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Driving in Portugal

Before you collect your hire car in Portugal it's definitely worth having a look through the rules and regulations of the roads just to avoid any confusion.

Driving license requirements in Portugal:

Visitors may drive using their national license, as long as it's in a language that uses the Roman alphabet.

If your license uses a different alphabet then you'll need an International Driving Permit in English (you can get these through motoring organisations such as AA, AAA, RAC, etc.). All other driving licenses are acceptable.

Remember you're required by law to carry your drivers license with you at all times.

Age requirements for driving in Portugal.

Car hire companies in Portugal have age restrictions so you may be charged extra if your age exceeds the maximum age or you are younger than the minimum age.

This will all be included in your quote, just check the quotation docket for a breakdown of charges.

Speed Limits on Portuguese roads: 

Motorway 120 km/h
Open road 90 km/h
In town and villages 50 km/h

Tips for driving your car rental in Portugal

  • Always drive on the right. Don't obstruct fast lanes. On some motorways and open roads you can overtake slow moving traffic on the left, just be watchful of signs that tell you the contrary.
  • Keep your eyes peeled and stay alert; you'll need to adapt quickly to local conditions to get by.
  • Take the time to quiz the rental staff about local driving regulations, it pays to know what's what.
  • Drivers who wear glasses should have a spare pair tucked away in the car at all times.
  • The Portuguese require the driver and front seat and back seat passengers to wear seat belts that are fitted.
  • Children must wear seat belts even in the back seats. Children under the age of 12 cannot travel in the front passenger seat.
  • Maximum speed limit in Portugal is 120 Km/h (75mph)
  • Speed limits are enforced and there are radar controls. Radar detectors are illegal.
  • Most Portuguese drivers are polite and courteous, so be respectful and you'll get by just fine.
  • Do not argue with police. Be polite, be patient.
  • Two warning triangle should be carried at all times.
  • Drinking and driving incurs heavy fines, loss of drivers license and/or even prison sentences. The Portuguese allow 0.005 milligrams of alcohol per litre of blood.
  • Fines are charged on the spot in cash or by credit card and can range from 300 euro upwards. If the driver has neither, the car can be confiscated until payment is made.

Fuel types available in Portugal:

  • Unleaded Petroleum (gasoline and all grades)
  • Diesel
  • LPG
  • Check carefully before filling whether your rental car uses petrol or diesel. If you make a mistake don't start the vehicle as you'll have to pay for any repair costs. Just inform service station staff, and you can get the tank drained and refilled with the correct fuel.
  • Gas stations are generally open 24 hours a day and most are self-service. Times do vary though, particularly in the country, and many stations close during lunch (noon till 3pm). Always stay topped up just in case.
  • Most major credit cards are accepted for fuel payment. 

Parking in Portugal:

It's always best to use designated ‘off street’ car parks as strict laws apply for street parking. If you are going to park on the street make sure you're clued in:

  • Always park on the right, your car must not face the traffic.
  • No parking signs should always be obeyed as clamping and on-the-spot fines are common place in towns and cities. 
  • As in your own country, severe penalties may be incurred for dangerous parking, so park safely.
  • In towns during office hours there is a 90 minute parking limit, stick to it or you could end up with a fine or clamping.
  • Fines are enforced for littering so find a bin for your rubbish.
  • A reflector jacket has to be carried in the car at all times; not having one can result in a fine of 600 euro.
  • Use of mobile phone without hands free can result in a fine.