Sintra Portugal: Driving

Jun 6th, 2005, 05:26 PM
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Sintra Portugal: Driving

We will be in the Serra de Sintra area for two weeks in July. I would like any info possible on driving in the area. Also any info on finding detailed maps of the area for driving. My Michelen map is not detailed enough. Also I am having a hard time estimating driving times based on the desciptions I have read of one lane narrow mountain roads. ANy advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
emsinkler is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 05:36 PM
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Maybe you find this site useful :
I think they can help you with the maps.
kenderina is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 05:56 PM
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We were in Sintra two years ago and driving is not a problem at all. The map we got from the rental car company worked fine for us. The whole area is covered by a circular mountain road (good shape and spacious if you've ever driven in Ireland only because no stone fence threatens you.) Those areas that are tight seem to work out well with proper caution. One caveat -- we were in a parking lot (dirt) at some tourist site and the rainwater had made rather deep ravines that my husband backed into. The result was the need for a major heaving push to get out of it and a broken piece of plastic car trim that added about 150 Euro to the price of the car. Oh well! Another note of caution is departing. If you leave from Sintra to get to Lisbon for a morning flight out, count on horrendous rush hour traffic to the airport. I've lived in both DC and Chicago and this traffic could match the best of morning rush hour delays here.

Enjoy. In all my travels (rather broad) I've never experienced scenery that equals that of the Sintra area. Where are you staying?
RomaSuz is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 06:11 PM
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Since you are going in July, you won't have time for the tourism to send you a map....but after arriving in Sintra you can go to their GOOD tourism office and they will have a detailed map of the area. We picked one up last year.!and they will explain things and go over the map with you, and answer any questions.
We lived in Lisbon 25 yrs. ago for 2 years and the whole area is WONDERFUL! We returned last October and had a car also. Yes, Sintra area is very hilly, but so beautiful, and the roads are in good condition...just curvy and hilly. You can't make a lot of time on the roads.,but do you need to? The coast drive from Lisbon is hilly of course(but gorgeous). Going straight south from Sintra into Estoril the road is a lot less curvy.
I wouldn't try to drive into Lisbon from Sintra the morning of your flight another person on this post mentioned...However your situation and times will dictate what you do.
You will have a wonderful trip, I am sure,,,,,and will do fine with the car!
mari5 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 06:32 PM
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Thank you for the great help. I am feeling much more at ease. We depart from Portugal on a Saturday. Will the traffic from Sintra to Lisbon be bad on the weekend? I have had experience with both NYC and DC traffic- not an experice I want to duplicate on my vacation. I have more questions that I might post on a different thread, but I'll try here first. Dare we try to drive in to Lisbon for an evening out or is their an easier way? Taxi or car service? We are staying in the small town of Penedo near Colares. We will be six people.
emsinkler is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 02:57 PM
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ttt for the OP
suze is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 04:44 PM
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We have driven Portugal many, many times, last one being this past May. While main arterials (usually toll) roads are clearly marked and signed -- often much better than the US, the local roads can differ considerably, mountian roads are usually very steep, no guardrails, and/or no place to turn around or back down if necessary. This was the most trying part of our last trip, but luckily not too much traffic and the destination at the top well worth it!!
Jun 7th, 2005, 05:02 PM
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Thanks cindiloowho. We will be staying up in those narrow mountain roads with no guardrails- oh dear. Was your rental car map sufficient?
emsinkler is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 02:54 AM
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McGyver's Guide to survival in Portugal. I wrote it a couple of months ago. I decided to re post. I hope everybody to have so much fun reading it as I had while writing

1 - class A roads (toll) are good and safe - if you have to drive a long distance (Lisbon to Porto, Lisbon to Algarve, etc...) do not hesitate, unless you want to take the scenic road. Maybe some drivers drive fast but you have only to take the right most lane, drive at your speed (less than 120 kph) and don't worry about the others. Check for motorway network.
2 - regional, rural roads are completely anti-stress, I can't imagine you may have a problem in there.
3 - in between the previous, there are class IP roads which are my less favourite and the place where the nasty accidents occur. They are designed like a motorway, but without separated traffic lanes. I think it was a bad experience and authorities are trying to convert them to full class A motorways, but it will take some time.
4 - Avoid approaching major centers at early hours of working days or leaving them by the end of the day.
5 - Avoid if possible driving at A class or IP class roads during the begining or the ending of long weekends or during festive days. It's not a question of driving style, but statistics, if there are 10 times more cars then the usual, a few accidents are inevitable to occur.
6 - don't leave unattended luggage outside of luggage compartment or personal goods (cameras, coats, purses, etc...) in the car and visible from outside...
7 - if there are beggars helping you to find a parking place and parking the car, give them a coin by the end, something between .5 and 1 euro. In pay&display parks, don't forget to pay and display.
8 - always stop at pedestrian crossings when there are pedestrians to cross, of course, I think it's not uniformly respected in all Europe, but it is in Portugal
9 - always give right of way when approaching a roundabout
10 - if you are hesitant about the direction to take in some intersection and some impatient driver horns his/her car, just ignore... finger signals are not common, and never expected from a lady.
11 - tailgating is not common, I've never seen
12 - don't use sandals and socks at the same time. It's the only no-no I know for Portugal, except for this Portuguese people is very tolerant to exhotic habits. Don't eat in public places with a hat on, ask your husband to remove a hat before shaking hands with somebody (male or female), don't eat with a hand under the table
13 - if somebody touches your hand or arms, or put a hand in your shoulder to give you some directions, this is not sex harassment.
14 - if you need some directions while driving or walking, just ask. when you are driving and stop the car to ask something to a pedestrian, it's good policy to turn off the radio of reduce the volume, the same for police agents.
15 - read extensively
16 - if somebody addresses you complimentary words, try to accept them with graciosity (ask your husband to avoid breaking the nose of the guy)
17 - if somebody holds a door for you to pass, just smile and say Obrigada
18 - if in a escalator, elevator, etc, there are gentlemen obviously waiting for you to advance, do not frustrate them and step forward (ladies first thing)

This is my best advice for visitors to Portugal. Emsinkler if you follow them you are very likelly to survive to live another day (I assumed you are a lady, otherwise the same is valid with minor corrections)

lobo_mau is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 06:58 AM
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emsinkler: a lot of lobo_maus comments are definitely "tongue in cheek" and so just take them with a "grain of salt".
Portugal is wonderful, beautiful and one of the safest places in Europe. You will have a great trip in the hills above Lisbon around Colares. We lived in LIsbon two years when our children were pre teens and had a great time. The Portuguese people smile a lot and are friendly and helpful. The area where you will be staying does indeed have hilly curvy roads but that way you can take it all in, go slower, and notice he interesting things and beauty around you.
And can pick up a detailed map at the good tourist office in Sintra....and they will answer any other questions you might have.
I think you will feel comfortable in have fun, keep a sense of humor, "go with the flow" and adapt!
Look fowards to hearing how you enjoyed your house in Penedo.
Oh, yes, there are a LOT of cars driving out the coast on weekends,sometimes horrendous traffic...and you might want to avoid doing much driving, especially on the coast on Sundays!!! I'd lay low that day at home, and then do what you want on weekdays!
mari5 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 08:51 AM
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I think you received some very accurate advice from cindiloowho.

Major roads are fine.

Anything at the top of a hill comes with the exact roads she described. And everything is at the top of a hill

We purchased a very detailed map at Barnes and Noble--unfortunately, I cannot remember the maker. I also used printed directions from
I found their time estimates to be fairly accurate.
xxxx is offline  
Jun 8th, 2005, 12:56 PM
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All this help is most appreciated. I can hardly wait to go and look forward to reporting on our return.
emsinkler is offline  
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