Sundry traffic issues in Portugal

Traffic situations in Portugal worth noting

Give way at intersections: If you are at an intersection with approximately equal-sized roads, you must give way to traffic from the right. This is the opposite of roundabouts, where you give way to traffic from the left.

Flashing headlights: Be careful here. If another driver flashes their headlights at you, this may not mean they are giving you right of way. Quite the reverse. It may mean they are assuming they have right of way.

Cyclists: Portugal is a country with a strong interest in competitive cycling. Take care if you come across a group of cyclists riding together (a sort of mini-peloton). They may cycle two or more riders abreast and you can not assume they will stick to a particular traffic lane or the side of the road. The law says you should leave at least 1.5m distance between the side of your vehicle and a group of cyclists. Allow a bit more distance than that. Make absolutely sure you only overtake the peloton when it is safe to do so. In particular do not cross a solid white line during your overtaking.

Overtaking: Must always be done on the left. Overtaking on the right may incur a €250-€1250 fine.

Animal-drawn carts: Horse-drawn carts are not uncommon on minor roads (not motorways) in Portugal. Slow down a lot and keep a safe distance (at least 2 meters) between your vehicle and the animals when overtaking.

Parking: It is forbidden to park within 5m of an intersection or roundabout in urban areas. This may incur a €30-€150 fine. The limit is raised to 50m in rural areas and the fine is €60-€300. You may not park on the wrong side of the road - that is, facing oncoming traffic.

Goods in vehicle: The Portuguese police have the right to know that physical items you carry in your vehicle either belong to you or can be explained. This is a measure designed to catch vehicles possibly transporting stolen goods. It should only affect you if you are driving some kind of goods vehicle where some of the goods do not belong to you. In that case get a letter from the owner of those goods saying "I authorise name to transport my goods list between locations on dates". This is a difficult area of law, but be aware of it.