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Home > Tips > Driving

In Portugal, the main road network is quite extensive. In the built up (Urban) areas, the maximum legal speed limit varies between 30 to 50km/hr, 90km/hr in the fast (Rural) lanes and 120km/hr on the motorways. Speed limit restrictions are indicated by circular signs with a red border stating the speed in km/hour and enforced by radar traps and unmarked police cars. All fines are subject under law to immediate payment. At the discretion of the law officer the vehicle can be seized until such payment is recorded. Children under 12 years old cannot sit in the front seat while the car is in motion. Child and baby seats must be used by all children up to the age of 11 (inclusively).

  • Seat Belts must be worn at all times (compulsory for all passengers).
  • Traffic on the roundabout has priority over those waiting to enter.
  • On three lanes wide, the middle lane is used for passing in both directions.
  • At the junction of two roads of equal size, traffic coming from the right has priority.
  • Vehicles parked on pavements other when permitted by signs is illegal.
  • Use of mobile phones when driving is illegal and subject to a fine.
  • Throwing objects or litter out of cars can be fined.
  • Parking cars facing against the flow of the traffic is illegal.
  • Crossing white lines, jumping red lights, ignoring policemen signals, all are subject to losing a licence to drive for a pre-determined period.
  • Passing another vehicle on their right on Motorways is illegal.

Be prepared and make sure you get a good road map as sometimes the sign posting can be lacking. The alcohol tolerance limit is 0.5 and penalties are extremely stiff.

Parking is often metered within city centres, but usually free on Saturday evenings and Sundays.

Motorway prefixes indicate the following
  • A - Portugal's toll roads.
  • E - Europe-wide designations.
  • N - Main two-lane national roads (Nacionais), the prefix letter is used on some road maps only.
  • IC - Subsidiary highways (Itinerário Complementar).
  • IP - Main highways (Itinerário Principal).

Highway PortugalElectronic Tolls Highway Portugal Electronic Tolls on Motorway A22.. "Auto-estrada Via do Infante"

Since 2012, the Portuguese government has ended the free access to the A22, the main highway connecting the Algarve region all the way from Lagos to the Spanish border, and introduced an electronic gateway payment method. Unlike on the A2 (highway to/from Lisbon), there are no manual tollbooths on the A22. Several electronic gates at different strategic locations will detect license plates. Payments can be done in different ways:

  • If you plan on using the A22 during your stay, it is recommended for users with a foreign license plate to purchase online or at the Portuguese/Spanish border near Vila Real de St° António, either a prepaid ticket, or associate their license plate with a credit card, or rent an electronic device. You'll find more info at the following website.. "Portugal Tolls".
  • If you pass through the gates without any pre-payment card or electronic device, you can still pay the toll at the local Post Office (CTT) only after two days and with a small extra fee.
  • If you Rent-a-Car, the rental company should explain the best method and the different options available on pick-up.
  • For all vehicles with Portuguese plates, owners can acquire a device from "Via Verde" and be able to use it on every highway in Portugal.


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