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No rail services to Heathrow - 4 & 5 December
Due to engineering works at Heathrow, there will be no mainline rail services to or from Heathrow Airport on 4 & 5 December.
London Underground services between the terminals and London will continue to operate, passengers looking to travel to central London, or connecting between terminals 5 and 2/3, will be required to use the London Underground services.
Face coverings are mandatory at the airport and we encourage everyone to wear one at all times, unless they’re exempt. Passengers can purchase face coverings at several retailers at the airport including Boots and WHSmith.
The safety of both passengers and colleagues has always been Heathrow’s number one priority. The airport has several COVID-secure measures in place to make sure everyone has a safe journey including:
- Enhance cleaning regimes including Hygiene Technicians, UV robots and other anti-viral technologies to ensure continuous disinfection across terminals
- Dedicated COVID marshals to enforce social distancing
- 600 hand sanitiser stations
Due to the emergence of a new Coronavirus variant, the UK Government have advised that fully vaccinated passengers arriving into England must:
- Take a PCR test no later than 2 days after their arrival.
- Self isolate until they receive their result.
- If a passenger tests positive, they must isolate for 10 days.
- If a passenger tests negative, they can leave self isolation.
Passengers who are not fully vaccinated must continue to follow separate guidance.
As countries may change their entry requirements, we advise customers to check the UK Government website for up to date information.
Sitting upon the Iberian Peninsula with plenty to offer both short- and long-term visitors, Portugal's greatest attraction is its gorgeous coastline. The southern region of the Algarve is a firm favourite, where an array of top-class beach resorts, once sleepy fishing villages, provide luxurious oceanside accommodation.
The region's fine, year-round climate and ease of access mean that it's a hugely popular winter sun vacation destination. Additionally, there are several low-cost European carriers providing cheap direct flights to the Algarve. It also serves well as the perfect place for a weekend getaway when the daily grind of city life becomes too much. Seaside towns like Albufeira and Lagos are home to some of the best beach resorts in the Algarve, providing a heady mixture of sheltered beaches, outstanding natural scenery and high-quality lodgings.
There is far more to Portugal than its beaches, however. As anyone who has ever set foot in Lisbon's historic Alfama district, or travelled to the medieval town of Evora will tell you, the country is home to some breathtaking architecture and cultural treasures. Notable tourist sights in Lisbon include the Jeronimos Monastery and its Manueline architecture, the iconic Monument to the Discoveries and the most-photographed building in all of Portugal, the Tower of Belem.
There are also skiing opportunities found in the Serra Estrela Mountains. This craggy, forested mountain range is also a great area for walking and hiking trails, and is the place to go for those craving the pampering of a spa resort holiday in Portugal.
Sightseeing in Portugal consists of a warm climate, charming ports and friendly people. The sea has always been the country's first love, with the golden beaches and soaring cliffs of the Algarve attract millions of visitors every year. Vibrant, energetic tourist resorts in the south give way to the natural treasures of the Parque Natural de Ria Formosa.
The trademark seven hills of Portugal's historic capital city, Lisbon, stand over a colourful city. Visitors can wind their way through Lisbon aboard the famous Tram 28, and experience mournful Fado music in the Alfama district. Not to be missed is a day trip to the picturesque town of Sintra, nestled in the mountains north of Lisbon. Equally impressive is the walled town of Obidos, with its hilltop castle now turned into a luxury pousada (inn).
Not far away lie the mysterious megalithic monuments of the Cromeleque dos Almendres, situated just outside the lively university town of Evora. Porto, in the north, is an edgy city boasting a historic centre and great food and drink, as well as being a gateway to the famous Port-producing region of the Douro Valley. On the way north to Porto, visitors should stop to take in the atmosphere in Coimbra, former medieval capital of Portugal and home to the country's oldest university dating back to the 13th century.
Portugal's historic seafarers uncovered yet more delights in their travels west. The tiny island of Madeira is known as a 'floating garden', hiding a botanical wonderland and famous fortified wine behind its soaring ocean cliffs. Further west lies the Azores, dramatic island landscapes shaped by geological forces within the earth. Visitors can indulge in watersports, see whales and dolphins, hike to volcanic craters and explore the lush scenery.
The resort island of Pico is dominated by its volcanic namesake, rising from the middle of the landscape and towering 7,720ft (2,351m) above sea level. It's the highest peak in Portugal, with a single road encircling the island following the rugged coastline. It's possible to climb the volcano to the summit but the route is arduous and should not be attempted by amateurs. Pico's other main claim to fame is as a jumping-off point for whale-watching expeditions, offered by local boatmen. In the island's vineyards, the famous verdelho wine grapes are grown. At Lajes, there is a whale-hunting museum and in São Roche, visitors can discover a museum depicting the operation of a whaling factory.
Terceira, an island resort destination in the Azores, holds many places of interest for tourists. The historic centre of its capital town, Angra do Heroísmo, is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is an idyllic setting, renowned for its pastel-coloured sunset vistas and its periodic running of the bulls. Ask in the local bar when the next event is likely to take place. The other main town on the island, Praia da Vitória, is interesting because of its American flavour, being close to the American airbase in Lajes and featuring several burger joints and US-style souvenir shops.
The resort island of São Jorge is surrounded by sheer black cliffs and is the centre of the Azores' dairy industry. The lush green grass of the island's fields plumps up the grazing cows, who in turn produce rich milk for creamy, straw-coloured wheels of cheese. The island also has exclusive rights to the delicious fleshy cockles that are caught in the waters of Caldeira de Santo Cristo. Aside from its gastronomic delights, São Jorge offers active pursuits like dive fishing, hiking, swimming and bird watching. Villages such as Velas and Manadas possess historic buildings dating back to 1400 and offer the sleepy culture of traditional harbour towns.
The island resort of Santa Maria, a fantastic holiday retreat, lies southwest of São Miguel Island and features an airport that was a World War II American Air Force base, now appropriated as a civil airport. The main town on the island is Vila do Porto. It only has one hotel but also several inns and private villas for rent. There are a few sandy golden beaches on the island, including Praia Formosa, and the scenic Maia and São Lourenço Bays, offering rocky cliffs and attractive vineyards. Pretty villages like Anjos and Santo Espírito are steeped in local history and culture, and the island has many colourful festivals throughout the summertime.
Named for the abundant fennel trees in the area, Funchal has many beautiful parks and gardens. The Madeira Botanical Gardens offer stunning views, as well as more than 2,000 species of plant life, while the Jardins Do Palheiro and the Monte Palace Hotel Gardens are both worth a visit. This is also a stopping point for the Funchal Cable Car which goes up the mountain to Monte. There are also lovely old buildings and cultural sites, including the 15th-century Santa Clara Convent, the São Lourenço Palace, the Colegio Church and Sé Cathedral. The city is known for its excellent seafood, baked goods and local Madeira wine. There's also golf, swimming and paragliding, as well as boat trips and the unforgettable Levada Walks.
Coimbra was the birthplace of six Portugal's kings, with the country's first lying in a carved Gothic sarcophagus in the Monastery of Santa Cruz. There are several beautiful sites, such as the Machado de Castro museum and Conimbriga, which is a fascinating Roman archaeological site. There are also a number of pretty parks and gardens, beautifully juxtaposed with the medieval wonderland of cobbled alleys, archways and stairs of the city. Coimbra is also one of Europe's oldest university towns, with the first building founded in the 12th century. Its students swarm the streets, bringing a lively atmosphere to the restaurants, museums, galleries, bookstores and boutiques.
Faro is a lively city with attractive shopping precincts, good restaurants and a frenetic nightlife thanks to its student population. Thousands of travellers pass through en route to the popular resorts of the Algarve. The Old Town is entered through an 18th-century gate and enclosed by the remnants of medieval walls. Faro's most famous attraction is a chapel decorated with the bones of more than 1,200 disinterred monks, named the Igreja do Carmo. Ria Formosa Natural Park is nearby, as is peaceful Estoi, with a pink Rococo palace and 1st-century Roman ruins. Faro also enjoys a long stretch of golden sand with umbrellas, sun loungers and watersports. The nightlife is usually found in the Rua do Prior, Rua Conselheiro Bivar and Rua Infante Dom Henrique.
The walls of Castelo de São Jorge sit atop a hill guarding the Tagus, dating from the Moorish occupation in the 10th century. But the site has been a fortress for centuries, possibly from 500 AD. The castle is regarded as the cradle of Lisbon and today provides a panoramic view of the River Tagus and the Alfama medieval district below. Visitors can walk the esplanades and climb the ramparts while a multimedia show is available during the day which brings alive the history of Lisbon. The castle grounds are planted with olive, pine and cork trees and provide a pleasant spot to relax.
The oldest part of Lisbon, the Alfama quarter sprawls down the hillside from below the Castelo de São Jorge. It retains much of the traditional colour and atmosphere from the days when it was the ancient seat of the Saracens. Along the narrow cobblestone alleyways are taverns and street markets, interspersed with close-packed houses still occupied by stevedores, fishmongers and sailors. Lisbon's renowned flea market, the Feira da Ladra, is held in the Campo de Santa Clara at the edge of the Alfama, every Tuesday and Saturday. The Alfama is also full of historic buildings and churches, which are well-worth exploring.
Sé de Lisboa is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the Alfama district of Lisbon. Since the beginning of its construction in the year 1147, the Lisbon Cathedral has been modified several times and survived many earthquakes. Nowadays, it's a mix of different architectural styles, including Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic. It was built on the site of a Saracen mosque after the city was captured by the Crusaders in the 12th century. Inside, this ancient church features treasures like the font where St Anthony of Padua was baptised in 1195 and numerous notable relics, images and icons.
Gulbenkian was an Armenian oil magnate who died in 1955 having put together one of the world's finest private art collections. The collection is now housed in a modern centre where the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation sponsors a host of cultural and performing arts projects, featuring a rotating exhibition of works by Portuguese and foreign artists. The Gulbenkian collection itself covers Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities; Islamic ceramics and textiles; Syrian treasures; Chinese ceramics; Japanese prints and lacquerware; and European medieval illuminated manuscripts. The collection is vast and astounding, among which are two Rembrandts, a Rubens and a Renoir.
The Bairro Alto district is a historic enclave dating back to 1513, reached via the Santa Justa Elevator from the lower city. The colourful district resounds to the calls of vendors and fishmongers while the windows and balconies are festooned with laundry and bird cages. At night, the area comes alive with some of the finest fado cafes in the city along streets lit by Victorian lanterns, with fado being the famous brand of music and dance brought to Portugal by African slaves in the 19th century. There is no better place in Portugal to experience this musical genre than in the Bairro Alto of Lisbon.
One of the most famous sights in Lisbon is the imposing Padrão dos Descobrimentos, situated on the riverbank along Avenida de Brasilia in the district of Belém. Designed to commemorate the Portuguese Age of Discovery, Belém, where the Tagus meets the sea, is the point from which the maritime explorers of yore set forth in their sailing ships to discover the world. The monument was unveiled in 1960 on the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1460. The massive monument takes the form of a caravel with Prince Henry at the prow, backed by images of renowned mariners, royal patrons and others who participated in the Golden Age of Discovery.
Belém Tower, also known as the Tower of Saint Vincent, is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belem. The tower was built in the 16th century to serve as a fortress in the middle of the River Tagus. A UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the nearby Jeronimos Monastery, the famous Belém Tower is one of Lisbon's most photographed landmarks. The outer walls are adorned with beautiful openwork balconies and a stone-carved rope, along with Moorish watchtowers and battlements shaped like shields. Visitors to the site should make sure to get a guided tour to learn the rich history of the beautiful structure.
In 1917, the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared above an oak tree and spoke to three peasant children in the valley of Cova da Iria, 79 miles (127km) north of Lisbon. The children claimed to have seen the apparition on five different occasions, and the spot has now become one of the great pilgrimage shrines of the world, known as Fatima. Between May and October, the 13th day of every month is pilgrimage day, when hundreds of the faithful gather in a square twice the size of St Peter's in Rome before the Chapel of the Apparitions. The original oak tree is gone, but has been replaced by a simple white column inside a basilica, which is flanked by statues of the saints.
The National Museum Soares dos Reis, located in the ancient Carrancas Palace in Porto, is one of the most renowned Portuguese museums. This extensive art museum opened in 1840 and is today dedicated to Antonio Soares dos Reis, the famous Portuense sculptor. The gallery also houses a foreign art collection which includes works by the Dutch, Flemish, Italian and French masters. There is a large collection of 19th century Portuguese works, including those from the Porto school, and exhibits of ceramics, glassware, gold and silverwork, and furniture.
Along the Porto waterfront stands the Church of St Frances, dating from 1383. While not very imposing from the outside, it has a lavish Baroque interior that was created in the 17th and 18th centuries. Pillars and columns within the vault are festooned with gold-gilded cherubs, flower garlands and entwined animals, alongside fruit cornucopia. This feast for the eyes is set off by wide Gothic arches made of marble that soar into the roof. The Igreja de São Francisco is the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto. It's located in the historic centre of the city and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Many visitors come to Porto for its foritified wines. The place to head for samples of every port produced in the region, and also the rest of Portugal, is the Solar Vinho do Porto. It's found in the splendid grounds of the Crystal Palace Gardens and in the vicinity of the Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha. Inside the rose-bedecked villa is a relaxed, upmarket tasting room. Staffed by knowledgeable hosts who offer glasses or bottles of port, you can enjoy complimentary snacks and learn about the port-making process. Also in the villa is a small museum containing a collection of 18th century furniture and paintings.
This suburb of Porto lies along the south bank of the River Douro, on the site of an ancient fortified village. Today, Vila Nova de Gaia is home to more than 50 wine companies who operate their lodges in the winding narrow streets flanked by red-roofed buildings. Most of the lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Among the best known are Sandemans, housed in a former 16th century convent, and Taylors. The suburb also features a 16th century monastery that has interesting circular cloisters and a terrace where the Duke of Wellington planned his attack on the French in 1809.
The Frederico de Freitas Museum in Funchal houses a vast array of decorative pieces. Turkish, Moorish and North African tiles, as well as about 2,000 mugs, trophies and vases are on display, along with Madeiran artefacts, porcelain works, religious sculptures, ancient sacred paintings and Chinese and North African metal and woodwork. When Frederico de Freitas died, he left his collection to the Autonomous Region, during which time the building was expropriated by the Regional Government. It then started rebuilding and restoration works on the house for the purpose of opening it to the public as a museum.
Formed 890,000 years ago, the São Vicente Caves are among the first caves of volcanic origin to be opened to the public in Portugal. The caves were formed by a volcanic eruption which occurred in Paul da Serra. The outer part of the lava that was exposed to lower temperatures solidified rapidly while the inside remained liquid with lots of gases, forming a series of lava tubes. The caves were first reported in 1885 by locals and opened to the public on October 1st, 1996. At the end of the tour, visitors may access the Volcano Centre, a pavilion offering a range of educational and entertaining audio-visual displays. They recreate the geological evolution of the caves and the eruption of a volcano. They also simulate the birth of the Madeira Islands.
A favourite attraction in Madeira's capital of Funchal, the cable car travels from the Parque Almirante Reis in the old part of town up to the scenic village of Monte in the mountains. The journey takes about 15 minutes and ends at the cableway station near the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. The panoramic view spreads to the delightful city of Funchal and to an overwhelming landscape, where nature's green melts with the ocean's blue. The bottom station for the cable car is situated at the Inn Quinta do Bom Sucesso on Madeira Island, seven minutes from the centre of Funchal city.
In the heart of the historic section of Funchal stands the Sé do Funchal, the most impressive of Madeira's religious edifices. The simple rough white stucco and brownish basalt of the cathedral houses the Gothic portal. The ceiling is Moorish carved cedar inlaid with ivory and behind the Baroque altar are paintings by Flemish and Portuguese artists. The late fifteenth-century cathedral is one of the few structures that survived intact since Madeira's early period of colonisation. As the centerpiece of the structure, the cathedral contains a silver processional cross, donated by King Manuel I of Portugal, considered one of the masterpieces of precious metalwork of Portugal's Manueline style.
Madeira's sister island, Porto Santo, lies 42 miles (68km) northeast of its larger sibling and was actually discovered before Madeira itself. Porto Santo is rather bleak and barren. But its southern coast is bordered by a lovely 5 mile (8km) stretch of beach fringed with soft golden sand, making for a popular holiday resort. The main town on the island is Vila Baleira, which was visited by Christopher Columbus. There is a scenic park in the town, some cafés and pretty cobblestone streets lined with stucco houses. Visitors can catch one of several regular daily flights to and from Madeira, or ferry from Funchal.
Christ the King, known as Cristo Rei, is a Catholic statue and monument dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. It overlooks the city of Lisbon in the central part of Portugal. The shrine was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, after the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon visited that monument. Like the iconic Christ the Redeemer in Rio, the Cristo Rei spreads its massive arms as if to embrace all of Lisbon. Situated on the bank of the Tejo River opposite the city, the statue is over 328 feet (100m) tall and provides amazing panoramic views of the city from the top.
The historic town of Guimarães is regarded as the birthplace of Portugal. Here, in 1128, Afonso Henriques became the first king of the country. Guimarães has many medieval buildings and fortifications, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the main attractions is the tiny Romanesque church where Afonso was allegedly baptised, and the imposing Palace of the first Duke of Braganza. There are numerous other Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque delights to discover in walking around the town. There are also two excellent museums: the Museu Alberto Sampaio contains religious art and relics and is housed in a monastery; while the Museu Arquelogico Martins Sarmento displays the finds from a nearby Celtic hill settlement.
Marketed as the second best aquarium in the world, the world-class Lisbon Oceanarium is the most impressive achievement of EXPO '98, which used to be an abandoned waterfront. The centrepiece of the stone and glass building is the 1,3 million gallon (5 million litre) holding tank. The Oceanarium consists of four distinct ecosystems that replicate the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Antarctic oceans, each featuring the birds, amphibians and reptiles associated with those waters. Otters splash and dive in the warmer Pacific waters, while penguins shuffle around in their tuxedos in the Antarctic section.
The Navy Museum of Lisbon is dedicated to all aspects of the history of navigation in Portugal. It occupies a part of the neo-Manueline Western wing of the Jeronimos Monastery, together with the National Museum of Archaeology. With such maritime icons as Vasco de Gama and Bartolomeu Dias, it's no wonder that Portugal's Maritime Museum is one of the best in Europe. It evokes a sense of what it was like when the conquering Portuguese dominated the high seas. Visitors can marvel at the hundreds of models of 15th- to 19th-century sailing ships, merchant marine vessels, fishing boats and pleasure barges. as well as a full range of Portuguese naval uniforms.
The Vasco da Gama Aquarium is a great attraction for children in Lisbon. As well as its wonderful collection of live fish and sea life, there are also displays of preserved water birds, fish and seals, alongside a collection of mammals from King Carlos' oceanographic expeditions. The building includes two different sections, the Museum and the Aquarium, complementing each other to give a better understanding of the aquatic world. Outside, there's a small garden with a lake full of carp, which children enjoy feeding. Children under 6 go free and between 6 and 17 benefit from reduced prices.
The 330-seat planetarium, adjacent to the Maritime Museum, offers an entertaining and educational insight into the mysteries of the universe. Visitors can tour the exhibitions before marvelling at the astronomical shows projected onto the 25-meter diameter dome. Older kids are enthralled by a visit to the Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium and are encouraged to explore its astronomical wonders. The planetarium hosts daily shows, offering an entertaining and educational experience for young minds. Ask the hotel concierge to check the times of the Portuguese, English and French shows before you visit.
The tiny Graciosa is known as the White Island of the Azores due to the pale rocky landscape. But there is variety in its golden wheatfields and green and purple vineyards. The landscape is dotted with quaint Dutch-style windmills, and most of its 4,600 inhabitants make their living from farming, winemaking and cattle-raising. Graciosa has its own unique natural attraction: the Furna de Enxofre. This is a small, warm sulphur lake, concealed in a grotto underneath a volcanic crater. Visitors on holiday can reach the lake via a 270ft (80m) spiral staircase enclosed in a brick tower.
Faial, with its sheltered bays and immense volcanic crater, is the most visited of the Azores. Much of the interior is protected as a reserve where visitors enjoy the diverse flora and fauna under the supervision of local guides. Faial's main town, Horta, has a large marina used as a favoured stopping point for yachtsmen, and the harbour also occasionally accommodates cruise liners. Horta and other villages have a number of pretty churches, chapels, towers and forts, and a lively small-town atmosphere. Of interest to sightseers is the new section of land, covering an area of approximately one mile (two km), added to the island in the most recent volcanic eruption of 1957.
As wonderful as Lisbon's historical area of Alfama is by day, its culture can be even better experienced at night in one of the legendary fado bars. Fado music dates back to the 19th century, characterised by mournful songs about ill-starred sailors. Essential to the music is the emotion of nostalgia and the sensation of loss and its permanent, life-changing consequences. An immensely popular pastime among Portuguese locals, the atmosphere inside any one of Alfama fado bars can be truly magical and tourists to Lisbon are strongly encouraged to join in and become part of the unique and strangely therapeutic atmosphere.
One of Portugal's most iconic tourist sights, the Jerónimos Monastery is an absolute must-see attraction for visitors to Lisbon. A stellar example of Manueline, also known as Portuguese late-Gothic architecture, the Jerónimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, earning its place in the registry on the basis of its architectural splendour that 'exemplifies Portuguese art at its very best'. The Jerónimos Monastery is a beautiful building, resplendent in a gleaming ivory hue with sharp spires, intricate sculptural details and maritime motifs. The cloisters are particularly magnificent, with each column individually carved with coiled rope, sea monsters, coral and other designs that bespeak an era of nautical adventure.
Literally the island of 'flowers', this most northerly of the Azores blooms, carpeted with numerous flowers among impossibly green hills and white-washed villages. Considered one of the most beautiful islands in the Azores, the best time to visit is summer, when it is covered in the bright pink and blue hydrangeas that give Flores its name. Highlights on the island include the seven serene lakes in volcanic craters, the Enxareus Grotto, the Águas Quentes hot springs and the multiple waterfalls of the Ribeira Grande. Flores' largest town, Lajes, is a picturesque fishing port set in green fields. All the island's towns and villages have historic chapels and churches to explore.
These yellow trams, with their polished wooden floors and vintage quality, might be loud and bumpy, having been in operation since 1901, but they also wend through the most historic and most interesting areas of the Portuguese capital city. The ride travels through Graça, Alfama, Baixa, Chiado and Bairro Alto, where the largest concentration of great sights in Lisbon can be found. The hop-on hop-off service is a wonderful way for visitors to get their bearings in Lisbon, and the ideal way to get to know the historic city centre. Tram tickets are sold in kiosks all over Lisbon. A 24-hour pass allows visitors to explore the city with maximum flexibility.
Portuguese Phrase Book
|por favor||please||por fah vor|
|o meu nome é||my name is||or mu norm eh|
|onde está||where is||ohn deh ehsta|
|você fala Inglês||do you speak english||vorche fahla in glays|
|não compreendo||I don't understand||no compreendo|
|eu preciso um doutor||I need a doctor||eu preseeso um dew tor|
|um, dois, três, quatro, cinco||one, two, three, four, five||oom, dohs, tres, quatro, sinko|
The weather in Portugal is among the warmest in Europe, with an average temperature of around 55°F (15°C) in the north, and 64°F (18°C) in the south. The average annual rainfall is as high as 118 inches (300cm) in the northern mountains, but countrywide is closer to 43 inches (110cm).
Southern Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. There is very little rain and summers are warm, but refreshing sea breezes make for pleasant conditions. Summer temperatures in the Algarve can pass 86°F (30°C), and reach as high as 116°F (47°C) in the Alentejo.
In the north, the weather is wetter, particularly in winter, and cooler, with temperatures influenced by Atlantic currents and the Spanish Meseta.
The climate of the Azores and Madeira is subtropical with some variation from island to island. Much of the Azores experiences dry summer months with warm temperatures year-round.
The best time to travel to Portugal is during spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October) when days are pleasantly sunny and warm but tourist areas are relatively quiet. These seasons also offer cheaper rates at hotels and less crowded beaches, restaurants and golf courses.
The official currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. There are numerous banks, bureaux de change and ATMs available in main cities and tourist destinations. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and automatic currency exchange machines. Banking hours are generally 8.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday. Major credit cards are widely accepted.
Portuguese is the official language, but English is widely spoken and understood.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.
US nationals: US nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay is required.
UK nationals: British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject', 'British Overseas Territories Citizen', and Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar must be valid for the duration of intended stay. British passports with any other endorsement must be valid for three months beyond period of intended stay. Visas are not required for British Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Subjects, and those with Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar.
CA nationals: Canadians do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay is required.
AU nationals: Australian nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay is required.
ZA nationals: South African nationals require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay, and a Schengen visa.
IR nationals: Irish nationals do not require a visa to visit Portugal. A passport valid on arrival is required.
NZ nationals: New Zealand nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period. A passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay is required.
All visitors, except EEA member states, must hold tickets and documents for their return or onward journey, and proof of paid accommodation (equivalent in convertible currency accepted). The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
There are no health risks when travelling to Portugal. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is necessary for entry for anyone travelling from an infected area and destined for the Azores or Madeira. Health facilities are good and reciprocal health agreements exist with most European countries. It's advisable that travellers obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travel. Dental care and repatriation costs are not covered under this agreement, and travel insurance is therefore advised.
After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU.
Service charges are not usually added to hotel and restaurant bills but it's customary to leave a 10 percent tip. Bar staff and taxi drivers also expect tips, which usually entails rounding up the bill to the nearest Euro.
Generally, safety is not a problem for travel in Portugal but reasonable care should be taken. Road maintenance is fairly poor so exercise caution and drive defensively when driving.
Family is an important pillar of Portuguese society, with familial loyalty overriding everything, even in the corporate environment. Thus it's not uncommon for employers to hire family members as they feel comfortable around those they trust. Self-respect through appearance is also of high importance, with dressing smart for all occasions not a rare occurence. In terms of cuisine, the Portuguese love seafood as well as sweet treats like honey cakes and pasteis. As a nation which is predominately Roman Catholic and conservative, overly exuberant foreigners are frowned upon while lateness and informal etiquette is also considered rude.
Business culture in Portugal observes a strict hierarchical top-down approach to management and leadership. Subordinate employees are expected to do as they are told. Strong business relationships are built on trust between colleagues, and personal connections are important.
Business etiquette is formal yet relaxed. Use titles such as 'Señhor' and 'Señhora' until strictly instructed not to do so, and show deference to those in obvious positions of authority. Business meetings in Portugal must be made by appointment.
The dress code in Portugal is strictly smart and formal - with a strong emphasis placed on presentation. Business hours in Portugal vary, but are generally from 8.30am to 1pm, and 3pm to 6pm, from Monday to Friday.
The international access code for Portugal is +351, and wifi is available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants throughout Portugal.
Travellers over 17 years arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarrilos, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 4 litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and 1 litre of spirits over 22% or 2 litres of liquor less than 22% volume; 50g of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette; other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers.
Institute of Portugal Tourism, Lisbon: +351 211 205 050 or www.visitportugal.com
Portuguese Embassy, Washington, United States: +1 202 350 5400.
Portuguese Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 207 235 5331.
Portuguese Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 729 0883
Consulate General of Portugal, Sydney, Australia: +61 2 9262 2199
Portuguese Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 341 2340
Portuguese Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 412 7040
Portuguese Consulate, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 9 255 2569
United States Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 727 3300
British Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 392 4000
Canadian Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 316 4600
Australian Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 310 1500
South African Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 319 2200
Irish Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 330 8200
New Zealand Consulate, Lisbon: +351 21 314 0780
Sintra is steeped in history and offers some of the most exquisite natural and architectural sites in the country. Verdant hills and pastureland wend their way northwest from Lisbon, out of the Tagus estuary and up towards Sintra. The resort town enjoys a picturesque location, nestled in the rolling hills and peaks of the Sintra mountain range. At the northern-most extent of the protected Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, the history, architecture and natural beauty combine to create a compelling and enduring centrepiece that has enjoyed centuries of popularity. Lisbon and Sintra are connected by a reliable and inexpensive train service.
Setúbal, one of Portugal's oldest cities, is renowned for producing the most delicious muscadel wine in the world. Setúbal is also the capital of Portugal's sardine industry and has been a fish-salting centre since the 1st century. White mounds of sea salt drying in the sun are a familiar part of the local landscape, while the city sits nearby the Nature Park of Arrábida. The park offers unspoilt nature and beautiful beaches, with lucky visitors potentially spotting the dolphin colony which inhabits the Sado River.
In the remote northeast province of Tras-os-Montes, the small provincial capital Bragança lies close to the Spanish border and is slowly being discovered by tourists. This is mostly because of its fine local museum and the small medieval village and castle on a hillock overlooking the town. Between the medieval citadel and the cathedral is the garden of the Museu do Abade de Baçal. The museum itself houses a collection of sacred art and watercolours painted by Alberto Souza. In the medieval citadel is the Domus Municipalis, a pentagonal 12th century civic building which is unique in Europe.
A small town at the mouth of the River Ave, 20,5 miles (33km) north of Porto, Vila do Conde has become a popular summer holiday resort because of its sandy beaches and rocky reefs. This is despite that it does not often feel like a resort. The town has some entertaining local industries, mainly hand-hewn boat building, lace-making, hand-knitting and sweet making. Visitors are welcome at the Rendas lace-making school, where fine examples of the local lace can be purchased while the large Friday market is a good place to find both souvenirs and excellent local food.
Boasting a remarkably well-preserved Old Town centre, partially bordered by medieval walls, as well as the outstanding Roman Temple built in the 1st century AD, the gorgeous medieval town of Evora is really something special to behold. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is compact, easy-to-navigate and best explored on foot. Visitors will feel immersed in history as they pass by the Aqueduct of Silver Water, the Cathedral of Evora, the Palace of Vasco da Gama and the Renaissance Fountain at Largo das Portas de Moura, built in 1556. The town makes for a perfect cultural day trip from the nearby Algarve.
The Serra de Estrela, mainland Portugal's highest mountain range, is fast becoming one of Europe's hottest new resorts for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. The range is formed from a huge granite ridge that reaches 6,539 feet (1,993m) at its highest point, and its unique topography of strangely-shaped crags and gorges, fast-flowing streams, mountain lakes and pristine forests makes it one of Portugal's greatest natural attractions. The ski resort itself features five miles (7,4km) of skiable snow, nine runs ranging in difficulty from absolute beginner to intermediate, and a terrain park for snowboarders. There are also hiking trails, chic restaurants and high-class health spas.
The resort town of Espinho lies just 16 miles (26km) south of Porto. It has a casino and a bullring, as well as a range of shops, restaurants, hotels and campsites. It possesses a long stretch of golden sandy beach popular with surfers, a number of excellent seafood restaurants and one of the world's oldest golf courses. The Monday market is a popular draw, occupying three city streets with stalls selling local food, crafts, souvenirs and other items. Espinho is easily navigable, with many of its chief attractions located within easy walking distance of the train station downtown. These include local museums, a planetarium, music academy and the João de Deus city park.
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