Know Before You Go: Portugal and Fatima

Know Before You Go: Portugal and Fatima

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The country code for Portugal is 351. When dialing a Portuguese number from abroad, dial the nine-digit number after the country code.


All phone numbers have nine digits. Numbers in the area in and around Lisbon and Porto begin with a two-digit area code; phone numbers anywhere else in the country begin with a three-digit area code. All fixed-phone area codes begin with 2; mobile numbers, which also have nine digits, begin with 9. For general information, dial 118 or 1820 (operators often speak English).


If you have a multiband phone and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. Overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It’s almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call.

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone to allow a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates.

If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell-phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.

Depending on your cell phone provider’s global roaming rates, it could be cheaper to rent a cell phone at Ben Gurion Airport or order a rental phone to arrive at your address before leaving for Israel. Rental booths are in the airport arrivals hall.


The electrical current in Portugal is 220 volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC); wall outlets take plugs with two round prongs.

Consider making a small investment in a universal adapter, which has several types of plugs in one lightweight, compact unit. Most laptops and mobile phone chargers are dual voltage (i.e., they operate equally well on 110 and 220 volts), so require only an adapter. These days the same is true of small appliances such as hair dryers. Always check labels and manufacturer instructions to be sure. Don’t use 110-volt outlets marked “for shavers only” for high-wattage appliances such as hair-dryers.

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States need a valid passport to enter Portugal for stays of up to 90 days; passports must be valid for three months beyond the period of stay. Visas are required for longer stays and, in some instances, for visits to other countries in addition to Portugal.


Restaurants, cinemas, theaters, libraries, and service stations are required to have public toilets. Restrooms can range from marble-clad opulence to little better than primitive, but in most cases they’re reasonably clean and have toilet paper, although it’s always useful to carry a small packet of tissues just in case! Few are adapted for travelers with disabilities. Restrooms are occasionally looked after by an attendant who customarily receives a tip of €0.30. Train stations are likely to have pay toilets.


Service is not always included in café, restaurant, and hotel bills. Waiters and other service people are sometimes poorly paid, and leaving a tip of around 10% will be appreciated. If, however, you received bad service, never feel obligated (or intimidated) to leave a tip. Also, if you have something small, such as a sandwich or petiscos (appetizers) at a bar, you can leave just enough to round out the bill to the nearest €0.50.


Older generations of Portuguese citizens tend to dress up more than their counterparts in the United States or the United Kingdom. That said, attitudes toward clothes have become more relaxed in recent years among the younger generations.

Jeans, however, are generally still paired with a collared shirt and, if necessary, a sweater or jacket. Dressier outfits are needed for more expensive restaurants, nightclubs, and fado houses, though, and people still frown on shorts in churches.

Sightseeing calls for casual, comfortable clothing (well-broken-in low-heel shoes, for example). Away from the beaches, wearing bathing suits on the street or in restaurants and shops is not considered good taste.

Summer can be brutally hot; spring and fall, mild to chilly; and winter, cold and rainy. Sunscreen and sunglasses are a good idea any time of the year, since the sun in Portugal is very bright.

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