If you decide to drive in Portugal (and it uses to be a good idea, since everything is near and public transport is here and there inefficient), give a special attention to some details:
1 - The roads are usually very good and often jammed or very bad.
2 - Most of the roads have no shoulders, so you may encounter a pedestrian, a cyclist or an animal in your way.
3- Though improving their behaviour in the roads, the Portuguese are "nervous" and competitive in their cars. If you're Latin, it will be easy, but if you come from a calmer country you may feel uncomfortable.
4- The road signs are acceptable in highways and the new roads, but absent or confusing in most of the old roads.
5-To leave a car unattended uses to be safe in the small towns, but increasing the risk as the town grows, specially with goods seen through the windows.
6- Don't hesitate to ask for help in any circumstance. Locals are friendly and always willing to be useful and nice.
7- AND REMEMBER: THE BEST SIGHTS ARE ALWAYS IN THE SECONDARY ROADS
Be weary of the taxi drivers at Lisbon Airport. Two years ago a taxi driver charged me 25 euros to get from the airport to the train station ( a 10 minute drive). Fares for this route should not cost more than 10 euros. Some taxi drivers that do not have the counting meters in their cars might overcharge tourists, thinking they can earn a quick buck. Not all taxi drivers are dishonest, however. Just make sure you don't get "taken for a ride".
Maybe you are alerted to the risks of dishonest taxi drivers (If you weren't, you are now!), charging in excess. They exist, and specially when exiting from the airports you must be careful.
However, if you set the fare before leaving, you will discover that the taxi driver is a nice and friendly guy, that, in the expectation of a small tip, will assist you far beyond his obligations. And remember, no one knows better the towns and their secrets than taxi drivers (well, in the villages without taxi drivers, you have the barbers).
Anyway, the common advice applies: be careful!
tap water in the south of Portugal, especially in the villages, is not suited for drinking, got really sick after teeth brush with it. smells like pure chlor and tastes strange. be also aware buying of the known marks of the water in the bottles and take some antihistamines with you! got an intensively blue hematoma on my hip as an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite! you can really predict all these failures and save your vacation!
best regards, Sophia
Fires are the worst nightmare of any Portuguese citizen living in the country. On summer, there are many fires all over the country. So, never make fire on a forest not even drop a cigarrete out. Altought it's danger is also a crime punished by the Portuguese law.
Any information about a fire should be give to national fire number: 117.
To know what regions are in high risk of fire for each day, visit
I managed to get robbed 15 minutes after leaving the Airport in Lisbon on the public bus. His name is SANDOKAN*
Some may say he is a magician. He has been making tourists money and wallets disappear for 20 years. I have seen the photos going back to his youth in police files. I even knew he was a pickpocket, that’s why I have 10 photos of him. He still got my wallet and money. 2 old guys (about 60 years old each) came on at another stop and blocked my view of him. I had even moved my wallet to a tighter pocket with a zip. This bastard has hands like a surgeon. When I went to the Tourist Police in Lisbon, they called in the undercover Transport Police. They knew him. So my whole first day of going to the VT Meeting in Cascais was spent with the Police in several locations making statements. Lots of them and signing them. He got about £35 from me, but cost me a whole day of sightseeing.
How does he and others work? Sandokan has a loose jacket over his shoulders. This keeps his hands free and hidden when he is in your pockets. He then uses 2 others guys to move close and touch you. They actually push against you. Sandokan then reaches past them and grabs your wallet. He is good. Too good. He makes 400-800 Euros a DAY.
My advice? Do what I do and use Credit Cards, Debit Cards and Travellers Cheques. Try never to carry large amounts of cash on the public busses, especially from the airport. That’s where they work. Crowded confined areas full of people who just arrived. Please take care.
* Sandokan is his nickname used by the Police in Lisbon. Sandokan is a fictional Pirate from a book written over 100 years ago. Unfortunately for me – he is all too real.
The Lisbon Central Police have a special Tourist Police Unit in Lisbon. They are helpful, speak many languages and will provide contact details of your local embassy. They are located at Esquadra de Turismo, Palacio Foz, Praça dos Restauradores, 1200-000 Lisbon. Their telephone number is 213 421 634. If you need directions to the office, ask at ANY Tourist Information Office. I did. You can also dial 112. If you have been a victim of crime – report it! Also take any photos. I have donated 2 digital card scanners to the unit which can download from any digital memory card made.
The Tourist Police are located next to the Tourist Information Office just outside of the Restauradores Metro Station and not far from the Rossio main train station (Estação do Rossio).
TAP tops lost baggage tables
TAP Air Portugal is the worst performing airline in Europe when it comes to baggage delays, with British Airways in second place, according to data from European airlines for 2007.
Figures published by the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) revealed that the Portuguese airline had a delayed bags ratio of 27.8 for every 1,000 passengers using its services.
Top that off with snobby staff, paper thin pillow, metal sticking out of the seat, terrible food.
Search Internet for the worst airline and you will find TAP Portugal. Be warned, it doesnt pay for unforseen unexpected travel expenses to compensate for lost luggage.
Lagos is glutted with tourists in the summer, and the town becomes unbearably crowded in August. The street 'entertainment' has improved over the past four years: In addition to English dressed up in cowboy gear and affecting nasal American accents as they whine out U.S. pop folk ballads and dated protest music, there is now a variety of entertainers on the street with genuine talent -- and a far, far different repertoire of music. Tip them generously, please, and maybe those hideously untalented "cowboys" will starve to death.
Central Lagos after midnight is given over to mobs of English, and now also American, young 'adults' in their twenties and thirties, getting snot-flying drunk and puking and urinating in the streets and leaving piles of plastic glasses outside the expat-run booze holes. Skip central Lagos at night June through August, it's a mess and definitely not the place for families or people looking for a quality environment.
Local hostility toward these types of bars and the problems they create has grown over the years, and the city is aiming to put the squeeze on these places and the type of people they attract.
Drive to the west coast near Aljezur (above) to get away from all this. If you want to spend your vacation falling-down drunk stay home or go to Albufeira.
Footstool, my wallet was in my front left pocket. My GPS was in the front right pocket. I also carry a "man bag" when I travel. Usually, I don't use my GPS when I am on foot but we were lost so I pulled it out to get a fix of my position. I then slipped it into my front right pocket. I think the thief saw me put it in my pocket.
When I entered the bus, the old man got ahead of me, between me and my wife. He gestured that I should go ahead to join my wife. As I did so, he pretended to stumble and grabbed a pole with both hands, wrapping them around me. I immediately pushed him away, aggressively.
I checked my left pocket (wallet) and my bag and both seemed to be untouched. I noticed that he left the bus before the doors closed so it was obvious to me he was trying to rob me. I had a similar incident in the Paris subway which was thwarted by my wife pushing the guy away and screaming.
I thought all was well until I got off the bus only two stops later. I checked my right pocket and the GPS was gone. I entertained the notion of going back after him to wring his neck (I am trained in martial arts) but my wife talked sense into me. It was the end of the trip and I wrote the GPS off as part of the vacation cost.
The silly thing is, the GPS is probably useless to the thief. He doesn't have the charger, the manual or the windshield mount. I doubt he can read English to try to figure it out and the battery would run out before he could anyway.
A damper on the vacation but a good lesson learned. My advice is to enter any public transit vehicle with the assumption that someone is going to try to rip you off. If someone pays any attention to you or acts strangely, push him away, hard with both hands and scream "Policia" at the top of your lungs. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. You are protecting yourself and your family.
Portugal is quite a safe country to visit. I was fine during my visit there in 2003 as a solo female, traveling from the northern part of Porto all the way to Lisboa. I felt safe the whole time.
As to "safety" and "danger," well, both are relative concepts after all. It depends on circumstances, who's telling the story, and who's depicting the narrative of a particular place.
Danger will follow you no matter where you go in the world, whether it's Timbuktu, Antarctica, the boondocks or whichever corner it is. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy after awhile.
Of course, it helps to be positive and keep an open mind, yet also have the "street smarts" and commonsense so as not to fall prey into the hands of dubious characters or be in less wholesome places at an inopportune time.
Goodluck & Safe Travels!!!
Unfortunately there are no direct buses to some places in the Algarve. For instance, I asked at the bus station in Faro how to go to Monchique. They told me I had to take a bus to a town (Portimao if I remember correctly) and then take another one. It would took me at least three hours to go to Monchique from Faro.
I usually never rent a car when I am on holiday. So; next time I am going to the Algarve I'll surely spend some days in Faro and choose another place as a base to have the opportunity to see more places and avoid travelling too many hours.
Pickpockets are at work all over the world on crowded vehicles and this is something every traveler should be aware of. Some people candidly sport wallets, money or valuable objects in a very inviting manner. Never do this! At least, if you really don't care for your valuables, keep your documents properly tucked away.
What surprised me are warning signs posted aboard several historical and modern trams and buses in Lisbon. A useful reminder to avoid unpleasant inconveniences.
Lisbon,Beautiful city and Beautiful people.dont allow looks to disaappoint you dangerous well dressed males ah-ah sorry to say that but you never going to suspect any mugger till you have been robbed in day light,becareful while taken the public transport cause they are everywhere,looking at every move you take...
Downtown Cascais beach is declared unsuitable for swimming. Despite this, plenty of people were seen in the water. I assume this area is forbidden because it's a fishing beach and waters may be polluted other than dangerous for sharp propellers.
Needless to say, nearby beaches should be preferred.
A few occasions gave us the impression that prices might be different for locals and for tourists when the price list is not presented before ordering. We finally had it confirmed when I paid 2.4 Euro for a beer and, two minutes later, a local guy sitting at the next table paid 1.70 Euro for exactly the same size of beer glass.
Not much of a rip off though, as the same serving amount in our homecountry Italy would cost about 4 Euro.
In a different place, we drank a 0.2 liter glass of beer for the price of 0.70 Euro and a 0.4 liter glass for 1.80 Euro. This was puzzling as well but considering the general bargain prices across Portugal it just added some fun to the trip.
On the other hand, no wrong checks were ever found when dining out or for accommodation.
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