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Driving in Portugal

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Car Hire Portugal - Driving in Portugal

Viewing Portugal by car is essential if you are to appreciate its true beauty. Here are a few tips about driving in Portugal.

The minimum age of a driver is 17 years. Children must be at least 12 years of age or in a safety seat to sit in the front seat. The use of seat belts is compulsory for front-seat passengers travelling outside built-up areas. The legal blood alcohol limit is 50 mg. Speed limits are as follows: 50 kph (31 mph) in built-up areas, 90/100 kph (56/62 mph) outside built-up areas, and 120 kph (74 mph) on expressways. Though cars towing a trailer are limited to 70/80 kph (43/50 mph) outside built-up areas and to 100 kph (62 mph) on expressways. Unless otherwise indicated, the minimum speed on expressways is 40 kph (24 mph).

Visitors who have held their licence for less than a year must obtain from the ACP motoring club and display on their vehicle a yellow disc with the number 90 on it; the 90 indicates that the driver is limited to 90 kph (56 mph). Cars towing a trailer or caravan are limited to 50 kph (31 mph) in built-up areas, 70 kph (43 mph) outside built-up areas, and 90 kph (56 mph) on expressways. When driving across the 25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon you must travel 30-50 kph (18-31 mph).

Roads are often three lanes wide; the middle lane is used for passing in both directions. At night in rural areas watch out for animal-drawn, unlit carts. Only use the horn in cases of immediate and extreme danger.

When a tram stops and there is no island to accept disembarking passengers, drivers must yield to passengers crossing to the sidewalk. Police are empowered to collect fines on the spot.


You must park in the same direction as moving traffic, except where parking is allowed on one side of the road only. Illegally parked vehicles are subject to immobilisation.


EC format pink/green licence is accepted; old-style green or non-European licence must be accompanied with an International Driving Permit.


Fuel stations are usually open from 7am to 10pm or midnight; otherwise they're open 24 hours. Major credit cards are accepted but entail a surcharge of 100 Esc. Leaded petrol has an octane rating of 98. Unleaded petrol is called gasolina sin plomo or gasolina sem chumbo. Unleaded super petrol has an octane rating of 95 or 98. Diesel is called gasóleo. LPG is called gáz líquido. It's illegal tocarry spare fuel.


A toll is levied on southbound vehicles crossing the 25 de Abril Bridge which links Lisbon with the south bank of the Tagus River at the end of the Vila Franca de Xira expressway.

A car ferry makes ten 30-minute crossings per day of the Sado Estuary between Setúbal and Troia. Other ferries run across the Tagus (Tejo) Estuary between Lisbon and Cacilhas, Barreito, Montijo, and Porto Brandão.

Other tolls in Portugal include:

A1 Lisboa to Santarem
A1 Santarem to Fatima
A1 Fatima to Coimbra
A1 Coimbra to Aveiro
A1 Aveiro to Porto
A2 Lisboa to Marateca
A3 Porto to Braga
A4 Porto to Amarante
A5 Lisboa to Cascais
A6 Marateca to Montemor-o-Novo
A8 Lisboa to Torres Vedras

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