Blyth Academy - Lisbon, Seville, Granada, Madrid: March 15th - 25th, 2024

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Travel Guidance

Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) registered since 1987.  TICO #2747543

Portugal

Portugal’s fairly isolated location in the far south-western corner of Europe makes it the continent’s least visited and most underrated tourist destination. Fewer crowds make for a more relaxed, authentic experience. Pack your itinerary with visits to hilltop medieval castles, ornately decorated palaces, cobblestone villages and architecturally-stunning cities. The country abounds with fascinating culture, breathtaking natural beauty and a host of fun and varied activities. A single day can be spent hiking in lush green mountains, mingling with the friendly locals, and wandering through scenic vineyards sipping on famous, velvety port wine. Throw in plenty of fresh seafood, a coastline strewn with remote sandy beaches and an affordable price tag, and it makes for an ideal choice of holiday destination.


Banking and Currency

Currency 

Local currency: Euro 
Symbol: € 
ISO code: EUR 
Subunit: Cent 
Banknotes: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 
Coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1, €2 

Banking 

Card Transactions: Yes 
ATMs: Yes 
Mastercard: Yes 
Visa: Yes 
American Express: Yes 
Diner’s club: Yes 

Banking Hours: 
Weekdays: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM 
Weekends: Closed 
Public Holidays: Yes 
Foreign exchange services: Yes 


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Air: 

Main airlines: TAP Air Portugal, Ryanair 
International Airports: Lisbon Portela Airport, Porto Airport, Faro Airport 
Domestic Airports: Madeira Airport, João Paulo II Airport (Azores) 

Road: 

Driving on the: Right 
Tar roads: Yes 
Gravel roads: Yes 
Valid International Driver's License needed: No 
Car hire available: Yes 
Taxis: Yes 
E-hailing services: Yes 

Bus: 

Inter-city bus services: Yes 
Local city bus networks: Yes 

Rail: 

Railway system: Yes 
Subway System: Yes 

Water: 

Ferries: Yes 
Water taxis: Yes 
Leisure cruises: Yes 


Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Food and water safety: 

Can you drink the tap water: Yes 
Fresh fruit and veg: Yes 
Ice: Yes 
Meat: Yes 
Street food: Yes 

Local cuisine: 

Portuguese cuisine is rich in flavor and diversity, influenced by its coastal location and history. Highlights include bacalhau (salted cod), caldoverde (kale soup), and pastéis de nata (custard tarts). Portugal is also famous for its port wine and vinho verde. 
Tipping: 5% - 10% 


Climate and Weather

Annual rainfall: Varies by region 
Average temperature: 17°C 

Summer: 

Average highs: 28°C 
Average lows: 17°C 

Winter: 

Average highs: 15°C 
Average lows: 7°C 

Best time to visit: 

The best time to visit Portugal is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild and tourist crowds are fewer. 


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Spring and Summer 

Cool, light, breathable and comfortable: Yes 
Lightweight warm clothes: No 

Winter and Autumn 

Jerseys, cardigans, sweaters, jackets: Recommended 
Heavyweight clothing and boots: Yes 

General 

Umbrella and raincoat: Yes 
Warm gloves, hat and scarf: Yes 
Swimming costume (bathing suit): Yes 
Hat, sunglasses and sunblock: Yes 
Walking shoes: Yes 
Casual: Yes 
Smart-casual attire: Yes 

 


Internet Availability

Internet cafes: Yes 
Accommodation options: Yes 
Restaurants: Yes 
Cafes: Yes 
Shopping malls: Yes 
Public parks: Yes 
Libraries: Yes 


Electricity and Plug Standards

Plug Type: Type C, Type F 
Voltage (V): 230V 
Frequency Hertz (Hz): 50Hz 

*Travel plug adapter and voltage converter might be necessary depending on your appliances. 


Spain

Set on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula between the Atlantic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, Spain typically conjures up images of matadors, sangria, flamenco dancers and paella. While it offers all of these traditional cliches in abundance, the country's real attraction is to be found in its passionate, laid back people and its unbeatable natural beauty. Even along the well-beaten tourist tracks, there are authentic Spanish experiences to be had, traditional local dishes to sample and idyllic villages of timeless charm to explore. Like the country’s famous tapas, Spain itself is a veritable smorgasbord of thriving cities, bizarre festivals, panoramic views and breathtaking beaches - rendering it a beautiful and beguiling country unlike any other. Weird, enthralling architecture, incredible nightlife and its diversity of art and culture add to the country’s unique allure.


Banking and Currency

Currency 

The currency of Spain is the Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents (<em>céntimos</em>). Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding €10,000 or equivalent must be declared if travelling from or to a country outside the European Union.

Banking

Banking hours: Monday-Friday 08h30-14h00 and some branches are open Saturdays from 09h00 - 12h00

American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted throughout the country, although cash is your safest bet.

Traveller's cheques are disappearing from use fast so it's far more convenient to travel with credit cards. Nevertheless, you can still change them in main bank branches and exchange bureaux, and they are also accepted in major hotels. It is advisable to bring them in sterling or dollars as there have been increasing reports of Euro cheques being refused.


Travel, Transport and Getting Around

Most of Spain is well covered by public transport. The rail network reaches all the provincial capitals and the main towns along the inter-city lines, and there’s an expanding high-speed network that has slashed journey times on major cross-country routes from Madrid. Inter-city bus services are often more frequent and cheaper than the regular trains, and will usually take you closer to your destination, as some train stations are a few kilometres from the town or village they serve. Driving a car, meanwhile, will give you the freedom to head away from the major tourist routes and take in some of the spectacular scenery at your own pace.

One important point to remember is that all public transport, and the bus service especially, is drastically reduced on Sundays and public holidays, don’t even consider travelling to out-of-the-way places on these days. The words to look out for on timetables are diario (daily), laborables (workdays, including Sat), and domingos y festivos (Sun and public hols).



Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Standards of hygiene in relation to food health and safety in Spain are generally high in hotels, restaurants, pubs and nightspots.

Food is more than a form of sustenance in Spain, it is literally a way of life. Friendships are formed, families unite, and the working week can be set around every day's very important meals. The country's distinctive cuisine brings together unique regional dishes, special ingredients and long standing influences from Moorish and Arab settlers.

Tourists travelling to Spain are often given a useful piece of advice - the Spanish eat late. Don't expect many restaurants to be open before 9pm. Book a restaurant table for between 11pm and midnight and you'll see the place hopping. Dinner is often light after a large lunch..

Breakfast in Spain is a pretty simple and traditionally European affair. The continental meal can include fresh rolls, bread and jam with coffee, hot chocolate or tea.

Tapas are probably the concept of Spanish cuisine most admired and imitated around the world, inspiring thousands of bars and restaurants. The idea is simple, straightforward, and a visit to a tapas bar is possibly the best way to sample a wide variety of Spanish food. Tapas can constitute something as simple as a piece of toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and dipped in olive oil, or a dish of olives. Slices of ham or salami, cheese, pieces of Spanish tortilla and marinated anchovies are popular. Dishes like meatballs in tomato sauce, garlic mushrooms, shrimp or cooked chorizo in wine are all offered to tickle the tastebuds at tapas bars around the country. So is paella, the saffron infused rice dish with meat, seafood and vegetables which is a Spanish institution.

Tap water is generally safe to drink in Spain. Do not drink water from rivers or lakes as it may contain bacteria or viruses that can cause diarrhoea or vomiting.


Climate and Weather

Spain's climate varies from temperate in the north to dry and hot in the south. As it is a big country with varying terrain and altitudes, climate can be extremely distinctive from one corner to another. Overall, the coastal regions in the South and Eastern parts of Spain are excellent to visit all year round thanks to the Mediterranean climate (mild temperatures and long days). Northern Spain generally experiences colder temperatures than the South, while Central Spain stays hot and dry due to its location on a plateau.

The best time to visit depends on the region and type of travel experience you’re seeking. For a beach vacation, the best months for guaranteed sunshine are June to August. Naturally, these are also the busiest months for tourism along the coast and on the Spanish islands, so be prepared for high prices and crowds. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, head inland to cities like Seville, Madrid and Granada where temperatures are sizzling but streets are empty.

The shoulder season for travel in Spain is usually late spring and autumn: from April to end of May and October to November. These are when tourist destinations are least crowded and weather is still pleasant. January to February is the best time to ski, as snow is ample and the sun is shining. Especially in the Sierra Nevada, the sun can be quite overwhelming even in the snow – come prepared with snow goggles and sunscreen.


Clothing and Dress Recommendations

Spain is a modern country, but with many traditions of dress. Traditional/region dresses are usually worn at fiestas, but not by everyone. Try and attend a fiesta or two to see just how diverse the traditional clothing was.

Away from the beach men can wear shorts and T shirts, with flip flops, if they want to. The same would also be ideal for women too. Men and women should not wear swimming clothes at any restaurant, unless it is at a beach side restaurant. A tip to women who want to go topless on the beach. The law permits topless attire at every beach. Some beaches are designated nudist beaches.

Spain does get all of the seasons of the year, meaning spring, summer, autumn/fall, and winter, so pack with layers in mind. Buildings can be hot and stuffy whilst the outside temperatures are low. Remember that some, but not all, places of worship have enforced dress rules. For chilly days or nights, and for going out to restaurants, jersey/cardigan or lightweight jackets would be ideal attire. Bring some sort of waterproof clothing, especially during spring, autumn/fall, and winter periods. It should be noted that at a few hotels restaurants and clubs, if you are dressed inappropriately, will not let you in.


Internet Availability

Most types of accommodation offer Wifi (free or paid) in their business centres, rooms or restaurants.

WiFi Hotspots can typically be found in coffee shops and various other public establishments. Some will offer free WiFi (a password may be required), while other wireless hotspots require a credit card payment through a browser before allowing access to the Internet.



Electricity and Plug Standards

Electrical sockets in Spain are one of two electrical socket types: Type C (CEE 7/16 Europlug) and Type F (CEE 7/4 Schuko). If your appliance's plug doesn't match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. Travel plug adapters simply change the shape of your appliance's plug to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. If it's crucial to be able to plug in no matter what, bring an adapter for all types.

Electrical sockets in Spain usually supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency. If you're plugging in an appliance that was built for 230 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need. If your appliance isn’t compatible with 230 volts, a voltage converter will be necessary.


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