While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Embassy receives frequent reports of theft from the following areas:
Lisbon Area: Pick-pocketing and purse-snatching in the Lisbon area occur in buses, restaurants, the airport, trains, train stations, and trams, especially tram number twenty-eight to the Castle of Sao Jorge. Gangs of youths have robbed passengers on the Lisbon-Cascais train. At restaurants, thieves snatch items hung over the backs of chairs or placed on the floor. There have been reports of theft of unattended luggage from the Lisbon airport. Special care should be taken at the Santa Apolonia and Rosso train stations, the Alfama and Bairro Alto districts, the Castle of Sao Jorge and Belem.
Other Areas: Thefts have been reported in Sintra, Cascais, Mafra and Fatima. Automobile break-ins occur in parking areas at tourist attractions and near restaurants. Special care should be taken in parking at the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra; and at the beachfront areas of Guincho, Cabo da Roca, and Boca do Inferno.
Azores: In contrast to continental Portugal, pick-pocketing and purse-snatching are not common occurrences in the Azores. There are no reports of organized crime or gangs.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The emergency number for medical and police assistance is 112. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Plea Please check with your insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov or autofax service at (202) 647-3000.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good to Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair to Poor
Availability of roadside Assistance: Good to Fair
Portugal has one of the highest rates of automobile accidents and fatalities in Europe. Portuguese driving habits, high speeds, and poorly marked roads pose special hazards. In continental Portugal, fines for traffic violations are substantial and usually must be paid on the spot. Taxis are a reliable means of transportation, though travelers should pay attention to discrepancies between the meter fare and the amount requested by the driver. Buses are reliable and inexpensive.
In the Azores, driving can be treacherous due to narrow cobblestone streets, blind curves, unprotected embankments, herds of cows in the countryside roads, and the high speeds of other drivers. In contrast to the continent, traffic violations are registered by radar and later forwarded to the offender via the postal service - payments are not made on the spot. Taxis do not have meters. The fare consists of a base fee plus a posted rate per kilometer traveled. Public buses are inexpensive. Bus services begin at 7 a.m. and generally operate until 8 p.m. depending on the destination.
U.S. visitors to Portugal may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license for up to six months. For international driving permits, please contact AAA in the U.S. at tel. 1-800-222-4357. For specific information concerning Portuguese driver's permits, vehicle inspection and mandatory insurance, please contact the Portuguese National Tourist Office by telephone at 1-800-767-8842 or via the Internet at http://www.portugal.org.
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