Useful tips for your road trip through Portugal
Planning a road trip through Portugal promises adventure, scenic routes, and the opportunity to explore the country’s diverse landscapes. Whether you crave the allure of coastal drives, the charm of historic towns, or the freedom of camping in nature, Portugal offers it all. However, navigating the ins and outs of this picturesque journey requires some essential tips to ensure you make the most of your experience.
If you’re camping, the Park4night app is truly indispensable. Through this app, campers can share camper stops, campsites, and wild camping spots. We also made extensive use of the campercontact app, where you can find numerous campsites.
Traveling in the pre- or postseason can save you money on camping spots with an ACSI discount card. Often, you’ll pay less than 14 euros. However, we found that campsites in Portugal during this period are generally quite affordable.
Check the gasoline prices before your trip. During our journey, gasoline in Spain was significantly cheaper. So, it’s wise to fill up your tank before crossing the border.
Requirements in the car
If you plan to rent a car in Portugal, you must be at least 21 years old and have held your driver’s license for a year. Often, those under 25 may have to pay an additional fee. Children under 4 years old must be in a child seat.
The speed limits in Portugal are almost the same as in the Netherlands, except on roads in built-up areas, where you can drive up to 90 km/h.
Additionally, you’re obliged to carry a safety vest and a warning triangle.
Traveling with a dog to Portugal
If your dog is joining you, it’s essential that your dog is microchipped (always have it checked by a vet before departure), vaccinated (including against rabies), and has a passport. Always consult your vet beforehand for advice and tips.
Our dog couldn’t handle food changes well, so we had about 6 months’ worth of kibble in the camper. Additionally, it’s important to deworm your dog before, during, and after your trip. We also carried a tick remover and a lot of cuddles! :p
Toll roads in Portugal can be quite expensive. Moreover, taking the inland roads allows you to see much more of the beautiful surroundings.
Throughout Portugal, you’ll find the most beautiful spots for wild camping. Although officially not allowed, wild camping is tolerated in most places. It’s cost-free, and you often park right by the sea or in the midst of nature. However, due to its immense popularity, you might not be alone. With a camper without a toilet/bucket, this can be a bit tricky. Also, digital nomads without solar panels might find it hard to charge their laptops. This made wild camping quite challenging for us. It’s the main reason we said goodbye to our blue bus after the trip and started looking for a larger model.
Buying a SIM card in Portugal
Forget about Wi-Fi at camper stops or campsites. The internet is either extremely slow or nonexistent. Often, for a faster internet connection, you have to find a workspace or purchase a substantial data bundle. Luckily, you can now use your bundle in other European countries. Before the trip, we significantly increased our data bundle. However, always read the conditions carefully in advance. Unlimited internet is almost never valid in European countries; usually, you’re limited to a maximum of 8GB. I’ve been with Ben for years, and I can decide my bundle size per month. You pay around 10 euros for 7GB per month, which is decent. One downside: if you run out of data, you’ll have to buy more, or the internet won’t work at all. Since we relied heavily on 4G in the bus, we often quickly used up our data bundles. In Italy, we bought an incredibly cheap bundle from Lyca. I think we paid 10 euros for 30GB of internet. However, Lyca doesn’t have equally good coverage everywhere. In Portugal, we chose to buy a sort of “holiday” prepaid card from Vodafone with 30GB for 15 days for about 15 euros after some research. Ideal, as it allowed us to work almost anywhere.
Tip! If the Wi-Fi connection at a campsite is available but not very strong, a Wi-Fi repeater can be very handy. A Wi-Fi repeater extends the current Wi-Fi signal for greater coverage. You can buy a Wi-Fi repeater for just a few tens of euros and save a lot of frustration! :p
Paying in Portugal
Withdrawing money abroad often incurs extra charges. Always check with your bank first and try to pay directly with your debit card instead of withdrawing cash whenever possible. Having a Credit card is always handy. Bunq and Knab are banks that charge little or no transaction fees.