Portugal has a reputation for hectic roadways, and there is some truth to the rumors. But the motorways of this country are not as harrowing as some stories would lead you to believe. Portugal has made great strides in recent years to make streets and highways more orderly, and better marked.
Driving in the city of Faro, a popular destination for sun-worshippers, is decidedly more laid-back than in Lisbon, the nation's capital. During the busy season, traffic in the central part of the city can be quite heavy, due largely to the seasonal influx of travelers. But there are plenty of paid parking stations in the area, and the city's center is a pleasant place to explore while traveling around on foot.
Those who visit Faro in the off-season will still find plenty to love. Its quaint, whitewashed buildings and mild winter temperatures make it a wonderful retreat any time of year and traffic thins out considerably outside peak travel season.
As with most cities in Portugal, driving in Faro should be undertaken with a healthy dose of caution. Better to be safe than sorry, after all.
In particular, keep an eye out for unlit, animal-drawn carts making sudden incursions into the main road from blind side streets. Also, be aware that Portuguese pedestrians tend to take a rather blasÚ attitude toward motor traffic. They may step out in front of your car unexpectedly, so be sure to drive as defensively as possible in areas with heavy foot traffic.
Another traffic situation worthy of caution is the tendency of Faro drivers to park in the middle of a lane of traffic, perhaps due to the lack of shoulders on many roads there. A couple of taps on the horn should bring the driver around to remedy the situation.
Faro is located on the southern coast of the region known as the Algarve, a place ripe that's ripe for exploration. This portion of Portugal stretches from the picturesque coastline of Aljezur all the way to the Spanish border, and is rich with plenty of wonderful sights and attractions.
If exploring the wider coastal region of the Algarve in your rental car is part of your travel itinerary, then you have a couple of choices for how you'll go about it.
The A22 motorway that stretches from the Spanish border nearly to the western coast is a toll road. The decision to charge tolls on this road has been a contentious issue that has caused many motorists to instead travel the older N125 highway. You can take that route if you'd like, but the good news about A22 being a toll road is that it?s basically devoid of major traffic. So if you're willing to pay the tolls, it's a fast and relaxing way to travel.
Now that we've covered some of the specifics of driving in Faro, let's talk about a few Portuguese traffic laws that you'll need to know about before getting behind the wheel of your rental car.