Accidents

Breakages in apartments and villas must be reported and paid for. In the event of a serious road accident, wait for the police to arrive. Meanwhile, obtain the other driver's name, address, his insurance company details and the number of his policy. Insist that the police take statements from both parties and that both are breathalysed.

Airport

Faro Airport (General) 289 800800
Flight Enquiries 289 818982
TAP (Portugal’s National Airline) 289 818538
British Airways 0500 1251
Lufthansa 289 800750
KLM 289 800872

Faro Airport has a good website (in English).

The following table of average taxi prices from Faro Airport to various points in the algarve is published by ANA Aeroportos - use this for guidance only. You should always verify the price with the taxi driver before commencing the journey.

Destination w/Luggage surcharge w/Night Surcharge inc. Sat, Sun and Holidays
Albufeira, Tavira, Eurotel €33.50 €39.90
Armação de Pêra €40.50 €48.30
Carvoeiro €48.50 €57.90
Faro €8.50 €9.90
Lagos €62.50 €74.70
Monte Gordo €45.50 €54.30
Portimão €50.00 €48.00
Praia da Rocha, Vau, Penina €55.50 €66.30
Quarteira €20.50 €24.30
Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, Garrão €19.50 €23.10
Vilamoura €22.50 €26.70
Vila Real de Santo António €46.50 €55.50

Banks

Open Monday to Friday 08:30 - 15:00; closed Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays. You'll need your passport to exchange travellers cheques. Look for the sign "câmbios". Commission is charged per transaction regardless of amount.
ATMs (called Multi-Banco in Portugal) are abundant and very sophisticated. You can usually draw cash against UK bank accounts if you have a VISA network card.

Buses

Clean, reasonably comfortable and cheap. Local services often infrequent by day and non-existent at night. Avoid long, boring journeys within the algarve by booking express regional services. Good choice of Algarve-Lisbon bus companies and departure times. The Faro-based EVA (info in Portuguese, English, German and Dutch) run good local and regional services, and also frequent services to Lisbon and Spain, and the Rede Nacional de Expressos run a comprehensive national service. Both have good on-line routes and timetables.

Consulates and Embassies

Country Consulate (algarve) Embassy (Lisbon)
Austria 282 416202 21 387 4162
Belgium 289 803757 21 549 263
United Kingdom 282 417800 21 396 1191
Canada 289 803757 21 347 4892
Denmark 289 805561 21 545 099
Finland 289 394085 -
Germany 289 803148 21 881 0210
Holland 289 20903 21 396 1163
France - 21 386 0206
Ireland - 21 396 1569
Norway - 21 301 5344
USA - 21 726 6600
South Africa - 21 353 5041
Spain 281 44888 -
Sweden 282 413311 21 395 5224
Switzerland 289 823505 21 397 3121

Chemists/Pharmacies

Open 09:00 - 13:00; 15:00 - 19:00. One chemist in each area stays open after hours on a rotating basis and the address of the open pharmacy is listed on all other chemists' doors.

Chemists (Farmácias) will advise on minor matters. There are reciprocal arrangements within the EU on free treatment in clinics and hospitals. When requesting treatment, show your passport, or an E111 or E112 form. Health clinics (Centro de Sáude) deal with less serious problems. For emergencies, there are 24-hour hospitals in Faro, Portimão and Lagos. Private doctors (British, German and Dutch as well as Portuguese) will give more personal treatment, but without insurance it can be expensive.

Driving

Speed Limits
Built-up Areas 50km/h
Out of Town 90km/h
Trunk roads 100km/h
Motorway 120km/h
  • Insurance is compulsory and normally provided with a hire car
  • EU licences are valid at all times
  • Other foreign driving licences are valid for up to six months
  • Seat belts are obligatory for the driver and front passenger
  • DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!
    Alcohol is readily available and cheap - but the maximum legal blood alcohol level is currently only 20mg per 100ml. If you drink and drive and are caught, you will be immediately locked up and in court the next morning.
  • Portugal has the highest road accident rate in Europe. The standard of both road building and driving is much lower than in Northen European countries, and you need to be continually alert and cautious. Be especially aware of vehicles suddenly emerging from side roads, and of maniac overtaking.
  • ZERO TOLERANCE! High-profile police patrols are becoming ever more vigilant and ever less tolerant of bad driving, speeding and drink driving. Besides risking your life and those of others, you also risk heavy penalties if you break the law.

Duty Free

There are no duty-free allowances for transport of goods within the European Union.

If you are planning to bring home Portuguese delights such as port, table wines or regional aguardentes or liqueurs, look no further for a good deal than the cheapest local supermarket, where you can generally buy at prices lower than the airport "duty free" shop.

Electricity

220 volts AC with Continental two-pin plugs is usual. Earthing can be erratic in older buildings.

Emergencies

Ambulance, Police, Fire (Multi-lingual) 112
Hospital (Faro) 289 803427
Hospital (Portimão) 282 415115
Hospital (Lagos) 282 763034

Insects

Ants are out and about all over the algarve during the warm months and will home in on any scraps of food left lying around. They are easily deterred by insecticide powders which can be bought from supermarkets. Use repellants to deter mosquitoes from zeroing in on exposed flesh at sundown and after dark.

Lost Property

To report or inquire about air travel baggage gone astray in transit, phone Faro airport lost property office 289 800 688. Property lost in Portugal should be reported to the nearest GNR police station.

Markets

In Quarteira a market is held every Wednesday, Loulé every Saturday, Portimão every first Monday of each month, Lagos every Saturday, most Sundays in Almancil and Moncarapacho, and most Thursdays in Boliqueme and on Mondays in Tavira.

Price Comparison

This approximate price comparison between resorts was researched by Thomas Cook and appeared in The Independent in 1999. It is offered here purely as a comparitive guide.

Resort 3-course Meal Bottle of Beer Suntan Lotion Taxi (5 km) Film 24 Exp Car Hire /wk
Algarve £8.00 £0.50 £3.50 £3.00 £4.00 £100.00
Costa Del Sol £6.95 £1.30 £4.10 £12.30 £4.10 £130.85
Majorca £10.25 £1.45 £5.35 £6.15 £3.30 £122.20
Tenerife £12.30 £1.25 £4.90 £3.70 £2.90 £130.85
Florida £15.60 £1.90 £5.05 £5.00 £2.50 £114.00
Tunisia £10.90 £1.40 £5.45 £1.90 £2.75 £218.10
Cyprus £11.60 £1.20 £5.95 £3.00 £3.60 £149.45
Turkey £6.50 £1.05 £6.50 £4.90 £2.85 £263.00
Corfu £5.20 £1.05 £3.75 £4.20 £2.50 £137.60
Sorrento £7.70 £1.40 £6.30 £8.75 £4.75 £215.40
Malta £11.20 £0.70 £4.55 £8.00 £4.80 £87.85
Rhodes £6.30 £1.05 £5.20 £3.15 £2.70 £261.30
Sicily £13.25 £1.75 £4.20 £7.00 £3.85 £174.40
Madeira £10.25 £0.70 £5.10 £6.85 £6.85 £153.70

Public Holidays

January 1st New Year’s Day
April 25th Revolution Day
May 1st Labour Day
June 10th Camões and Portugal Day
August 15th Ascension Day
October 5th Republic Day
November 1st All Saints Day
December 1st Independence Day
December 8th The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady
December 25th Christmas Day

Other Public Holidays which fall on different dates are: Good Friday, Shrove Tuesday and Corpus Christi.

Police

The national emergency number (equivalent to 999 in UK) is 112.

Portugal actually has two police forces -- the GNR and the PSP. The GNR will deal with most matters, and pass you on to the PSP if necessary. The local numbers for the GNR in the algarve are:

GNR Faro 289 801282
GNR Lagos 282 762809
GNR Portimão 282 417217
GNR Tavira 281 325704

Post Offices

Loulé and Quarteira offices open Monday to Friday 09:00 - 19:00. Vilamoura, Boliqueme, Almancil, Sta. Bárbara de Nexe, São Brás de Alportel and Estói offices are open from Monday to Friday 09:00 - 18:00.

Security

Theft from cars, locked or otherwise, is depressingly common. When driving you need your licence and other documents, but don't leave them in the car when parked. Be every bit as security conscious in villas and apartments as you would be at home. When you go out, be sure to lock up.
You should read the excellent safety information provided by The Foreign & Commonwealth Office on their web site.

Shops

Generally open 09:00 - 13:00; 15:00 - 19:00, Monday to Friday. On Saturdays open 09:00 - 13:00. Closed Sundays, except some supermarkets, mini-mercardos and out of town hypermarkets and malls. During the summer months many shops in tourist areas stay open until 23:00 or even later, and will open on Sunday.

Telephones

Telephone calls can be made at post offices and public call boxes which accept coins or credifone cards. Credifone call boxes are the most common and the majority of newagents and supermarkets sell the phone cards.
For calls abroad dial 00, followed by the country code (UK 44), the area code (omitting the 0) then the telephone number. Country codes can be found in the front of the telephone book, the post office, or by contacting the International operator on 099 (inside Europe), 098 (outside Europe).
To make local calls, you need to dial the area code (e.g. 289) even if you are inside that area.

Trains

Portuguese trains (Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses) are clean, efficient, comfortable, very cheap and run right on-time. Trains are one of Portugal's secret gems, and well worth exploring. If you intend to travel from the algarve to Lisbon, take the train - it's far cheaper and much more fun than the bus. The route pass through some spectacular scenery, particularly in the hills and valleys of the lower Alentejo, and the adventure is completed by a ferry journey across the river Tejo into the heart of Lisbon. Consider paying the little bit extra for 1º class, where you have soft reclining seats and aircon. CFP have a comprehensive on-line presence in both English and Portuguese covering national and international routes, timetables and fares.