There’s a useful booklet available from AFPOP – the Foreign Residents Association – for €10. This includes an English Language version of the standard accident report form which must be used by all motorists involved in an accident.
Ensure you always have all the necessary documents – I.D., Licence, Fiscal Number (if you are a resident), Tax, Insurance, Inspection, and Permission of Owner to Drive. And a Hi-Vis jacket must be worn if you stop on a motorway. Documents MUST be shown on demand – or an immediate penalty can be imposed.
Regarding driving rules and regulations, the local “Highway Code” is a legally binding document. Just a few key points of difference are given here!
The most common speed limits (kph) are Motorway, 50 min. to 120 max.; Open Roads, 90 max.; Built-up Areas, 50 max., though there are often local, lower reductions in towns, too. Also note that roads with NO pedestrian access may be signed for 100 or 120 max; while some “crawler lanes” on hills have 60 min. in the outside lane.
The limits are usually signed in the normal manner – BUT note that the existence of a name sign for a town or village (rectangular sign, black letters on white background) means you’re in a 50 kph zone. This only ends when the name sign, crossed out in red, is passed on leaving the area.
Don’t use Green Lanes (Via Verde) on Main Toll Roads (Portagem), unless your car has the appropriate data capture “chip” fitted. When you leave, you’ll be charged for using EVERY kilometre of that motorway! Note that the ticket, collected on entry to the toll road, expires after 12 hours – so no overnight stops in service areas are allowed.
A SINGLE broad white line between lanes prohibits crossing. These are used at all motorway exits – so get in the inside lane early, if you are planning to come off. On the older motorways – on the A22 in the Algarve from Faro to Alcantarilha – it is common for the entry slip road to join BEFORE the corresponding exit, making for some interesting moments! And there are a number of locations where TWO sets of accesses junction are sited within 100 metres. Scary stuff, so mind how you go…… And a recent introduction (2014) is that you may only use the near side (right) lane of a roundabout if you are leaving at the next exit.
A few key words of advice!:
Don’t argue with traffic police. Be courteous and polite.
There are many local car-hire outlets which are very good value – with modern and well maintained cars. All the local firms listed in “Contacts” have promised to give “Navigators” their best deal. These include free drop-off or collection at the airport, additional drivers at no extra cost, and baby seats and roof racks free on request. They say their prices are all TOTALLY INCLUSIVE – i.e. no additional insurance, CDW or excesses – but check these details apply to you, when you book.
Luz Cars have been known to offer some good off season deals, all inclusive. This is ideal for airport connections, as it’s about an hour’s journey to Faro, giving time for some heavy shopping or an exploration trip, before or after your flight! . LagoRent also get a very good press, and have many very satisfied customers.
One yachtsman recommends checking out The Care Hire Centre for really low prices.
Europcar is the only major international brand name with an office here in Lagos. While most of the others are at the airport, you need to check collection and return details, if you are not hiring for the full duration of your stay.
Hire Cars at the Airport
The Car Parks at Faro Airport have recently been re-developed.
All the normal international hire companies have counters at Arrivals and private car parks near-by. There are also a number of smaller local operators who share an office counter in a Rental Block in the “Contract Car Park”. This car park is marked as “Park Nº 4; Avenças” – but with no translation to help you. There are some even less formal operators who operate from the back of a van in the car park. They, too, park their cars in“Nº 4 Avenças Car Park”, and if you have pre-booked and arrive out of office hours, your car – with your name on the sun visor and keys on the front wheel – will be waiting for you there! If returning a car out of hours, the same casual approach can be used – but do please check with your operator.
NOTE! Only Hire Cars can use Car Park Nº4 and it is controlled by a number plate reader. Unfortunately, it is the first Car Park you see on arrival at the airport – so it always has a queue of “normal” cars trying to get in – and then having to reverse out into the road!
Note, also, that registered Hire Cars cannot enter any of the other public car parks, as they, too, are controlled by a number plate reader. If you have hired in Lagos to collect or drop off some friends at the airport, you must use Car Park Nº4! At least, it’s handy and it’s free of charge. But do check this with you own operator!
In January 2012, tolls were introduced on the A22 Algarve Motorway. The cost is about 8 centimes per km., ie €6.60 extra for a Lagos to Faro airport journey – not unreasonable as it reduces the journey from a 1 hour 30 mins to a comfortable 1 hour or less.
It is commonly accepted that foreign registered cars can get away without paying any tolls, as the authorities do not chase up foreign cars. But, you do so at your own risk!
However, the A22 tolls use a totally electronic payment system – with no option or facility for paying with cash or card at the time. The methodology for tourists using hire cars is difficult – except for those using the few companies that have “chips” fitted. Check with your car hire company.
For the rest, tolls cannot be paid less than 2 working days after the trip (impossible if going home!) or later than 7 working days after the journey. In addition, payment can only be processed for all tolls incurred on each day – so a hire car, collected at the airport, might come with a bill for at least €6.60! There are now (2014) facilities for pre-payment – but there is limited experience of using them. If anyone can update us with the latest information, please do!
For hire cars, non-payment means that the owner (the hire company) is required to report details of the driver(s) to the authorities, who then chase up your home licensing body for your name and address so that they can demand the toll and an administration fee.
Taxis in Portugal are clean, modern and well regulated. And if they do drive fairly fast at times, they will slow down if asked. Just point at the speedo, shake a finger and say “Lentamente, faz favour!”
Fares are controlled and run by meter, with supplementary charges for each item in the boot – so take handbags etc. inside with you. There are different tariffs depending on time of day, with the numbers shown on the roofs, and on the meter, for the fare tariff in force. “1” means an empty cab; “2” is for day time trips, Monday to Friday; and “3” is for night, weekend and public holiday journeys. There is no significance in the different colours of taxi – black/green is the traditional “Lisbon” style; beige is the more modern colour.