Bicycling in Portugal WithPortugal
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Bicycling in Portugal

The countries of the European Union are now committed to reducing CO2 emissions, preserving the environment, and are also united in their support for innovation and the adoption of renewable energy technologies. I have already described some measures in this regard in an article on Green Energy in Portugal. One of the efforts of European environmental programs is to encourage people to switch to "green" modes of transport — kick scooters, scooters, motorcycles and cars (all in electric version, of course), as well as bicycles, both classic and electric. Therefore, bicycles as transportation in Portugal are becoming more and more popular and Portuguese cities are striving to create comfortable conditions for safe and convenient cycling.


When it comes to cycling rules, cyclists in Portugal must follow the same traffic rules as motorists do when traveling on motorized roads. This means that you must ride on the right side of the road, obey the speed limit, stop at traffic lights and obey overtaking rules, as well as show turn signs with your hands, as is customary around the world. In addition, cyclists should wear reflective clothing and a helmet, especially on long-distance crossings. On expressways (all toll roads) — bicycle traffic is prohibited, you can travel around the country on the Rede Nacional de Autoestradas toll-free highways. But, fortunately, in many places in Portugal the roadway is duplicated by a special bike lane, which usually has a different surface (in quality and color), it is marked with a bicycle sign. If it is not possible to organize a separate lane, the bike lane has green or yellow markings on the carriageway for cars.

If you're planning a long-distance cycling trip in Portugal, it may be worth considering that part of the journey will still have to be done on public transport with your bike. Therefore, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules of carrying bicycles on public transport in Portugal. As far as public transportation is concerned, we can say this: in large cities like Lisbon and Porto, bicycles are allowed on public transportation (both subways and buses), but with restrictions. For example, in the Lisbon metro, the following rules apply: bicycles can be carried only during certain hours: from 6:30 to 10:00, from 16:00 to 19:00 and after 21:00 on weekdays, as well as all day on weekends and holidays; the number of bicycles per train is limited to 2. In other cities, the transportation of bicycles by public transport may be prohibited or restricted, depending on the congestion of the routes and the characteristics of the buses on the routes.


Now, a quick word about traveling around the country:

  • The bus company Rede Expressos Portugal, as well as the much-loved bus low-cost carrier Flixbus, allow bicycles to be transported on their buses, but there are certain rules that must be observed.  Bicycles can only be transported in the luggage compartment and only if there is space available. Bicycles can only be transported on routes where there are special buses with luggage compartments. When transporting them, they must be packed in special covers or film to avoid damage during transportation. Bicycles often have to be completely disassembled, including the removal of wheels and pedals. In addition, there is an extra charge for transporting a bicycle, which depends on the route and length of the trip (when buying a ticket, you are offered the option to add a bicycle).
  • Comboios de Portugal Railways allows the transportation of bicycles on its trains, but also with some restrictions. Bicycles can only be transported in special wagons designed for the transportation of luggage. It is necessary to reserve a place for the bicycle in advance, as the number of seats is limited. Bicycles must be packed in special covers or film to avoid damage during transportation. Wheels and pedals do not have to be removed, but it is recommended to do so for greater safety. There is also an additional charge for transporting a bicycle, which depends on the route and length of the trip. In the case of small folding bicycles, things are a bit simpler — they are transported directly in the passenger compartment on special platforms.
There are many companies in Portugal offering bicycle rentals on both a short and long-term basis. Prices can vary depending on the type of bike, the duration of the rental and the rental location. Renting a bike for a day can start from 10-15 euros, but if you rent a bike for a longer period of time, the price can be much lower. Here are some examples of well-known bike rental companies in Portugal: Lisbon Bike Rentals, Porto Rent a Bike and Bikesul. By the way, you can rent both a regular bike and an electric bike. Bike sharing (Bicicletas Partilhadas) is also common in Portugal: in our Figueira da Foz, for example, there is Figas - Sistema de Bicicicletas Partilhadas da Figueira da Foz, sponsored by Câmara Municipal da Figueira da Foz. The point is that these bicycles are used precisely to get from point A to point B, parking lots are located logically (conventionally you can get from the beach to the station, from the station to the center, etc.). The cost for the possibility of such a movement is quite conventional — you can buy a monthly (5 euros), six-month (15 euros) and annual (23 euros) season ticket. Such passes are designed for residents of the city and include an unlimited number of half-hour trips (that is, half an hour you use, put it in the parking lot, start a new lease, and you can go further). For non-residents — it is possible to rent by the minute (1 euro per 10 minutes). To use it, you need to download an app and link your bank card. In many cities in Portugal there are similar programs. You need to find such a city service in your city and scan the QR code on the handlebars of the bike or on the information stand of the bike park, and you will get all the terms of use. Another unusual opportunity to rent or buy a bicycle at a reasonable price (if you do not qualify for compensation from the state, later will speak about that) — Decathlon chain stores: they successfully use their program for renting sports equipment, as well as the sale of used goods (including bicycles, links are given to them). You can buy both online and offline at the chain stores.

According to statistics, the following cities lead the ranking of the most adapted for cycling in Portugal:

  • Lisbon is one of the most "bikeable" cities in the country. The city has many bicycle lanes and routes, as well as numerous bike rental companies. Lisbon now has over 2,850 bike parking spaces at 146 stations. There is an excellent Navegante pass program in place: as of recently, namely from June 5, 2023, all Lisbon residents with a Navegante pass can use bicycles for free on the Gira-Bicicletas de Lisboa service, which positions itself as an alternative to public transport throughout the city. This measure was taken to accelerate the decarbonization process of the city. Ten days earlier, this benefit became available only to all young people living in Lisbon, over 16 and under 23 years old, as well as citizens over 65 years old who already have this free pass. To use the Gira for free, those under 23 and over 65 years old only need to show on the app on their cell phone that they have a free Navegante pass. Others need to prove that they are Lisbon residents, and to use the Gira for free, they must present themselves at one of the EMEL offices (Lisbon Mobility and Parking Company, which manages the Gira) with proof of residence (atestado de residência or any utility bill in your name). The number of Gira bikes currently exceeds 1,000, and the company plans to double that number in the near future. The website also offers a map of parking lots and other extremely useful information.
  • Porto, Portugal's second-largest city, also has a well-developed infrastructure for cyclists. By the way, from the latest news on the topic - Câmara Municipal do Porto is going to start creating a network of routes for pedestrians and cyclists, which will be about 30 km within the Rede 20 program. Thanks to the program, the city center should be transformed: on part of the streets will be introduced restrictions for motor traffic (no more than 20 km/h), priority will be given to cyclists and pedestrians. The program will be implemented gradually and is expected to be completed in three years (the first phase should be completed this year, but further progress of the project depends on the works in the city metro).
  • Faro and Albufeira, cities in the south of Portugal located on the Atlantic coast, are also considered to be quite adapted for cycling. As the cities have a huge tourism potential, it can be assumed that the bicycle industry on the coast is more oriented towards tourists than locals.
  • Coimbra, the jewel of central Portugal, known for its university and cultural heritage, is perfect for two-wheeling: the city has been undergoing a lot of urbanization as well as ecological conservation in the last year (just imagine a public transport route through the city's Botanical Gardens - a small 100% electric minibus runs right along the garden's paths, carrying mostly students).

Now, a little bit about government support for cyclists in Portugal. The program "Incentive for the Introduction of Zero Emission Vehicles" (O Incentivo pela Introdução no Consumo no Consumo de Veículos de Emissões Nulas) is a commitment of the Fundo Ambiental (environmental fund) to the EU since 2017 and aims to continue the implementation of measures to accelerate the uptake of alternative and more environmentally friendly modes of travel, including electric propulsion. It is aimed at a heterogeneous audience — natural and legal persons — and is implemented by allocating incentives depending on the types of zero-CO2 vehicles. The objective of this program is seen as its obvious contribution to decarbonization, environmental improvement, and reduction of noise and traffic. This year, the program allocates 10 million euros to support owners of electric vehicles and their chargers, and also focuses on those who prefer two-wheeled vehicles for urban mobility (which includes support for cyclists). On May 03, 2023, Order No. 5126/2023 was published, which includes the Regulation on how to calculate the incentive for the introduction of zero-emission vehicles in 2023 (Regulamento de atribuição do incentivo pela introdução no consumo de veículos de emissões nulas no ano de 2023), available here. Let us briefly summarize what cyclists are entitled to under this program (for the purposes of this article, we can only refer to 2 types of vehicles according to the typology of the document):

  • Typology 4 — electric bicycles for urban use. The incentive for the use of urban electric bicycles takes the form of an incentive of 50% of the purchase price of the vehicle, including VAT, up to a maximum amount of €500. To qualify for compensation, a new bicycle must be purchased, and the purchase must have been made after January 1, 2023 in the applicant's name (enter your NIF on the receipt for identification). According to the terms and conditions, a "new vehicle" is defined as any electrically powered bicycle designed by the manufacturer for urban use (in Portuguese this would be "uso citadino"), not including bicycles designed for sporting use, namely cross or mountain bikes, as well as scooters or other types of bicycles. The number of compensations granted is limited to a maximum of 4,550 units.
  • Typology 6 — conventional urban bicycles. Encouragement for the use of urban bicycles is in the form of a compensation of 20% of the purchase price of the vehicle, including VAT, up to a maximum of €100. The bicycle must also be purchased new, for the applicant and also after January 1, 2023. A "new bicycle" is defined as a conventional bicycle without electric drive, designed by the manufacturer for urban use, not including bicycles intended for sporting use. Allowances are allocated for 1,500 units.

On the website, you can and should apply for the subsidy depending on the type of bicycle purchased (traditional or electric). Given that the number of subsidy beneficiaries is limited, you should not delay in applying.

Most cities in Portugal have designated bicycle parking lots. They may be free or paid, depending on the location. You should look for signs indicating bicycle parking areas, and avoid leaving your bike on the sidewalk or other place where it may interfere with other pedestrians or traffic (unfortunately, despite the availability of parking, it is very popular to leave your machine at the nearest pole or easy-to-buckle road sign for everyone to trip over or go around). Parking fees can vary depending on location and time, but are usually around 1-2 euros per hour. Some parking lots offer discounts for regular users or for those who rent bikes from local businesses. There are also free bike parking lots on city streets (look at the signs, there will definitely be a euro icon where it is paid).


The fact that Portugal's mild climate is conducive to the year-round use of the bicycle, both as a recreational activity and as a substitute for the automobile, is a well-known fact. Occasionally, you are amazed when you ride along the ocean, for example, in a completely unpopular place, and the bicycle lane along the highway goes on for many kilometers ahead. Looking ahead, we can assume that in the near future, many city dwellers will use bicycles as the main means of transportation, the country, in turn, is making plenty of efforts to popularize and convenient movement on two wheels. Looking ahead, we will be returning to our articles to the various aspects of Portugal's green program to tell you all about the benefits and opportunities that can be obtained while improving the quality of life and living.

I hope you found this article useful. Traditionally, I wish everyone good luck and good mood, as well as good roads and safe travels. I remind you that, for your convenience and benefit, our portal has contacts of excellent professionals from different areas of life in Portugal, contacting them, you can get comprehensive advice on any issues: real estate, cryptocurrency exchange and many others.

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