Pousadas and driving in Portugal

May 3rd, 2003, 04:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
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Pousadas and driving in Portugal

Has anyone toured Portugal by car and if so how is the driving? Guide books say there are more road accidents in Portugal than any other European country... with 11 days to the holiday I'm getting a bit nervous.

Flying into Lisbon and collecting car at airport. Go to first Pousada (just outside Lisbon) and over next 10 days will be the driving down to Algarve and back. Are roads well signed and, if anyone else has done this, tips would be appreciated.

Gingerbaker is offline  
May 3rd, 2003, 05:01 AM
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Many roads in Portugal have one lane in each direction. Portugese drivers therefore drive far to the right side of their lane leaving a kind of unmarked third center lane for passing in either direction. I recall actual marked highways like this in Wisconsin during my childhood. Portugese drivers seem to understand this convention very well and it seems to work. Overall my husband, who does our driving, thought they were courteous and good drivers. That said, the roads are not great. You can tell even without signs when you enter Spain from Portugal. The roads improve significantly. We were in a long line of cars that had stopped for an accident on a country road (could have been a main road, since their main roads seem like country roads). Someone got out of their car and started motioning the cars to go around--literally through a field and into a farmer's backyard for over a mile or so until we hooked up again with a real road. So the driving isn't great but it is doable. Don't panic, just take it easy and be patient. We saw much more of the country because we drove.
JmVikmanis is offline  
May 3rd, 2003, 07:38 AM
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Well, opinions vary. In our driving in Portugal, north to south, east to west, I have to say I thought the Portuguese drivers were, on average, the worst I've encountered in western Europe. I don't mean to slight an entire country, and maybe our luck was poor, but we encountered an awfully high number of drivers who seemed to combine aggressiveness and incompetence effortlessly - overtaking on blind hills, tailgating, unannounced turns or stops, trucks with unsecured loads (several of these - hay in your face?) persistent high speed when conditions were anything but conducive, all that.

The roads run the gamut - well marked and maintained in peak tourist areas, all the way to pretty primative in more remote areas (the northeastern entrance from Spain into Braganca being a real coronary workout - one and a half lanes of a twisty one-and-three-quarters-lane-wide road occupied by an oncoming bus - wow.)

All that said, it's a wonderful country for car touring, and we'd happily do it again. But a top-flight atlas and infinite patience will be useful once you're off the main drags.
Gardyloo is offline  
May 3rd, 2003, 10:26 AM
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I have driven Portugal twice and have had no problem--but not in the cities.
I love the Pousadas and have stayed in about 6 of them. My favs include Palmela, Sagres, Estromoz, Marvao, and Viano do Castelo. You will like Portugal
bobthenavigator is offline  
May 3rd, 2003, 10:49 AM
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We lived in Lisbon for two years (in the 70's) and drove everyplace. I drove right downtown Lisbon and we, of course, drove the countryside. Portugal is a beautiful, wonderful, interesting country...full of nice people,,,and driving should not be a problem,for I know the roads have probably been improved and we had no trouble 25 yrs. ago. I know a lady in her 70's , along with a friend, who drove around the country a couple of years ago and loved it and did fine.
mari3 is offline  
May 3rd, 2003, 02:10 PM
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We have driven in the UK, France, BeNeLux, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, Gibraltar, and probably some others. Having driven but once in Portugal, and mainly on the principal roads, I will say that in my experience Portugal's drivers are the worst -- except possibly for some areas of the US (parts of Tennessee and Pennsylvania leap to mind). Be careful and drive defensively.
bojack is offline  
May 5th, 2003, 04:15 AM
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We drove during most of our trip to Portugal this past March. You've been given good advice so far. You will want a good map. Driving on the toll roads (although expensive) will save time and keep stress to a minimum. We definately had some of the same experienes as Gardyloo--especially driving in the northeast! Keep in mind any description that involves driving in the "historical, walled portion of the city" or "panoramic view" will translate to incredibly narrow, twisting, and very steep roads. What Pousadas will you be staying at?
xxxx is offline  
May 15th, 2003, 08:15 PM
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Just returned from a driving holiday in portugal (two days ago). Had no problem what so ever...roads, on the whole, are good, lanes are clearly marked for appropriate speed, both max and min, and people get offended if you don't obey. They drive fast, but pretty predictably, and there was not so much traffic. Drivers there tend to follow too close for our comfort. However, this is all the more reason to stay in the lane that fits your speed, and stay to the left unless passing. Rented a small Golf, which gets at least 40 miles to gal., and gas is expensive. Country roads, use caution, not much sholder, watch for pedestrians and parked cars (In Europe, they have the most alarming habit of just stopping the car and getting out when they can't find a parking space...parking is tight everywhere). We found the traffic signs very adequate--however, connecting roads and toll roads and side roads all run together, so get a good map...Whatever you do, don't turn left over a solid line...bad business.
aurelia is offline  
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