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Portugal: Lisbon and the Silver Coast - FAQ

With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Portugal, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for your Lisbon and the Silver Coast tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you'll need as you get ready for your Portuguese adventure.

TIME 

Portugal is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. Like most European countries, Portugal has daylight saving time. It moves its clocks ahead an hour in late spring and an hour back in the fall, corresponding roughly to daylight saving time in the United States, but the exact dates vary. When it's noon in Lisbon, it's 7am in New York and 4am in San Francisco.

New York

Lisbon

PACKING  

There are so many beautiful things to bring back with you from Portugal, so make sure you have space left in your suitcase. Very few places have formal dress codes in Portugal. Some people do dress up if they are visiting high-end restaurants and bars, but this is optional. Some churches may require that you cover your bare shoulders and legs when entering, so it's useful to carry a light scarf with you.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS  

A valid passport is needed for visitors from the US, Canada and Australia. Visas are not required for Americans, Canadians or Australians for visits of less than 3 months. If you are a citizen of another E.U. country, you do not need a passport, only an identity card. Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the European Union. Before traveling abroad it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase. 

ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION  

This tour starts and ends in Lisbon (airport code LIS). The tour starts in Lisbon, Portugal on Monday, April 29, 2018 at 4:00PM, and your flight should arrive no later than 2:00PM. You'll probably depart North America on Sunday, April 28, 2018. We have arranged for individual airport transfers on arrival, and you will be met by a chauffeur on your arrival in Lisbon. This tour ends after breakfast on May 8, 2019 in Lisbon, and we have arranged for individual airport transfers to the airport in accordance with your departing flight. If you need help with your flights to Portugal, please feel free to give us a call.

JET LAG 

To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones) drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT AND ROOMATES  

To avoid paying the single supplement, we offer guaranteed roommate matching, and we will try to match you with a roommate of similar age. Otherwise, there are several single rooms available on this tour, but they tend to fill up early. Please keep in mind that all shared rooms are non-smoking.

THE TRAVEL GROUP  

The Portugal group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the tour director. The minimum group size is 6 women + the tour director. In addition to the tour director, the travelers will be taken care of by private local guides and a bus driver, who will accompany the group throughout the tour. 

HEALTH  

Portugal does not offer free medical treatment to visitors. Travelers from Canada and the United States must pay for medical services rendered, but you will be reimbursed by your travel insurance. There are very few health problems encountered while traveling in Portugal. The tap water is generally safe to drink, the milk is pasteurized, and health services are good. Occasionally, the change in diet can cause some minor diarrhea, so you might want to take along some anti-diarrhea medicine. Limit your exposure to the sun, especially during the first few days of your trip and between 11am to 2pm. Use a sunscreen with a high protection factor and apply it liberally. Pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage, and carry prescription medications in their original containers, with pharmacy labels, otherwise, they won't make it through airport security. Also bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your pills or run out. Don't forget an extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses. Carry the generic name of prescription medicines, in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name.

WATER 

Tap water is generally potable throughout Portugal unless you are warned otherwise. Bottled water is inexpensive and readily available for sale.

TOILETS  

Western-style flushable toilets are the norm in Portugal. Please be aware that sometimes a small fee is required to access public toilets, so you should always have some coins in the local currency with you to pay for them. Bring your own supply of toilet paper, soap or hand sanitizer as these aren't always provided. 

SAFETY  

Though Portugal has a relatively low rate of violent crime, petty crime aimed at tourists is on the rise in continental Portugal. Travelers can become targets of pickpockets and purse-snatchers, particularly at popular sites, in restaurants, and on public transportation. In general, visitors to Portugal should carry limited cash and credit cards and should leave extra cash, credit cards, and personal documents at the hotel safe. Travelers should also avoid using ATMs in isolated or poorly lit areas.

ACTIVITY LEVEL  

During the Lisbon and the Silver Coast tour in Portugal, we will travel by bus, on foot. To be able to enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 4 miles throughout the day. You need to be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you need to be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, although it is busy. You must be prepared for a couple of full days and early starts.

WEATHER  

Portugal is one of the warmest European countries. Yearly temperature averages are about 55°F in the north and 64°F in the south. Spring and summer months are usually warm and sunny, with July and August averaging maximums between 86°F – 95°F. The month of May is one of the best times to see Portugal as the weather is usually fine (yet not too hot) and the attractions are less crowded than during the peak months of July and August.

CELL PHONE/INTERNET 

Portugal's cities have Internet access available in internet cafes, hotel lobbies and in some public places. Internet access in rural areas may be available, but it varies widely. Cellular phone coverage is generally very good in Portugal's cities and metropolitan areas, although expect limited coverage in remote or mountainous areas. All hotels where we’ll be staying have WiFi Internet available for their guests.

ELECTRICITY 
ELECTRICITY

Voltage in Portugal is 200 volts AC (50 cycles) and the plug is the typical European plug with two round prongs. Many stores in North America sell the appropriate transformers and adapters, and they can also be purchased on arrival in Lisbon airport. If you bring a hair dryer, it should be a dual-voltage one, and you'll need an adapter plug. Any heat generating appliances that you bring need a transformer, and they may still not work properly with the different voltage.

LANGUAGE 

The official language of Portugal is Portuguese. It looks similar to Spanish, but sounds very different. Portuguese used in Portugal is much different than Portuguese used in Brazil. English is often spoken in the major resorts and at first-class hotels; in smaller places, you'll often need the help of a phrase book or dictionary. 

MONEY 

Some people like to bring local currency with them when traveling to a foreign country, but it is not needed, and depends on what you're comfortable with. The easiest way to get local currency is on arrival at the airport ATM. ATMs are common throughout Portugal. You'll find them inside and outside all banks, in major shopping centers, in supermarkets and gas stations. The Euro, the single European currency, is the official currency of Portugal. Each Euro is divided into 100 Eurocents.

TAXES 

Portugal has a value-added tax (VAT) on most purchases made within the country, and the price you see advertised, already includes it. It ranges from 6% (for books) to 23% (general goods). Known in Portugal as the IVA, the amount is almost always written on the bottom line of the bill. Luxury goods such as jewelry, furs, and expensive imported liquors include a 30% built-in tax. To get a VAT refund on purchases that qualify, present your passport to the salesperson and ask for the special stamped form. Present the form with your purchases at the booth marked for IVA tax refunds at the airport. You'll get your money refunded right at the booth.

TIPPING 

Hotels add a service charge (known as serviço), which is divided among the entire staff, but individual tipping is also the rule. Tip 1€ to the bellhop for running an errand, 1€ to the doorman who hails you a cab, 1€ to the porter for each piece of luggage carried, and 1.50€ to the chambermaid. If you used the concierge’s services, he/she will present you with a separate bill for extra. A gratuity is expected in addition to the charge. Figure on tipping about 20% of your taxi fare for short runs. Restaurants include a service charge and government taxes of 18%. Add about 10% to the restaurant bill. Washroom attendants get .50€.

SHOPPING 

Merchandise from all over Portugal ends up in Lisbon stores. Products made of cork, which range from place mats to boxes, are good buys. Collectors seek out decorative glazed tiles. You also might find good buys in Lisbon in porcelain and china, in fishermen's sweaters from the north, and in fado recordings. Intricately woven lightweight baskets make attractive, practical gifts. Pottery is one of the best buys in Portugal, and pottery covered with brightly colored roosters from Barcelos is legendary. Blue-and-white pottery is made in Coimbra and often in Alcobaça, and yellow-and-green dishes in the shape of vegetables (especially cabbage), fruit, animals, and even leaves, come from Caldas da Rainha. Atlantis crystal is another good buy, as is suede and leather. The best buy in Portugal, gold, is strictly regulated by the government. Jewelers must put a minimum of 19.2 karats into the jewelry they sell. Filigree jewelry in gold and silver is popular in Lisbon. Portugal is also famous for Arraiolos carpets, fine woolen rugs that have earned an international reputation.  

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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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