Portugal is the most westerly country on the European continent and the only country in Europe, apart from the UK, belonging to the GMT time zone. Travellers from other European countries will have to turn back their watch one hour when arriving in Portugal. As in other European Union countries there the clocks change for summer time and the date is the same as in other countries. Countries outside the EU may have different dates, so that there can be a variance of +- 1 hour.
Portuguese is a Latin language and belongs to the family of Ibero-Romance languages together with Spanish, Catalan and other idioms spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. Portuguese is a global language, spoken by more than 215 million people.
The Algarvian accent makes Portuguese quite difficult to understand. Nevertheless English is in general use as a business language and is spoken in the tourist areas, where restaurant menus are multilingual. If you are travelling in the interior, then you would do well to carry a pocket dictionary with you. Also in case you unexpectedly have to deal with the Police, English may not always be understood. You should be careful with any impolite comments – many Portuguese people have spent some time abroad and may understand you better than you think.
Means of payment
Portugal has been a member of the European Monetary Union since 1998 and adopted the Euro as its currency on January 1st. 2002. However high-end real estate prices may also be quoted in sterling due to many clients coming from the UK. Actual VAT is 23%.
Most restaurants as well as many shops in the shopping malls will accept credit cards, especially VISA and MASTERCARD. However, some popular beach restaurants will only accept cash.
Owners of a second home in Portugal should consider a bank account with a local bank, because their debit cards (Multibanco) are accepted almost everywhere. Many additional transactions can be handled easily with this type of card e.g. using an automatic teller machine (ATM). Cheques are still popular for many business transactions.
ATMs are widespread and your daily limit is 400 euros, which has to be withdrawn in two separate transactions of 200 Euros each. This limit is independent of your personal credit line.