The roads in Portugal have improved a lot over the past 10 years. From roads with large potholes and slums that were built next to motorways, most are now decently maintained and in fact no worse than “our” roads. The highways around Lisbon are very comfortable.
Motorways around Lisbon
There are many highways around Lisbon. If you spend a day in the area by car you will soon notice that it can sometimes be confusing which one to take. It helps that you can often take several motorways to get to your destination. We’ll give you a brief overview of the most important connections around Lisbon.
Did you rent a car at the airport, or are you about to? Read more about pick up locations, rental companies and what to inspect in our article Rent a car at Lisbon Airport.
Towards the west
If you go in the direction of Cascais and / or Sintra you can take the A5 (toll road) or the A37. If you have time to do a little tour then the N6 that merges with the N247 is the best way to go. It is the coastal road that runs along the beaches of Lisbon and Belém, via Cascais and Cabo da Roca to Sintra. Especially on the first stretch from Lisbon to Cascais, the N6 road is very narrow and traffic can be quite busy. But don’t let that scare you, it is definitely worth a drive!
Directions north and south
From Lisbon there are good connections to the south and north of the country. If you’re planning to drive from Lisbon to the Algarve then you take the A2 south. From Ponte 25 de Abril the IP7 highway will connect with the A2 that will take you all the way to the Algarve region near Albufeira.
To the north there are several highways, like the A13 to Coimbra, the A8 for the Costa de Prata and the A23 to Castelo Branco in the east of the country.
A large part of the well-maintained motorways system around Lisbon is toll roads. When you rent a car in Lisbon you always get the question if you want a toll box activated. Usually we do not opt for this because we can also reach our destinations via toll free roads. But once in a while, for example if we are planning to drive to Porto or to the south, we will take that box anyway.
The costs for activating such a toll box vary from one to a few euros per day. That is only for using it. You will receive the costs incurred afterwards on your payment overview.
Toll gates: Via Verde
The toll box allows you to take the Via Verde at the tolls, the lanes marked with a green V. You can drive with a maximum speed of 40mph and the toll is automatically debited.
You can also pay cash or credit card.
Seniors on strike
The reason that the toll roads are often not that busy has nothing to do with the high costs. On the contrary, the toll costs from Lisbon to Sintra are around €1,50 euros. But due to all the cuts that the government has made in recent years, mainly the seniors in Portugal have been affected. That is why they have decided en masse to avoid the toll roads and to use the secondary roads as much as possible, primarily to send a message to the government. This has been picked up and taken over by seniors throughout Portugal. Beautiful example of Portuguese civil disobedience.