A favourite pastime of many motorhome owners we speak to is planning their next adventure. And if you’re thinking of Europe then you’d better add Portugal to your list of must-sees.
Touring in your motorhome is the perfect way to explore this comparatively small country and it certainly packs quite a punch within its borders. Its wild coastal scenery, buzzing cities, delicious food and wine, stunning architecture and wealth of history mean any visitor will have an unforgettable trip.
However, before you grab your phrase book and head off, there are a few things to consider – reading our guide and having the right motorhome insurance being at the top of the list!
How to get to Portugal from the UK
While it’s over 1,000 miles away, every year thousands of people drive from the UK to Portugal and back again. The trip is well worth the effort and will take you through some stunning parts of Europe on the way there!
Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct ferry between the two countries. You can either drive through France or take a ferry to the North of Spain and drive from there. There are pros and cons to both but, for most people, it normally comes down to a question of time and money.
Best time of year for a Portuguese driving holiday
With its fabulous array of festivals, celebrations, traditional village pilgrimages, markets, outdoor events and stunning beaches, Portugal is a popular tourist destination all year round.
In general, the best time of year to visit Portugal is in the spring (from February) or early autumn (September to October), when the weather is not too hot, the sea is warm and the summer crowds have thinned out.
Particularly for northern Europeans like the British, the lower temperatures during these months also make for ideal sightseeing weather. However, if you’re looking for guaranteed sun throughout Portugal, you’ll want to visit in the summer months.
Be warned, though, central Portugal can get fiercely hot during this time – a decent air con unit in your motorhome will be essential!
Driving laws in Portugal
In Portugal, motorists drive on the right and overtake on the left. When being overtaken, motorists should keep as far right as possible and not accelerate. And in terms of priority, vehicles descending a hill have right of way over those coming up.
Horns should only be used in moderation. And in urban areas, using your horn is not allowed during the hours of darkness, except in an emergency. To give a warning, flash your headlights instead.
Similar to the rest of Europe, Portugal has stricter rules around drink driving than the UK – 0.5 grams of alcohol per litre of blood compared to 0.8 grams in the UK.
Speed limits throughout Portugal are:
- Motorways: 120km/h (75mph)
- Outside urban areas: 90km/h – 100km/h (55-62mph)
- Urban areas: 50km/h (30mph) unless otherwise indicated
Speeding fines range from €60 to €2,500 depending on the speed you were doing and the road on which you were driving. If your sat nav warns you of mobile speed cameras then leave it at home. Such technology is illegal in Portugal with fines reaching up to €2,500.
Like many fellow European countries, Portugal has motorways with tolls. You can pay with cash or a credit card, although some only accept electronic payment.
There’s a payment system called Via Verde, which requires you to attach a magnetic card to your windscreen which automatically works at toll booths. There’s also a system called Easy Toll that many visiting motorists find easier. You simply enter your card details at the border point and then have a photo of your number plate taken. The system then deducts a toll payment every time you pass a toll booth.
What to pack for your motorhome trip to Portugal
If you want to stay on the right side of the authorities during your motorhome trip then you need to add some essential items to your holiday packing list.
Make sure you always carry a full, valid UK driving licence, proof of ID (eg passport), vehicle registration document (V5), and your certificate of motorhome insurance. Now Brexit has happened, there will be new rules for drivers. You may need a Green Card, GB car sticker or International Driving Permit (IDP) depending on your circumstances. The ABTA website has more information on driving in the EU.
In addition to these required documents, to avoid fines you’re also required by law to carry the following items in your motorhome.
- Reflective jackets in case of breakdown.
- Warning triangle.
- Headlamp beam deflectors (either stickers or by manual adjustment of the headlamp).
Places to visit in Portugal
There’s so much to see and do in Portugal that it’s sometimes difficult to know where to begin. Here’s a taste of some must-see sights to get you started.
Portugal’s stunning capital city is a joy to explore. Wander around its winding, narrow streets during the day, before heading to one of the cosy restaurants in the romantic district of Alfama. Don’t miss out on the trendy district of Chiado, the night-time excitement of Bairro Alto or the phenomenal views from all over the city.
The mountain town and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra has been described by some as ‘Disneyland for grown-ups’. Be sure you clear your camera’s memory card before arriving.
Surfing is one of the main attractions in Portugal, and Nazare is famed for its colossal wintertime waves! Even if you’re not such a daredevil, the town is a great beach resort with plenty to explore.
Motorhome insurance for your Portuguese adventure
Planning a motorhome trip to Portugal can be a lot of fun. To make finding the right motorhome protection easy and straightforward call the specialist team at Motorhome Protect.
We can arrange the best cover to suit your vehicle and budget. Cover arranged through Motorhome Protect can include unlimited EU cover, unlimited mileage cover and protection for personal items valued up to £3,000.
Get a quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.