Top Tips for Your Trip
» Portugal’s mercados (markets) are a great way to sample the countr_y’s culinary bounty. You’ll ﬁnd breads, cheeses, olives, smoked meats, fruits and vegetables – all ideal for picnics.
» Get off the main highways and take to the backroads. Sleepy villages, roadside fruit stands and tiny roads leading to remote beaches
are a few reasons to get off the beaten path.
What to Wear
Portugal is a fairly casual destination, though most Portuguese tend to wear trousers (rather than shorts) outside of resort areas. For upscale dining, smart casual is all that’s required – no restaurant will insist on jackets or ties, and nor will any theater or concert hall. Nights can get windy or chilly, so bring a lightweight jacket in the summer, and be prepared for rain and cooler temperatures in the winter.
Although you can usually show up in any town and ﬁnd a room on the spot, it’s worthwhile booking ahead. You’ll ﬁnd more options, and better rooms in guesthouses by reserving in advance. For summer months, especially July and August, plan well ahead.
» Guesthouses For a local experience, stay in a pensﬁo or residencial . These are small, often family-run places, and some are set in historic buildings. Amenities range from simple to luxury.
» Hostels Portugal has a growing network of hostels, with stylish, award-winning options in both Lisbon and Porto.
» Turihab Properties Unique options to stay in manor houses, restored farmhouses or in self-contained stone cottages.
» Pousadas Accommodation set inside former castles, monasteries and estates. Nearly three dozen pousadas are spread across the country, and are well worth planning a trip around.
ATMs are the easiest way to get cash in Portugal, and they’re easy to ﬁnd in most cities and towns. Tiny rural villages probably won’t have ATMs, so it’s wise to get cash in advance. The ATM withdrawal limit is €200 per day, and many banks charge a foreign transaction fee (typically around 2% or 3%). Most hotels accept credit cards; smaller guesthouses and budget hotels might not, so be sure to inquire before booking. Likewise, smaller restaurants don’t often take credit, so it’s wise to have cash with you. Armed robbery is virtually unheard of in Pormgal. Petty thievery (such as pickpocketing) is a concem in popular tourist areas.
Gentle haggling is common in markets (less so in produce markets); in all other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price.
» Restaurants 10% on average, up to 15% in pricier places.
» Bars Not expected unless table service is provided, then around 10%.
» Snack bars It’s courteous to leave a bit of spare change.
» Taxis Not expected, but it’s polite to round up to the nearest euro.
» Hotels €1 per bag is standard; gratuity for cleaning staff is at your discretion.
» Greetings When greeting females or mixed company, an air kiss on both cheeks is common courtesy. Men give each other a handshake.
» Visiting Churches It is considered disrespectful to visit churches as a tourist during Mass. Taking photos at such a time is deﬁnitely inappropriate.
» ‘Free’ Appetisers Whatever you eat, you must pay for, whether or not you ordered it. It’s common practice for restaurants to bring bread, butter, cheese and other goodies to the table, but these are never free and will be added to your bill at the end. If you don’t want them, a polite ‘no thank you’ will see them remmed to the kitchen.
English is spoken in larger cities and in popular tourist areas (especially the Algarve), but is less common in rural areas and among older Portuguese. Many restaurants have English-language menus, though smaller family-run places typically do not (but may have English-speaking staff on hand to help out). Smaller museums are likely to have signs in Portuguese only. The Portuguese always appreciate the effort: a few key words, such as ‘ bom dia ’, ‘ boa tarde ’, ‘ obrigado/obrigada ’ and ‘ por favor ’, can go a long way.