advertisement

Your hotel's concierge usually is a reliable source of information.

Babysitters -- Most first-class hotels can provide babysitters from lists the concierge keeps. At small establishments, the sitter is likely to be a relative of the proprietor. Rates are low. Remember to request a babysitter early -- no later than the morning if you're planning on going out that evening. Also request a sitter with at least a minimum knowledge of English. If your sitter is fluent in English, count yourself lucky.

Currency Exchange -- Currency-exchange booths at Santa Apolónia station and at the airport are both open 24 hours a day. ATMs offer the best exchange rates. They pepper the streets of the central Baixa district and are also found less frequently in other parts of the city. The post office will exchange money as well.

Dentists -- The reception staff at most hotels maintains lists of local, usually English-speaking dentists who are available for dental emergencies. Some of them will contact a well-recommended dental clinic, Clinica Medica e Dentaria da Praça d'Espanha, Rua Dom Luís de Noronha 32 (tel. 21/796-74-57). Some of the staff members speak English.

Drugstores -- Farmácia Valmor, Av. Visconde Valmor 60B (tel. 21/781-97-43), is centrally located and well stocked.

Emergencies -- To call the police or an ambulance, telephone tel. 112.

Hospitals -- In case of a medical emergency, ask at your hotel or call your embassy and ask the staff there to recommend an English-speaking physician. Or try the British Hospital, Rua Saraiva de Carvalho 49 (tel. 21/394-31-00), where the telephone operator, staff, and doctors speak English.

Hot Lines -- The drug abuse hot line is tel. 21/726-77-66. The number for the Lisbon office of Alcoholics Anonymous is tel. 21/716-29-69.

Internet Access -- You can check your e-mail at Cyber.bica, Duques de Bragança 7 (tel. 21/322-50-04; www.cyberbica.com), in the Chiado district (Metro: Baixa-Chiado). It's open Monday to Friday 11am to midnight.

Laundry -- Keeping your clothes clean can be a problem if you're not staying long in Lisbon. For dry cleaning, try Lavatax, Rua Francisco Sanches 65A (tel. 21/812-33-92).

Lost Property -- For items lost on public transportation, inquire at Secção de Achados da PSP, Olivais Sul, Praça Cidade de Salazar Lote 180 (tel. 21/853-54-03), which is open Monday to Friday 9am to 12:30pm and from 1:30 to 5pm.

Luggage Storage & Lockers -- These can be found at the Estação da Santa Apolónia (tel. 80/820-82-08), by the river near the Alfama. Lockers cost 4€ for up to 48 hours.

Mail -- While in Portugal, you can have your mail directed to your hotel (or hotels), to the American Express representative, or to Poste Restante (General Delivery) in Lisbon. You must present your passport to pick up mail. The main post office, Correio Geral, in Lisbon is at Praça do Restauradores, 1100 Lisboa (tel. 21/323-89-71). It's open Monday to Friday 8am to 10pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm.

Police -- Call tel. 112.

Safety -- Lisbon used to be one of the safest capitals of Europe, but that hasn't been true for a long time. It's now quite dangerous to walk around at night. Many travelers report being held up at knifepoint. Some bandits operate in pairs or in trios. Not only do they take your money but they demand your ATM code. One of the robbers holds a victim captive while another withdraws money. (If the number proves to be fake, the robber might return and harm the victim.) During the day, pickpockets galore prey on tourists, aiming for wallets, purses, and cameras. Congested areas are particularly hazardous. Avoid walking at night, especially if you're alone.

Taxes -- Lisbon imposes no city taxes. However, the national value-added tax (VAT) applies to purchases and services.

Telegrams, Telex & Fax -- At most hotels, the receptionist will help you send a telegram. If not, there's a cable dispatch service open 24 hours a day at Marconi (the Portuguese Radio Communications Office), Rua de São Julião 131. To send telegrams from any telephone to points outside Portugal, dial tel. 1582 to reach Marconi. To send telegrams within Portugal (your Portuguese-language skills had better be good), dial tel. 1583 from any telephone. Most foreign visitors leave the logistics to the hotel concierge. Telexes and faxes can be sent from most hotels, or you can go to the general post office.

Telephone -- You can make a local call in Lisbon in one of the many telephone booths. For most long-distance telephone calls, particularly transatlantic calls, go to the central post office. Give an assistant the number, and he or she will make the call for you, billing you at the end. Some phones are equipped for using calling cards, including American Express and Visa. You can also purchase phone cards. Lisbon's city code is tel. 01.

Time -- For the local time in Lisbon, phone tel. 12151, the "Speaking Clock."

Transit Information -- For airport information, call tel. 21/841-35-00. For train information, dial tel. 80/820-82-08. TAP Air Portugal is at Avenida Do Berlin 1998 (tel. 21/841-50-00).

Weather -- To find out about the weather, call tel. 12150 (available only in Portuguese). If you don't speak Portuguese, ask someone at your hotel desk to translate one of the weather reports that appear daily in the leading newspapers.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.