The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Portugal

Portugal has countless things for visitors to see and do, making it a very popular vacation destination. You can visit the National Palace of Pena, the Costa Vincentina National Park, the historic district of Porto, the Peneda-Geres National Park, the Monastery of Alcobaca, and so much more. The country is a treasure trove of attractions.

Why rent a car in Portugal?

If you want to see as much of Portugal as possible and you want to experience the beautiful landscapes, small villages, and the larger cities, a rented vehicle is a convenient way to do it. Drivers need to be at least 18 years old. You will need to have your national driving permit and international driver’s license. Make sure you have the appropriate rental papers with you as well.

All of the vehicles in Portugal need to have a red reflective warning triangle, as well as spare bulbs, a spare tire, and tools to change the bulbs and tire. The vehicle also need to be equipped with a reflective vest. It can be yellow, red, or orange.

When you rent a vehicle in Portugal, you have the option of also renting a transponder. This will help make it easier to use the toll roads. Instead of paying the tolls as you go through them, they will be charged to your credit card. Many of the rental companies have prepaid transponders with a 20 Euro credit. You can speak with the rental company about what they offer. Make sure you get their contact number as well.

Road conditions and safety

The roads in Portugal are in good shape with no major issues, so travel along them should not be a problem. You can drive from the north part of the country all the way to the south without leaving the highway except for excursions and to refuel. The roads once you get into the cities and towns can be narrow though, so be careful. The drivers are usually respectful, but you should still be driving defensively.

The traffic moves on the right side of the road, and you will pass vehicles on the left side. All of the drivers and passengers in the vehicle need to have their seatbelts on, and the driver is responsible for making sure they wear them. Children who are under 12 years old are required to ride in the backseat, and kids need to be in child seats unless they are 150cm or taller. You are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving, unless it is a hands-free system. In addition, you cannot use earphones while driving.

When you are driving and you enter a tunnel, even in the daytime, you are required to have your headlights on.

Speed limits

Pay attention to the posted speed limits on the roads in Portugal and abide by them. The following speed limits are common for various types of roadways.

  • Motorways – 120 km/h
  • Main trunk roads – 100 km/h
  • Built up areas – 50 km/h
  • Rural and secondary roads – 50 km/h

Rent a car in Portugal to make your trip the best it can possibly be. A rental is convenient and more comfortable than using public transportation or relying on tour buses.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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