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Lisbon is a beautiful city located on the banks of Targus River. Its charm and attraction for many tourists has a deep connection to Lisbon's strong links to the past. As one walks down the city's streets, it is difficult not to notice its rich cultural heritage in all of the wonderful churches, castles and restored palaces.
It is best to come prepared and bring with you a pair of good walking shoes. Although you are visiting a European city and not a trek in the jungle, it is best to keep in mind that Lisbon is set on seven hills and every walk in it, even if you take the public transportation, requires a bit of an effort. But this is also part of Lisbon's charm; from every street and corner, the view is different and surprising.
Lisbon is a little different from other European capitals by its mix of colors, smells and noises. The special atmosphere is felt every where around the city; the smell of fresh coffee from every street corner strikes the senses, the noise of public transportation mixes with the smell of the sea and the sight of the colorful Portuguese tiles blends in with the washing hung from terraces and roofs.
There is no doubt that Lisbon has a lot to offer for every one with a friendly hospitality, a pleasant weather, plenty of culture and good food.
Lisbon offers a mild climate with long summers and short winters. During summer temperatures reach approximately 28 Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit). The rainy season lasts from December to March, but temperatures rarely fall to freezing point. During winter, temperatures average around 10 Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
The official language is Portuguese. English is widely spoken within the business community and at the touristy places.
The Euro is the official currency of Portugal. Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks and other exchange places. It is best to take travellers cheques in Euros, US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.
Value added tax (called IVA in Portugal) rangers from 8% for books and food to 17% - 19% for luxury goods. Usually the tax is already added in the final price of items and services.
The Value added tax can be reclaimed by visitors from outside the EU as long as the purchase exceeds € 60 (VAT included) and was purchased at one store on the same day. In order to do that, look for shops displaying the sign „Europe Tax – Free Shopping Portugal“. Ask in the store for a tax refund cheque containing the description of goods, the personal data of the non European resident as well as the particulars of his passport or of any such equivalent document. At the airport your purchased items need to be taken to the customs clearance before checking the luggage in. The cheques are stamped by customs and cashed on the spot by Global Refund Tax – Free Shopping staff at the airport.
To call Lisbon from abroad, first dial +351 for Portugal and then 21 for Lisbon.
There can be high charges on calls made from hotels, restaurants and bars and it is generally cheaper to use a calling card. Public telephone boxes take coins or phone cards for local and international calls and in some cases also credit cards.
Most shopping malls have wi – fi zones. There is also a number of cybercaf’es around Lisbon, mainly in Bairro Alto and Chiado. Some good cyber caf’es are Webc@fe at Rua Diario de Noticias 126 and Blue Net Caf’e At Rua da Rosa 165.
Banks are usually open Monday through Friday from 8.30 am to 3 pm. In the Algarve, the bank in Vilamoura Marina shopping centre is open daily from 9 am through 9 pm.
Post offices (correios) are usually open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 10 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 6 pm.
Many shops and businesses close for a lunch break of two hours at midday. Usually, shops are open from 9 am to 1 pm and from3 pm to 7 pm from Monday to Friday. Large department stores and shopping centres usually stay open from 9 am to 9 pm. On Saturdays, small shops are normally open from 9 am to 1 pm. Most large supermarkets and department stores will stay open a little later on.
Official business hours in most companies are Monday through Friday from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm.
· January 1 New Years Day
· April 25 Day of Liberty
· May 1 Labour Day
· June 10 Day of Portugal
· August 15 Assumption Day
· October 5 Day of the Republic
· November 1 All Saint’s Day
· December 1 Restoration of Independence
· December 8 Day of Our Lady
· December 25 Christmas Day
Lisbon is a pretty safe city according to European standards, but you should look out for pickpockets that act mostly upon tourists. Make sure to keep your valuables out of sight especially in crowded places.
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