Driving through Portugal is an adventure. Although Portugal is a relatively small country, it has a lot of great places to explore. It doesn’t matter what you like, because it has lots of diverse options from nature, history, beach and shops. You just have to choose. The best thing is to buy a guide and a map or GPS, so you can find the places you want to visit and then plan your trip accordingly.
These days, I call Portugal the country of motorways and freeways. You have a freeway everywhere. That means it’s quick to go from North to South. The old National roads are not as good but they offer you well worth it scenic drive.
If you choose the freeways, you will pay. That is one of the biggest complaints tourists and locals make about the countries roads in Portugal, is the excessive tolls. You can check the prices at Estradas PT (note that the website is in Portuguese). From Lisbon to Porto (Arrábida Norte) on the A1 you will pay €22.20 ($34.28) for a Class 1 vehicle. You can also check the class of your vehicle at Via Verde.
The maximum speed allowed in a Portuguese Freeway is 120km/h. Inside cities, the maximum speed is usually 50km/h. Unfortunately, and like in any other country, there are plenty of disrespectful people who speed and put their lives and other people’s lives in danger.
To visit Portugal and experience the country in full, I think hiring a car is essential. If you are simply staying in one city, like Lisbon or Porto, then you can use public transport.
You may use the freeways sometimes, but the best option is to go through the highways (estradas nacionais). That will allow you to visit small towns, taste the amazing local produce and see how the Portuguese live. The cities are great and they are full of history and culture, but there’s so much more to discover in Portugal Lisbon and Porto alone cannot provide. In de end, you have done an amazing road trip, you have seen amazing places and tasted great food and wine. When you’re back home, you can say you have experienced Portugal. Give it a go!