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A car is essential if you want to see everything Portugal has to offer. Many Portuguese cities are connected by train or bus, but more rural areas, like the interior of the country, are reachable by private transport only. In Portugal, people drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left. You will find that driving in Portugal is very similar to driving in the United States, but there are a few differences. For example, much of the nationwide network of highways are toll roads. They are easy to pay, however, and will not be a major concern for people who are renting cars.

Portuguese drivers on the whole are safe, but you may very well encounter hotheads. Practice defensive driving and keep calm. Also, you may notice many drivers drive above the speed limit. That does not mean you can do it too. Although it may not look that way at times, speed limits are indeed enforced and you can not only incur a fine of hundreds of Euros, you can also lose your driving privileges in Portugal, which will put a damper on your trip.

Unlike in the U.S., where many cities were built specifically for the car, some Portuguese cities have narrow streets in downtown areas, which will require some skill and finesse to navigate. (Keep in mind that even though some streets are narrow, they will most likely be two-way streets, so be careful.) Also, as you enter most Portuguese cities, you will find yourself entering a roundabout in order to reach downtown areas. If you intend to exit the roundabout later than a half-circle after you enter it, stay in the inside lane until you are ready to exit, and then move to the outside lane.

Driving should be an enjoyable experience if you take note of the recommendations and rules outlined on these pages. Enjoy your trip and have fun experiencing scenic Portugal!