Pedestrian crossings in Portugal

Pedestrian right of way

Pedestrians are people using the pavement - walking, riding bicycles etc. They may cross the road where you are driving at a pedestrian crossing, which is usually painted with large black-and-white stripes - a so-called zebra crossing. Some of the stripes might be faint if the local government has not repainted the stripes recently.

Important: people using a pedestrian crossing in Portugal have absolute priority over all vehicles in the road. You must stop your vehicle at a pedestrian crossing and allow people using the pedestrian crossing to cross the road. Some pedestrians may stop on the kerb and look at the traffic to make sure drivers have noticed them. But it is very common for some local people to move across the road without looking. In particular children riding bicycles can rocket straight across the road at high speed. This is fair - the law is on their side.

Speed limits at pedestrian crossings

See the speed limits section. In urban areas, the speed limit for cars is 50 km/h. A lot of pedestrian crossings have a lower speed limit of 30 km/h. There will be a blue-and-white '30' restriction sign about 30-50 meters before the crossing, and another '30' de-restriction sign about 10 meters after the crossing.

On other roads there may be a higher speed limit - typically 90 km/h although may be signed lower e.g. 70 km/h. You can still find zebra crossings there, but sometimes without explicit signs for a 30 km/h zone. You should keep your speed between 30-40 km/h as you approach these crossings.

Moderate speed: Portuguese traffic law is quite clear. Whatever the advertised speed limits on a section of road are, you are required to 'moderate your speed' approaching pedestrian crossings and in the area of 'schools, hospitals, nurseries and similar establishments'. Basically there is no excuse if you knock over someone on a pedestrian crossing and your vehicle was travelling at anything more than 30 km/h.


In the last few years (2015-2017) the Portugal authorities have undertaken a lot of work installing roundabouts and pedestrian crossings - particularly on the Algarve. It is obvious that they are trying hard to reduce accidents between vehicles and other road users.

The most common driving accident in Portugal is probably where another vehicle crashes into the back of your vehicle. Other drivers simply do not keep a safe 'following distance' behind your vehicle and can not react in time if you brake sharply. This is a particularly true when you approach pedestrian crossings. Slow down gently as you approach the crossing. You are less likely to knock someone down on the roundabout or have another vehicle crash into the back of your vehicle.

Pedestrian Crossing, Portugal Pedestrian Crossing, Portugal