At this moment you are seeing Portugal and motorhomes: goodbye to the free overnight stay of vans and caravans to lead sustainable tourism
Portugal and motorhomes

Portugal and motorhomes: goodbye to the free overnight stay for vans and caravans to lead sustainable tourism

  • The binomial Portugal and motorhomes takes a turn of the screw. Since the beginning of 2021, the neighboring country prohibits the free overnight stay of motorhomes and campers between 21pm and 07am. In July 2021 it changes and the ban is only for vans and caravans. 
  • The government justifies the measure arguing that it wants to lead sustainable tourism but motorhome sector associations suspect dark interests of the campground lobby. The controversy is served. 

A less friendly destination for some but ... more responsible for others

Destinations such as Algarve, Alentejo, Lisbon or Sintra are a paradise for lovers of binomial Portugal and motorhomes. The numbers speak for themselves. With just over 10 million inhabitants in total, the Portuguese country receives 27 million tourists a year. The third market issuing visitors is Spanish, behind the British and Germans.

Thousands of Spanish motorhomes and campers cross the border with Portugal to enjoy the enigmatic Atlantic, the astonishing interior, its fascinating villages and other Portuguese charms.

And the phenomenon does not stop. 

According to the data recorded by the Spanish Association of the Caravaning Industry and Trade (ASEICAR), in 2020 26.731 caravaning vehicles were registered in Spain, corresponding to 10.547 newly registered motorhomes, campers and caravans and 16.184 second-hand vehicles. The sector, far from contracting, "is experiencing a moment of stability" according to this association

Less friendly or more responsible?

Traveling with the house in tow to the neighboring country has become, since the beginning of 2021, a less friendly destination for some, more sustainable for others. Depending on how you look at it.

The seductive combination of Portugal and motorhomes takes a turn of the screw. The Portuguese government has decreed the prohibition of free overnight stays in motorhomes and campers in the country. This regulatory change aims to gain sustainability. Those who skip it, are exposed to fines of 60 to 600 euros. In July 2021 it modifies the articles of the new decree to exempt caravans and now only prohibits free overnight stays for camper vans and caravans.

The new state decree aims to control the overcrowding and sustainability of this type of tourism because, although the majority of users show respect and care for the environment, some have reprehensible behaviors.

The coast, one of the main claims. Some of the areas that receive the most motorhomes and campers are undoubtedly the beaches, which attract surfers from all over Spain, Portugal and the world.

french brittany by motorhome

Fines of 60 to 600 euros, if you camp or if you do not spend the night in the authorized places if you are a van or caravan (parking during the day is allowed)

The Portuguese Government approved on December 9, 2020 the Decree Law 102-B / 2020 with modifications in July 2021 that prohibits "overnight stays and parking of camper vans and caravans, outside the places expressly authorized for this purpose."  

The Portuguese Ministry of Tourism thus puts an end to the free overnight stay of campers and caravans throughout the country. The new decree modifies the Highway Code and its article 50-A appears worded as follows:

1. (…) overnight stays and camping in vans or caravans outside the places expressly authorized for that purpose are prohibited.

2. For the purposes of the provisions of the previous number, the following are considered:

a) 'Camping', the parking of the vehicle with occupation of space greater than its perimeter;

c) 'Overnight', the stay of a motorhome or similar in the parking place, with occupants, between 21:00 p.m. one day and 7:00 a.m. the next day.

3 - Whoever violates the provisions of No. 1 will be sanctioned with fines of (euro) 60 to (euro) 300, except in the case of overnight stays or parking in areas of the Natura 2000 Network and protected areas, in which case the fine will be from (euro) 120 to (euro) 600 (euro) ”.
This Decree, mandatory since January 2021, is the transposition of the European Directive 2020/612.

So there is the binomial Portugal and motorhomes from now on.

Remember parking during the day is not prohibited, The only thing forbidden is the overnight from 21pm to 07am if you are a van or caravan. Although if we are not inside the vehicle and we park to go to dinner ... that is not prohibited either. It is not considered an overnight stay.

Portugal in motorhome overnight

The country of fado bets on a responsible caravanism

Behind the new camper ban is the Action Program for Responsible Tourism Caravanism in Portugal, presented in July 2020.

The objective is to harmonize the practice of motorhomes with environmental, public health, land use and road traffic requirements. One of the central purposes is the creation of a national network of Motorhome Service Areas (HANDLE). These areas operate 24 hours a day and provide parking spaces and overnight stays for motorhomes, ensure the supply of electricity, as well as the supply of water and disposal of solid waste. The first to be inaugurated is located in Ponte de Sor - Alentejo.

The Action Program also includes a digitalform payment, through which it is possible to monitor ASA occupancy in the network and make online reservations.


The «life campers»

Within the framework of the same program, Turismo de Portugal has created the concept "Life Campers" for future awareness-raising actions aimed at motorhomes, in a call to the need to respect for the territory, the environment and local populations, the use of suitable places for parking and overnight stays and the adoption of good practices in sport, promoting responsible and sustainable motorhomes.

The Portuguese government has launched its Action Program for Responsible Tourism Caravanism in Portugal at a time of growth in tourists who choose this modality to visit the country.

The motorhome in Portugal, a rapidly growing segment Also in the rest of Europe, it is practiced mainly by foreigners (80%), mostly Germans, French and Spanish, retirees and lovers of culture and gastronomy in the destinations they visit.

It is known to all that on the subject of Portugal and motorhomes, trips increase in mid and low season, which makes a positive contribution to reducing seasonality in destinations, and they have a greater appetite for coastal locations, that is the Alentejo and the Algarve.

Portugal and motorhomes: the Government joins forces with social networks

The tweet of Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal

Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal, comments on her Twitter account that the Action Program for Responsible Tourism Caravanism in Portugal is making its way. Portugal leader in sustainable tourism!  

The tweet of Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism of Portugal

Controversy: associations of the motorhome sector oppose the prohibition of overnight stays

The Portuguese Motorhome Association (CPA) outright rejected the new measure by the Portuguese government. Thus, in a official statement  "He strongly repudiated the attack on the practice of motorhomes in accordance with the concept of overnight stays introduced by Decree-Law No. 102-B / 2020". Thanks to them, the motorhomes have been exempted from the prohibition after 6 months, everything and that the parking and overnight stay of the motorhomes is now limited to 48 maximum and in places where it is not prohibited and are not protected areas.

In the words of this group, “in the shadow of the Covid-19 containment measures, when everyone internationally argued that motorhomes were the safest and least contagious way to take a family vacation, the Government approved the unjustified and discriminatory measure that motorhomes cannot stay overnight in parking lots near the beaches ”. On the other hand, it adds that "it is a clear violation of the right of motorhomes to access public places," as the statement continues..

From his point of view, public opinion has been manipulated to create “a false image” that motorhomes and campers or caravans do not respect the environment, nature, populations and the places where they pass.

The CPA maintains that the decree is unconstitutional and it denounces that it creates citizens who own light vehicles with first and second category rights.

The CPA stresses that it will do everything in its power to reverse what it considers "a government decision conditioned by lobbies well placed that serve the interests of the campsites without having listened to the interested parties ”.  

In addition, the CPA has joined forces with the Portuguese Federation of Motorhomes (FPA), to combat what it calls "harmful actions" of the practice of motorhomes and campers that have been announced for months, complaining to the deputies of the Assembly of the Republic and "requesting assistance and , above all, an institutional and political intervention ”.

From the Spanish motorhome association, the messages are also clear. 

An example of this is the video of Javi Nores, member of the Board of the aLa Peka motorhome association in this regard: 

Infographic "Portugal and motorhomes: goodbye to free nights to lead responsible tourism." 

Elaboration: Kucavana

A German study shows that traveling by motorhome is more sustainable

Is it sustainable, environmentally speaking, traveling by motorhome?

Recently, I have read in the magazine AutoC an article about a study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg (Germany) that concludes that traveling by motorhome is more sustainable than traveling from hotels, by plane and bus, and even by train if you later stay in hotels. ⁠

A bet on slow travel

The German study maintains that caravan trips are advantageous compared to other forms of travel, if they are understood as travel slow This means few long trips with the shortest possible travel distances. 

Furthermore, the report says that caravanning has a good environmental balance as opposed to the forms of travel that flourished before the COVID-19 pandemic. In summary, motorhomes are better than cruises and long-haul flights. 

Thus, motorhomes are the most responsible means environmentally of tourism, as demonstrated by the German study. See here! the study translated into Spanish.

One more point in favor for our way of free travel to be defended.


Attention! to the official website always updated on COVID-19

We continue to clear the news of the Portugal and motorhomes binomial. If you are going to travel to Portugal in any modality: with children, in a rental motorhome or to destinations such as the north or south, we recommend you review the COVID-19 measures always up to date.

Don't forget to check this official link. Thus, you will always have updated and official information about restrictions, curfews and lockdowns.

As general rules, remember that the following basic rules apply in the Portuguese country:
- Social distancing
- Frequent hand washing
- Mandatory use of a mask

Turismo de Portugal has implemented the seal “Clean & Safe”, Which allows a greater security and confidence in the use of accommodation, in the various tourist services and in tourist attractions.

In the case of the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, the respective regional governments decree specific measures.

Taking into account the general concern for the economic and social recovery as soon as the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic allows it, Turismo de Portugal has created a “Clean and Safe” seal to distinguish tourist activities that ensure compliance with hygiene and cleanliness requirements for the prevention and control of the virus.

For months, accommodation, tourism companies and travel agencies (companies that have an official registration with the National Tourism Authority), have been requesting the declaration of establishment "Clean and Safe". After submitting the Declaration of Commitment, companies can use the symbol, either physically on their premises or on their digital platforms.

With this measure, Turismo de Portugal intends to transmit to companies information on the necessary hygiene and cleaning measures of the establishments, in accordance with the recommendations of the General Directorate of Health, as well as to promote Portugal as a safe destination from the point of view of care for the spread of the virus, reinforcing the confidence of the visitor to the country.

Damme in motorhome

Other tips on traveling to beautiful Portugal by motorhome

About tolls

You have to be careful with tolls in Portugal because in some you have to register in an electronic system beforehand. Others are of normal payment.

In Portugal there are two types of highways: conventional toll roads (which are paid in the cabin or with a card) and electronic toll roads (through cameras that read your license plate and collect electronically). The latter can be paid with following forms of payment:

  • Easytoll, the option for tourists since it links a card with your registration for 30 days and you can do it in a machine at the beginning of the highways there or better online and not worry just before crossing the border.
  • Tollservice, a prepayment of the predefined tolls that you acquire. But for motorhomes who vary the route and improvise, it is a system that does not work very well for us.
  • Tollcard, prepaid card that can be purchased at service stations and post offices. In addition we also have the option to buy it online. But it implies spending the money before without knowing if you will spend it all later.
  • Via-T, if you have the one from Spain, it works for you.
  • Temporary device Vía Verde, it is designed for those who live there not for tourists, so forget it.
Note that sometimes the cards do not work at many points. So two tips: when you cross the border, sign up for the Portuguese tolls (by Easytroll and online the best option to forget and relax) and bring cash.
The Kucavana

About motorhome areas in Portugal

In Portugal there are many areas for motorhomes, campsites at a reasonable price and areas enabled for motorhomes so you will have no problem parking and spending the night. There are places on the coast, which is protected, it is forbidden both to park and stay overnight, it is important to respect the signs.
Failure to respect them has precisely made the law of Portugal change to our detriment.

Most Intermarché supermarkets have a motorhome area, many times with free services and all, so only with them you have many options. There are more areas than in Spain surely.

About its gastronomy  

Portugal has a gastronomy as rich and varied as its landscape.

The sea adds character to excellent Portuguese cuisine. Savor a fresco fish grilled, taste the tasty shellfish that abounds throughout the coast is a success.

En meat dishes, a suggestion: the Portuguese stew, a mixture of meats, vegetables and assorted sausages. From north to south of Portugal, we find excellent PDO meats, whether they are veal, pork or kid. And also fruits and vegetables that preserve their ancestral flavor. In addition, there is no shortage of proposals for lovers of bio.

El olive oil Portuguese, of great quality, is always present and is part of all dishes, including cod recipes. Safety pin.

And to pair each dish, there is a wine suitable. If Porto is famous, the table reds from Douro, Alentejo and many others are also excellent.

There is more: cheeses, sweets ... Don't miss out on trying the Belen cakes.

And what do you think of the new decree of Portugal that prohibits the overnight stay of motorhomes and campers? 

Are you for or against?

This entry has 9 comments

  1. Pedro Novais

    Or Verão is to check ea sr. Rita Marques will try or cozinhado that I prepared, I will be more flies !!!

    1. Kucavanera family

      I fully agree my friend, I hope that you will be able to allow 72 hours to comply with the mude legislation 🙂

  2. Thomas

    On ira ailleurs…. deception… blah blah… more par against ça construit partout… bizarre….

    1. Kucavanera family

      totalement d'accord Thomas, on ira ailleurs

  3. Thomas

    Très déçu du Portugal… beaucoup de blabla ba… Nous partons ailleurs… .fuyons ..
    Incroyable between the interdiction of stationner .. arrêt interdit .et Même interdiction of circuler… ils sont tombés sur la tête…. + Merci inter marche ..ldl .. pour les nuits sur leurs parkings…
    Le tourisme en camping car… .c est mort au Portugal…

    1. Kucavanera family

      totalement d'accord Thomas, on ira ailleurs

  4. Noné

    Who are they kidding? To offer sustainable tourism, you first have to create the infrastructures for this purpose, such a harsh law is not created without being able to offer a real alternative based on an infrastructure that does not exist in Portugal, we are not talking about France. So what it sounds like is the usual corrupt mafia, the one from the campsites. It's okay to be naive, but not silly. Sustainable tourism is not only big for Portugal, it is impossible for it. This is what has to be sold to European funds, let's start calling things by their name, that the coconut does not exist.

  5. Anonymous

    Those people who go with their cars for areas of pinhais to make picnics and deixam or lixo all back. Só os motorcaravanistas é que são os malandros, or rest é paisagem.

    1. Kucavanera family

      I totally agree my friend. It's a shame to see us collective assim

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