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Basic Information » Lisbon stories - belong to the city!

Basic Information

When you’re travelling abroad you always have some questions and fears, especially when you don’t speak the language. To help you to overpass this, here are some basic tips:
     911: call 112 for any emergency from police to an ambulance. In case of personal injuries you'll be taken to a public hospital which offers a good service at a decent price. We have Welfare System and like it.
     Airport: Lisbon airport is located in the centre of the city and just 20/30 minutes away from the centre. If you don’t have a transfer arranged, you can pick a cab and it shouldn’t cost more than 10/15€ (see Taxi). You can also go to the Tourism Information Point (take the chance and grab a map) and buy a taxi voucher, with an established price.
     Coffee: costs less than one dollar and Portuguese people can not live without it. This strong black expresso is an excellent excuse to chat with someone or to have a sweet. Ask for "café americano" to get an American coffee or “galão” to get a caffé latte. If someone is a bit grumpy, just go and buy them a coffee: our guide is not an exception.
     Currency: the old "Escudo" was replaced by the Euro (€) in 2002 and this is the only currency you can pay with. In Portugal ATMs (cashpoints) can be found almost everywhere and restaurants accept most credit cards: this is definitely the best way to carry your money.
       Economy: lies mostly on services and industry but agriculture and fishing are also important. Portugal is the world biggest producer of cork and also has an important production of olive oil, wine, canned food and leather shoes. Portugal may be slightly cheaper than other European countries and you may also hear the news saying that Portuguese economy is in bad shape. We're not at our's best but we aren't as bad as they say and a bad rating at the international markets doesn't stop us from having a normal life.
     Electricity: the electric current in Portugal is 230/400 volts at a frequency of 50 hertz and sockets comply with European standards. You will need a 230 volt transformer and an adaptor to use American-style flat-prong plugs.
     English: young people speak fluent English. In cities almost everybody will be able to communicate with you in English and the same applies to restaurants and central facilities. Portuguese population is generally helpful and will do their best to communicate with you using hand gestures, signs etc. In these cases please thank them with “Obrigado” (thank you) or “Bom dia” (good morning).
     Language: the official language is Portuguese, a latin language and the 5th most spoken language in the whole world. Though you may understand some words if you understand Spanish or Italian, it is offensive to speak Spanish right away thinking that we'll understand it. Portuguese and Spanish have been different languages for almost one thousand years, please don't try to change it now.
     Safety: Lisbon and Portugal are generally safe but this doesn't mean that you can walk around with your wallet on your back pocket or with your camera hanging on your hand, unattended. Anyway, the worse that may happen to you is being pickpocketed with no violence and you'll notice it only on your next buy. If this happens to you, go to the Tourism Police in Restauradores square (walk from Rossio square to Avenida da Liberdade and you'll find it on your left, in a pinkish palace, short after you pass Restauradores subway exit). This specialised police will be able to give you all the practical information and solve your problems. In short, Lisbon is just like any other big city: use your good sense; and if you're reading this article, I suppose you're having one tour with me: just ask for help during the tour!
      Tax Free: Portugal visitors th
at are not EU residents may be taxfreereimbursed for the VAT (Vallue Added Tax) they've paid on purchases that they have made in Portugal and are being transported in their personal luggage. When you're shopping, look for the Tax free logo on the shop window and ask the merchant for your receipt and special Tax free form. Keep that with you and get to the airport with time. You may either stamp your forms at customs and submit it later, or custom and receive your money on the moment.
Please note that to be elegible you need to: buy more than 60,35€ in the same shop; leave EU within 30 days of your first bought;  carry the items with you. You'll receive aprox. 12% of the paid taxes.
     Tipping: is a normal procedure if you enjoyed the service or want to be polite. Normally we tip 10% of the bill, mostly to restaurant and hotel waitresses.