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Guide to Driving in Portugal

Portugal offers the perfect mixture of traditional villages and lively cities. Why not visit a vineyard, drive along the awe-inspiring coastline, through the spectacular Douro valley (pictured) or immerse yourself in some Portuguese culture.


Hiring a car and driving around Portugal is simply the best way to discover it. There are lots of hidden beaches and beautifully set villages hidden in the Portuguese countryside that simply need to be uncovered.

Currently, there are some toll roads throughout the Porto and Lisbon area. You can purchase an automatic toll device from some motorway service stations and Via Verde shops. You must return the device prior to leaving Portugal. Tolls are due to be introduced on the main roads which serve the Algarve, including the A22, A23, A24 and A25 from mid November 2011. It is yet to be decided how payment will be collected for use of these roads.

Essential Driving Information

  • Seat Belts must be worn at all times, by all occupants of the vehicle.
  • Traffic drives on the right hand side here.
  • Children aged 12 and under or less than 1.35m (4 feet 5 inches) are not allowed to travel in a car unless supported in a child seat or booster seat.
  • A reflective vest must be kept in the vehicle at all times and worn when examining/repairing a vehicle at the roadside.
  • A warning triangle must be displayed at the rear of the car if you have stopped at the side of the road as a result of breakdown or problems.
  • If you have held your license for less than 12 months then you must not exceed 90kph (55mph).
  • The use of a mobile phone in a car is only allowed if you have either a hands free kit or a headset.
  • You must park in the same direction of traffic; parking facing on-coming traffic is illegal.
  • The blood alcohol limit is 50mg per 100 ml of blood.
  • The use of dipped headlights during poor visibility during the day and in tunnels is compulsory.
  • The minimum motorway speed limit is 50kph (31mph).
  • You must carry photographic proof of identity at all times.

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