Lisbon is in the western European time zone (GMT).
The climate in Lisbon is temperate, offering the best of both Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea breezes all year round. Average temperature in winter is around 17º Celsius (62º Fahrenheit). Average temperature in summer is around 26º Celsius (79º Fahrenheit).
The official language is Portuguese although English and French are widely spoken and Spanish and Italian are generally understood.
As a member of the European monetary system, from January 2002, the national currency escudo was replaced by the euro. Banks offer normal currency exchange services and most establishments accept credit and debit cards. ATMs, known as “Multibanco”, are abundant and very easy to find.
Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, shops and restaurants. Traveller’s cheques and currency can be changed at hotels or at a bank - these are open Monday to Friday from 08h30 to 15h00.
There are no special health requirements, with the exception of vaccination certificates for persons coming from areas where yellow fever is endemic, at the present there are no special health requirements.
SHOPPING AND OTHER OPENING HOURS
Shops are normally open from 9h00 to 13h00 and from 15h00 to 19h00. Shopping centres and supermarkets are usually open longer, roughly between 10h00 to 23h00 without a break for lunch. Public sector offices are open from 9h30 to 12h30 and from 14h00 to 17h00.
Banks operate from 8h30 to 15h00 and do not close for lunch. Pharmacies are open for the same times as other shops although there are also permanent service pharmacies open at all hours and days of the week.
Traditional Commerce and open-air markets
As well as the out-of-town centres, as in the rest of the world, there is a large variety of traditional commerce on offer. The western part of Sintra municipality and Mafra offer the best in locally made ceramics, whilst shops selling antiques and second-hand goods are mostly found in São Pedro de Sintra.
Sales tax VAT (IVA) is included in prices quoted. For non E.U. residents, tax free shopping schemes are available in many shops, which give substantial reimbursements to visitors.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
There are a wide variety of restaurants and cafés in Lisboa ranging from the very elegant and sophisticated to the casual and inexpensive. Take-away and fast food is also available from many international outlets. Restaurants, bars, some with live music/shows, and discos along the river Tejo, the Docas area and at the Nations Park, are very popular, especially during weekends.
Local cuisine includes delicious fish and shellfish dishes, celebrated in the annual “Lisbon Fish Flavours” festival. The national dish "Bacalhau", or dried and salted Codfish is prepared in 1001 ways, all of them irresistible.
In Lisbon, you’ll also find the finest Mediterranean cuisine, including an healthy diet of olive oil, vegetables, fresh salad, cheese varieties and fresh fruits. Young and innovative chefs have reinvented Portuguese cuisine, with interesting and refined ways of preparing traditional dishes.
As a country with a rich winemaking tradition, Portuguese are known for pairing food and wines. To round off the rich and varied gastronomy, soak up the local atmosphere. Discover cafés that serve as a meeting point and sample some of the excellent local sweets and pastries, including the famous custard tarts – “Pastéis de Belém”.
Gratuities are optional, but a 10% addition to the bill is customary in taxis, restaurants and bars.
Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 08h30 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 18h00.
Clinics and hospitals provide 24 hrs emergency service. The national emergency phone number is 112.
Electrical current is 220 volts at a frequency of 50 hertz. All sockets follow European standards. To use American-type plugs, a 230-volt transformer should be used together with an adapter plug.
Smoking is forbidden by law in public transportation or in any closed public areas (restaurants, bars and discos may have a designated smoking area).
Telephones – There are public telephone booths available where coins or phone cards can be used. Phone cards are available from the shops of Portugal Telecom, post offices, kiosks and selected tobacconists. All Portuguese phone numbers are composed of 9 digits. To call Portugal from abroad, you need to dial the international code 00 plus Portugal’s country code 351. To call abroad from Portugal, dial 00, followed by the country code, the city code and the number required. The various country codes are displayed in public telephones.
Mobile phones – There are three mobile networks - TMN, Vodafone and Optimus – which have roaming agreements with most international companies and provide good national coverage.
Internet – Paid Internet access is available in some cafes and post offices. In many hotels and public spaces such as airports, congress halls, restaurants, service stations and shopping centres, there are duly indicated “wireless” or “Wi-Fi” zones, where it is possible to obtain wireless Internet access.
Most of the Museums are closed on Mondays, public holidays and open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10h00 to 17h00. National Museums and Monuments are free of charge on Sundays.