The word “Correio” denotes a Post Office or mail services. First Class mail is denoted by the words "correio azul" and associated with the colour blue. The Post Office also offers an express service named "EMS" that records the delivery.
A registered letter is "correio registado" and postage stamps are called "selos". Post Offices are normally open from 09:00 until 18.00 from Monday to Friday but this is only a general rule as they may vary from district to district. In some towns, main Post Offices and Airport Offices will also be open on Saturdays mornings or the whole day.
Outside and inside many Post Offices there are stamp vending machines that indicate the costs for each type and weight of the item being posted.
Visitors wishing to receive mail while in Portugal may use “Posta Restante”. Items should be addressed as follows: (Last Name), (First name) Posta Restante (Postal Code Number) Town, Country.
Collection of items is made against proof of identity of the receiver and there is a charge that changes acoording to a national or an international item.
Major Post Offices also have the facility of sending and receiving Fax. There is also a system for receiving and sending e-mail by renting a Computer Unit.
Telephone National Emergency -112
National Enquiries -118
International Enquiries -171
Pre-paid Calls -172
Public telephones are to be found in the street in major towns and in the Post Offices.
Telephones can be used according to two ways of paying other than cash. One is a card named "Credifone" and the other is "TLP Card".
The former is accepted throughout the country and the latter only in Lisbon and Oporto. Cards can be purchased at shops displaying signs advertising their sale.International calls can be made direct and the dial code for Portugal is "351". A caller must first dial "00", then his country dial number, then the area code without the prefix "0", and lastly the subscribers number.
Call charges are cheaper between 22:00 and 08:00 and at weekends. Hotels charge a surcharge for outgoing calls. Within Portugal you can call direct to any subscriber by first dialling the area code if the destination of the call is outside the area in which the call is being made.
This area code is indicated by the prefix of "2" – example "289" indicates the area of Faro.
Mobile phones in Portugal use the GSM telephone service. Visitors using this system will have the benefit of roaming.
What/where to eat
Nearly every region of Portugal has a variety in shapes and sizes when it comes to restaurants. It can be a lowly "Tasca" (Tavern), a "Casa de Pasto" (a set three-course Tavern meal), a "Cervejaria" (Beerhouse with food), a "Restaurante" (offering a choice of dishes), a "Marisqueira" (specialising in fish and shellfish), or a "Churrasqueira" (spit or grilled food). It is not unusual for some small cafés to serve a "prato do dia" (dish of the day).
Depending on location and style, prices are very reasonable when equated with other European countries and the servings are normally plentiful! Choosing the place is sometimes confusing until you acquire local knowledge.You may see smart businessmen eating in what appears to be a scruffy "Tasca".
They are there for the quality of the food, the price and the friendliness of the owners - and not just for the décor!
Eating hours: Generally speaking, lunch is between 12:00 and 14:00 and dinner is from about 19:30 to 23:00. However, it is not uncommon to see a small group of people arriving for lunch at 14:30, as they know the owners and what they are going to eat. In smarter restaurants it is advisable to make a prior reservation.
The Menu: in tourist areas it is usual to see restaurants offering a "ementa turística" that is a three-course meal served with a drink at a lower price than from the menu.
Also, in tourist areas you will find that the menu has been translated into more than one other language. As soon as you have taken your seats it is normal in Portugal to be served with bread, olives and often some assorted appetizers for which you are charged. You only pay for what you eat and nothing else.
There is a good reason for these items to be placed in front of you. In all Portuguese restaurant be prepared to wait. The chef will all start cooking after your order is placed and normally only using fresh food.
After eating it is a must to sample the two most famous Portuguese fortified wines, known all over the world, Port and Madeira.
It is normally quite safe to order the "vinho da casa" (house-wine) to accompany your meal – however, please remember that it can be fresh country wine and although good, not necessarily pleasing to your personal palette.
General Notes: Often the menu will indicate half-portions or a child’s plate, and if not, reduced amounts and prices can be normally requested. Smoking inside is now interdicted, according the law. Some restaurants have special zones for smokers.
Recently there has been an Act forbiding smoking in some locals. If you see the sign "Proibido Fumar" it means "No Smoking" - and please respect this sign as heavy fines can be incurred.
One of the main problems in Portuguese restaurants is obtaining and paying the bill. The attitude of every waiter seems to be that once you have eaten you should sit and digest your food! Remember this is a Latin country and the pleasure of eating is taken seriously! A suitable remedy for too long a delay is to stand up as though you are leaving.
There is no law stating what percentage you should use as a tip. When tipping, bear in mind that today the sum of € 1.00 does not buy very much and good service helps to make the meal.
Your meal price includes Tax so request a "Factura" (Bill), as many restaurants may wish to pocket this money that you will be paying as an slice of extra profit!
Banks are open from Monday through to Friday, from 08.30 hrs. to 15.00 hrs and closed on Public Holidays and Saturdays. Bank charges vary between the different Banks for the same item or service.
To make a holiday trip to or through Portugal can be a delight. It is a smaller country than its neighbour Spain and therefore has a more personal and endearing character. The major resort areas, such as Algarve, offer the holidaymaker as many attractions as anywhere in Europe.
Throughout Portugal there is a chain of Tourist Offices manned by bilingual staff to assist the tourist. As the Portuguese are by nature hospitable they are keen and proud to share their country with foreign visitors.
The normal shopping hours are from 09:00 until 19:00 on Mondays to Fridays. Saturdays is from 09:00 until 13:00.
There are some shops that extend their hours and their days of opening. Shopping Centres are open from 09:00 to 23:00 all week except for certain Public Holidays.
In the past, there was a great lack in design and facilities to provide the disabled needs.
Happily, awareness is now stronger and this is evident with the appearance of special parking spaces in public areas, special toilets at airports, stations and entertainment centres.
In Lisbon (217 585 676) and Porto (226 006 353), there is a dial-a-ride disabled bus service. Also in Lisbon (218 155 061), Braga (253 684 081), and Coimbra (239 484 522), there are taxi services for disabled persons.
The current all over Portugal is 220 volts AC and connection is made by a two-pin plug.
The plug today acts also as an earth except in older buildings that use older models of this two-pin plug.
By calling anywhere in Portugal on 112 you will be connected to Fire, Police and Ambulance services.
Every Fire Brigade also maintains one or more ambulances for emergencies. Chemists can give advice on simple health problems and suggest appropriate treatment.
They are also permitted to sell many medicines without a doctors subscription. A green cross on white background denotes a chemist. A red cross on a white background denotes a "Red Cross" station. In many towns there are.
Treatment Centres (SAP) that will provide medical assistance 24 hours a day.Security in cities and towns is handled by the "Polícia de Segurança Pública" (PSP), rural areas by the "Guarda Nacional Republicana" (GNR), and the traffic by "Brigada de Trânsito".
On motorways and several major roads there are SOS phone boxes for help in case of an accident or breakdown.
Corpus Christi (Early June)
10th June (National Day)
It is traditional for each Municipality (Concelho), to reserve one annual day as a holiday for its own town commerce.
This day is used as an excuse for local events and celebration. You will find restaurants open but normally most commercial shops are closed.
When written the Portuguese language has a visual relationship to both Spanish and Italian. When spoken it takes on another character. Although today the language has been influenced by modern means of communication, the educated form can be likened to "Dickensian English" in its style. It is courteous in content and suitable flowery in description.
Potuguese people has a good ability to learn foreign languages and you will find that the English language is normally readily understood.
This has been helped by the fact that all foreign films on TV and Cinemas are shown in their original language with subtitles.
The local currency is Euro.
Money can be changed at Banks, "Bureau de Change" (Cambio) or at one of the currency exchange machines in the streets.
These facilities will offer a better rate than in Hotels and Receptions.
Banks are open from Monday through to Friday, from 08.30 hrs. to 15.00 hrs.
Euro Cheque is a cheaper method than a Traveller Cheque in obtaining cash. All well-known Credit Cards are usually accepted.
Although the majority of the museums and art galleries are State owned there are a number of private Foundations and individually owned exhibition places. This fact is particularly evident when wishing to see contemporary art where they tend to reflect the taste of the owner.
State Museums charge a small entrance fee that is often waived on Sundays and Public Holidays. They are open from Tuesday through to Sunday and pensioners receive a 40% discount on the entrance fee. Sometimes there is no charge at all for pensioners on showing your ID.
Opening times are normally from 10:00 to 17:00, but sometimes closed during lunchtime. In Lisbon there is an excellent ticket system for tourists provided by "Carris" kiosks.
The holder of his ticket can visit 26 of the main museums in the city and enjoy free public transport during the time period. They are available for one, two, or three days.
Private Art Galleries
Throughout the country there are many galleries exhibiting contemporary art for sale for all tastes and pockets. There is normally no charge to enter these galleries or their exhibitions.
Young people between the ages of 12 and 25 may purchase a "Cartão Jovem"/ Youth Card costing about € 8.00.
This card offers the bearer special discounts on public travel, travel insurance, and discounts to certain shops and museums.
A useful advantage is this card also provides a discount on Youth Hostels within Portugal. Bearers of the International Student Identity Card (ISDC), receive the same advantages as the "Cartão Jovem".
This tax that is the same as VAT is known as IVA in Portugal, and is at present 21%. Persons from outside the European Union (EU) and visiting for less than 180 days, can reclaim this tax by requesting a form named "Isenção de IVA".
This form is presented to customs when leaving the country.
Time to Travel
It is safe to suggest that the whole year is a good period to visit. Mainland Portugal has an attractive climate with long hot summers and mild pleasant winters. In the north winters are obviously cool and wet, whilst in the Algarve temperatures seldom ever fall below freezing except in the mountain regions. Inland areas have hotter summers and cooler winters except for mountainous regions that even enjoy snow.
Madeira Islands and the Islands of the Azores enjoy a temperate climate the year around.
Nationals of the EU (European Union), Australia and New Zealand require only their passport or Identity Document.
They may remain for a period of up to 90 days. American and Canadian nationals may stay for a period of 60 days with a valid passport.
Other countries are subject to Visa controls and as regulations can change overnight it is recommended that a potential visitor should check with the Portuguese Consul in their respective country prior to making a visit to Portugal.