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Driving Guide for Portugal

Driving in Portugal is similar to other countries in the European Union, but it can be much different from your home country. It is important that you know the basic rules and regulations before operating your rental car. It is easy to avoid negative scenarios by practicing some common sense.  You will have a most enjoyable experience if you drive defensively and only park your car in designated areas. 

Driver’s License

Type of License

Requirements

EU license

Licenses issued by an EU country are valid in Portugal

Non EU license

You need and international driving permit (IDP) for Portugal

The IDP needs to supplement your current license

All motorists

Must have a valid driver’s license

Must be over the age of 18

Should also travel with a passport

You must have a valid driver’s license from the EU or translated documents from other countries.  An international driving permit (IDP) is necessary to supplement licenses not issued by an EU country.  You can get and IDP from an automotive club in your home country. If you are from the United Kingdom, click here for more information.

Speed Limits

Type of Road

Speed Limit (km/h)

City and built up areas

50

Rural roads

90

Motorways

120

Speeding fines can be very expensive and put a damper on your holiday.  Motorists are required to pay fines on the spot with cash or credit card.  You will not be allowed to drive until the fine has been paid.  The same is true for other violations of the traffic rules.

Rules of the Road

Category

Description

Traffic flow

Drive on the RIGHT side of the road

Never overtake cars in the right lane

Yield to traffic on your right and on the main road

Passengers

Seatbelts must be worn at all times

Small children need to be in a safety seat

Children under 12 cannot be in the front seat

The driver

Maximum blood alcohol content is .05%

May not talk on a mobile phone (only hands free)

Is not permitted to use a radar detector

Headlights

Must be used in tunnels

Are recommended for use at all times

If you are completely unaware of driving practices in the European Union, you should do some research to avoid confusion and frustration. You can save yourself trouble and money if you know about the road signs in Portugal. This guide will give you a lot of information to have a great driving experience.

Parking in Portugal

Day

Hours

Price

Monday – Friday

8:00 – 20:00

1.00 EUR/hour

Saturday

8:00 – 14:00

1.00 EUR/hour

Sunday

All day

FREE

(1.00 EUR = 0.90 GBP, 1.35 USD)
It is illegal to park where the curb is painted red or yellow or where there is a blue sign with a red slash or ‘X’.  If you park in one of these areas, you will be fined and they might tow your car away.  Save some trouble and only park in garages or designated areas.  During the day, you are most likely required to pay a fee for parking.  Automated ticket machines will help you park your rental car in a legal position. You can also purchase parking cards from kiosks near the parking area. If you do not understand the parking situation, ask someone for help!
*Information on this page is accurate as of May 22, 2011