Transport and Driving in Portugal


►Buy the Expat Guide to Portugal in PDF format



 

Expats who plan on travelling within Portugal have a number of options available to them. Generally, those residing in Portuguese cities such as Lisbon, Faro and Porto will find that having a car is unnecessary, unless they want to travel to other parts of the country.

Trains in Portugal are a comfortable and efficient way to travel between cities. However, train travel will require some forward planning because services do not operate at such frequent intervals. The bus network is far more comprehensive and covers areas located inland.

Expats living in rural Portugal or in the Algarve tend to own cars. While Portugal's road infrastructure is modern, there are some driving conditions that new expat drivers may take some time getting accustomed to. 
 

Public transport in Portugal


Portugal's capital city, Lisbon, and other urban hubs such as Porto have modern transport networks comprising of trains, buses, trams and metro systems.


However, at the national level, public transportation in Portugal is not as extensive as expats would find in other European countries. The railway network in Portugal is limited, which leaves just one option for those without a private vehicle - intercity buses.


Trains

The rail network in Portugal, run by Comboios de Portugal (CP), is somewhat limited.

While travelling by train in Portugal is often slightly faster than the equivalent bus journey, trains only serve to connect the major cities such as Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Gaia and Aveiro to one another.

Suburban rail services cover the areas surrounding Lisbon and Porto reasonably well but are limited elsewhere in the country.

Commuters using trains in Portugal find the services to be relatively efficient and comfortable.

As trains are not very frequent in Portugal, it is best to make a reservation if travelling between any of the following destinations: Braga, Porto, Gaia, Aveiro, Coimbra, Lisbon and Faro.

There are some intercity trains that travel to the interior of the country, and serve towns such as Evora, Beja and Guarda. However, most railway routes follow Portugal’s Atlantic coastline.  

Trains is Portugal tend to operate less frequently and are more expensive than intercity busesHowever, rail fares are much more reasonably priced than one would find elsewhere in Europe. 

It is possible to purchase tickets online or in person at any train station in Portugal.


Buses

Due to the country’s limited rail network, many of those who need to travel nationally in Portugal prefer to use intercity buses.


While travelling by bus in Portugal may take a little longer, bus routes tend to be more extensive and cover places that lie off the beaten track.

Bus fares in Portugal are also reasonably priced, especially in comparison to those elsewhere in Europe. Rede Expresso is the country’s largest intercity bus company and has routes that cover the length and breadth of the country. Buses are relatively frequent and on busier routes there will be a service departing every 45 minutes to an hour.

Driving in Portugal


Generally, road conditions in Portugal are good, especially on the motorways that connect major cities. However, there are secondary roads in rural areas of Portugal where driving conditions can be dangerous.


There is a unified electronic toll paying system in Portugal. Expats should opt to pay for a yearly subscription which will allow them to travel on toll roads for a year, rather than paying for each individual journey.

Expats will probably take some time to get used to interacting with Portuguese drivers.  Expats should try to drive defensively as local drivers tend to be erratic at times. 

The Portuguese government has taken steps to alleviate the problems associated with aggressive driving by introducing harsh punishments for those caught speeding, driving without a valid licence and those driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

Expats should be aware that maps of Portugal can vary, and can therefore be difficult to follow. Road signage is not always clear and can end suddenly, leaving drivers wondering if they are still heading in the right direction. GPS is improving in areas surrounding major Portuguese cities. However, those using GPS devices should ensure they have a map to use for cross-referencing, as many towns, villages and streets in Portugal have the same name.

Air travel in Portugal


Domestic flights in Portugal are relatively expensive and therefore not many people fly within the country itself. Portugal’s main airports are in Lisbon, Faro, Porto, Funchal (Madeira) and Ponta Delgada (Azores).  

Search Expat Arrivals

Become our local expat expert for your area!

Expat Arrivals is looking for contributors to make this the ultimate guide for international expats.

If you are an established expat who could make time to write useful information for expats in your city and answering forum questions from new and prospective expats, please contact us.

As our local expert you can have your profile showing on each page you publish, and will have an option to promote your website or blog.


Got a question about your new country?

X
You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Login with your Facebook account (Recommended)