the monastery of "Jerónimos" and the Convent of Christ in Tomar from the "manueline" epoch (King Manuel 1, XV and XVIth centuries) or the Palácio Nacional at Mafra from the XVIIth century.
Cultural: Besides monuments and castles, there are also:
- cobblestones (especially in Lisbon and the south) and the azulejos which cover the façades of buildings and churches such as the Madre de Deus Convent or the Palácio Marquês de Fronteira;
- fado, the national song: Camané, Marisa, Cristina Branco and Porto and all it represents: the city, the valley of the Douro (World Heritage Site);
- and, of course, wine.
Nature: A very varied choice: walking on the island of Madeira, along the "levadas" (canal side walks), the trails in the Serra da Estrela, in the center of the country, fishing and water sports in the Azores.
Religious: In 2007, the new basilica at Fatima opened its doors, the sanctuary where believers flock especially for May 13 and October 13.
Thermal: Portugal has a wealth of spring waters. Some establishments have been converted into luxury spa and health hotel units. Others are being modernized, with the help of public funds. For further information consult the Termas de Portugal (sectorial association) website.
Beach: The Algarve is the coast where most visitors go, especially in the summer. Avoid August.
More and more, people are looking for alternatives: the beaches of Alentejo, especially the Toia peninsula, which is under development, the beaches of the island of Porto Santo, the beaches of the Cascais shoreline.
There are also surfing beaches: Ericeira, Guincho, Peniche which are national/international championship venues.
Winter sports: There is no winter sports tradition, as it has never snowed enough in Portugal. The activity is slowly starting up.
Outdoor activities: Hiking, mountain bike, climbing, mountain climbing, rafting.
Shopping: Portuguese products, unfairly underrated by foreigners, are rapidly attracting interest among expatriates:
- Portuguese wines (there are more than 30 appellations d'origine - "DOC" in Portuguese). Wine from Porto had the first appellation d'origine in the world. The Viniportugal institution is in charge of distribution.
- cheeses; the king of Portuguese cheeses is the "queijo da serra", a melt-in-the-mouth ewe's milk cheese.
Tourism organizations: Portuguese tourist office

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year old coming from infected areas.
For further information on sanitary conditions: Direcção Geral de Alfandegas

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Lisbon (GMT in winter, GMT+1 in summer)
Summer time period: Summer time from March to October
Climate: Average temperatures in Lisbon in January are 8°C and in June 28°C. The best seasons for visiting the country are spring (between April and June) and the end of summer, beginning of autumn (between September and October). However, for bathing, it is better to visit the country during July, August and September, or even October (in the south of Portugal and in Madeira). The summer months are from mid-June to mid-September.

Eating

Food specialties: - Bacalhau : salt cod (boiled with chick peas, in a gratin with crème fraîche, grilled, in fritters "pastel de bacalhau", etc...).
- "Arroz de marisco" : rice with seafood.
- "Caldeirada" : fish soup.
- "Pastel de nata" : custard in puff pastry.
Drinks: Traditionally a wine producing country. To see the different wines, visit the Associations for the promotion of Portuguese wines website.
Dietary taboos: No restrictions.

Speaking

Getting some knowledge: The travlang website can help you for information in Portuguese.
Free translation tools:
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