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Road Rules and Traffic Regulations in Portugal - Driving Nuances

1. In Portugal, drivers usually do not bother to follow traffic regulations. Their driving style is quite chaotic and unpredictable. A large number of motorcycles and agricultural vehicles only make the situation more complicated. Many cars have broken beams, and this also makes the traffic even more chaotic.
2. You will find paid parking areas in all cities of the country. As a rule, one hour of parking costs 0.8 - 1 euro. In order to leave the car for the whole day, you will have to pay about 8 - 10 euro. There are also some small parking lots along some streets, but it is really difficult to find a free space on them.
3. Foreign drivers are permitted to use the driving licenses received in their home countries. However, in this case the driving license has to be translated into English. Tourists, who plan to stay in the country for more than three months, must obtain the local driving license.
4. A part of the roads in Portugal is paid. You will also have to pay to pass some bridges. The amount of the toll often depends on the type of vehicle.
5. Payments on such roads are usually accepted in cash or by credit card through operator. In order to pay to the operator, you should select the lane marked with the orange sign. The lane, which is marked with the red sign, can be used to pay in cash or by credit card. However, in this case the payment is made through the automated payment machine that doesn’t give change.

Nuances of Car Rental in Portugal

To save on your rental, we advise to book your car in advance. You will save the most if you do this several weeks or even several months prior to your trip. Rental offices in Portugal usually raise rental prices over time, based on the number of cars left available for the accounting period.

When looking for an exotic car (cabriolet, minivan or limousine), we advise to check in the rental offices located at airports, as they usually provide much wider choice comparing to offices in urban areas.

Upon receipt of invoices, bills and documents for your car at the rental location, please compare the obtained data with your voucher. Quite often, employees of rental offices in Portugal try to add optional charges or services without informing customers.

It is very important to pick up your car at the rental office in Portugal in a correct way. Prior to leaving the office, carefully inspect the car for various defects, and ensure that all the discovered defects are mentioned in your rental documents. In case of a non-compliance found, place a demand for correction to the rental officer.

You can always check our car actual rental offers in Portugal. Simply use the search form at the top of the page. We guarantee that you will not find better prices anywhere else!
6. The green lane is available only for members of the ViaVerde electronic payment system.
7. Starting from 2010, it is only possible to pay electronically for the use of some toll roads. These roads are marked in red on maps, and there is always the “Electronic toll only” or “Lanço com portagem electronica” sign at the entrance.
8. Foreign tourists, the cars of which are registered in other countries, are allowed to rent the ViaVerde electronic device for a period of up to three months. The payment can also be made through TOLLCard and EASYToll systems.
9. The ride on the Vasco da Gama Bridge is also paid. This beautiful cable-braced bridge is located north of Lisbon and crosses the Tagus River. The length of the bridge is more than 17 km. Depending on its part, the speed limit is 100 to 120 km/h.
10. The suspension bridge 25 de Abril is also a toll one. The total length of the bridge is almost 2.3 km. The speed limit on the bridge is 70 km/h, and the price of one ride for an ordinary car will be about 1.5 euros.
11. Drivers should be particularly attentive when selecting a place to park. It is prohibited to leave a car near the «No Parking» sign, as well as closer than 5 meters to the intersection. You should also park your car at least 5 meters away from a bus or a tram stop.
12. It is allowed to park cars on some one-way streets. Note that it is possible to park your car on such a street only in the same direction with the traffic.
13. By the way, you will be able to park a car on weekdays from 8:00 to 18:00 in the residential area only in case of agreement with the local people. If the parking area is located on the territory of some company, you should also ask its representatives for permission.
14. In the territory of settlements the maximum allowed speed is 50 km/h. Outside settlements, it is allowed to move at a speed of 90 km/h, and on speed roads the maximum allowed speed is 100 km/h. Finally, on highways it is allowed to drive not faster than 120 km/h. Regardless of the type of the road, you should always pay attention to the road signs. On some roads the speed limit can vary.
15. Drivers, who have the driving experience of less than one year, should follow other rules. The maximum allowed speed for them is 90 km/h even on the roads, where the speed limit is higher.
16. The maximum permitted blood alcohol content is 0.2‰. If the alcohol test result ranges from 0.2‰ to 0.8‰, the driver will be issued a fine of 250-1250 euro, and his driving license will be suspended for a period from 1 to 12 months.
17. If the alcohol test result is from 0.8‰ to 1.2‰, the sum of the fine will be much larger - from 500 to 2500 euro. The suspension of the driving license for a period of 2-24 months is a typical additional punishment. If the blood alcohol content exceeds 1.2‰, then the driver’s license will be suspended for up to three years, and he will face the imprisonment of up to one year.
18. In case of poor visibility in the daytime drivers must turn lower beams on. The use of anti-fog lights is permitted only in case of heavy fog. The penalty for violation of this rule is from 30 to 150 euro.
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