Driving can be rather chaotic in certain parts of Portugal, especially driving in Lisbon and the surrounding area. But in the pastoral, sparsely populated Alentejo region, nothing could be further from the truth.
Alentejo may account for more than 30% of Portugal's territory, but about 1 in twenty of the nation's citizens actually resides here. As a result, traffic in the region is virtually nonexistent, especially in the long stretches of road between villages. You can sometimes drive for miles and miles without encountering a soul.
When visiting Alentejo's population centers, however, you'll probably be better off parking your rental car and exploring on foot. In the stunning, historic city of Evora, most of the notable landmarks are within walking distance of each other. Sleepy, baroque Portalegre's winding cobblestone streets are very walkable, and there's really not much reason to drive there, either.
However, there's a lot to see in the Alentejo region, and you're bound to want to journey from one site to the next. Wineries, historic sites, and natural wonders abound here, and you're likely to fly into Lisbon before making your way to Alentejo, so renting a car is a must.
As mentioned above, driving in Portugal's Alentejo region happens typically without incident. But don't let that lull you into taking your safety for granted while driving in Alentejo.
Be especially wary at rural intersections and blind corners. You never know when a wagon, scooter, or car might pull out in front of you, even in sparsely populated areas.
When driving in Alentejo's most populous areas, don't be surprised if you happen to see motorists parked in the middle of the road with their emergency flashers engaged. If you're in a hurry, feel free to give a couple of friendly beeps with your horn, and most locals will move their car in fairly short order.
While the natives may treat Portugal's traffic laws with a devil-may-care attitude, don't be tempted to do the same. Traffic tickets here can be quite stiff, and payment must be made to the issuing officer upon receipt.
While we're on the subject of staying on the right side of law enforcement during your visit to Alentejo, let's cover some basic traffic laws.
First, the obvious: when in any part of Portugal, drive on the right side of the road. This will come naturally to visitors from the U.S., Southeast Asia, and Western Europe, it may be a bit of an adjustment to motorists from the UK, South Africa, or Australia.
And if you're traveling with young people while driving in Alentejo, Portugal, here are a few regulations to bear in mind:
The Portuguese authorities take their traffic laws quite seriously, so here are some more tips to avoid ending up with a traffic ticket as a souvenir of your visit.
Additional Information About Driving in Portugal