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Portugal – Driving

Portugal is a beautiful country with diverse landscapes and rich culture. If you plan on driving in Portugal, it’s important to be aware of the local driving rules and regulations. In this article, we’ll cover road safety, required equipment, road accident protocols, driving rules, road signs, traffic lights, traffic info resources, and parking rules.

Road Safety in Portugal

Road safety is a priority in Portugal, with the government implementing measures to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities. The quality of roads in Portugal is generally good, with major highways and urban roads in good condition. However, rural roads can be less well-maintained. Local driving standards are generally good, with drivers following the rules of the road.

Required Equipment

When driving in Portugal, there are certain items that you must carry in your car. These include:

  • Warning triangle: You must carry a warning triangle and use it in the event of an accident or breakdown.
  • Reflective vest: You must carry a reflective vest and wear it if you need to exit your vehicle on a busy road.
  • Spare tire: You must carry a spare tire in your car.
  • Jack and tire wrench: You must carry a jack and tire wrench in your car.

Road Accidents

In the event of a road accident in Portugal, drivers are required to follow certain protocols. If anyone is injured or there is damage to property, you must stop and offer assistance. You should also contact the police and exchange details with the other driver.

If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should report it to the police immediately. Failure to stop at the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in Portugal.

Driving Rules

When driving in Portugal, there are certain rules that you need to follow. These include:


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  • Drive on the right side of the road: In Portugal, you must drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Give way to the right: When approaching an intersection, you must give way to traffic coming from your right, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Stick to the speed limits: The speed limit in built-up areas is 50 km/h, on rural roads 90 km/h, and on highways 120 km/h.
  • Don’t use your phone while driving: It’s illegal to use your phone while driving, even if you’re using a hands-free device.

It’s also important to be aware of pedestrians and cyclists when driving in Portugal, particularly in urban areas. Pedestrians often cross the road without using a designated crossing, so drivers must be vigilant.

Road Signs and Traffic Lights

Road signs in Portugal are clear and easy to understand. Here are some of the most important ones to look out for:

  • Stop sign: This is a red octagon with the word “STOP” written in white letters.
  • Give way sign: This is a red triangle with a white border and the words “GIVE WAY” written in white letters.
  • No entry sign: This is a red circle with a white border and a black diagonal line.

Traffic lights in Portugal follow the standard red, amber, and green sequence.

Traffic Info Resources

If you’re driving in Portugal, it’s important to stay up-to-date with traffic information. Here are some useful resources:

  • Autoridade Nacional de Segurança Rodoviária (ANSR): The ANSR provides up-to-date information on road works, traffic incidents, and other news related to transport in Portugal.
  • Google Maps: Google Maps is a reliable resource for traffic information, providing real-time updates on congestion and travel times.

Parking Rules

Parking in Portugal can be challenging, particularly in urban areas with high populations of expats. Here are some useful rules to keep in mind:

  • Paid parking:

    In many urban areas, you must pay for parking on the street. Payment can be made at a ticket machine or via a mobile app.

    • Parking permits: Some areas require a parking permit to park on the street. These permits are issued by the local council and are often only available to residents.
    • Disabled parking: Blue disabled parking cards are recognized in Portugal, allowing drivers to park in disabled spaces and on street parking for free.

    If you’re an expat living in Portugal, it’s important to check the local parking rules and regulations in your area. Some areas may have specific parking restrictions or rules, such as time limits or resident-only parking.

    Driving in Portugal can be a great way to explore the country’s natural beauty and rich culture. With good quality roads and local driving standards, it’s generally safe and enjoyable to drive in Portugal. Make sure to carry the required equipment in your car, follow the driving rules, and be aware of potential hazards on the roads. Stay up-to-date with traffic information and be mindful of parking rules, particularly in areas with high populations of expats. By doing so, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable driving experience in Portugal.


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