Toll Roads and Rules for Driving in Portugal

02 March, 2020 in Destinations, Tips for Travellers, Portugal & Driving Rules

Goboony Orange Campervan H2 Motorhome Portugal Driving

Portugal, arguably one of Europe’s most scenic countries. With 1,793 kilometers of coastline, this country is a must visit, and the perfect place to plan a road trip along the Atlantic coast. You can even catch some waves at a Portugese surf camp as you drive along the coast. But don’t worry, if you aren’t too keen on tackling the salty ocean waters, there are some stunning destinations in Portugal that you cannot miss!

As you would expect, Portugal has a toll road system to keep its roads in prime condition. However unlike most countries, Portugal ditched manned toll booths in 2012, leaving drivers without the option to pay as they drive along. But Portugal’s road network was named the best in Europe, and voted to be the second best in the world in 2015! 

Understandably, navigating through unmanned toll roads can seem challenging. But look no further. Your ultimate guide to driving in Portugal and maneuvering around toll roads is here! 

The best part about Portugal’s toll roads is that you have multiple options to pay for highway tolls. Whether you’re taking a three week-long Portugal road trip, or quickly passing through the country for a few days, there is an option that suits your needs! You’ll find a list payment methods below, and you can pick the option that satisfies your needs the best.

Portugal Mosaic Wall H2 Goboony

  1. EASYtoll: 

This is a really easy and direct way to pay Portogual’s motorway toll fees! EASYtoll is a system that allows you to connect your license plate to your credit/debit card, so that toll fees are automatically subtracted from your bank account. However, this is only valid for 30 days so it won’t be the most viable long-term solution. 

Setting up EASYtoll is simple! All you need to do it access an EASYtoll terminal, which are situated at four entry points to the country: 

  • A22 (Castro Marim/Ayamonte)

  • A24 (Chaves)

  • A25 (Alto de Leomil service area)

  • A28 (Viana do Castelo service area)

Along the highway, you’ll see a sign that says ‘foreigners’ indicating a path for cars with foreign license plates. Follow signs, and you’ll find an EASYtoll terminal. There, you simply need to enter your credit card into the machine. You’ll receive a receipt with the current date, and expiration date. 

If you are leaving the country in less than 30 days, you can always cancel your subscription by visiting portugaltolls or calling the number: 00 351 212 879 555. 

It is worth noting that you have a one-time payment €0.74 (£0.64) for administrative fees, and a €0.32 (£0.27) fee each journey. For example: When you enter Portugal and pass through the toll road on your way to Porto, you pay €0.74 (£0.64) and €0.32 (£0.27), alongside toll fees. The next day, when you drive from Porto to Coimbra you’ll pay €0.32 (£0.27) alongside toll fees.

This method of payment is ideal for those of you driving into Portugal from another country, so you do not have to go out of your way to set up EASYtoll.
 

  1. Tollcard:

Unlike the EASYtoll, this is a one-time payment method. You can purchase a prepaid ticket for €5 (£4.18), €10 (£8.36), €20 (£16.72), or €40 (£33.44), at any Portuguese post office (also known as CTT), service areas, or online at tollcard. Activating your card once you receive it is simple! Simply send an SMS with the code written on the card and your vehicle’s license number (more detailed instructions are found on the card). 

If you wish to check your balance, you may do so online, or wait until you receive an SMS informing you your balance is out.
It is worth noting that if you do purchase a prepaid ticket online, you won’t receive a virtual card, so you’ll have to save the receipt on your computer. There is a prepaid number on the receipt, which you can enter on the tollcard website to check your balance.
Tollcards can be activated up to a year after purchase. If you don’t activate the card during your stay, you may return it to a CTT and get a refund for your purchase!
Just like the EASYtoll service, you are subjected to an administrative fee of €0.74 (£0.64) and €0.32 (£0.27) fee per journey alongside. 

  1. Prepaid ticket:

This is a great short-term way to pay toll fees! For €20 (£16.72), you can purchase a prepaid ticket that is valid for only 3 days. The license plate is associated with the ticket upon purchase, so you don’t need to worry about risking any fines! However, these tickets can only be purchased at the following locations: 

  • A23 (Abrantes)

  • A22 (Olhão)

  • Airport of Porto

  • CTT

  • EASYtoll terminals

  • Portugaltolls.com

  • A28 (Viana do Casetlo)

  • portugaltolls

Like the Tollcard and EASYtoll, you are subjected to an initial €0.74 (£0.63) administrative fee upon purchase of the ticket. However, there are no additional charges alongside the toll fee for each journey.

Goboony Toll Road Traffic Portugal H2 Driving

  1. Via Verde:

This device is convenient for those of you driving to Portugal and those of you renting a Portuguese car! A Via Verde is a device that can be placed on the windshield of a car that is valid for all electronic tolls and Portuguese highways. With this device, you can drive along Via Verde routes instead of regular electronic toll roads.
You can rent a Via Verde device for €6 (£5.02) for one week, and €1.5 (£1.25) for any additional weeks. A €27.5 (£23.00) refundable deposit is also required upon rental. However, you can only rent these devices at certified stores, which you can find using the store locator on the Via Verde website.

  1. CTT:

This method can be used only if you’re renting a car. You can always go to a Portuguese post office (CTT) to pay electronic toll fees. There, you just have to give your rental’s license plate number so you may know how much you have to pay. With this method, you only have 5 days to pay the fee.

While this may seem like a convenient way to pay your toll fees, it can be quite problematic if you’re flying out of the country. The system takes roughly 24 hours to process and register your rental car’s license plate to record the toll fees due. This means that if you continue driving within 24 hours prior to your departure from Portugal, you won’t be able to pay those toll fees. That means the rental company will receive a fine if those fees go unpaid, leaving you with a hefty fine to pay in turn.
However this is a good option for those of you who are staying in Portugal for a short period of time, and for those who plan to hand in your rental vehicle a few days before your departure. It is important to note that the connection of the car’s license plate with the system would have already been organised by the rental company, so this option is only available for those of you renting a vehicle. 

Goboony Portugal Street Town H2 Driving

See? Driving in Portugal’s toll roads is not as challenging as it seems! It is also important to keep in mind the following tips: 

  1. Via Verde lanes and electronic toll roads are different systems! It is important to make sure that you do not drive along a Via Verde lane if you are not renting a device, because the fines for doing so may be quite hefty.

  2. However, if you do have a Via Verde you can access electronic toll roads, but only Via Verde holders can access Via Verde lanes. That means if you get EASYtoll, a prepaid ticket, or even opt for paying your fees at the CTT, you CANNOT access the Via Verde lanes! Like I wrote before, you will get fined for doing so. You can only access electronic toll roads. 

  3. If you’re renting a vehicle, make sure to check which options are the best for you with your rental company! Some companies already have pre-installed Via Verde devices in their vehicles, while others have deals for customers using electronic toll roads and later pay their fines at the CTT. Be sure to know what options are available, so you don’t accidentally overpay! 

  4. As it goes for many other European countries, be sure to know your vehicle class before you embark on your trip! It is important to know this because toll fees can vary according to the vehicle you are driving. There are 4 classes of vehicles in Portugal, however it is likely that your vehicle will fall under a class 1 or 2. A Class 1 vehicle with one axle, a height below 1.1m as measured vertically over the front axle, with or without a trailer. A Class 2 vehicle has two axles, and has a vertical height equal to or above a height of 1.1m over the front axle. If you are in doubt of your vehicle class, refer to the Via Verde website (note that it is in Portuguese as many of the official websites are. If you open it with Google Chrome the page can be translated for you).

  5. If you want to know which route saves you the most money, be sure to use a Portugal motorway toll road calculator! Although toll fees are cheaper in Portugal than some other European countries, fees can accumulate, especially if you’re taking a longer road trip around the country! The Portugal toll roads website offers a quick and reliable estimate for toll fees on your journey. You simply have to enter your departure and destination points, the roads you plan to take, and the vehicle class. 

  6. Familiarise yourself with Portugal’s road signs before driving. Road signs in this country may appear to be a little unusual, and seeing signs in Portuguese (with no English translations often times) can be a little confusing. Luckily, there are online guides to break it down for you: you can find images of each Portugal’s road signs alongside their description. 

Goboony Girl Woman Portugal H2 Campervan Driving Ocean

If you still feel as though motorway tolls are standing in the way of your dream Portugal road trip, you can always avoid them. You just have to take some off-road routes! Before you make your decision, you should weigh the pros and cons for each option. 

Off-road route advantages:

  • There are no charges for travelling on them. 

  • These routes pass through villages, making it easier to park your car to explore some of Portugal’s hidden gems. This also means you’ll have a more scenic driving route!

  • Fuel is cheaper in towns.

Off-road route disadvantages: 

  • Because the routes are not direct as toll roads, it can take significantly longer to get from destination to another.

  • You are also more likely to get stuck in traffic.

  • This means that you’ll pay more for gas.

  • There are not as many helpful signs for directions on these roads (which as also less maintained), making it easier to get lost. 

  • These can be harder to navigate in larger motorhomes, so you may want to consider a VW campervan for your trip.

Toll road route advantages: 

  • Getting from one point to another is quick, because the roads tend to be emptier and have higher speed limits.

  • This means you spend less money on fuel.

  • The roads are well maintained, and considered to be some of the best in Europe!

Toll road route disadvantages: 

  • You have to pay when you take Portugal toll roads, which can be quite expensive for long road trips. You may want to consider some motorhome travel budget tips then!

  • Fuel prices are much higher along toll roads.

  • Driving along many kilometres of concrete can make your drive a little less enjoyable.

Goboony Campervan Motorhome Portugal H2 Driving Toll RoadYou are now prepared and ready to take on Portugal’s motorway toll roads in a motorhome. Looking for the perfect scenic route? You can find my itinerary for the perfect route along the country’s magnificent Atlantic coast. If you’re hoping to really make the most of Portugal’s nature, be sure to check out some of the best campsites that the country has to offer. Can’t wait to take an unforgettable Portugal road trip, but unsure where to get a campervan? Goboony has your back! In just a few clicks, you can browse through a selection of campervans in Portugal and pick the one that suits you best.

So pack up your bags, and get ready to hit the road (on an empty stomach of course, you’ll need it to eat as much pastel de nata as possible)! The roads of Portugal are ready to welcome you. 

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