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Portugal by motorhome: hard to say if things have (really) changed

Portugal is a destination cherished by motorhome owners from all over Europe (and French in particular). This love story is not in its infancy. But in 2020 and then 2021, the Portuguese parliament put an end to the honeymoon, adopting very strict regulations regarding parking and stage. As spring 2022 is about to begin, we want to answer this question asked by many of our readers: “ Should we still go to Portugal?

Let’s briefly summarize the situation. After a long (and hesitant) legislative work, the European Parliament finalized in August 2021 the regulations which are currently in progress.

  • Camper vans and other converted vehicles (vans and vans) cannot be parked for more than 48 hours in the same town, except for campsites and reception areas.
  • But in classified areas (coastal or other), parking is purely and strictly prohibited outside areas and campsites.

Finally, Parliament adopted a legal framework allowing the Government, if it wishes, to set up a mobile geolocation app. The principle would be to authorize the parking of motorhomes outside campsites on the condition that they agree to be traced.

Also read our article
Portugal prohibits the parking of motorhomes outside campsites

A regulation not really applied, but…

A motorhome at the stage in Portugal, at night. Photo A. Vacheron

For the moment the digital part of this regulation is not applied. No one has yet seen the tip of the nose of this mobile motorhome tracking app.

With regard to the ban on parking, the situation is more difficult to assess. The legal framework exists. But do the Portuguese gendarmes verbalize all parked motorhomes? It can be expected that the situation will not be the same, depending on whether you are a solitary motorhome, parking overnight in a parking lot where it does not disturb anyone, and a village of about thirty vehicles, surfers or pensioners left to seek the sun in winter, settling for two months in the parking lot at the beach.

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The 7 behaviors to avoid when you practice the motorhome

To find out a little more, we interviewed witnesses present in the field. On the side of the Portuguese motorhome federation, which has been very involved in relaxing the regulations, radio silence. And on the motorhome side?

On the ground, it is difficult to draw conclusions…

One of our journalists, Alain Vacheron, was reporting in Portugal this winter. But in the context of covid, it is difficult to find French motorhome owners staying in car parks. Alain noticed certain campsites where motorhomes were staying in large numbers (not so much French as Germans, Spaniards and other European nationalities). Ditto on very official reception areas. He also practiced a few “parking” stages, very punctual, sometimes under the gaze of the police who found nothing to complain about.

Also read our article
Visit Portugal by motorhome: complete itinerary

And the testimonials of motorhome owners?

Adobe Stock Photo

We asked the following question on our facebook page, at the beginning of January 2022: “ In Portugal, is it possible to park motorhomes and overnight stays outside campsites? If you’re there now, or if you’ve been there recently, tell us! We got a dozen responses (which is very few and confirms that the French did not go there en masse this year). Here are some comments received, which do not allow to draw clear conclusions.

  • Sandrina: We have just returned from two weeks in Portugal. We go up through Galicia. No parking problems, in fabulous locations.
  • Virginia: We went from October until early December, 68 days along the coast. In the North, easier to find for parking lots with beautiful spots. From Lisbon, it’s a little more complicated, there are many nature reserves. Overall it was great.
  • Adolf: NOTWe crossed it from north to south. Each time, we have been in a camper or campsite. The prices are very correct. Every time we wanted to stay near the sea, parking is very complicated.

See also our section
Portugal and motorhomes: all the news

So can we serenely travel to Portugal by motorhome?

beach portugal
A beach in Portugal, winter 2021-2022. Photo A. Vacheron

At the question “Can we still travel to Portugal by motorhome? », we answer yes, definitely. If you are looking for advice regarding the stage, we cannot assure you that the regulations are applied very strictly, but we advise caution. Do not believe, on the strength of one or two testimonies, that you do not risk any verbalization. Follow good practices carefully: do not stay more than 48 hours in the same town, avoid groups of motorhomes, do not camp on the public road (do not unpack linen and garden furniture). And if in doubt, give priority to stops at the campsite and on the rest areas.

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