If you enjoy driving, there’s nothing quite like a foreign road trip for forgetting all about your worries and letting the experience of a different country unfold before your eyes. Just a short hop from the U.K., Portugal offers great weather, glorious coastline, wonderful food and drink and a fascinating variety of landscapes, all within a comparatively compact area. Although most visitors to the country head straight for the spectacular beaches of the Algarve, Portugal has so much more to offer, from the famed surfing beaches of the Atlantic coast to the ancient walled cities of its baking interior and a well planned road trip is an ideal way to enjoy this fascinating country’s rich diversity.
They drive on the right
When you’ve spent your entire life driving on the left, driving on the right can catch you out, so you always need to be vigilant. It’s easy enough when there’s plenty of traffic and you just go with the flow but on deserted roads, when you pull out of a junction, your conditioned response may well land you up on the wrong side of the road.
Watch out at roundabouts
Drivers from all countries often seem to get confused about the right of way at a roundabout. When driving in Portugal, you need to be aware that you should only use the outside lane at a roundabout in order to exit.
It’s easy to get lost
It’s easy to get lost anywhere, but in a foreign country it’s just that little bit easier. Street signs are not always where they should be so a sat nav is an essential bit of kit, but any serious road trip enthusiast will also want to have good local maps.
Know the speed limits
Speed limits in Portugal are almost the same as they are in the U.K. but of course they are in kilometres per hour. Urban areas are 50k/h (31 mph) single track roads are 90k/h (56 mph) and motorways are 120k/h (74mph).
Hiring a car
Assuming that you’ll be starting your road trip in Portugal, you’ll be needing to hire a car. For a little extra you can arrange different pick up and drop off points, enabling you to do a linear route (Portugal is sort of long and thin) rather than a circular route. Make sure that your car has a toll tag because not all Portuguese toll roads have booths.
Take time out to enjoy the sights
Portugal has plenty of reasonably priced holiday rentals so be sure to include some rest and relaxation time en route to recover from long drives.
Empty roads can be more dangerous than busy ones
Once you are off the beaten track, Portugal has some wonderfully windy, narrow roads. Even though there’s not a car in sight, you still need to drive with caution. You never know when a cart full of hay or a herd of cows are going to come around the corner.