Guide to Driving in Portugal

Portugal provides spectacular views, especially if you’re traveling with a car. However you need to know the basic rules around the country in order to avoid unwanted situations. First of all, the roads. Being quite an economic power, the streets around Portugal are in excellent condition. It might even invite your for a bit of speeding, but it’s not the case since there are numerous speeding cameras mounted across the main arteries of the country. Note that in some small cities the streets might be a bit narrow. The motorways represent a fast way of getting from point A to point B. However, over 80% of them have a toll that needs to be paid. The road signs will be extremely easy to understand since most of them are identical to all the European ones. It’s likely that you won’t see too much snow in Portugal, even in the winter. A pair of winter tires is however recommended if your visit is planned in December or in January.

The police cars in Portugal are easy to recognize. Most of them are white with some parallel blue stripes on the sides. The word ‘POLICIA’ is also printed on them. In case that you are stopped by a police car don’t panic; it might be just a routine check of your documents. Make sure you have the car’s insurance as well. Parking can be a real headache. You need to get a blue disc from the local police in order to park your car in the marked areas. However, the disk can be obtained for free. Last but not least, remember that traffic is on the right side of the road and overtakes are on the left.

Essential Driving Information

  • If you’re trying to pass a driver on the right you can be fined with €1,000.
  • It’s compulsory for all the passengers of a car to wear the seatbelts.
  • If you’re having a European driver’s license you are not prompted to have an international driver’s permit. Otherwise, you must have such a document. However, a legalized translated copy of your current license is required.
  • In daytime you are prompted to use the dipped beam only when circulating through tunnels or when the visibility decreases.
  • You need to have a reflecting triangle and a vest in your vehicles, for emergency situations.
Speed Limits
Town/City: 50kmh (30mph)
Main Road: 90kmh (55mph)
Motorway: 120kmh (75mph)
Emergency Phone Numbers
Police: 112
Ambulance: 112
Firefighters: 112
General Information (as of 2014)
Min Driving Age: 17
Alcohol Limit: 0.05%
Petrol Price: €1.59/litre
Diesel Price: €1.39/litre
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