Tips when planning your camper van trip in Portugal

Siesta Campers in Portugal is a good choice when looking for rentals

One of the best things to do in Portugal is to explore the country by car to access the hidden places in the countryside and coasts. However, prior planning is necessary to ensure that the trip is a success. Here are my list of things to keep in mind when planning

One of the many models that Siesta Campers offer. They have modern as well as retro vans

Plan ahead to get the best deals for your camper van rental

Assuming that you will need to rent one, a camper van can be expensive to rent in Portugal during the busy summer months. Furthermore, they vary in size and the earlier you get one the better.

One company I recommend is Siesta Campers, they also have good articles on the camper van topics.

Check that there are no hidden fees when booking the van

Just like any rental car company, they want to try to sell you as many features as possible. Make sure that you are not paying for extra insurance if you already have one that will cover you in case of accidents. Also, ask how much the deposit will be: these can vary a lot, and it would suck if when showing to book the van, the company needs you to have €800 available on your card to reserve it. Make sure there are no surprises, basically!

The toll in front of the 25 Abril-bridge. The Via Verde lanes are usuallly on the sides, here it is to the left of the booths

Highways in Portugal are private, and you have to pay a toll fee

Unlike other countries, in Portugal, the highways are built by private companies and they make you pay a fee to use their roads. Something handy for these tolls is Via Verde and is a electronic toll collection system. Car rental companies sometimes offer you the Via Verde device to be installed on your dashboard so it automatically registers a toll fee. It allows you to just drive through the toll without having to stop the car and having to put coins or swiping cards.

Of course, one doesn’t have to use the private highways and pay the fee: however, you will quickly notice that the state owned road system is far less maintained and safe. If you aware of this and don’t mind taking your time, the regular “free” roads are totally fine.

Usually rental companies can provide you with the Via Verde device, but it is not mandatory to use on the public road network

It is prohibited to set up a tent in the wild in Portugal

While the term “in the wild” is unspecific, the areas that are restricted for overnight camping are actually Natura2000-national parks, protected areas and the ones part of coastal development plans. Moreover, spending the night on the beach is not allowed. If you get caught by the police are the locals, you can be forced to pay a fine between €120 and €600.

A few of you probably think that this law sucks and nature should be accessible to everyone. While I agree with the second part of the previous phrase, in my humble opinion, this law actually preserves Portugal’s nature. It preserves it for the centuries to come by preventing people throwing trash in the nature and accidentally causing wildfires.

I suggest on the other hand to check websites like to find suitable places to spend the night: camping sites in Portugal are very cheap. Furthermore, spending the night in a camper van/motor home is allowed. You can spend up to 48h in the same place.

Siesta Camper made a list of the best places to camp in Portugal here

Map showing the protected areas (colored in green, blue and orange) in Portugal where it is prohibited to wild camp

Take your time and don’t over-plan

My last tip to give you is that you try to travel at your own pace and leave plenty of time for the unplanned. The charm when traveling with a van is that you are not restricted by your accommodation and have the freedom to improvise. Portugal is an amazing country with a lot to offer, and the locals are usually very friendly: give it time and the opportunity, and it will pleasantly surprise you.

A camper van trip in Portugal can be very humbling but can also be an unforgetable experience and make you memories for a lifetime

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