Portugal is part of the European Union, so you'll just need a valid passport to enter. Currency is the Euro and Portugal follows GMT time. Portugal's climate is temperate and mild, with temperatures pushing up into the 30s (centigrade) in the peak summer months. Visitors should wear suncream protection at all times. Check the NHS fit for travel weblink right for advice on sun protection. Don't leave home without holiday travel insurance.
All British Citizens with UK passports travelling to Portugal are advised to obtain European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), and indeed on top of this additional Medical health insurance cover. EHIC cards have now replaced the old E111 form! EHIC cards are free, and very easy to obtain, either online via the weblink right, or by obtaining an EHIC form from your local post office. EHIC entitles UK travellers to emergency medical treatment whilst in Portugal on the same terms as Portuguese nationals. A minor under the age of 18 travelling to Portugal must either be accompanied by a guardian or parent, or have a letter (which names the guardian or adult) of authorisation from a guardian or parent authorising their travel.
Portugal, like Spain, uses the Euro currency now and has done for a few years (In a euro there are 100 cents and coin denominations come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euros. Euro notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200). It's easy to obtain more Euros whilst you're in Portugal around the Algarve resorts and main Portuguese towns.
You don't need a visa to enter Portugal, just an up-to-date UK Passport (see passport office weblink right). To telephone the UK from Portugal dial 00 44 followed by the UK area code omitting the first 0, then the UK number. To telephone Portugal from the UK prefix 00 351, the Portuguese code, followed by the area code of Lisbon or the Algarve then the main number. Public telephones are widely available in Portugal, including those in Post Offices where payment is often after the call.
Electricity in Portugal is 220 volts AC (the same as Spain). The sockets are two pronged continental plugs so don't forget your adapter!! Tap water is fine to drink, but you might not find the taste to your liking - different minerals in Portuguese water. Buy agua com gas/fizzy water or agua sem gas/still water from supermarkets as an alternative. Petty theft problems may arise, particularly in built up resort areas. As a general rule don't leave valuables in cars and leave valuables in a hotel safe if available. Watch out for pickpockets in crowded areas especially. If you do need to report a theft, get advice from your hotel and report it immediately to the police. To process an insurance claim you'll need to get a copy of a written statement through the police station.
Portugal follows Greenwich Mean Time in Winter, but during the summer as of late March to late October the time shifts to GMT plus one hour (just to confuse you!).
British Embassies in Portugal are situated in the Algarve, Lisbon, Funchal on the island of Madeira, San Miguel on the Azores and at Oporto in Northern Portugal. For advice on lost or stolen passports check the British Embassy advice on the weblink right. British Embassies in Portugal can issue emergency passports if needed which are valid for a single journey to the UK. Only the Lisbon British Embassy can issue 10 year passports.
The Lisbon British Embassy Office is at Rua de Sao Bernando 33, 1249-082 Lisboa. Tel: 351 21 392 4000 - open from Mon-Thurs 9am to 12.30/2.30pm to 4.30pm. British Consulate in Oporto, Travessa Barao de Forrester, 86 4400-034 Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal. Tel. (351) 22 618 4789 - open Mon, Wed, Thurs from 9.30am to 12.30pm/2.30pm to 4pm and on Tues/Fri 9.30am to 12.30pm.
The British Embassy office on the Algarve is situated in Portimao to the west: British Consulat, Portimao, Largo Francisco A Muricio 7-1, 8500-535 Portimao, Algarve, Portugal. Tel: 351 282 490 750. Office hours are from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 2.30pm to 4.30pm.
British Consulate in Madeira, Rua da Alfandega, 10, 3C Funchal, Madeira. Tel. (351) 291 212 860-7. Open Mon-Fri 8.30am to 1.30pm. Out of hours emergency tel. (351) 96 272 0557/ (351) 96 272 0563. British Consulate in the Azores, Rua Domingos Rebelo, 43, 9500-234 Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores. Tel/Fax. 351 296 628 175. Visits are by appointment only.
Holiday travel insurance cover for Portugal holidays is a must as there are many accidents, incidents and emergencies that could occur during your holiday, for example lost luggage or stolen passports. In the event that your holiday is cancelled or shortened because of illness or injury, or if your money is stolen, Travel Insurance is an imperative back-up.
You'll need to check the small print on all travel insurance policies to see exactly what you are covered for. A wide choice of Travel Insurance policies are available, (check the Holiday Travel Insurance weblinks right for details and booking online).
Travellers to Portugal with pre existing medical conditions needing comprehensive travel insurance for both themselves and their fellow travellers should contact Freedom Insurance Services Ltd tel no 0870 774 3760 quoting Reference No IKM01.
Freedom are especially recommended for travellers with specific pre-exisiting medical conditions and they work in partnership with medically based affinity groups and entities within the NHS. Freedom employs a combination of insurance and medically trained staff, and has an emphasis on care, sensitivity and confidentiality when searching for the most appropriate pre existing medical condition travel insurance for your needs.
Another holiday essential you may want to consider is pet sitting services for your pets whilst you are abroad. Pet sitting services are becoming extremely sophisticated, to the extent of not just pet sitting but also offering other services such as taking care of your business whilst you're on holiday, a live in pet sitting service and keeping an eye on burst pipes and other household emergencies.
Absentia Pet Sitting Service is an excellent pet sitting company choice (see their website link to the right). They offer individually tailor-made pet sitting packages to suit your needs and requirements. For advice on pet travel, obtaining pet passports and general advice on taking your pet abroad check the DEFRA pet travel weblink right.