Traffic and Road Conditions in Portugal

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Portugal, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

While Portugal has significantly expanded its motorway network with well-constructed roads, leading to a resulting decrease in accidents and fatalities, its road-accident fatality rate is still higher than the EU average, according to Eurostat. You should use caution, as aggressive driving habits and high speeds pose special hazards. Use appropriate care and caution while on the roadways, practice safe driving habits, and adhere to the applicable speed limits.

Fines for traffic offenses are substantial in Portugal. Speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the use of mobile phones while driving are heavily penalized. Use of seatbelts is mandatory for drivers and passengers. Small children must be in child safety seats with the seatbelts fastened in the back of your car. The police in continental Portugal have the authority to fine on-the-spot and most of their vehicles have portable ATM machines to facilitate immediate payment.

Taxis are a reliable means of transportation, but are subject to the same road conditions listed above. Refer to the crime section of this page to alert yourself to other threats relating to taxis.

Buses are reliable.

In the Azores, driving can be challenging due to narrow cobblestone streets, blind curves, blind corners, and herds of cows on country roads. In contrast to the situation on the Portuguese mainland, payments are not made on the spot; traffic violations are registered by radar and later forwarded to the offender via the postal service. Taxis do not have meters; the fare consists of a base fee plus a posted rate per kilometer traveled. Public buses are inexpensive. Bus services begin at 7 a.m. and generally operate until 8 p.m., depending on the destination.

U.S. citizen visitors to Portugal may drive with a valid U.S. driver's license for up to six months. For international driving permits, please contact AAA or the National Auto Club.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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