Portugal Travel Information

The Basics


Local time is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).


Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.


Portuguese is the official language, but English is widely spoken and understood.

Travel Health

There are no health risks attached to travel 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, including the UK, whose citizens can receive low-cost emergency care at state hospitals. It is advisable that travellers obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travel. Dental care and repatriation costs are not covered under this agreement, and medical insurance is therefore advised.


Service charges are not usually added to hotel and restaurant bills but it is customary to leave a 10 percent tip. Bar staff and taxi drivers also expect tips, which usually entails rounding up of the bill to the nearest Euro.

Safety Information

Generally, safety is not a problem for travel in Portugal but there is a rising incidence of petty theft and pick pocketing in tourist areas, so reasonable care should be taken. Portugal has a very poor road safety record so exercise caution and drive defensively when exploring in a rented car.

Local Customs

It is a legal requirement for foreigners to show some form of identification on request.


The Portuguese economy has undergone a major transformation since the Revolution of 1974, from a primarily agricultural infrastructure, to a modern, service-based economy, of a piece with the rest of the European Union. As a result, although the situation is changing every day, business culture in Portugal retains vestiges of paternalism, and of strict hierarchical, 'top-down' approaches to management and leadership. In Portugal, the strongest business relationships are those built on trust of individuals - and as a result, nepotism has (in the past) been seen as an advantageous hiring policy. Be sure to allow time for personal connections to develop between yourself and your Portuguese business associates - familiarity can go a long way toward ensuring success.

Teamwork and collaboration on important decisions is not the norm in Portugal: the accepted management style is more directive, and subordinate employees are more often than not expected to 'do as they're told', rather than to contribute to decision-making processes. Business etiquette in Portugal also displays an interesting mix of formality and easygoingness - with conduct being at once mannered and conservative, yet also warm and relaxed. Use titles ('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 - and should not ordinarily be scheduled for times when they might conflict with important family or religious holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.).

Since the official language of business in the country is Portuguese, it is a good idea to provide translations of all important documents, and/or to engage the services of a translator, to ensure that everyone is on the same page at business meetings. The dress code in Portugal is strictly smart and formal - with a strong emphasis placed on 'looking good'. It is not an unfair statement to say that your status in the business world will be gauged by the way in which you present yourself - go for dark colours, with stylish cuts. 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. Pre-paid sim cards can be bought or rented at airports, and wifi is available in most hotels and some restaurants. Internet cafés are available in most towns and resorts.

Duty Free

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.

Our Travel Expert

Steve Masters first visited Portugal in 1989 and, later, lived in Porto for several years before returning to the UK. He speaks the language and is well versed in the culture of Portugal. He currently works on behalf of Rocha Brava, a holiday resort located in the Algarve.

>Read Steve's tips on Portugal
>Ask Steve a question

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