Useful Information about the Algarve

Useful information about the Algarve at a glance - Travel information, contact telephone numbers, tourist information contacts, opening times & more! Enjoy the Algarve with

What do you need to know about the Algarve? Well, here you can find information about anything from buying baby food to opening times for Algarve shops and services! There are contact details for the main Algarve tourist information authorities, advice about exchanging currency, useful Portuguese language to help you get by on your holiday and practical health care information and emergency numbers, as well as Portugal bank holidays dates, and general Algarve shopping.

Algarve information at a glance!

Location of the Algarve:
Southern Portugal, western Europe

Currency of Portugal:
Euro (€)

Languages spoken:
Portuguese is the native language. English, Spanish, German and French are widely spoken.

Portugal time zone:
Western European Time Zone (WET). *Same time as the U.K & Ireland

Portugal Bank Holidays 2019

  • New Year’s Day: January 1st
  • Carnival (“Carnaval” – Mardi Gras; Shrove Tuesday): March 5th
  • Good Friday: April 19th
  • Easter Sunday: April 21st
  • Liberation Day (celebrating the 1974 revolution): April 25th
  • Labour Day: May 1st
  • Portugal Day: June 10th
  • Corpus Christie: June 20th
  • Assumption of Mary: August 15th
  • Republic Day: October 5th
  • All Saints’ Day: November 1st
  • Restoration of Independence Day: December 1st
  • Immaculate Conception Day: December 8th
  • Christmas Day: December 25th

Algarve Currency and Banking

The currency used in the Algarve (since 2002), as with the rest of Portugal and much of Europe, is the Euro (€). One Euro is divided into 100 cents.

There are 7 Euro banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euros. (The front and back of each note is the same for all countries using the Euro).

There are 8 coins in the Euro currency: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1 and 2 Euros. All coins have one side that is common to all countries with the Euro, whilst the other side differs from country to country – in Portugal one side of the Euro coins displays the royal seal of Dom Alfonso Henriques.

Exchanging Currency in the Algarve

There are plenty of cash machines all over the Algarve, identified with the ‘MB’ abbreviation, for Multibanco. You can use them the same as you would at home and you can draw up to 200€ per day. Charges for using your card abroad depend on your own bank so check before leaving. Travellers cheques are expensive to cash so best avoided. Many of the businesses and shops accept credit and debit cards (Visa, Amex, Eurocard, Euro-Cheque, Diners Club and MasterCard).

Safety in the Algarve

You can holiday with the assurance that the Algarve has a very low crime rate and you will see the police on the ground! The only issue to be aware of is petty theft so protect yourself as you would in your own country and be prudent – don’t leave anything on show in your car, keep possessions in a bag close to your body and don’t carry too much money around with you.

Algarve Tourist Help Line – Tel: (+351) 808 78 12 12
Albufeira Police – Tel: (+351) 289 513 203
Vilamoura Police – Tel: (+351) 289 388 989

Local police

The Algarve (and the rest of Portugal) has two police forces – the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR) and the Polícia de Segurança Pública (PSP). The GNR will deal with most matters, and pass you on to the PSP if necessary.

Emergency / S.O.S – Telephone 112

If you feel you are in need of emergency assistance, from the hospital, police (GNR) or fire brigade,call 112 for the national emergency service. This call is free of charge (unless using a foreign mobile) and the call will be answered in three languages: Portuguese, English and French. If you require non-emergency medical assistance, you should go to the local Health Care Centre (Centro de Saúde). Please note: The Hospital Emergency Services are only to be used in serious cases.

Algarve Health Care Information

For non-emergency health care in the Algarve you should go to the local Health Care Centre (“Centro de Saúde”).

For emergencies, dial 112 for the emergency service, free of charge. The call will be answered in three languages: Portuguese, English and French.

Algarve health care contacts:

Algarve Hospitals

  • Faro – (+351) 289 891 100
  • Lagos – (+351) 282 770 100
  • Portimão – (+351) 282 450 330

Algarve Red Cross

Algarve Red Cross in Faro – Te: (+351) 289 899 900

Portuguese Language

Useful Portuguese words and phrases for your Algarve holiday:

Basic Words

Hello: Olá, Oi
Good morning: Bom dia
Good afternoon: Boa tarde
Good night: Boa noite
Good bye: Tchau, adeus
Yes: Sim
No: Não
Thank you: Obrigado (male)
Thank you: Obrigada (female)
You are welcome: De nada
Please: Por favor
Excuse me: Desculpe, Com licença


Museum: Museu
Bank: Banco
Tourist Information: Posto de turismo
Hospital: Hospital
Shop: Loja
Church: Igreja
Pharmacy: Farmácia
Post Office: Correio
Beach: Praia
Street: Rua
Supermarket: Supermercado
Restaurant: Restaurante


Bus: Autocarro
Bus Stop: Paragem de autocarros
Taxi: Táxi
Taxi Stand: Ponto de táxi
Car: Carro
Train Station: Estação
Train: Comboio
Rent a Car: Alugar um carro
Airplane: Avião
Airport: Aeroporto
Arrival: Chegada
Departure: Partida


Where? Onde?
When? Quando?
Who? Quem?
What? O que?
Which? Qual? / Quais? (pl.)
How? Como?
How much / many? Quanto(a) / Quantos (as)?
Is / are there? Há?
How are you? Como estás?
Where is the…? Onde fica…?
Is that all? É tudo?
What time is it? Que horas são?

For more Portuguese words and phrases for food and drink visit ourAlgarve Food and Drinkpage.

Shopping in the Algarve

If you like to shop, you will love it in the Algarve! Like any tourist holiday destination, the Algarve has a plentiful supply of gift shops, where you can buy Portuguese souvenirs bearing the cockerel, pottery and ornaments, jewellery, postcards and much more to take home with you. Algarve ladies like to co-ordinate their outfits, with matching shoes, bags, belts and jewellery, so there are plenty of clothes and leather goods shops and some lovely boutiques for bargain hunting.

Algarve Shopping Malls

There are currently five main shopping malls in the Algarve, ‘Forum Algarve’ in Faro, ‘Algarve Shopping’ in Guia (near Albufeira), Aqua Portimão in western Algarve and ‘Gran-Plaza’ in Tavira and ‘Ria Shopping’ in Olhão, which are both eastern Algarve. All except Aqua Portimão have multiplex cinemas, plenty of parking, restaurants and, of course, lots of shops. Children are well catered for with play areas and ‘Algarve Shopping’ also has a creche for toddlers over 2 years of age.

Opening hours for Algarve Shopping Malls

Forum Algarve
Shops: January to May and October: 10.00 to 23.00 June to September and December: 10.00 to 24.00
Hipermercado Jumbo: 09.00 to 24.00 every day.

Algarve Shopping
Shops: 10.00 to 23.00 daily and 10.00 to 24.00 in summer and December
Continente Hypermarket: 09.00 to 23.00 (Sunday to Thursday and holidays), 09.00 to 24.00 (Friday, Saturday and day before holidays), 09.00 to 24.00 every day in summer and December.

Shops: 7 days a week from 10.00 to 23.00 and until midnight in July and August.
Continente supermarket: from 09.00 to 23.00 every day and until midnight in July and August.

Ria Shopping
Shops: 7 days a week from 10.00 to 23.00 except for July and August until midnight
Pão de Açucar supermarket: 7 days a week from 09.00 to 23.00 and in July and August until midnight

For more every day items, such as groceries, the Algarve is well equipped with local markets, convenience stores and supermarkets. If you are staying in self-catering accommodation you’ll have a huge variety of local foods and familiar foods from home to choose from and many shops, particularly the supermarkets have a good selection of vegetarian foods. If you are travelling with younger children, the supermarkets stock lots of baby milks and foods, nappies, baby sundries and much more, so you don’t need to worry about taking too much with you.

Baby Milks, Food and Products

Cow and Gate baby milks are marketed under the ‘Nutrilon’ brand in Portugal. Nutrilon 1,2 and 3 are equivalent to Cow and Gate Premium, Plus and Step-up. Nutrilon Omneo 1 and 2 are equivalent to Comfort 1 and 2. Nutrilon AR 1 and 2 are for babies with reflux Nutrilon HA 1 and 2 are for babies allergic to dairy products. Aptamil milks are still marketed as Aptamil in the Algarve. Aptamil 1, 2 and 3, being equivalent to First, Extra Hungry and 3. Huggies nappies are available in most supermarkets and Pampers are marketed under the name ‘Dodot’. Johnsons products, baby wipes,lotions, suncreams are widely available. All of the main supermarkets and a lot of the ‘mini-mercados’ stock a good range of baby products, from milks and jars of food to nappies and toiletries.

Algarve opening times:

Banks (“Bancos”)

Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 3pm. Closed on Saturdays and official holidays.

Chemists (“Farmácias”)

Monday to Friday: 9am to 1pm / 3pm to 7pm. Saturday: 9am to 1pm. Main resorts and particularly during summer they will be open all day.
Details of the out of hours duty chemist are displayed at each Pharmacy. Many pharmacies have ticket dispensers just inside the door and display boards on the wall to make sure everyone is seen in turn.

Museums and Churches (“Museus e Igrejas”)

Opening times for museums and churches vary greatly across the Algarve, so it is worth visiting the local tourist offices to find out precise times. As a general rule though, many museums are closed on Mondays and public holidays. National museums tend to open Wednesday to Sunday: 10am to 6pm and on Tuesdays: 2pm to 6pm.

Post Offices (“Correiros”)

Post offices are open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 6pm. Post offices in smaller towns may close for lunch. There are two postal services: “Correiro normal” and “Correiro azul”. The former is for ordinary post and airmail, and mail goes in the red post boxes and Correiro azul is the priority or express service and mail goes in the blue (“azul”) post boxes. There is normally a ‘ticket’ dispenser and a display terminal on the wall so that you know when it’s your turn.

Restaurants (“Restaurantes”)

Some restaurants open for lunch between 12pm and 3pm and then re-open for dinner from 7pm to 10pm, but there are others, particularly ones in the town centres and popular resorts, that stay open all day. In peak season especially, many restaurants will stay open all day and accept diners later into the evening.

Shops (“Lojas”)

Typical shop opening hours in the Algarve are from 9am to 1pm and 3pm to 7pm Monday to Friday and until 1:00pm on Saturdays. During peak summer season most of them will stay open all day on Saturdays and will be open until 9pm or 10pm in the main resorts.

Supermarkets (“Supermercados”)

Supermarkets are open 7 days a week from around 8.30am to 8 or 9pm with extended hours at Christmas and during the peak summer season. The key dates when all supermarkets will be closed all day are December 25th and January 1st. Supermarkets in Shopping Malls are regularly open until 11pm. 

Popular activities here in the Algarve