driving in the country of Portugal
Travel topics > Transportation > Driving > Driving in Portugal

Although Portugal has a good railway network and extensive coach bus coverage, some travellers prefer to drive through the country. Drivers will encounter a variety of roads, from modern motorways to ramshackle countryside lanes. Many offer breathtaking mountain vistas, oceanside views, or glimpses of field and forests.

UnderstandEdit

RegulationsEdit

 
Speed limit road sign, most often found at border crossings.

Speed limitsEdit

National speed limits in Portugal may be overridden by signs on certain stretches of road or on city streets. Speed limits are as follows, unless otherwise posted:

  • Cities and other "built-up areas": 50 km/h (31 mph)
  • Roads outside built-up areas: 90 km/h (56 mph)
  • Expressways (non-motorway fast roads): 100 km/h (62 mph)
  • Motorways: 120 km/h (75 mph)

Drunk drivingEdit

TollsEdit

 
Via Verde lanes on the Almada side of the 25 de Abril Bridge.

Most motorways (autoestradas) and some bridges have tolls. You can pay at a tollbooth on most. Some have electronic tolls only.

For information about electronic-toll-only roads see Portugal Tolls. They have information on signing up for EASYtoll, which is accepted only on highways with electronic tolls only.

Via Verde is an electronic transponder you can use to pay tolls without stopping for tollbooth queues, using the green Via Verde lanes at toll plazas. The tolls are charged to your bank account (Portuguese users) or credit card (international visitors). Via Verde works on all Portuguese motorways, both those with old-school toll plazas and those with electronic tolls only, as well as on 210 km (130 mi) along 16 Spanish motorways.

FuelEdit

ParkingEdit

You can find parking (parque de estacionamento) by looking for white-on-blue "P" signs (🅿️). Some signs indicate Gratuito (free) or Pago (paid). A roof-like chevron shape over the 🅿️ indicates indoor or covered parking. Sometimes the 🅿️ will indicate Livre (available) in green or Completo (full) in red. Some 🅿️ signs mark reserved parking spaces, so be careful if there is an accompanying placard.

Car rentalEdit

RoadsEdit

Drivers will encounter several classes of roadways in Portugal.

AutoestradasEdit

 
Marker for the A1 motorway.

Autoestradas are equivalent to "freeways", "motorways", or "expressways" in various English-speaking countries. These are controlled-access highways with speed limits of 120 km/h (75 mph). Their markers consist of white lettering on blue rectangles, with designations starting "A". Most autoestradas charge tolls, which can be conventional (tollbooths, with electronic transponder fast lanes) or electronic only.

The table below includes all 44 current and planned motorways. Most motorways form part or all various of itinerários principais (IP) or itinerários complementares (IC), but the autoestrada (A) designation takes precedence on road signs. Some portions are under planning or construction. Others are awaiting upgrade and carry only the IP or IC designation in the meantime.

Motorways of Portugal
No. Name End End Via Length Notes
A1 Autoestrada do Norte Lisbon Porto Leiria, Coimbra, Aveiro 303 km also designated E01 & E80
A2 Autoestrada do Sul Lisbon Albufeira Almada, Grândola 240 km also designated E01 & E90
A3 Autoestrada de Entre-Douro-e-Minho Porto Valença 112 km also designated as E01, continues N of Tui as Spain's A-55
A4 Autoestrada Transmontana or Autoestrada de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro Matosinhos (N of Porto) Bragança Vila Real 223 km also designated E82, continues E as Spain's N-122
A5 Autoestrada da Costa do Estoril Lisbon Cascais Oeiras 25 km
A6 Autoestrada do Alentejo Central Marateca (Palmela) Caia (Elvas) Évora 158 km also designated E90, continues E from Badajoz as Spain's A-5
A7 Autoestrada do Douro Póvoa de Varzim Vila Pouca de Aguiar Vila Nova de Famalicão, Guimarães 104 km also designated E805
A8 Autoestrada do Oeste Lisbon Leiria Torres Vedras, Óbidos, Caldas da Rainha 138 km
A9 Circular Regional Exterior de Lisboa (CREL) Oeiras Alverca (Vila Franca de Xira) Queluz, Odivelas, Loures 35 km
A10 Autoestrada do Ribatejo Bucelas (Loures) Benavente 39 km
A11 Autoestrada do Baixo Minho Apúlia (Esposende) Castelões (Penafiel) Barcelos, Braga, Guimarães 80 km
A12 Autoestrada do Sul do Tejo Setúbal Sacavém (Loures, just outside Lisbon) Vasco da Gama Bridge, Montijo, Palmela 41 km also designated E01
A13 Autoestrada do Pinhal Interior Marateca (Palmela) Coimbra 149 km gap between Almeirim and Entroncamento to be built in future
A14 Autoestrada do Baixo Mondego Figueira da Foz Coimbra Montemor-o-Velho 40 km
A15 Autoestrada do Atlântico Caldas da Rainha / Óbidos Santarém Rio Maior 40 km
A16 Circular Exterior da Área Metropolitana de Lisboa Alcabideche (Cascais) Pontinha (Odivelas) Sintra 23 km
A17 Autoestrada do Litoral Centro Marinha Grande Aveiro Figueira da Foz 117 km
A18 Radial da Grande Lisboa Torres Vedras Carregado (Alenquer) 25 km under construction
A19 Variante da Batalha Porto de Mós Leiria Batalha 16 km
A20 Circular Regional Interior do Porto (CRIP) Porto Vila Nova de Gaia 16 km
A21 Autoestrada de Mafra Venda do Pinheiro (Mafra) Ericeira (Mafra) 21 km
A22 Via do Infante de Sagres Lagos Castro Marim Faro 133 km also designated E01, continues E from Ayamonte as Spain's A-49
A23 Autoestrada da Beira Interior Torres Novas Guarda Abrantes, Castelo Branco, Covilhã 217 km
A24 Autoestrada do Interior Norte Viseu Chaves Lamego, Peso da Régua 162 km also designated E801, continues N as Spain's A-75
A25 Autoestrada das Beiras Litoral e Alta Ílhavo Vilar Formoso (Almeida) Aveiro, Viseu, Guarda 199 km also designated E80 & E802, continues E from Fuentes de Oñoro as Spain's A-62
A26 Autoestrada do Baixo Alentejo Sines Beja Santiago do Cacém, Ferreira do Alentejo 22 km (100 km) multiple stretches under construction
A27 Autoestrada do Vale do Lima Viana do Castelo Ponte de Lima 24 km
A28 Autoestrada do Litoral Norte Porto Caminha Matosinhos, Póvoa de Varzim, Viana do Castelo 93 km (123 km) extension to Valença planned
A29 Autoestrada da Costa da Prata Albergaria-a-Velha Vila Nova de Gaia Ovar, Espinho 53 km
A30 Autoestrada do Estuário do Tejo Sacavém (Loures) Santa Iria da Azóia (Loures) 10 km designated IC2, A30 designation pending road upgrade
A31 Variante a Coimbra Coimbra Coimbra 11 km designated IC2, A31 designation pending road upgrade
A32 Autoestrada de Entre-Douro-e-Vouga Oliveira de Azeméis Vila Nova de Gaia São João da Madeira 34 km
A33 Circular Regional Interior da Península de Setúbal (CRIPS) Monte da Caparica (Almada) Montijo 37 km
A34 Autoestrada de Pombal Pombal Pombal 5 km designated IC8, A34 designation pending road upgrade
A35 Autoestrada da Beira Alta Mira Mangualde Santa Comba Dão, Nelas 21 km (94 km) majority yet to be built, designated IC12 in meantime
A36 Circular Regional Interior de Lisboa (CRIL) Algés (Oeiras) Sacavém (Loures) 21 km designated IC17, A36 designation pending road upgrade
A37 Radial de Sintra Lisbon Sintra Amadora, Queluz 16 km designated IC19, A37 designation pending road upgrade
A38 Via Rápida da Caparica Cova da Piedade (Almada) Costa da Caparica (Almada) 6 km designated IC20, A38 designation pending road upgrade
A39 Via Rápida do Barreiro Coina (Barreiro) Lavradio (Barreiro) 9 km designated IC21, A39 designation pending road upgrade
A40 Radial de Odivelas Olival Basto (Odivelas) Santo António dos Cavaleiros (Loures) 4 km designated IC22, A40 designation pending road upgrade
A41 Circular Regional Exterior do Porto (CREP) Perafita (Matosinhos) Anta (Espinho) 62 km
A42 Autoestrada do Douro Litoral Sobrado (Valongo) Várzea (Felgueiras) 30 km
A43 Radial de Gondomar Porto Gondomar 16 km
A44 Autoestrada de Vila Nova de Gaia Gulpilhares (Vila Nova de Gaia) Oliveira do Douro (Vila Nova de Gaia) 9 km

Itinerários principaisEdit

 
Marker for the IP1 main route.

Itinerários principais are "principal" or "main" routes. Their markers consist of white lettering on red rectangles with designations starting "IP". IPs often overlap autoestradas, in which case the "A" designation is used on road signs.

Main routes of Portugal
No. Route Length Notes
IP1 Valença - Braga - Porto - Vila Nova de Gaia - Lisbon - Vasco da Gama Bridge - Palmela - Tunes - Castro Marim 734 km Concurrent with all or part of (N to S): A3, A20, A1, A12, A2, A22; continues N from Tui as Spain's A-55; continues E from Ayamonte as Spain's A-49
IP2 Bragança - Guarda - Castelo Branco - Portalegre - Évora - Beja - Faro 564 km Concurrent with all or part of (N to S): A4, A25, A23, A6, A2, A22
IP3 Chaves - Viseu - Coimbra - Figueira da Foz 279 km Concurrent with all or part of (N to S): E801, A24, A14; continues north as Spain's A-75
IP4 Matosinhos (N of Porto) - Vila Real - Bragança 42 km (222 km) Concurrent with A4, E82; continues E as Spain's N-122
IP5 Aveiro - Viseu - Guarda - Vilar Formoso (Almeida) 199 km Concurrent with A25, E80; continues E from Fuentes de Oñoro as Spain's A-62
IP6 Peniche - Óbidos - Santarém - Castelo Branco 219 km Concurrent with all or part of (W to E): A8, A15, A1, A23
IP7 Loures - Lisbon - 25 de Abril Bridge - Setúbal - Évora - Elvas 225 km Concurrent with all or part of (W to E): A2, A6 E90; continues E from Badajoz as Spain's A-5
IP8 Sines - Serpa 3 km (157 km) Mostly under construction or planning
IP9 Viana do Castelo - Ponte de Lima - Braga - Vila Real 161 km Concurrent with all or part of (W to E): A27, A3, A11, A4

Itinerários complementaresEdit

 
Marker for the IC1 secondary route.

Itinerários complementares are "complementary" or "secondary" routes. Their signs have black lettering on white rectangles with designations starting "IC". ICs often overlap autoestradas, in which case the "A" designation is used on road signs.

Estradas nacionaisEdit

Estradas nacionais are non-motorway national roads, some in better condition than others. They are identified with black on white markers starting with "N" or "EN" (depending on the sign's age). Many older stone or concrete markers still exist. Many former national roads are decommissioned. Some have been redesignated as regional or municipal roads. Others still have obsolete signage or are at least referenced by their former numbers by locals.

Estradas regionaisEdit

Estradas regionais are regional roads. Their markers are black on white starting with "R" or "ER".

Estradas municipaisEdit

Estradas municipais are municipal roads. Their numbers begin "M" or "EM", and they are often unmarked but may be found in online maps and in map apps.

Estradas EuropeiasEdit

 
E01 route marker.

Estradas Europeias are international European highways, connecting with Spain and countries beyond. Their route markers have white lettering on green rectangles with designations beginning "E". Signage is sometimes absent when the routes are concurrent with Portuguese highways.

European Routes through Portugal
No. Itinerary Length*
E01 Ireland - Spain (... Vigo) - Braga - Porto - Coimbra - Santarém - Lisbon - Setúbal - Faro - Spain (Huelva ...) 1,460 km
E80 Lisbon - Coimbra - Aveiro - Viseu - Guarda - Spain (Salamanca ...) - France - Italy - Croatia - Montenegro - Kosovo - Serbia - Bulgaria - Turkey 5,600 km
E82 Porto - Vila Real - Bragança - Spain (Zamora ...) 380 km
E90 Lisbon - Setúbal - Évora - Elvas - Spain (Badajoz ...) - Italy - Greece - Turkey 4,770 km
E801 Coimbra - Viseu - Vila Real - Chaves - Spain (Verín) 257 km
E802 Ourique - Beja - Évora - Portalegre - Guarda - Macedo de Cavaleiros 586 km
E805 Póvoa de Varzim - Vila Nova de Famalicão - Guimarães - Vila Pouca de Aguiar 102 km
E806 Torres Novas - Abrantes - Nisa 78 km

* Total length, including portions outside Portugal

Road signsEdit

Road signs in Portugal adhere to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, largely matching those in most other European countries and much of Asia, but differing from those elsewhere. Most signs consist of pictograms only, without words.

Danger / WarningEdit

PriorityEdit

ProhibitoryEdit

MandatoryEdit

InformationEdit

Directions and indicationsEdit

Lanes and ZonesEdit

See alsoEdit

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