NEED TO KNOW
Capital City: Lisbon
Population: 10.6 million
Area: 35,700 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 351
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz
Currency: As of Nov 22, 2011:
1 Euro = $1.36 US Calculate Other Amounts
Portugal, a member of the EU, does not require visas for citizens of the United States. A valid passport is sufficient for a three-month stay.
GOOD TO KNOW
Books and Movies
Fado, Portugal's treasured musical form, often baffles the uninitiated. Both lyrical and soulful, it expresses a characteristically Portuguese brand of fatalism. When done well, it brings a tear to the eye.
The best Portuguese cuisine is traditional, indigenous, and interesting. The worst is the ubiquitous dried salted cod called bacalhau. Not surprisingly, in this land where you're never more than a few miles from the rocky coast, fish is on every menu. But flavored with Portugal's favorite spices from across the globe—from Indian curries to Brazilian peri-peri—even the tiresome cod can be made to be quite palatable. Learn more about the restaurants and specialties of Portugal on Epicurious.com.
The best shopping in Portugal is often at roadside stands, where vendors hawk family heirlooms. The fortified wines of Portugal are justly famous, and you can find great deals on the oft-forgotten. However, the more popular port is not significantly cheaper here than elsewhere in the world. Traditional artifacts aside, much of what you'll find for sale in Portugal is soccer paraphernalia.
A value-added tax (VAT) of up to 21 percent is applied to every purchase in Portugal. The VAT is 15 percent on Madeira and the Azores. Non-EU residents, however, can get a refund at the airport or train station if the purchase is over 60.35 euros. Some restaurants and bars will add a service charge to your bill; if not, a five to ten percent tip is reasonable.
Bargaining is accepted at the markets in Portugal, but it is not a way of life. Don't expect to get a large savings on crafts, but you may be able to score a great deal on hotel accommodations during the off-season.
January: 1, New Year's Day
April: 25, Liberation Day
May: 1, May Day
June: 10, National Day
August: 15, Assumption
October: 5, Republic Day
November: 1, All Saints' Day
December: 1, Independence Restoration; 8, Immaculate Conception; 24, Christmas Eve; 25, Christmas Day
Winter: Seventh Tuesday before Easter, Shrove Tuesday
Spring: Friday before Easter, Good Friday; Easter
Summer: Eighth Monday after Easter, Corpus Christi