Currency, ATMs, exchange
Portugal uses the euro. It is one of the many European countries that use this common currency. All euro banknotes and coins are legal tender in all countries.
One euro is divided into 100 cents.
The official symbol of the euro is € and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.
- Banknotes: The euro banknotes have the same design in all countries.
- Standard coins: All euro area countries issue coins that have a distinctive national design on one side and a common standard design on the other. The coins can be used in any euro area country, regardless of the design used (e.g. a one-euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
- Commemorative €2 coins: These differ from normal €2 coins only in their “national” side and circulate freely as legal tender. Each country can produce a certain amount of these coins as part of its normal coin production, and sometimes “European” 2-euro coins are produced to commemorate special events (e.g. anniversaries of important treaties).
- Other commemorative coins: Commemorative coins with other amounts (e.g. ten euros or more) are much rarer, have very special designs and often contain significant amounts of gold, silver or platinum. Although they are technically legal tender at face value, their material or collector’s value is usually much higher and therefore you are unlikely to find them in circulation.
ATMs that accept international cards are everywhere, and bureaux de change pop up wherever there is a constant flow of tourists (although generally the closer they are to tourist attractions, the lower the rates).
In small shops (off the main streets) you can try to haggle a little, especially if you offer to buy several items. However, you can check your change: Although this practice is not very common, some shopkeepers may “accidentally” overpay tourists.
Tipping in restaurants is optional. In Portugal, waiters earn a salary and a “tip” is considered a sign of appreciation, not compensation for a ridiculous salary. If you are not too happy with the service, do not tip. If you are not too happy with the service, do not tip. Remember that most Portuguese round up the total amount of their bill to the nearest euro. Even in expensive restaurants, more than 2 or 3 euros would hardly be justified.
In Portugal, it is not customary to give a tip to the taxi driver and a daily tip to the hotel staff.
What to buy?
Branded clothing Although little known internationally, there are several independent fashion designers in Portugal. The list includes: Fátima Lopes, Maria Gambina. Some of them have specialised shops in Lisbon. There are an amazing number of other things you can buy either in sophisticated commercial establishments or at more popular fairs and events. Craftsmanship is a good example. Handmade leather bags or clothes, toys, household appliances, glassware, decorations, etc. You can find them in popular tourist spots or at cheaper prices at fairs and popular festivals in small towns. Almost all major brands can be bought in the big cities, all luxury items are available, but there is no obvious advantage to buying them here as the prices are the same as in all other places.
Regional speciality puppets in Nazaré, including the Galo de Barcelos.