Practical Information


For any question or information contact the organisation through the email at the footer of this page.

Useful links

Various sources of tourist information

Weather forecasts for Sintra

Portuguese Airlines

Portuguese Airport Information


General Tourist Information

Visa Information

A Visa is not required for EU or Schengen nationals. Nationals of Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the USA can stay for 90 days visa-free, but you should confirm this information with the local Portuguese Embassy or Consulate services. Everyone else needs a visa. It will be useful to check this page in Portugal’s Official Tourism Website for visa requirements and Embassy and Consulate locations.

Weather and Climate

The climate in Portugal varies from one region to another, being influenced by the relief, latitude and proximity to the sea, which offers mild winters, especially in the Algarve. In the North and Inland the winters are colder, although the temperatures are still mild when compared to the rest of Europe. There is some snowfall, particularly in the highest point of mainland Portugal, Serra da Estrela (1,991 m) and where it is sometimes possible to ski. The summers are hot and dry, especially in the inland areas. Temperatures are slightly lower in the coastal areas, because of the influence of the sea. The autumn often displays warm, sunny days.

The islands of the Madeira Archipelago display subtropical characteristics, explained by its geographical position and mountainous relief. The climate in Madeira is exceptionally mild, with average temperatures varying between 24 ºC in summer and 19 ºC in winter. The sea temperature is also very pleasant all year round, thanks to the influence of the warm Gulf Stream. It varies between 18 ºC in winter and 22 ºC in summer.

In the Azores Archipelago, the climate is influenced by the islands’ latitude and by the Gulf Stream, and temperatures are mild there all year round. The same factors also influence the sea temperature, which is very pleasant both in winter and summer and ideal for nautical sports all year round.

The “Back at the Edge of the Universe” conference will take place in Sintra, where you will find a very peculiar microclimate, with mild temperatures, and where mornings are often greeted by mist and sometimes light rain (both of which contribute to the magical atmosphere of this place). In March you can expect an average maximum temperature of around 18 degree centigrade (64F) and an average minimum temperature of around 9 degree centigrade (48F). Sintra enjoys the luxury of a cool sea breeze, even at the hottest times of the year (August and September). The best advice we can offer is to bring sun and rain protection clothing and equipment. You can check the weather forecast for Sintra from the links on the top of this page.

Time Zone

In March Portugal is in UTC (or GMT) time (except for the islands of Azores).

Medical Care

Health Centers: Consultations are given at the Centro de Saúde (Public Health Centre). Outside normal working hours, you should seek the “Serviço de Atendimento Permanente” (SAP) or “Centro de Atendimento de Urgências” (CATUS), where you should go in the first instance.

Centro de Saúde de Sintra
Rua Dr. Alfredo Costa, 70
2710-523 Sintra
Tel: 21 910 5820/7

Urgent Medical Assistance is available in hospitals providing 24 hours a day emergency service. In case of emergency dial 112.


Hospital Prof. Dr. Fernando Fonseca (Amadora-Sintra)
Apartado 60219
2700 Amadora
Tel.: 21 434 82 00


Who can use the Public Health Services?

  • European Union (plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) Citizens holding the European Health Insurance Card (which has replaced the E forms such as the E111 and E128); UK citizens need only to show their passport and ask to get treatment under the EU arrangements;
  • Brazilian citizens holding the PB4 health certificate;
  • International researchers enrolled in the Portuguese Social Security System;
  • Portuguese nationals enrolled in the Portuguese Social Security System

Note: In all other cases, you may still use the service but will have to pay full rates. If that applies to you, you should consider getting a health insurance for the duration of their stay in Portugal.

Pharmacies: Pharmacies are identified by a green cross which will be lit up at night if the pharmacy is on duty. When it is closed there will be a notice in the window showing the nearest pharmacy on duty, which is open 24 hours a day. The Portuguese word for pharmacy is “farmácia”.

The address and telephone number of the pharmacies on duty during weekend and during the night are provided in the local newspapers and in the front windows of all pharmacies.

Timetable: working days – 09h00 to 13h00 and 15h00 to 19h00

Saturdays – 09h00 to 13h00


Voltage: 220 volts at a frequency of 50 Hertz. All sockets follow European standards. To use American (or other) type plugs an adapter should be used.

Money Matters

Currency: Euro (€)

Credit cards (such as American Express, Eurocard/Mastercard and Visa) are widely accepted in Portugal.

Automatic Cash Machines and Cash Cards: Portugal has a national network of ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), known as “Multibanco”, which allows the withdrawal of up to 400 € per day (200+200) on cash cards. Machines are located in banks, shops, petrol stations and other convenient places. Multibanco point-of-sale devices are also in wide use in shops, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.

Multibanco machines recognise the international cash cards Visa International, Eurocheque, Cirrus, and American Express. In addition, cards, which function through the following networks, are accepted (ask your bank at home for advice about which network your card works through):

  • Telebanco System 4B (Spain)
  • ServiRed (Spain)
  • CLAU (Andorra)
  • BANCONTACT – Banksys (Belgium)
  • Buildings Societies and LINK networks managed through NEXUS (UK)
  • BANKONET network managed through SSB (Italy)

Banks are open from 8.30 – 15.00 from Monday to Friday.


Public Transport in Sintra:

Train – A major train line connects Sintra to Lisbon, with trains every 7-8 minutes at weekdays and every 20 minutes at the weekends and holidays. Single trip Sintra-Lisbon costs around 1,5 €

Bus – The city bus network is run by Scotturb, serving all major locations of Sintra. From the Sintra rail station, just 1 km away from the centre of the village, there are a number of buses going to nearby cities (like Estoril and Cascais), and to major nearby beaches (praia da maçãs, praia grande, magoito, azenhas do mar). Lines 433 (SintraLine) and 434 (Pena circuit) go through the Sintra center, where the conference will be, and line 434 in particular can be used to visit the Pena National Palace and Park and the Moorish Castle.


Scotturb Fares (sold on board):
SintraLine (line 433): 1,10 €
Daily tourist (all lines): 12,00 €
Pena circuit (line 434): 5,00 €


Taxi – These can be called by telephone, at taxi-ranks or on the move. Most taxis are beige and display the letter A on the car’s door. Generally speaking taxis are not as expensive in Portugal as in most other European countries. The fare is based on the distance travelled, with extra charges for luggage. It is not necessary to tip the driver (but no one will complain if you do…).


Rádio Táxis de Sintra
Tel.: 21 9138018



At airports, international railway terminals and all main locations there are rent-a-car services. Specially adapted or automatic vehicles are available for the disabled. To hire a vehicle you must be over 18, present some identification (identity card for EU citizens or valid passport for others) and a valid driver’s license (see below) held for more than one year.

The green card is obligatory and it is advisable to be insured.

For further information please contact Associação dos Industriais de Automóveis sem Condutor ( Tel: +351 21 395 7234) or a Travel Agent.

For further information relating to transport for the disabled, please contact TURINEGRA – Turismo Integrado, CRL ( Tel: +351 21 859 5332).

At the conference venue (Hotel Tivoli Sintra) you have an Avis Rent-a-car stand at your disposal.

Driving in Portugal: In Portugal we drive on the right and overtake on the left. Headlights must be used during heavy rain, fog and, of course, at night. On some major roads, the use of headlights is obligatory at all times.

Driving Licenses: Driving licenses issued in other EU member states are valid in Portugal. Licenses issued beyond the European Union are generally not recognised, although it is possible to use a foreign license if it was issued in a country with which Portugal has signed a bilateral agreement on the equivalence and exchange of driving licenses. This page at Portugal’s Official Tourism Website may help you find out if your current driver’s license will be accepted in Portugal. International driving licenses purchased in your home country are recognised in Portugal.


Telephones: All telephone numbers functioning from the national network provider and the numbers of mobile phones purchased in Portugal have 9 digits. We do not use any regional codes. The international access code for Portugal is 351. The telecommunications industry in Portugal is buoyant and expanding, with many independent operators competing to provide communications services. At present, independent operators provide national and international lines, but not local lines. If you intend to bring a mobile phone, make sure it is compatible with the Portuguese networks (GSM 900/1800 and UMTS). Mobile phones in Portugal do not function with disposable phone cards.

Post: Post Offices are open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Regular stamped mail (“correio normal”) can be dropped into the red post-boxes for collection. Stamped express mail (“correio azul”) can be dropped into the blue post-boxes. Stamps can be purchased at the post office, at many newspaper kiosks, news agencies, bookshops, and from stamp machines in public places.

Internet: Internet access is becoming widespread in Portugal. The number of internet cafes is larger by the day, and you can find Wi-Fi HotSpots at airports, hotels, high-way service stations, shopping centers and other locations. Wi-Fi and internet broadband access are available at the conference venue.

Culture and Entertainment

In all the main urban centres there are cinemas, theatres, bookshops, art exhibitions, galleries, concerts, ballet, opera, etc. In Portuguese cinemas the films are generally shown in the original language, with subtitles in Portuguese. In various locations around the country and at regular intervals there are displays by folk dancing groups and there are regular pilgrimages and fairs of a highly regional nature where popular art and artefacts are available. Portugal has a wide variety of choice for entertainment: casinos, bingo halls, discos, bars, pavement cafes, piano bars, sporting events, etc.

For information and dates for fairs and cultural events in Portugal please contact ICEP Tourist Offices (Tel: +351 21 346 3658) or the local tourist board.

Monuments: Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe, politically independent since A.D. 1143. From the North to the South of Portugal there is a rich heritage of various monuments. Castles, Palaces, Monasteries and Convents, Churches and other sites offer the public an amazing choice of works of art. With the exception of public holidays and/or weekly closing days, they are generally open from 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. Some palaces close on Wednesday.

In Sintra you will be spoiled for choice of interesting monuments. Check the menu on the left for a very small guidance on Places to Visit in Sintra.

Museums: National museums are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They close on Monday and sometimes for part of Tuesday morning. For more information on National Museums please contact Instituto Português de Museus (Tel: +351 21 364 2230)

Information about museums in Sintra can be obtained from the Tourist Office, a few seconds away from the conference location. You can also have a look at the “Places to visit in Sintra” section in these pages.

Fado: Fado originated in sailors’ bars in Lisbon towards the end of the 18th century. Its name came from the Latin word “fatum”, fate. From the last quarter of the 19th century it was adopted by the aristocrats to express their romantic feelings using the words of great Portuguese poets and writers, and became linked to the word “saudade” (a longing for home and familiar places). The voice of Amália Rodrigues has made fado known internationally.

Fado is considered the typical musical form of Lisbon and can be heard in the typical areas of Alfama and Bairro Alto in places known as “casas de fado”. Coimbra’s fado, sung in this city by students in their black gowns, is closer to troubadour origins. Many of the songs still tell of students’ adventures with local girls. One of the differences between these two types of fado sung in Lisbon and Coimbra is that the second is traditionally sung as a solo by a man. The instrumental accompaniment for either of the types is the 12 string Portuguese guitar and the classical guitar.

Portuguese Guitar: The origin of the Portuguese Guitar is uncertain. Several authors and compositors argue that the Portuguese guitar is a result of a fusion between two instruments: the European Cittern (used throughout Western Europe in the Renaissance, bearing an extremely similar shape, and even sometimes having the same number of strings, 12, and the same tunings), and the English Guitar. The former was probably brought into Portugal in the 16th century, mainly from Italy and France, spreading through the region South of Coimbra, while the latter was brought into Portugal in the 18th century, through Porto, spreading afterwards through the region North of Coimbra. This may explain the different construction, structure and tuning of the Coimbra Guitar – with its roots in Porto – and the Lisbon Guitar, two different manifestations of the Portuguese Guitar. Today, this is an instrument only mastered by some, either as accompaniment for Fado or by itself. Carlos Paredes is one of the most popular Portuguese Guitar players, with musical compositions that clearly reveal all of the Portuguese Guitar “soul”.

Sports:With its mild climate and the high number of sunny days throughout the year, Portugal is an excellent country for sports. Thanks to natural conditions and built infrastructures, the most important activities are football (soccer), most indoor sports, golf, cycling, tennis and water sports: sailing, rowing, fishing, underwater exploration, surfing, bodyboarding and windsurfing. For anglers out on the high seas, the “big game” Portugal offers along the continental coast and in Madeira and the Azores provides an opportunity to break international records with sword fish, tuna and shark among others.

The extensive Sintra’s coastline offers many opportunities for surf and windsurf (Guincho, a renowned windsurfing Mecca, is just minutes away).

For the various types of sporting events please contact the respective sports Federations or Associations or Instituto do Desporto (Tel: 351 21 395 32 71)

Finally, Some Basic Words and Phrases

A large number of people (in particular young people) speak English. However, you can start learning a few portuguese words and phrases.

Thank you Obrigado 1 um 20 vinte
Please Por favor 2 dois 30 trinta
Good morning Bom dia 3 três 40 quarenta
Good afternoon Boa tarde 4 quatro 50 cinquenta
Good evening Boa noite 5 cinco 60 sessenta
Yes Sim 6 seis 70 setenta
No Não 7 sete 80 oitenta
Bank Banco 8 oito 90 noventa
Exchange Câmbio 9 nove 100 cem
How much is it? Quanto custa? 10 dez 1000 mil
Do you speak English? Fala Inglês?
I don’t understand Não compreendo