Roads in Portugal

A8 motorway, near Malveira.

Roads in Portugal are defined by National Road Plan, which describes the existing and planned network of Portuguese roads.

The present plan in force is the 2000 National Road Plan (PRN 2000), approved in 1998. It has replaced the previous PRN 1985, which itself had replaced the PRN 1945.

The Portuguese road infrastructure is considered the best in Europe and the second best in the World by the World Economic Forum in its Global Competitiveness Report for 2014–2015.[1]

The scenic road between Peso da Régua and Pinhão, in Northern Portugal, was considered the World Best Driving Road, accordingly to the Avis Driving Index.[2] This road is a section of the N 222 which route follows the Douro Valley.

History of road classification in Portugal

First road plans

Section of the old road between Aveiro and Vilar Formoso. Completed in the 1930s as the National Road nº 8 of 1st class (EN 8-1ª), it became the National Road nº 16 (N 16) by the PRN 1945. For decades, this was the most direct road link between Portugal and the rest of Europe. In the 1980s, it was replaced by the IP5 expressway, which itself was replaced, in the 2000s, by the A25 motorway.

The first real projects for road plans in Portugal date back from 1843 and 1848, and were based on 18th century plans which was based on connections between Lisbon and strategical points of the country, and as a support for fluvial routes. The precognized network was classified in 1850 as estradas (roads) and caminhos (paths), with the estradas being classified as 1st and 2nd class. Caminhos were routes of mere local interest.

In 1862, the roads (existing and projected) were classified as 1st class roads or estradas reais (royal roads), 2nd class roads or estradas distritais (district roads) and estradas municipais (municipal roads). The estradas reais were those with direct or indirect (via railways, for instance) origin in Lisbon) and the estradas municipais were those managed by the municipalities.

With the abolition of the Monarchy in 1910, the estradas reais were renamed estradas nacionais (national roads).

In 1913, the Law of 22 February establishes a commission to study the new classification of the roads and presents the guidelines to proceed to that classification. However, The new classification and road plan would only be established 13 years later.

Despite these efforts of a constitution of a road network, many routes were not clearly classified and the state of most roads was chaotic, and with the expansion of the automobile in the 1920s, new directions should be taken upon the Portuguese road network.

Finally in 1926, already under the Ditadura Nacional regime, a provisional General Plan of National Roads of 1st and 2nd class was established by the Decree nº 12 100 of 31 July 1926, accordingly to what was previewed by the Law of 22 February 1913. Both the 1st and 2nd class roads would be designated estradas nacionais, with the term estrada distrital disappearing. They would be designated EN xx-x, in a way that the number before the "-" designated the number of the road and suffix after the "-" identified its class. This plan established 23 roads of 1st class (designated EN 1-1ª to EN 23-1ª) and 112 roads of 2nd class (designated EN 1–2ª to EN 112-2ª). The General Plan of National Roads would be reviewed and definitely approved by the Decree nº 16 075 of 30 September 1928.

The 1st class national roads included in the 1926 General Plan of National Roads were the following:

Number Route Length
 EN 1-1ª  PortoViana do Castelo – the margin of Minho river – São Gonçalo border ?
 EN 2-1ª  PortoBragaMonção ?
 EN 3-1ª  Viana do Castelo – Lindoso (border) ?
 EN 4-1ª  Viana do CasteloBragaBragançaBridge over Maçãs river (border) ?
 EN 5-1ª  BragaGuimarãesAmaranteVila RealBragançaFrança (border) ?
 EN 6-1ª  PortoPenafielRégua – Barca de Alva ?
 EN 7-1ª  São Pedro do SulVila RealChaves – border ?
 EN 8-1ª  AveiroViseuGuardaAlmeidaVilar Formoso (border) ?
 EN 9-1ª  BuarcosFigueira da FozCoimbraMoncorvo – Podence ?
 EN 10-1ª  PortoCoimbraLeiriaCaldas da RainhaLouresLisboa ?
 EN 11-1ª  Malveira – EriceiraSintraCascaisAlgés (Lisboa) ?
 EN 12-1ª  LisboaSantarémCastelo Branco – Salvaterra do Extremo (border) ?
 EN 13-1ª  BarreiroAldeia GalegaAlmeirim – Barreiras do Tejo (Abrantes) ?
 EN 14-1ª  Torres NovasAbrantesProença-a-Nova ?
 EN 15-1ª  GuardaCastelo BrancoPortalegre ?
 EN 16-1ª  PenicheSantarémCorucheÉvora ?
 EN 17-1ª  FronteiraPortalegreÉvoraBeja
 EN 18-1ª  Aldeia GalegaVendas NovasElvasBridge over Caia river (border) ?
 EN 19-1ª  CacilhasSetúbalAlcácer do SalFerreira do AlentejoSão Brás de AlportelFaro ?
 EN 20-1ª  Alcácer do SalGrândolaOdemiraLagos ?
 EN 21-1ª  SinesFerreira do AlentejoMoura – Rosal da Cristina (border) ?
 EN 22-1ª  OdemiraOuriqueMértola – Mina de São Domingos ?
 EN 23-1ª  LagosFaroVila Real de Santo António ?

By the Law nº 3 969 of 20 July 1927, the Junta Autónoma das Estradas (Autonomous Road Board) or JAE was created in order to study the state of the Portuguese road network. The preliminary report was clear to state that from the 16 000 km of the national road network, 4000 km were to be completed, and 10 000 km were in almost in ruin state.

The roads were then reclassified as estradas nacionais (1st and 2nd class), estradas municipais and caminhos públicos (public paths), the latter two under municipal management.[3][4]

1945 National Road Plan

N12 is an Oporto ring road, and, according PRN 1945, it was a National Road of 1st Class. N12 is today to be converted in a boulevard.
N122 (Beja-Vila Real de Santo António) was a National Road of 1st Class.
N217, a National Road of 2nd Class, in Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro.

In 1933, the whole network (national and municipal) totalized 16900 km. The State recognized the importance of the road network and which led to the elaboration, in 1945, of the first real National Road Plan, the Plano Rodoviário Nacional de 1945 (PRN 45) defined in the Law nº 34 593 of 11 May 1945. By that date, the National and Municipal network, comprised 20500 km.

The PRN 1945, classified the national road network in Rede Fundamental (Fundamental Network) and Rede Complementar (Complementary Network), the latter served to support the fundamental network, the roads were classified according to the following:

The National Roads Statutes were subsequently approved in 1949.[5]

In 1961, separate legislation (Law nº 2110, from 19 August 1961)[6] on municipal roads defined new guidelines on construction, maintenance and commercialization of these roads, and those were classified as following:

The Main Roads could be, by law, upgraded into 4 lanes with central separation, if necessary. In fact this happened even before the PRN 1945 with the N7 motorway (nowadays A5) between Lisbon and the National Stadium, completed in 1944, and in 1961 with the first 25 km of N1 motorway (nowadays A1), between Lisbon and Vila Franca de Xira. The first urban highways have been built also in the 1960s.

The road classes where identified by colour codes: red for 1st class, blue for 2nd class, green for 3rd class, yellow for municipal roads and brown for municipal paths. These colors were applied in the bases of the location markers and occasionally in the background of the road numbers. The numbering distribution for main roads was according to the importance of its route in the network, and for N101 and over were numbered in a North to South growing fashion.

The extension of the roads had no relation with its class (except for branch roads, which were usually short distance), with existing 3rd class roads more than 100 km long, and main roads with as short as 8 km long, like the N7 highway, now part of A5. The longest road of the 1945 Plan was N2, connecting Chaves to Faro, extending for 738 km.

According PRN 1945, there were 18 Main Roads, designated N1 through N18.

Number Route Length Notes
 N 1  LisbonVila Franca de XiraLeiriaPombalCoimbraAlbergaria-a-VelhaPorto (northern end of upper deck of D. Luís Bridge) Originally about 320;
307 (between Lisbon and the northern end of Av. da República in Vila Nova de Gaia)
On 1945 National Roadway Plan, it was Portugal's main road, connecting Lisbon and Oporto. Originally crossing the towns or city centres on its route, over the years many bypass roads have been built to avoid urban areas.

In 1961, the new motorway section between Lisbon and Vila Franca de Xira, part of the future Lisbon-Oporto Motorway, was integrated in the N1. The original route became an extension of N10. The N1 classification for the referred branch of A1 had been kept until 1985, thereafter the N1 road had its starting point at the level of km 26.

Also in the 1960s a more direct and straight connection between Venda das Raparigas (Benedita, Alcobaça) and São Jorge (Porto de Mós) has been built. The original route was reclassified, in 1973, as N 8-6 (Venda das Raparigas-Alcobaça, or more properly Alcobaça-Venda das Raparigas) and N 8 (Alcobaça-vicinity of São Jorge), thus extending its route farther north.

According to PRN 1985, the most parts of this road have been included on IC2, signed as IC2/N1. Some sections which aren't common with IC2 are intended for local traffic, or are parts parallel to auto-estrada sections of IC2.

 N 2  ChavesVila RealViseuPenacovaAbrantesPonte de SorMontemor-o-NovoFerreira do AlentejoAlmodôvarFaro 738 The longest road of Portugal according to 1945 National Roadway Plan connecting North to South, "cutting" the country halfway between West and East and crossing eleven of the eighteen districts of Portugal.

The route classified as N2 by 1945 had been fully asphalted from the 1930s to 1944.

Many branches had been replaced in importance by 1985 Plan's IP routes, some renamed as Estrada Regional (R 2), some municipalized and some classified as historical patrimony.

Due to its characteristics, N2 is nicknamed as Portuguese Route 66.

In November 2015, a trans-regional project called Rota da Estrada Nacional 2 has been signed by eleven of the thirty-six municipalities along its route (although all municipalities will be part of the project), in order to promote the touristical, cultural and gastronomic importance of the vast part of Portugal's inland crossed by this road.[9]

 N 3  Carregado (N1) – SantarémTorres NovasVila Velha de RodãoCastelo Branco (N18) 213 It was the most direct connection between Lisbon (Carregado is located at km 33 of N 1) and the most important cities of the former provinces of Ribatejo, Beira Baixa and Beira Alta, the latter through N18, which this road meets in Sernadas do Ródão.
 N 4  MontijoVendas NovasEstremozElvas – Caia 182/194 (projected) The original project of this road included a bridge over the Tagus River, in order to directly connect Lisbon with Alentejo and the border of Caia, near Badajoz, where it would meet the Spanish N-V.

The bridge was never built and this road starts at the level of km 12.

 N 5  Montijo – Marateca – Alcácer do Sal – Barragem do Vale de Gaio – N2 87 Projected to connect Lisbon region into the south of Portugal, through N2, which this road would meet in Torrão, later it was decided that this road would run through Vale do Gaio Dam.

The connection between Vale do Gaio Dam and N2 was never built, but the route through Torrão was built and reclassified as N5-2.

 N 6  LisbonPaço de ArcosParedeEstorilCascais 25 The famous seaside Road of Cascais/Estoril Coast, also known as Avenida Marginal, on most of its route. It is designed on a four lane, two each direction. This road was projected to include the former Lisbon ringroad on its route.
 N 7  LisbonNational Stadium 8 Original name of the A5, the first Portuguese motorway, inaugurated in 1944. It was only extended into Cascais in 1991, known then, yet, as A5.
 N 8  LisbonLouresTorres VedrasÓbidosCaldas da RainhaAlcobaça – Cruz da Légua – IC2 / N1 131 Connects Lisbon to the West Region. Originally this road ended in Alcobaça, meeting there N 1 (see N 1 for details).
 N 9  Cascais (N6) – SintraTorres VedrasAlenquer (N1) 98 Crosses the northern region of Lisbon, along with N 6 (Lisbon-Cascais), N 1 (Alenquer-Vila Franca de Xira), N 10 (Vila Franca de Xira-Lisbon) and the riverside streets of Lisbon form a ring road around Lisbon region.
 N 10  AlmadaSetúbalVila Franca de XiraLisbon 141 A ring road that connects the south bank of Tagus to Lisbon, via Marechal Carmona Bridge (Vila Franca de Xira).

From 1961, it classified the original route of N1 between Vila France de Xira and Lisbon.

 N 11  MontijoBarreiro 10/32 (projected) Short distance road in the south bank of Tagus, the original plan included a connectiton from Barreiro to Trafaria, thus, never built.

It was renamed as R11.

 N 12  MatosinhosRio Tinto 17 Oporto ring road, to be converted into a boulevard.
 N 13  PortoViana do CasteloValença 115 Road crossing the Northwest region of Portugal, with an almost seaside route.

The first 5 km of this road, shared with N14, had been upgraded into dual carriageway in the 1970s and are known as Via Norte

 N 14  PortoBraga 56 The first 5 km of this road, shared with N13, had been upgraded into dual carriageway in the 1970s and are known as Via Norte.
 N 15  ErmesindeAmaranteVila RealMirandelaBragança 240 The main road from Oporto to the region of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, until the construction of IP4.
 N 16  AveiroViseuGuardaVilar Formoso 224 Connects Aveiro to the most important border with Spain.

From the 1970s and on, the road was considered obsolete due to several kilometres of traffic jams in order to cross the border. As an alternative IP5 was built between 1983 and 1991, but this road proved to be highly dangerous and was converted into an autoestrada, also known as A25.

 N 17  CoimbraCelorico da Beira (N16) 131 Connects Coimbra with the Beira Alta region, crossing the outskirts of Serra da Estrela.

Popularly known as Estrada da Beira.

 N 18  GuardaCastelo BrancoPortalegreEstremozÉvoraBejaOurique – Ervidel (N2) 380 Crosses the most important cities in the far east of Portugal, connects with N 2 in Ervidel.

Many branches were included on IP2.

1985 National Road Plan

The A22 motorway, in the Algarve, was originally signalized as IP1. During the 1980s and 1990s, usually, only tolled highways were signalized as Axx, while the other highways were signalized as IPxx or ICxx.

From the 1960s and on, many routes started to be assumed as somewhat outdated, so in 1972, Brisa was set up in order to manage a projected network of motorways, which by that time didn't reach an extension of 100 km. New sections of motorways were then built in the 1970s and the early 1980s, like the Vila Franca de Xira-Carregado (1977), Carregado-Aveiras de Cima (1980), Condeixa-a-Nova-Mealhada (1982, which permitted bypassing the city centre of Coimbra), Santa Maria da Feira-Carvalhos (1980) and Albergaria-a-Velha-Santa Maria da Feira (1983) sections, all from what would become A1 motorway, as well as the extension of what would become A2 motorway into Setúbal (between 1978 and 1979).

However, the whole road network started to be assumed as more and more inadequate in order to properly serve the whole country.

In the eve of Portugal integration into EEC, the replacement for PRN 1945 comes to the light by the Law 380/85 of 25 September 1985, the Plano Rodoviário Nacional de 1985 (1985 National Roadway Plan) or PRN 1985.

The road network would be again composed by the Rede Fundamental (Fundamental Network), composed of nine itinerários principais (principal routes), designated IP1 through IP9, which totalized 2635 km:

The non-motorway sections of the itinerários principais started to be identified with green background direction signs and green background IPx road numbers. In the late 1990s, although the background of the direction signs continued to be green, the IPx road numbers started to be put on red background rectangles.

Number Route Length
 IP 1  ValençaBragaPortoAveiroCoimbraLeiriaSantarémLisbonMontijoSetúbalAljustrelFaroCastro Marim 734
 IP 2  Portelo – BragançaGuardaCovilhãCastelo BrancoPortalegreÉvoraBejaFaro 564
 IP 3  Vila Verde da Raia – Vila RealLamegoViseuCoimbraFigueira da Foz 279
 IP 4  PortoVila RealBragançaQuintanilha 237
 IP 5  AveiroViseuGuardaVilar Formoso 204
 IP 6  PenicheCaldas da RainhaRio MaiorSantarémTorres NovasAbrantesCastelo Branco 219
 IP 7  LisbonSetúbalÉvoraEstremozElvas – Caia 225
 IP 8  SinesSantiago do CacémBejaSerpa – Vila Verde de Ficalho 154
 IP 9  Viana do CasteloPonte de LimaBragaGuimarãesAmaranteVila Real 161

The itinerários principais were set to be of restricted access, forbidding pedestrian, animal and bicycle traffic, but exceptions could be accepted, specially for sections resulting from the reclassification of former national roads into IP network.

Such a classification was proposed before the publication of PRN 1985.[10] In the early 1980s the first branches of the future IP routes were built, namely a 12 km loop road alternative to N16 between Mangualde and Prime (Viseu) for IP5 route, in 1983, and another branch, in 1981, at the time integrated on N2 route but later on IP3, between Oliveira do Mondego and Chamadouro when Aguieira Dam was built.

The road network was composed also by the Rede Complementar (Complementary Network), composed by 24 itinerários complementares (complementary routes) or IC and by "other roads". The "other roads" were the former PRN 1945 national roads not set to be transformed in IP or IC, neither set for declassification from the national road network. In practice, in the field, the "other roads" continued to be signed as estradas nacionais (N or EN). Complementary Network was 4807 km long.

The non-motorway roads of the Rede Complementar were signed with white background direction signs.

The PRN 1985 established 24 itinerários complementares, designated IC1 through IC24, which totalized 2439 km:

Number Route Length
 IC 1  LisbonTorres VedrasCaldas da RainhaLeiriaFigueira da FozAveiroOvarEspinhoPortoPóvoa de VarzimViana do CasteloValença 450
 IC 2  LisbonRio MaiorLeiriaCoimbraMealhadaSão João da MadeiraArgoncilhePorto 330
 IC 3  SetúbalPalmelaMontijoSalvaterra de MagosAlmeirimEntroncamentoTomarPenelaCondeixa- Coimbra (IP3) 235
 IC 4  SinesLagosPortimãoFaro ?
 IC 5  Póvoa de Varzim (IC1) – FamalicãoGuimarãesFafeVila Pouca de AguiarMurçaVila FlorAlfândega da FéMogadouroMiranda do Douro (border with Spain) 131
 IC 6  Santa Comba Dão (IP3) – Venda de Galizes – SeiaGouveia -Celorico da Beira (IP5) ?
 IC 7  CoimbraPenacova – Venda de Galizes – Covilhã (IP2) ?
 IC 8  Figueira da Foz (IC1) – Pombal (IP1) – Figueiró dos VinhosPedrógão GrandeSertãProença-a-NovaCastelo Branco – Segura (IP2) 118
 IC 9  AlcobaçaNazaréMarinha GrandeLeiriaOurémTomar ?
 IC 10  Santarém (IP 1) – AlmeirimCorucheMontemor-o-NovoEstremoz (IP8) 151
 IC 11  Torres VedrasVila Franca de Xira – Pegões – Marateca (IP1) 53
 IC 12  Viseu (IP5) – Seia (IC6) – Covilhã (IP2) ?
 IC 13  Coina (IP7) – Montijo (IP1) – CorucheMoraPonte de SorAlter do ChãoCratoPortalegre ?
 IC 14  BarcelosBraga ?
 IC 15  LisbonOeirasCascais 25
 IC 16  Lisbon (CRIL – IC17) – Amadora – Belas – Alto Colaride – SintraCascais 27
 IC 17  Algés – Buraca – Olival de Basto – Sacavém (IP1) 21
 IC 18  Caxias (IC15) – QueluzLouresAlverca (IP 1) 35
 IC 19  Coina – MontijoAlcochete ?
 IC 20  AlmadaCosta da Caparica 6
 IC 21  Coina – Barreiro 7
 IC 22  Olival Basto (IC17) – Montemor (CREL – IC18) 4
 IC 23  Ponte da Arrábida – Avenida de Fernão de Magalhães – Ponte de Freixo – Avenida da República – IC1 21
 IC 24  Oporto (IC23) – Matosinhos – Moreira (IC1) ?

The whole network totalized 9881 km, with about 12000 km of old PRN 1945 roads being declassified from the national road network.

As the PRN 1985 focused mainly on new roads to be built, no clear rules were established for a procedure regarding the old roads that were to be declassified. In practice, most of them continued to be managed by the national road agency JAE and continued to be designated "estradas nacionais". Some of them were however transferred to the management of local municipalities.

Until the early 1980s, the Portuguese motorways did not have a proper number, each being referred to by a name (with some sections that were part of a estrada nacional also using the respective Nxx number). The existing motorways at that time (all of them managed under concession) started to receive a proper number of the type Axx. With the application of the PRN 1985, new motorways were built with a few of them being managed directly by the national road agency JAE and not under concession like the others. So, although all motorways were part of an IP or IC, only concessionated ones received the Axx number (whether tolled or not), this latter number being signalized and the IPxx or ICxx number being ignored in the motorway signage. The other motorways – non-concessionated, and therefore, always non-tolled – were signalized with the IPxx or ICxx number. Because, until the 2000s, almost all motorways under concession were tolled, in that time, the existence or not of a signed Axx number helped the drivers to know in advance if a motorway was tolled or not.

All motorways were signed with blue background direction signs, independently of being part of the Rede Fundamental or the Rede Complementar.

In 1993, the reclassification of 600 km of roads in the IC network and about 1700 km into other roads was proposed, but the optimization of the PRN 1985 only came with the PRN 2000, which was initially proposed in 1996.

2000 National Road Plan

Typical signage of an autoestrada (on left) and a non-highway IP road (on right).

In spite of its name, Plano Rodoviário Nacional de 2000 (2000 National Road Plan) or PRN 2000 was approved in 1998 and was published by the Law nº 222/98 of 17 July 1998. This is basically an optimization of the previous PRN 1985, with the addition of about 1500 km of roads into the National Network, and the creation of the Rede Regional (Regional Network), of about 5000 km of roads, as well as the identification of a Rede Nacional de Autoestradas (National Motorway Network), that, however, overlapped to the IP and IC network. The plan includes 16500 km of roads.

The so-called "other roads" of the PRN 1985 disappeared from the PRN 2000, with the designation estradas nacionais becoming official again. A new kind of roads, the estradas regionais (regional roads) was also introduced.

The Road Network is defined, as following:

It should be noted that IP and IC roads, may have other designations, specially those integrated in the National Highway Network, where the "A" designation is preferred on traffic signage, except for some city or suburban highways.

Since its approval, the PRN 2000 was updated twice (in 1999 and in 2003).

Current classification according PRN 2000


Autoestrada is the Portuguese language word for "motorway" or "freeway." Portugal has about 3,000 km of motorways, crossing all the coast and connecting the main inland cities and towns. Several autoestradas are linked with the Spanish motorway system and, through Spain, to the rest of Europe.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Portugal was the country with the greatest development in the motorway network in the European Union. It had 316 km of motorways in 1990 and the number increased to 1242 km by 1999 and 2100 km by the end of 2007.[11]

Although administratively, a separate motorway network exists, in practice each autoestrada overlaps part or all of an IP (Itinerário Principal or Main Itinerary) or an IC (Itinerário Complementar or Complementary Itinerary).[12] These are designated with an "A" code as well as an IP or an IC code, though they are typically only signalized by the A designation. In addition, many of these roads are part of the European road network, and so also carry an "E" designation, which may serve as reference for non-Portuguese drivers.

Number Designation Route IP/IC Length Construction Concessionaire
 A 1  Autoestrada do Norte LisbonSantarémLeiriaCoimbraAveiroPorto  IP 1  (Lisbon – Carvalhos)
 IP 6  (Santarém/  A 15  – Torres Novas/  A 23 
 IC 1  (  A 29  interchange – Porto)
 IC 2  (Carvalhos – Arrábida-Porto)
 IC 23  (Coimbrões-Gaia/  A 44  – Arrábida-Porto/  A 28 )
303 1960–1991 Brisa
 A 2  Autoestrada do Sul Lisbon / Ponte 25 de Abril – Marateca – Alcácer do SalGrândolaOuriqueAlbufeira  IP 1  (Palmela/  A 12  – Albufeira)
 IP 7  (Lisbon – Marateca/ A 6 - A 13 )
240 1966–2002 Lusoponte (25 de Abril Bridge), Brisa
 A 3  Autoestrada do Minho PortoFamalicãoBragaPonte de LimaValença  IP 1 
 IP 9  (Ponte de Lima/  A 27  – Braga/  A 11 )
112 1989–1998 Brisa
 A 4  Autoestrada Transmontana PortoPenafielAmaranteVila RealMirandelaBragança – Quintanilha  IP 4 
 IP 9  (Castelões/  A 11  – Vila Real)
223 1990 – 2016 Ascendi
AE do Marão
 A 5  Autoestrada do Estoril LisbonOeirasCascais  IC 15  25 1944–1991 Brisa
 A 6  Autoestrada do Alentejo Marateca – ÉvoraEstremozElvas – Caia  IP 7  159 1995–1999 Brisa
 A 7  Autoestrada do Alvão Vila do CondeFamalicãoGuimarãesFafeVila Pouca de Aguiar  IC 5  100 1999–2007 Ascendi
 A 8  Autoestrada do Oeste LisboaCaldas da RainhaLeiriaA1  IC 1  (Lisbon – Marinha Grande/  A 17 )
 IC 17-CRIL  (Km 0-km 2)
 IC 36  (Marinha Grande/  A 17  – Leiria/  A 1 )
138 1984–2011 AE do Atlântico
 A 8–1  Circular Oriental de Leiria (COL) Pousos (  A 8 /  A 1 ) –  IC 2  3 1990's as COL
 A 9  Circular Regional Exterior de Lisboa Caxias (National Stadium) – QueluzLouresAlverca  IC 18  35 1994–1995 Brisa
 A 10  Autoestrada do Ribatejo BucelasArruda dos VinhosCarregadoBenavente  IC 2  (Bucelas/  A 9-CREL  – Carregado)
 IC 11  (Carregado – Benavente/  A 13 )
40 2003–2007 Brisa
 A 11  ApúliaBragaGuimarãesPenafiel  IC 14  (Apúlia/  A 28  – Braga/  A 3 )
 IP 9  (Braga/  A 3  – Castelões/  A 4 )
80 1998–2006 Ascendi
 A 12  Lisbon / Ponte Vasco da GamaMontijo -Setúbal  IP 1  (Lisbon – Palmela/  A 2 )
 IC 3  (Montijo – Setúbal)
41 1979–1998 Lusoponte (Vasco da Gama Bridge), Brisa
 A 13  Marateca – BenaventeSalvaterra de MagosAlmeirim -**- Chamusca -**- Golegã -**- Vila Nova da Barquinha -(to be upgraded into dual carriageway)-  A 23 TomarAvelarCondeixaCoimbra  IC 3  (Coimbra – Canha/  A 33 )
 IC 11  (Benavente/  A 10  – Marateca/  A 2 -  A 6  )
2002–? Brisa (Almeirim-Marateca), Ascendi (A23-Coimbra)
 A 13–1   A 1 Condeixa  A 13  10 2012 Ascendi
 A 14  Autoestrada do Baixo Mondego Figueira da FozMontemor-o-VelhoCoimbra  IP 3  40 1994–2002 Brisa
 A 15  ÓbidosRio MaiorSantarém – ** – Almeirim  IP 6  (Óbidos/  A 8 -Santarém/  A 1 )
 IC 10  (Santarém/  A 1  – Almeirim)
1995–2001 AE do Atlântico
 A 16  LisbonPontinhaSintraAlcabideche  IC 16  (Lisbon – Sintra)
 IC 30  (Sintra – Alcabideche)
28 1995–2014 Ascendi
 A 17  Autoestrada do Litoral Centro Marinha GrandeFigueira da FozMiraAveiro  IC 1  100 2004–2008 Brisa
 A 18  Torres Vedras – ** – Carregado  IC 11  (27)
 A 19  Porto de Mós – Azóia – Leiria  IC 2  16 2010–2011 AE do Litoral Oeste
 A 20  Circular Regional Interior do Porto CarvalhosPonte do Freixo – Francos  IP 1  (Carvalhos – Antas-Porto/  A 3 )
 IC 23  (Freixo-Porto – Francos-Porto/  A 28 )
17 1989–1995 AE do Douro Litoral
 A 21  Malveira – Ericeira 21 2005–2008 Mafratlântico
 A 22  Via do Infante de Sagres LagosPortimãoAlbufeiraFaroCastro Marim  IP 1  (Tunes/  A 2  – Castro Marim)
 IC 4  (Lagos – Loulé)
133 1991–2003 Euroscut Algarve
 A 23  Autoestrada da Beira Interior Torres NovasAbrantesCastelo BrancoFundãoCovilhãGuarda  IP 6  (Torres Novas/  A 1  – Castelo Branco)
 IP 2  (Fratel – Guarda/  A 25 )
217 1993–2003 Scutvias
 A 24  Autoestrada do Interior Norte Coimbra – ** – Mealhada – ** – ViseuPeso da RéguaVila RealChaves – Vila Verde da Raia  IP 3  162
1998–2010 Norscut
 A 25  Autoestrada das Beiras Litoral e Alta AveiroViseuGuardaVilar Formoso – ** – border with Spain  IP 5  197
1991–2006 Ascendi
 A 26  Autoestrada do Baixo Alentejo SinesSantiago do CacémBeja  IP 8 
 IC 33  (Sines – Santiago do Cacém)
1972–2012 AE do Baixo Alentejo
 A 27  Viana do CasteloPonte de Lima  IP 9  24 2001–2005 AE do Norte Litoral
 A 28  Autoestrada do Litoral Norte PortoViana do CasteloCaminha – ** – Valença  IC 1 
 IC 23  (Arrábida-Porto/  A 1  – Francos-Porto)
1960–2008 AE do Norte Litoral
 A 29  Autoestrada da Costa de Prata AngejaOvarEspinhoVila Nova de Gaia  IC 1  53 1994–2009 Ascendi
 A 30  Sacavém – Santa Iria de Azóia  IC 2  10 1998 Ascendi
 A 31  Variante a Coimbra Coimbra (south) – Coimbra (north)  IC 2  5 1991
 A 32  Autoestrada do Entre Douro e Vouga Oliveira de AzeméisVila Nova de Gaia  IC 2  35 2011 AE do Douro Litoral
 A 33  Circular Regional Interna da Península de Setúbal Funchalinho – Coina – Montijo – ** – New Lisbon Airoport – ** – Canha  IC 3  (Montijo – Canha)
 IC 32  (Funchalinho – Montijo)
1998–2012 AE do Baixo Tejo
 A 34  A1Pombal  IC 8  5 1999
 A 35  Mira – ** – Mealhada – ** – Mortágua – ** – Santa Comba DãoCanas de Senhorim – ** – Mangualde  IC 12  19
 A 36  Circular Regional Interior de Lisboa AlgésOdivelasSacavém  IC 17-CRIL  21 1995–2011 Ascendi
 A 37  Radial de Sintra LisbonQueluzSintra  IC 19  (1994–present)
 N 249  (1985–1994)
16 1985–1994 Ascendi
 A 38  Via Rápida da Caparica AlmadaCosta da Caparica  IC 20  6 1966 AE do Baixo Tejo
 A 39  Via Rápida do Barreiro Coina – Barreiro – ** – Lisbon  IC 21  7
 A 40  Olival Basto – Odivelas – Montemor  IC 22  4 1998 Ascendi
 A 41  Circular Regional Exterior do Porto PerafitaMaiaAguiar de SousaArgoncilheEspinho  IC 24  62 Early 1990s – 2007 Ascendi
AE do Douro Litoral
 A 42  Ermida (A41) – Paços de FerreiraLousada  IC 25  20 2005–2006 Ascendi
 A 43  PortoGondomarAguiar de Sousa (A41)  IC 29  9 2005–2011 AE do Douro Litoral
 A 44  Gulpilhares (A29) – Vila Nova de GaiaOliveira do Douro (A20)  IC 23  9 2000–2007 Ascendi
AE Douro Litoral
 A 47  Maceda – Santa Maria da Feira – ** – Mansores 3
 A 48  São João da Madeira – ** – Ovar 13
 VRI  Via Regional Interior Francisco Sá Carneiro AirportCustóias (A4) 3 2006 Ascendi


Tolls and taxation

Toll payment in Portugal uses a pioneer electronic payment system, Via Verde. The driver installs a small device on the front windshield that communicates electronically with Brisa (the company responsible for managing most of the motorways in Portugal). Since the payment is done electronically, it is quick to enter or leave the motorway, avoiding payment lines (which are still available (mostly) for drivers who haven't adhered to Via Verde).

This system has won several prizes for its innovative form of paying for services.

Itinerários principais

There are 9 itinerários principais (principal routes), signalized by the prefix IP, designated IP1 through IP9.[13]

IP1 and IP2 forms cross national, North-South routes, the first running by the west part of the country, but ending in the southeast border of Castro Marim/Vila Real de Santo António and the second one by the east part, roughly close to the border with Spain.

All other routes follow a West-East route, with the exception of IP3, that runs mostly North-South.

All itinerários principais, except IP6 and IP9, are connected with the Spanish border. IP2 reaches Spain by route of N103-7, in the region of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro.

Vila Franca das Naves exit of IP2 non-motorway Celorico da Beira and Trancoso section.
Non-motorway section of IP3, between Coimbra and Viseu.
Number Route Length
 IP 1  ValençaBragaPortoAveiroCoimbraLeiriaSantarémLisbonMontijoSetúbalAljustrelFaroCastro Marim 734
 IP 2  Portelo – BragançaGuardaCovilhãCastelo BrancoPortalegreÉvoraBejaOuriqueFaro 564/728 (incl. N-103-7 Portelo-Bragança and IP1/A2-IP1/IC4/A22-IC4/N-125-4 Castro Verde-Faro concorrencies)
 IP 3  Vila Verde da Raia – Vila RealLamegoViseuCoimbraFigueira da Foz 279
 IP 4  PortoVila RealBragançaQuintanilha 237
 IP 5  AveiroViseuGuardaVilar Formoso 204
 IP 6  PenicheCaldas da RainhaRio MaiorSantarémTorres NovasAbrantesCastelo Branco 219
 IP 7  LisbonSetúbalÉvoraEstremozElvas – Caia 225
 IP 8  SinesSantiago do CacémBejaSerpa – Vila Verde de Ficalho 154
 IP 9  Viana do CasteloPonte de LimaBragaGuimarãesAmaranteVila Real 161

Itinerários complementares

There are 37 itinerários complementares (complementary routes), signalized by the letters IC, designated IC1 through IC37.[14]

Typical signage of a non-motorway IC road, in the IC27, in the Algarve.
Number Route Length
 IC 1  ValençaViana do CasteloPóvoa de VarzimPortoEspinhoOvarAveiroFigueira da FozLeiriaCaldas da RainhaTorres VedrasLisbon – Marateca – Alcácer do SalGrândolaOuriqueGuia (N125) 737
 IC 2  LisbonRio MaiorLeiriaCoimbraMealhadaSão João da MadeiraArgoncilhePorto 330
 IC 3  SetúbalPalmelaMontijo -**- Canha – Salvaterra de MagosAlmeirim -**- EntroncamentoTomarPenelaCondeixaCoimbra -**- (IP3) 177/235
 IC 4  Sines -**- LagosPortimãoFaro 85/?
 IC 5  Póvoa de Varzim (IC1) – FamalicãoGuimarãesFafeVila Pouca de AguiarMurçaVila FlorAlfândega da FéMogadouroMiranda do Douro (border with Spain) 235
 IC 6  Coimbra – IP3 – Porto da Raiva/Aguieira Dam – Venda de Galizes -**- Covilhã (IP2) 29/87 (excl. IP3 concurrency)
 IC 7  Venda de Galizes (IC6) -**- Seia -**- Gouveia -**- Fornos de Algodres (IP5) 40
 IC 8  Figueira da Foz (IC1) – PombalFigueiró dos VinhosPedrógão GrandeSertãProença-a-NovaCastelo Branco – Segura (IP 2) 119
 IC 9  NazaréAlcobaça – IC2 – Porto de MósBatalhaFátimaOurémTomar + Abrantes -**- Ponte de Sor (IC13) 70/104 (excl. IC2 concurrency)
 IC 10  Santarém (IP1) – Almeirim -**- Coruche -**- Montemor-o-Novo (IP7) 11/90
 IC 11  (PenicheLourinhã -)[15] Torres Vedras (IC1) -**- Carregado – Pegões – Marateca (IP 1) 63/90
 IC 12  Mira (IC1) – Anadia (IP 1) – MortáguaSanta Comba DãoCarregal do SalNelasMangualde (IP5) 19/94
 IC 13  Montijo (IP1) -**- Coruche -**- Mora -**- Ponte de Sor -**- Alter do ChãoCratoPortalegre -**- Spain 28/?
 IC 14  Apúlia (IC1) – BarcelosBraga 29
 IC 15  LisbonOeirasCascais 25
 IC 16  Lisbon (IC17) – Amadora – Belas – Alto Colaride – Sintra 20 (excl. IC18 concurrency)
 IC 17  AlgésBuraca – Olival de Basto – Sacavém (IP1) 21
 IC 18  Caxias (IC15) – QueluzLouresAlverca (IP 1) 35
 IC 19  Lisbon (IC17) – QueluzSintra (N249) 16
 IC 20  AlmadaCosta da Caparica 6
 IC 21  Coina – Barreiro 7
 IC 22  Olival Basto (IC17) – Montemor (IC18) 4
 IC 23  Ponte da Arrábida – Avenida de Fernão de Magalhães – Ponte de Freixo – Avenida da República – IC1 21
 IC 24  PerafitaMaiaAguiar de SousaArgoncilheEspinho 62
 IC 25  Ermida (IC24) – Paços de FerreiraLousada 20
 IC 26  Amarante (IP 4) -**- Régua – (IP3/A24) – Lamego -**- Tarouca -**- Moimenta da Beira -**- Sernancelhe -**- Trancoso (IP2) ?
 IC 27  Beja (IP2) -**- MértolaCastro Marim (IP1) 33/93
 IC 28  Viana do Castelo (IC1) – Ponte de Lima -**- Lindoso 38/69
 IC 29  OportoGondomarAguiar de Sousa (IC24) 16
 IC 30  Sintra (IC16) – Alcabideche (IC15) 8
 IC 31  Castelo Branco (IP2) -**- Termas de Monfortinho 56
 IC 32  Funchalinho – Coina – Montijo 40
 IC 33  SinesGrândola – IP1/A2 – IP8/A26 -**- Santa Margarida do Sado -**- Évora (IP 7) 38/106
 IC 34  Vila Nova de Foz Côa (IP2) – Almendra – Barca de Alva (border with Spain) Project left in 2009
 IC 35  Penafiel -**- Entre-Os-Rios Bridge -**- Castelo de PaivaArouca (-**- Vale de Cambra -**-)[16] Sever do Vouga -**- Talhadas (IP5/A25) 4/70
 IC 36  Marinha Grande (IC1) – Leiria (IP1) 11
 IC 37  Viseu (IP5) -**- Nelas -**- Seia (IC7) 31

Note: Italics and -**- refers to unbuilt sections.

Estradas nacionais

Estradas nacionais (national routes) are the 1945 Plan's roads that were kept in the Complementary Network, usually as branches of IPs or ICs, to connect these to local destinations. In the 1985 Plan, these were generically referred as "other roads". They kept the same numbering they had in the 1945 Plan, with the prefix N, and they are administered by the agency Estradas de Portugal.

Most of the estradas nacionais are now roads of low importance (even those that were principal roads in the 1945 Plan), because over the last decades were passed over by the motorways, IP and IC routes.

Many of the 1945 Plan's estradas nacionais were transferred to the municipal authorities administration and are now not part of the National Roadway Network. However, most of these roads had its designation not changed, keeping its old numbering and the N prefix.

Estradas regionais

Signage in R254 (Évora-Viana do Alentejo).

Estradas regionais (regional roads) integrate the Regional Network. These road class was created in 1998, with the approval of 2000 National Roadway Plan. According Law n.º 222/98 "the public road communications with supra-municipal interest, and complementary to the National Road Network, are carried by Regional Roads".

Each regional road maintains the number of the national road or municipal road that originated it. Regional roads are represented by the letter R. Because, in 1998, it was rejected in a referendum, a reform which consisted of the creation of eight administrative regions in mainland Portugal, nowadays, some regional roads are administrated by Estradas de Portugal, while others are administrated by Portuguese municipalities.

Estradas municipais

Estradas municipais (municipal roads) are represented by the letter M, and they are administrated by Portuguese municipalities. These routes were created in 1961, and, over the years, many branches of national routes had been municipalized. Some municipal routes created by the 1985 Plan, were renamed as "national roads" or "regional roads" in the 2000 Plan.

Euro Routes

Portugal is crossed by some European Routes:

Number Route
 E 01  LarneBelfastNewryDundalkDroghedaDublinRosslareA CoruñaPontevedraValençaPortoLisbonAlbufeiraVila Real de Santo AntónioHuelvaSeville
 E 80  LisbonAveiroVilar FormosoValladolidBurgosSan SebastiánToulouseNiceGenoa – Rome – PescaraDubrovnikPodgoricaPristinaNišSofiaPlovdivIstanbulİzmitGeredeAmasyaErzurumGürbulak – border with Iran
 E 82  OportoVila RealBragançaZamoraTordesillas
 E 90  LisbonÉvoraElvasMadridBarcelonaMazara del ValloPalermoMessinaReggio CalabriaMetapontoTarantoBrindisiIgoumenitsaIoanninaKozaniThessalonikiAlexandroupoliGeliboluLapsekiBursaAnkaraAdanaNusaybinKhabur River – border with Iraq
 E 801  VerínChavesVila RealLamegoViseuCoimbra
 E 802  BragançaGuardaCastelo BrancoPortalegreÉvoraBejaOurique
 E 805  FamalicãoGuimarãesVila Pouca de AguiarChaves
 E 806  Torres NovasAbrantesCastelo BrancoGuarda

See also


  1. The Global Competitiveness Report 2014–2015, World Economic Forum, p. 429
  2. Avis Best Road
  3. Decreto nº 12100 from August, 11th 1926 – Revision proposal of 1913 Road Classification
  4. Decreto nº 16075 from October, 26th 1928 – Approval of road classification according to Decreto nº 12100
  5. Lei nº 2037 from August 19th, 1949 – Estatuto das Estradas Nacionais (en: National Roads' Statutes)
  6. Lei nº 2110 August 19th, 1961 – Regulamento Geral das Estradas e Caminhos Municipais (en: General Regulation on Municipal Roads and Pathways)
  7. Decreto-Lei nº 42271 from May 20th, 1959 – Municipal Roads classification
  8. Decreto-Lei nº 45552 from January 30th, 1964 – Municipal Pathways classification
  9. Newspaper report about the signature of Rota da Estrada Nacional 2 project. Médio Tejo Newspaper, Nov, 14th 2015
  10. Decreto-Lei 64/83 from February, 3.
  11. Jorge Flores (June 2002). Sempre a subir. Automotor. (Portuguese)
  12. Estradas de Portugal – PRN 2000 – Plano Rodoviário Nacional – Rede Rodoviária Nacional – AEs (IPs e ICs) (Portuguese)
  13. Estradas de Portugal – PRN 2000 – Plano Rodoviário Nacional – Classificação da Rede – IPs
  14. Estradas de Portugal – PRN 2000 – Plano Rodoviário Nacional – Classificação da Rede – ICs
  15. Project left due to heavy impact on agribuisness
  16. Project set to be left
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