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Tips for Expats Driving in Faro

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Faro.
|-Tips for Expats Driving in Faro

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Faro, can be a bit challenging for newcomers due to the different driving culture. Portuguese drivers are known for their aggressive driving style, and traffic rules are not always strictly followed. However, once you get used to it, driving in Faro can be quite manageable. It’s important to always stay alert and cautious, especially when driving in the city center where the streets can be narrow and crowded.

2. Choosing the Right Car

Compact cars are recommended for driving in Faro due to the narrow and winding streets, especially in the old town. A smaller car will also make parking easier. If you plan to explore the rural areas or the Algarve region, a car with a bit more power might be beneficial.

3. Parking in Faro

Finding a parking spot in Faro can be challenging, especially during the peak tourist season. Most of the parking spaces in the city center are metered, and the cost can add up quickly. However, there are also several parking lots and garages available. It’s advisable to familiarize yourself with the parking rules and regulations to avoid fines.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Portugal with an international driving permit (IDP) along with their valid home country’s driving license. This is valid for a period of six months. After this period, you will need to obtain a Portuguese driving license.

5. Obtaining a Portuguese Driving License

If you’re planning to stay in Portugal for a longer period, you will need to exchange your foreign driving license for a Portuguese one. This process involves submitting an application to the Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMT), along with your valid driving license, proof of residence, and a medical certificate. It’s advisable to start this process well in advance as it can take several weeks.

6. Familiarize Yourself with the Road Signs

Portuguese road signs might be different from what you’re used to. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these signs to ensure safe driving. There are also many roundabouts in Faro, and understanding how to navigate them is crucial.

7. Always Have Your Documents

When driving in Faro, always have your driving license, IDP (if applicable), passport, and car insurance documents with you. Portuguese traffic police are known for their random checks, and not having these documents can result in fines.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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