Hitch-hiking in Portugal: advantages and disadvantages

Evora, Portugal (53) - White house with green garage on cobblestone road

Advantages

Let us be frank from the beginning, hitch-hiking in Portugal isn’t easy, but looking beyond the hours you will spend staring down an empty roads or alternatively watching hundreds of potential lifts whizzing by, there are some positives to be found.

At least the concept of hitch-hiking is understood, a small but crucial element which can take hours of a journey.

In summer, Portugal is an extremely popular tourist destination, and these foreign visitors will be your best bet of getting a ride, especially if you are heading to a popular tourist spot on the south coast or the major cities of Lisbon and Porto.

For those looking to hitch-hiking to or from Spain the A-25, which connects the centre of Spain and Madrid to both Lisbon and Porto, is very popular with foreign truck drivers, who are normally more than willing to help out.

Although the scale of the Portuguese motorway system can be very damaging for the hitch-hiker’s ambitions, there is an upside. The motorway service stations are very usefully positioned directly on the motorway. So once you do manage to get on the motorway, it is very possible to make good time,  if you are travelling long distances.

Serra de Estrela, Portugal (18) - Road N232 outside Manteigas, Hitch-hiking in Portugal

Disadvantages

Honestly, where to begin? Hitch-hiking in Portugal demands the patience of a saint. One unlucky drop off and the house of cards comes crashing down and the unenviable hellish trek in the blistering sun begins.

As a rule, the Portuguese rarely pick up hitch-hikers, of course there are exceptions but during our time there we mainly relied on foreign tourists to get around.

In the summer and especially in the hinterland, the heat is oppressive and the sun unrelenting. You will need more water than you can carry and an umbrella with which to shelter underneath.

If you do have the unfortunate experience of getting dropped off in a village or on a road where the traffic is light then be prepared for a long and most probably fruitless wait. More than once in our time in Portugal could we be found begging people to drive us to the nearest train station, defeated and exhausted.

White house with green garage on cobblestone road - Evora, Portugal (53), Hitch-hiking in Portugal

Our Experience

We hitch-hiked in Portugal as part of our ‘A dedo por La Península Ibérica‘ (The Iberian Peninsula by Thumb) trip in 2012.

When hitch-hiking in Portugal we covered 672.1 km and got picked up by around 20 drivers from 6 different countries! This was our route:

Read about our experience of crossing the Spanish-Portuguese border and watch a video here.

written by: Jon

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