Best time to go: March – May and September – October (Spring and Autumn).
Best for: Medieval Architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Religious Sites and Artefacts.
Though overshadowed by its more popular neighbour to the east, Portugal remains one of Europe`s unspoilt gems. This land of traditional villages and vibrant cities has a countryside strewn with historical treasures and a wide assortment of World Heritage sites – natural and cultural wonders that offer a window into this once great seafaring nation. Have a go at scuba-diving, surfing, windsurfing or kitesurfing at one of the watersports centres dotted along the coast.
Traditional festivals with dancing, drinking and feasting, occur throughout the year. Top picks include Lisbon`s festival of St Anthony (12 and 13 June) and Braga`s festival of St John (23 and 24 June). A colourful tapestry of urban life awaits in the vibrant hilltop neighbourhoods of Lisbon. Don`t miss drinks in rowdy Bairro Alto, live fado in the Alfama or cafe culture in elegant Chiado. The city is home to Europe`s largest oceanarium.
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Capital: Lisbon (LIS)
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Language: Portuguese. English is widely spoken
Dialling code from SA: +351
Time Zone: No UTC / GMT offset (2 hours behind South Africa). In Azores, time zone is UTC / GMT +1 (1 hour behind South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: From last Sunday March – last Sun in October: UTC / GMT +1 (1 hour behind South Africa). In Azores, DST is UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa).
Side of the Road: Right. Electronic Tolling is in use on some of the roads.
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Continental two-pin plugs are in use
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns (in small villages), water may be contaminated. Bottled water is available.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: Normal social courtesies. Beachwear should be reserved for the beach / poolside.
Local Offences / Laws: Smoking is prohibited in public places. Some restaurants may have a designated smoking area. Identification should be carried at all times.
Duty Free: If you are travelling from within the EU, there is no limit on the amount or value of goods you may import, providing your goods are for personal consumption. Goods imported for commercial purposes are subject to duty and the following guideline amounts are in place to determine whether this is the case:
• 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco.
• 10L of spirits over 22% volume, 20L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume, 90L of wine (no more than 60L of sparkling wine) and 110L of beer.
If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Portugal by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 4L of wine and 16L of beer and 1L of spirits over 22% volume or 2L of alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume.
• Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers and €300 for other travellers (reduced to €150 for children under 15).
Prohibited Imports: The import of meat and dairy products from non-EU countries is prohibited with the exception of limited amounts from Andorra, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland and small amounts of specific products from other countries. Also banned are protected species and their products as listed by the CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species), for example ivory, tortoise shell, coral, reptile skin and wood from Amazonian forests. You can only import firearms under licence.