The weather is cool and rainy in the northern area while in the south the weather is warm and dry. The average temperature in the Portugal mainland is 55 degree F in the north and 64 degree C in the south. Portugal is one of the warmest countries in Europe. Spring and summers are sunny with the months of July and August recording the highest temperatures. In the center of the country, the temperature during these months reaches 86 degree F to 95 degree F. Sometimes it reaches as high as 113 degree F in the southern interior. On the other hand, autumn and winter are marked by rains and winds, and the temperature rarely falls below 41 degree F. Snowfall does take place in the mountainous regions of the north.
The currency of Portugal was the Escudo, which comprised of 100 centavos (154.24 escudos was equal to US $ 1 in 1996). However, in May 1998, Portugal with ten members of the European Union, decided to officially switch to a new single currency called the Euro. The euro has been adopted for all financial transactions and has been in operation since January 1, 1999. The euro has been functional since 1999 for electronic and accounting purposes. Euro coins and bills were issued in the year 2002, which also marked the termination of the Portuguese currency as the legal tender. However, the local currency of Escudos was in circulation until the 1st of March 2002 and was finally and completely replaced by the Euro on 28th February 2002.
Travelers’ checks are widely accepted, primarily for exchange purpose in the banks as well as at the exchange booths. However, this exchange is possible only on payment of a fixed amount, which is a sort of commission, given to the banks for encashing the travelers’ checks. At Lisbon airport, the charge for encashing travelers’ check US $9.5. You do need to have your passport with you to encash your travelers’ checks.
Commercial banks can be found all over the country. They are open Monday to Friday but remain closed on weekends and on public holidays. Normal working hours are from 8.30 am to 3 pm. In addition to the commercial banks and their branches, hotels, camping parks and hotels also have exchange facilities. The amount charged for exchange of cash is about US $3. The exchange rates are, however, subject to change and each and every bank or a financial institution has a different exchange rate to offer. In the Algarve region, the euro can be bought or exchanged very easily at banks, Bureau de Change, hotels and even at some shops. Bureaus in big towns offer the most competitive rates and commissions. There are automated cash points as well in most of the supermarkets and the shopping areas of most of the towns and villages in Portugal.
ATM’s are widespread all over the country and they have transactions displayed in English. Bankcards, Visa and MasterCards work in most of the ATM’s and cash can be withdrawn in the local currency.