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Would you like to drive in Lisbon?

Traffic Warning Sign.
Well, I would like to say that it is easy to drive in Lisbon but, unfortunately, that's not the case. In fact, it can be a little bit dangerous if you don't take care.

But this is not a jungle, ok? So, don't worry because you'll be fine as long as you follow some basic rules and use some caution.

Right or left-hand side of the road?

In theory, cars in Portugal should take the right-hand side of the road. But that is only in theory. If you observe transit for a while you will quickly realize that most people are kind of allergic to the right-hand side of the road.

Wait... maybe I don't explain it quite right... I don't mean that Portuguese drivers take the wrong hand side of the road. I'm talking about the roads with more than one lane.

When a road has more than one lane, traffic rules say you must take the one that is on the right (as long as it is free, of course). But that is constantly ignored in Portugal.

Why? I really don't know but sometimes I find myself doing the same... Red face icon.

Rules you must obey 

Here are some basic rules you must know before you drive in Lisbon:

1. You can't drink and drive. Sorry...
You shouldn't try to drink or eat while you are driving. It's very dangerous!!! Just kidding... Smile Icon.

What I mean is that you can't drink before driving. At least alcohol anyway...

The legal limit for blood alcohol is 50 mg per 100 ml maximum. Beyond that you're in trouble. If it passes the 120 mg be prepared to spend a night in jail while you wait to be presented in court.

2. Fasten your seat belt. Yup!

Accordingly to the law, seat belts must be fastened by front-seat occupants and those travelling in the rear seats as long as provided (nowadays this includes almost all vehicles).

3. Don't speed up! Who are you? Michael Schumacher?

Pay attention to the speed limits and respect them. Don't try to beat the clock for any reason whatsoever.

Speed limits for motorcycles and cars without trailers: 
Formula One Lineup. 50 kph - in built-up areas 
 90 kph - on normal roads
100 kph - on roads restricted to motor vehicles
120 kph - on motorways

Speed limits for cars with trailers:
 50 kph - in built-up areas 
 70 kph - on normal roads 
 80 kph - on roads restricted to motor vehicles
100 kph - on motorways

4. Keep your hands off you mobile phone. "I'll talk to you later..."

As in many other countries, like UK, you are not allowed to talk on your mobile phone while you drive in Lisbon, except if you are using some kind of handsfree or headsets device. So don't do it, ok? Most specifically, because it is very dangerous.

5. Don't park in the wrong place. Be patient and find a place to park.

No parking sign Portugal.No Parking Sign Portugal.If you see one of these signs, don't park there because it is not allowed!

Unless you like to risk getting a fine, be patient and find a proper spot for your car.


If you are caught breaking any of these rules, be aware that you will be fined on the spot. So, in case you think you are some kind of Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton always carry some cash with you...

Beware of the other drivers

Even if you drive accordingly to the rules, you must always pay attention to other drivers when you drive in Lisbon. Always expect the unexpected. Huuumm... Almost like Mission Impossible, get it?

Looking through the review mirror.Don't be surprised if all the above rules are broken by other drivers. Just do your part and above all drive defensively.

In Lisbon it is very common to find cars parked in the middle of the street with their hazard warning lights on. Well, not in the middle, but almost. So be careful with that.

Driving too close to the car in the front is another dangerous driving practise you can experience here. Don't feel pressured if you are in the car in front. Continue to drive carefully and "forget" the maverick behind you. He will, eventually, go away.

Pay attention when being overtaken by other automobiles and especially when being overtaken by motorcycles. Motorcyclists very often don't signalize their manoeuvres properly.

Beware of taxi drivers as they tend to think that they own the roads. Well, I think this happens all over the world, right? Here too.

Driving License

In order to drive in Lisbon you are required to have a valid driving license. If you have a valid EU license you don't have to worry even if you stay forever. On the other hand if you have a valid non-EU license it allows to drive up to six months.


It is required by law to have a valid car or motorcycle insurance in order to drive in Lisbon (and Portugal, of course). Don't forget to check it out when you hire a car.

Traffic Accidents

Lisbon Police Car.If you are caught in an accident, please remain calm. Everything will be ok. Just wait for the police to arrive.

Prepare your documentation and ask for the other drivers' information (name, address, insurance company and so).

If you think the other driver might have been drinking, insist that the police have the driver perform a breathalyser. They usually do it without you having to ask them.

Traffic Jam

Remember that Lisbon has a lot of cars and between certain hours of the day you may expect an increase of the traffic.

So, from 8AM till 10AM and from 6PM till 8PM, you can generally count on meeting a traffic jam, especially on the roads that enter and exit the city. 

Friday is definitely the worst day of the week. Be patient or avoid driving in these hours.

Start driving

Traffic Sign. If you follow these simple rules and the advice I've offered you, then you will have no problems while you drive in Lisbon or in the rest of Portugal.

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