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Driving In the Algarve
Hiring a rental car is a great way to explore the Algarve and opens up many remote beaches or traditional villages that have little or no public transport options. Driving in the Algarve is relatively easy when compared to the larger Portuguese cities of Lisbon or Porto as the roads are general quiet with low levels of traffic. Most visitors collect their car from Faro airport and this saves on transfer costs and delays. This guide will provide an overview of driving in the Algarve and tourist information.
Algarve Driving, Practical Details
Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road and it is compulsory for all passengers to wear seat belts. The national speed limit is 90km/hour for standard roads and increases to 120km/hour on the toll expressways or dual carriageways. In built up areas and towns the speed limit reduces to 50km/hour while local speed restrictions are indicated by a circular signs with a red boarder stating the speed in km/hour. The Portuguese are very impatient drivers and will happily tailgate slower cars and attempt to overtake on hills or blind corners which has unfortunately given the country one of the highest levels of road deaths per population in Europe.
While driving in the Algarve it is the law that the driver must have photographic ID and it is recommended to carry both your EU driving license (or International Driving Permit if from a non EU Country) and passport in the unlikely event of being stopped by the police. Other documents required by Portuguese is the car's logbook (the Livrete) and the registration document (the Título de Registo de Propriedade), both documents can be combine to form the Documento Único Automóvel and are supplied by the car rental company. Non Portuguese cars must have valid insurance and proof of ownership (the vehicle registration documents).
Alcohol limits and fines have dramatically decreased/increased respectively after many years of rule flouting and horrific accidents by Portuguese drivers and there is an almost zero tolerance policy employed by the police, it is easier and saver not to drink and drive. The present day limit is 0.05% which is equivalent to a small bear or very small glass of wine, which is much tighter than the UK.
Children under 12 are not allowed to ride in the front of car unless they are taller than 150cm. All young children in the rear must have suitable car or boaster seats but these can be surprisingly expensive when hired from rental companies. One of the odd traffic rules that catches out many foreign drivers to the Algarve is that traffic joining a road from the right has priority over the main road.