How to park like the Portuguese

Smart car parking

Parking in Portugal is a confusing affair. There are car parks everywhere, with clearly delineated spaces, yet the rule is generally “park your car wherever there is space if you think you can get away with it”.

Parking over two spaces
A car parked selfishly across two spaces is slightly rarer than the sight of someone actually parked diagonally in a small space, rendering the space next to theirs impossible to use.

Here are some visual examples of the kind of parking you will routinely come across in Portugal. First, the double space parking – where someone literally, greedily and selfishly takes up two spaces in a car park. This may be to prevent their car being scratched by another careless driver (after all, most of them are Portuguese drivers), but it is just as likely to be because the person parking in two spaces is incapable of actually noticing that there are lines at all.

The reason for this disregard of lines may be due to the fact that Portuguese people are used to complete freedom of parking. At big events, for example, the car parks fill up quickly and people just start creating their own car parks along major thoroughfares.

Parking on the kerb
If you see a huge row of cars parking like this on a major road, you can safely assume your car will be fine parked along with them. The police will probably know it’s a big event. It only takes one to start the trend.

Or, if all the car parks and roads are full, your next option is to find a large space on the pavement, ensuring you have a gap to get in and a gap to get out.

Parking on the pavement in Portugal
You won’t only see this one around big events. Often you will see cars parked up on the pavement outside a local supermarket or when family are visiting someone in an apartment. Whether you get a ticket is a matter of luck really but nine times out of ten you will get away without one, as long as where you park is actually a space and not blocking pedestrians.

The Smart car is very popular in Portuguese cities, and many Smart drivers park the car in the way it was advertised – wideways on. A useful solution to a small space. Even if you do still use a bit of pavement to do it.

Smart car parking
Smart Cars are popular in Portugal, and drivers often park them sideways in small places. Even if they still need to put some of the car on the pavement.

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