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Renting a car in Portugal: The most complete Guide(2023)

Here we will chia sẻ all you need Khủng know about car rental in hanoi
a car in Portugal .
Public transportation in Portugal is cheap but so sánh are rental cars. We’ve had rentals for USD 5 a day, a steal for the comfort và flexibility you get in return. )
A car is not needed in Lisbon & Porto but there are lots of other amazing places phệ explore in Portugal .

Table of Contents

Once you go outside Lisbon và Porto public transportation options are limited. If you want đầy đủ freedom béo explore any area that interests you, then a car rental is really the best option .
The good news is that renting a car is easy, there are loads of car rental companies including international household names. Driving in Portugal is also relaxed & you very rarely see accidents .
There are some things bự keep in mind, such as the toll roads, & we’ll cover all of them here. Keep on reading béo find out how lớn rent a car in Portugal .
There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate link. If you nhấp chuột one of them, we may receive a small commission ( for which we are deeply grateful ) at no extra cost béo you .

In a hurry?

If you don’t have phút giây phệ read the đầy đủ post, here is a danh sách of the best rental car companies in Portugal : Here you can quickly and easily compare the prices of different rental companies. Booking via Rentalcars is very easy. It’s a very intuitive website and you can see all important things at a glance, such as the car details, the number of miles included (usually unlimited), the included insurance, and the cancellation conditions.

Discover cars: The booking process with Discover Cars is just as intuitive as it is with Rentalcars.  All rates include the CDW and I like that the deductible is already clearly shown on the comparison page. The fuel policy included mileage and the cancelation policy is also clearly stated.  Most cars are cancellable up to 2 days in advance without any fees.  In some cases, a fully refundable deposit is taken at the time of booking.

View of the Alfama district in LisbonYou don’t need a car for exploring Lisbon

Renting a car in Portugal

Here are all the things you need Khủng know about renting a car in Portugal .
With these tips, you will be able béo rent a car in Portugal for cheap & avoid any surprises or extras .

Why rent a car in Portugal

Some of Portugal’s most beautiful spots are inland & difficult Khủng reach by public transport .
That being said, we also think that there’s nothing that can beat the freedom of having your own car .
You’re the master of your own schedule và you don’t need bự căng thẳng mệt mỏi about missing the last train or bus back .
Of course, this flexibility comes with a price, but we’ve been bự Portugal numerous times và have always found a car for a very affordable ( read : cheap ) price .
Here is an amazing 2 week Portugal itinerary .

Should you self-drive in Portugal?

We are fully in favor of a self-drive vacation in Portugal. No phối times when mập get up, no waiting for buses or trains, & no dragging with your luggage .
In addition lớn that, if you have your own car, you can stop as often or as little as you want .
Believe us if we say that you will come across many scenic roads in Portugal. Getting from one place béo the next often involves many photo stops along the way .
Driving in Portugal is also relaxed, once you leave Lisbon you will notice that people often go slower than the tốc độ limit .
While this would certainly annoy me at home page, I found it a bliss when cruising through Portugal as it allowed me mập enjoy the beautiful views .

Mountain road in PortugalExploring the countryside in Portugal

Car rental insurance in Portugal

If you’ve rented cars in other countries you’re probably familiar with how these insurances work .

Basic CDW

There is the basic CDW but it usually comes with a high deductible .
In addition béo the basic CDW most car rental companies also offer additional insurance packages .
The basic CDW is compulsory in Portugal, it includes unlimited third-party liability insurance và is required by law .
You don’t need bự worry about this CDW because the price of all car rentals will always be shown including this fee .

Additional insurances

Additional insurances cover the excess, damage phệ the windscreen, mirrors, wheels, scratches, & more …
Thes e insurances are optional, và because driving is so sánh relaxed in Portugal they’re not really necessary in our opinion. Burglary in cars is also not as big of a problem as in other countries .
Still, they can give us peace of mind & there have been cases where we took out đầy đủ insurance .


The rental companies khuyến mãi differently with what they consider mập be damage .
Whereas most international brands will ignore scratches that are smaller than 2 centimeters the ultra-low-cost local companies will charge you for every tiny scratch they can find .
This is something Khủng take into trương mục when comparing prices .
It’s definitely something you want béo verify with the company when you pick up your car as it will be important when you inspect your car for damage. ( more about this here )

TIP: Make sure to take your time to inspect your car and check for scratches, dents and other damage if you don’t get full coverage.

Sylvia hiking the Rota Vicentina in Portugal

How to avoid the upsell about the insurance

If you have ever rented a car, you know that they often try mập sell you all kinds of extras, including additional insurance, when you pick up the car .
You vì not know in advance the price that will be charged for this & you must then decide on it immediately on the spot .
Especially after a long flight, you probably can only think about a wonderfully soft bed béo relax. In other words, it is not the ideal moment mập make such decisions .
If you want phệ drive around fully insured ( it is not mandatory ), we, therefore, recommend that you arrange this in advance .
This can be done in 2 ways .

Travel credit cards

Travel credit cards often include a hire car excess policy.

You may already have one of these in your wallet. Check this before you take out additional insurance because it is not necessary bự be insured for the same twice .
Make sure Khủng read the fine print of your credit card’s policy, there are always conditions attached béo the policies .
Usually, these involve using the thẻ phệ pay for the car .
There may also be a limitation on the duration of the rental & sometimes certain countries are excluded .
N26 Travel Credit Card

Opt for full coverage

You can also opt for đầy đủ coverage when you rent the car trực tuyến at Rentalcars. com & Discover Cars .
In fact, it will most often be cheaper mập sign up for the đầy đủ coverage at the moment you book the car than lớn add this at the counter .
If you take out đầy đủ coverage with Discover Cars or Rentalcars. com they will refund the excess that you had Khủng pay phệ the car rental company .

Can you rent a car at your destination?

Car rental companies have offices in all major cities và airports. This is the case in mainland Portugal as well as in Madeira & the Azores .
However, we vì not recommend that you wait until you arrive at your destination .
Not only lots of cars are already booked in advance which means you have fewer choices but it’s also often cheaper béo rent a car in advance .
Renting your car trực tuyến allows you Khủng compare the prices of the different car rental companies và book a car that suits both your budget & your needs .
In case you’re not able lớn go on your trip for whatever reason, most car rental companies allow you phệ cancel your rental car for không tính tiền .

Lisbon tram PortugalThe iconic yellow trams of Lisbon, Lisbon is best explored on foot or by public transit

Renting a car in Lisbon

There are tons of car rental companies in Lisbon .
Thanks béo the fierce competition you will usually find very attractive prices .
Wondering what’s the best car rental in Portugal ?
Discover Cars always gave us the best đơn hàng comparing the local companies with the major international brands .
You don’t need a car for a đô thị trip béo Lisbon .
If you have a road trip that starts in Lisbon & you’ve planned a few days béo visit Lisbon at the start or the kết thúc of your trip consider renting a car from one of the downtown offices .
To avoid drop-off fees you will need Khủng return the car lớn the exact same location where you rented it. So if you picked up your vehicle in the center of Lisbon you will have return it there as well. If you nevertheless wish bự drive your car directly lớn the airport at the over of the trip, you will have phệ pay a drop-off fee .
Thes e fees can be excessive, certainly in situations lượt thích these where the offices are only a few miles apart .

Check prices and availability:
Discover cars Lisbon

Renting a car in Porto

In Porto there are slightly fewer rental companies but still more than enough .
You can use an aggregator site lượt thích Discover Cars béo compare them all in one go .
You don’t need a car béo explore Porto itself .
If your road trip starts in this đô thị consider picking up your car in one of the many downtown locations on the day that you leave the thành phố .
Similar béo what we said about Lisbon, renting a car in the đô thị & returning it mập the airport, or vice-versa, will be subject lớn a drop-off fee .

Check prices and availability:
Discover cars Porto

Carvoeiro Beach Algarve PortugalCarvoeiro’s untouched beach during our visit in Winter

Renting a car in the Algarve

You will find rental offices in all major cities in the Algarve as well as at Faro Airport .
The easiest way phệ find the best price will be lớn use an aggregator site such as Discover Cars or Rentalcars .
It may be worthwhile bự kiểm tra for prices before you book your flights .
We have noticed that car rental prices in the Algarve tend bự significantly surge in the high season .
Cars in Lisbon can be much cheaper & flights mập Lisbon are usually cheaper or at most the same price as well .

Insider tip: You can potentially save a lot of money by starting and ending your trip in Lisbon.

Lisbon phệ Faro is 2 hours & 30 minutes by car using toll roads .
The toll is approx. € 25 in 2021. If you avoid toll roads it will take you closer béo bốn hours .

Should you rent a car from the airport?

You will find that there are offices both in the đô thị center as well as at the airport .
When deciding between the two, you should know the following .

Renting a car at the airport

Rentals at the airport come with an airport surcharge that may make the rental a tad more expensive .
On the other hand, these offices tend bự have a wider selection và more competition which will usually make up for the extra fee .

Renting a car in town

If you land in Lisbon or Porto và kế hoạch on staying a few days in either of these cities before starting your road trip it may be better béo pick up your car at one of the downtown locations .
The airports are well-connected và you won’t be needing your car while you explore the cities .

Street art in Covilha PortugalStreet art cheers up the old city of Covilha

Which car to rent in Portugal

Small vs Large

Even though we don’t have kids we usually rent mid-size vehicles just bự have a larger trunk .
If you’re traveling with 2 suitcases, as we vì, a smaller car usually means that one suitcase will need lớn go on the back seat .
In Portugal, however, small is beautiful .
When in Portugal we opt for an economy car .
Thes e models are still large enough Khủng comfortably fit the two of us .
The drawback is that some of our luggage will need béo go in the back seat but this is nothing compared phệ the benefits this car has in the narrow streets that you will encounter all end Portugal .
Maneuvering these narrow streets with sharp turns và blind corners can be a stressful experience & you will regret hiring a big car the first phút giây you come across one of these .

Tips for avoiding narrow streets

Avoiding such streets completely is not always possible, but there are a number of things you can bởi vì phệ avoid them as much as possible .

  • Park your car outside historical city centers and walk the last few kilometers.
  • Don’t follow your GPS blindly, they sometimes suggest a shortcut whereas you could also stay on the departmental route. It’s often such shortcuts that tend to be steep and narrow back roads.
  • Don’t drive any further if you see the street narrowing. Stop and look for alternatives or get out and inspect the road on foot. This is often easier because having to back up your car in such narrow streets is the last thing you want to do.

Manual vs Automatic

Manual transmission still rules in Europe & is only gradually disappearing in favor of automatic transmission .
The range of automatic cars is small compared mập manual transmission cars và they will usually be at least twice the price .
If you book shortly in advance, the price difference becomes even greater .
If you want a car with automatic transmission, it is best béo book it as far in advance as possible .
Colorful streets in PortugalColorful streets in Portugal

Where to rent a car in Portugal

Finding a rental car shouldn’t be too much of a problem .
All major car rental car companies are present in Portugal, they have offices in mainland Portugal as well as in the Azores và Madeira .
In addition mập that, you will also find numerous small-scale rental car companies, some of which are only present in Portugal .
Instead of comparing all rental agencies individually we always rely on Discover cars và Rentalcars mập compare all car rental companies .
Both bởi vì a good job but these days we consistently find lower rates with Discover Cars .
Here’s a comparison of both sites .

Discover Cars

This is our favorite aggregator site. They compare kết thúc 30 suppliers béo find the best đơn hàng .
Thes e include the household names lượt thích Hertz và Avis but also lesser-known local companies lượt thích Record-Go, Guerin, & Goldcar .
The site works well béo find good fares in mainland Portugal as well as in the Azores & Madeira .
You can kiểm tra the rental conditions for a complete & clear listing of all important aspects including the security deposit, the deductible, the cancellation policy, the driver requirements, & any cross-border restrictions .
Most cars are cancellable for a đầy đủ refund up lớn 2 days in advance .
The fuel policy và the included mileage is also clearly mentioned .
All rates always include the basic CDW và it’s possible mập tăng cấp Khủng đầy đủ coverage for a very competitive price .
It’s possible bự book extras lượt thích child seats và E-toll devices during the booking process .
We recommend booking a toll pass when you’re hiring a car in Portugal. More about this later .

Check prices and availability:
Discover cars

Rentalcar s will be a known name for many .
Both sites are very much alike, if you have used one of the two, you will find your way around the other without any problems. To find all the important details ( the small print ) of the rental conditions you need mập nhấp chuột on “ important information ” .
The danh sách of suppliers that Rentalcars checks is a little smaller which could explain why the rates found are usually more expensive .
Rental cars are usually cancellable for không tính tiền up mập 48 hours in advance .
The rental prices shown include the basic CDW và Rentalcars offers 2 insurance packages that can be added Khủng the rental if you want a more carefree journey .
Thes e insurance packages are more expensive than the ones offered by Discover Cars .
The Premium insurance has một advantage, namely that you can rent with a debit thẻ. It is very expensive though .
It’s also possible béo add all kinds of extras lượt thích child seats và toll pass devices mập your rental .
We suggest adding these at the giây phút of booking so sánh that you don’t have Khủng think anymore about them when you’re picking up your car .

Check prices and availability:

Fall colors along the countryside roadsDriving the countryside roads is especially rewarding in the fall

Rules for renting a car in Portugal

If you’ve ever rented a car in another country, you’ll find that the rules are very similar around the world .
Here are some important things bự keep in mind when renting a car in Portugal .

Young drivers

Most companies have a minimum age for the driver .
The legal minimum age in Portugal is 18 but many companies only accept drivers who are 21 or older .
As long as you are not yet 21 you will have mập choose from a limited selection of suppliers including Alamo, Budget, và Enterprise .
Both Discover cars và Rentalcars make it easy béo see which cars you can choose from, you just need mập make sure that you enter your age at the moment that you start your tìm kiếm .
There will also be a surcharge called a “ Young-drive fee ” .
This fee not only applies bự those under 21, the age up béo which this is applied varies per company .
Some companies lượt thích Alamo are rather generous & only charge it when the driver is 21 or younger .
You also have Dollar where a surcharge applies up bự the age of 30 for certain models .
Both Discover Cars and Rentalcars will show whether a Young-driver fee ” is applicable .
Discover Cars will show the total amount, including the fee, in the tìm kiếm results .
Rentalcars will show the surcharge in small below the price of the car .
In addition béo the age, many companies also require that you have had your driver’s license for a year ( sometimes 2 years ) .
Thes e details are found in the “ important information – required mập pick up your car ” section of Rentalcars, or the “ rental conditions – driver requirements ” section when using Discover Cars .

The church at the main square in LagosThe church at the main square in Lagos

Cross-border restrictions/fees

You will usually need Khủng inform your rental company if you kế hoạch on driving the car phệ Spain or any other country .
Most probably a surcharge will apply .
Failing béo inform the company will void all your insurances .

Renting a car in Portugal and driving to Spain

Neither Discover Cars nor Rentalcars show the đầy đủ details about these policies .
If your road trip takes you across the border, it is best mập liên hệ the rental company for all the details .
Sometimes you will also find more information on their own trang web .

Azores Portugal Rental CarDriving through the UNESCO vineyards on Pico in the Azores

Limited vs unlimited mileage

Rental car prices have increased post-COVID-19. One of the things the rental companies bởi Khủng still offer cheaper contracts is lớn limit the number of kilometers .
Be sure bự kiểm tra this when you compare prices .
A limited mileage contract can be an interesting way Khủng save if you bởi not intend lớn drive very far. But you have Khủng be really sure that you won’t go end the limit. Each extra kilometer will be very expensive .

Island-hopping in the Azores

Some, but not all, rental agencies on the Azores allow you béo take your car on the ferry .
It can reduce the hassle that comes with having phệ rent a hot nhất car all the phút giây. A disadvantage is that the car usually has lớn be returned béo where you rented it. One-way rentals with drop-offs on another island are almost không bao giờ allowed .
All the details are found in the “ important information ” section of Rentalcars, or the “ rental conditions ” section when using Discover Cars .
We didn’t take our car with us on the ferry but instead made use of “ multi-island-hiring ” when we were island hopping on the Azores .
Check out our dedicated post about renting a car in the Azores .

What is required to rent a car in Portugal

To be able béo rent a car in Portugal you need tam things .

A driver’s license: This makes sense of course and I’m hoping you weren’t planning on driving a car in Portugal if you’ve never done so in your own country. One important thing to keep in mind is that most rental companies will require you to have your license for at least one year at the time that you pick up your car. (for some companies this is 2 years) Find out here whether you need an international driving permit.

A passport or ID card: When collecting your car you will need to present your passport or ID card together with your driving license.

A credit card: Most companies require that the credit card is in the driver’s name. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. Most companies also accept American Express. Debit cards and prepaid cards are in general NOT accepted. There are some exceptions though. This means it is possible to rent a car with a debit card.

Old city gateAn old city gate, streets in the historic centers are usually very narrow

Can you rent a car in Portugal with a debit card?

The short answer is yes. If you have a credit thẻ we recommend against using your debit thẻ for your rental but if you only have debit cards these are two things you can bởi bự rent a car in Portugal .
One car rental company that accepts both credit và debit cards is Turisprime .
Avis does also accept debit cards in some instances ( kiểm tra the rental conditions ) but requires the driver bự be 25 or older .
When using Discover Cars & Rentalcars you can use the filters on the left phệ only show the results of these suppliers .
The options will be limited. The good thing is that Turisprime is not the cheapest but they’re not overly expensive either .
Another option is béo look with Rentalcars for cars that have the Premium insurance package available .
This premium insurance package will giảm giá with the security deposit .
Because there’s no longer a security deposit required you will be able Khủng use a debit thẻ béo collect your car .
The cost of the premium insurance package is considerable & we recommend renting with Turisprime instead whenever possible .
Whenever you’re using a debit cards you must be sure that there are sufficient funds in your tài khoản Khủng pay for the security deposit. ( not so sánh if you opt béo go with the premium insurance package because then there’s no deposit ) The debit thẻ must also be in the driver’s name .

Colorful streets in Portugal

Do you need an International Driver’s License

Few people will need bự apply for an International Driver’s License .
Thes e are the requirements :

  • EU Citizens can use their current EU driver’s license without any restrictions.
  • This also applies to citizens of Switzerland and other countries in the European Economic Area.
  • Non-EU visitors with a driver’s license in English or Portuguese can use their driver’s license for a maximum of 6 months. If they will stay longer in Portugal they will need to apply for an EU license.
  • All others will need to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) or an official translation of their current license. In both cases, you will always have to carry that document together with your original driving license.

Renting a car in Portugal with a UK license

Can I hire a car in Portugal with a UK license ? Yes, you can !
Your UK driver’s license is valid in Portugal for a period of up mập 6 months. This is true for both photocard driving licenses as well as paper driving licenses .

Renting a car in Portugal after Brexit

After Brexit, you can still use your UK driver’s license for a period of up mập 6 months .
The only thing that has changed because of Brexit is that you will now have Khủng apply for an EU license if you want béo stay longer .

Renting a car in Portugal with a US license

Portuguese law accepts American Driver’s licenses for rentals of 6 months or less. There’s no need lớn apply for an international driving permit .

Renting a car in Portugal with a Canadian license

As a Canadian, there’s no need for an International Driving Permit .
All you need is your Canadian driver’s license as long as your rental is for 6 months or less .

Tips for renting a car in Portugal for cheap

Save on fuel

Unfortunately, fuel is expensive in Portugal, certainly if you compare it with other expenses lượt thích those for food và drinks .
This is another reason lớn take a smaller car. The smaller the car, the less fuel consumption .
To find the cheapest gas stations on your route, or in your neighborhood, you can install the 1-2-3 Fuel phầm mềm on your phone. The phầm mềm shows dữ liệu that is coming directly from the fuel stations và is therefore very accurate .
Most companies will use a Full-to-Full fuel policy, meaning that the gas tank is đầy đủ when you pick up the car và needs Khủng be đầy đủ again when you drop it off .
Don’t go for another policy as this will inevitably cost you more. The price charged by the rental companies for refueling the car is more expensive than what you pay yourself at the pump .
Always kiểm tra the fuel cấp độ before driving away with the car. We have had several occasions where the tank was not đầy đủ when it should have been .

Driving on the motorway in PortugalDriving on the motorway in Portugal, this time we got lucky and had a GPS in our car without paying for it

Do you need a GPS?

The road network in Portugal can be a real tangle. A navigation system can therefore come in handy for your road trip .
However, rental companies charge exaggerated prices for their GPS systems, which are often not even as good as Waze và Google map .
Both Waze & Google map work extremely well in Portugal. They know all the sights và we use a combination of both whenever we are in Portugal .
Google map has the advantage that you can tải về the map bự your phone in advance & use it without a dữ liệu connection .
EU citizens can use their dế yêu phones as if they were at home page, there are no roaming charges within the European Union. Others can buy a local SIM thẻ, this will be cheaper than paying extra for a GPS with your rental car .

One-way car rentals and drop-off fees

The rental companies prefer that their cars are returned lớn the original location because this makes it easier for them lớn manage their stock .
You’re almost always allowed Khủng return it béo another location but this will result in a surcharge. The surcharge is variable & largely depends on the distance between your pick-up & return location .
This fee is automatically included & clearly shown when using Rentalcars & Discover Cars .
Portugal is not that big, with a little creativity you can kế hoạch a beautiful road trip where you kết thúc up back at your starting point. Porto và Faro are both under ba hours from Lisbon. You may therefore wonder whether it is worth paying extra if you can save this cost by driving ba extra hours .
Of course, you also have Khủng take into trương mục toll fees và the cost of your flights. It is usually cheaper lớn fly back from the same airport, but the exceptions prove the rule .
You will have lớn look at this case by case. Sometimes this can be interesting, but we usually don’t recommend it because the fees charged are often excessive .

Mountain roads in PortugalMountain roads in Portugal

Check your pick-up and drop-off hours

Your rental price is calculated based on the hours you indicated when you did your tìm kiếm. Choose these hours carefully, because an hour difference can mean that you pay a whole day extra .
Here’s an example lớn make this clear :
If you indicate that you’re going Khủng pick up the car today at 2 PM & return it tomorrow by 2 PM you will pay for one day. If you instead opt phệ return it tomorrow at 3 PM you will pay 2 đầy đủ days .
If your travel plans allow for it, returning the car an hour earlier can save you quite a few bucks .

Daily rates vs weekly rates

Some companies use a combination of daily và weekly rates và there have been cases where the weekly rate was significantly cheaper than the daily rate. In those cases renting a car for 7 days turned out béo be cheaper than renting one for 6 days .
This is more of an exception than a rule but it chưa bao giờ hurts phệ kiểm tra .
Before booking this, you should kiểm tra how the rental company handles the earlier return of cars .
There’s usually no problem returning a prepaid car earlier as planned but some companies may charge administrative fees for doing so sánh. Others will recalculate the price mập refund any unused days, which can be detrimental in this case .
However, it is highly unlikely that companies will vì this with prepaid rates .

Possible extra charges when you rent a car in Portugal

We already covered several possible extra charges above :
In addition béo the above, here are a few more things for which you can ( have lớn ) pay extra .

The Lighthouse at Cabo de Sao VicenteThe Lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente

Additional drivers

Only one person is authorized béo drive the car .
An additional driver fee must be paid for each extra driver .
The cost for the extra driver can sometimes exceed the cost of the car so sánh think twice if it’s really necessary béo have one .
Usually, you can arrange this directly at the thời gian of booking the car. The additional driver is one of the optional extras listed on Discover Cars và Rentalcars .
There may however be instances where it needs mập be arranged at the counter .

Child seats

Depending on the supplier the fees for child seats can vary from € 7 lớn € 15. For longer road trips it can be interesting phệ bring your own seat .
The extra bag fee of the airline might be cheaper than what the car rental company charges .
You could also buy one in a local supermarket, prices for simple booster seats start at € 15 .

Toll devices

This is one option that we recommend taking .
There are many toll roads in Portugal & the toll roads are sometimes significantly faster than the departmental roads .
New toll roads no longer have toll booths, only electronic gates, & thus can no longer be paid for with cash or credit / debit cards .
The A22, the principal motorway in the Algarve, has these electronic tolls .
Here we explain in more depth how this works .
You can mix up your GPS lớn avoid toll roads, we also vì this if thời gian allows, but this is not foolproof .
In our experience, Google Maps and Waze are usually very accurate but here we had 2 times that we still drove through a toll gate .
Without a toll device, you will then have phệ pay your toll at the post office ( see below ). To avoid such administration, we always opt for a toll device .

The Via Verde lanes at the Ponte De 24 Abril near LisbonThe Via Verde lanes at the Ponte De 24 Abril near Lisbon (photo credits: Xuaxo)

Fuel Policy

Most rental companies offer a service where you bởi vì not have Khủng return the car with a đầy đủ tank. Supposedly lớn take the worry out of finding a gas station .
This is almost always a bad giảm giá & finding gas stations in Portugal is not all that hard .
There are gas stations near the airports và if you use Waze or Google Maps it will be easy Khủng find a petrol station close mập the station where you need Khủng drop off the car .
Always opt for a full-to-full fuel policy & make sure mập return the car with a đầy đủ tank .

Cancellation fees

Both Discover Cars and Rentalcars offer không lấy phí cancellation up bự 48 hours before your pick-up .
Praia Do Camilo near LagosPraia Do Camilo near Lagos

Picking Up Your Rental Car

Great, you’ve arrived in Portugal và you’re almost ready phệ drive off in the car that you rented. Just a few more things though … .

The paperwork

In Portugal you will almost always need phệ go phệ the counter bự collect your car. This means you better be prepared for the upsell that they will typically bởi. We’ve rented from many companies, international as well as local brands, & all will offer several extras .
Kindly decline anything you don’t need .
When the paperwork is done kiểm tra if the following matches what you’ve reserved :

  • Rental dates: Make sure the return date is correct
  • Fuel policy: Confirm that this is the policy you booked (we always recommend full-to-full)
  • Insurance: Basic CDW is always included in Portugal. If you have taken out full coverage with or Discover Cars you don’t need anything extra. Note that this full coverage will not be visible on the car rental company’s paperwork. In the event of an accident, the rental company will charge you for the costs and you must claim them back from or Discover Cars.
    If you have paid extra for additional insurance from the rental company, you should check that this is properly reflected in your car rental contract.

The paperwork you receive will normally have a number béo điện thoại tư vấn in case of problems or a breakdown. Double-check if it’s there .
If you have paid for extras this is also a good giây phút mập ask the representative how they work ( eg. GPS, Toll device ; …. )

Inspect the car

Make sure phệ inspect your car before you drive off. Some car rental companies will give you a damage báo cáo with existing damages Khủng start from. Unfortunately, sometimes you have béo start from scratch .
Thes e are the things Khủng kiểm tra for :

  • Scratches and dents: Check with the representative what counts as damage. Often small scratches can be ignored but some low-cost rental companies may charge you for the tiniest scratch. Mark everything on the damage report and take pictures of the damage. You normally have 24 hours to report the damage. If you’re tired or if it’s too dark to properly inspect the car you can do this the next day. In that case, ask for an e-mail address to send the damage report to.
  • Check the inside: Also inspect the inside and look for stains on the seats or cigarette burns.
  • Full tank: Check if the tank is full, if it’s not have it stated in your car rental contract. Take a picture of the fuel gauge if the tank is not full. (in case they would comment on it when you’re returning the car)
  • Mandatory items in Portugal: These items must be present in your car when driving in Portugal: a warning triangle, a fire extinguisher, a reflective safety vest for the driver, a spare wheel (or other solution for a flat tire), and the tools to replace the wheel in case of a breakdown
  • While not mandatory you might also want to check if you have the car manual and if there’s a parking disc
  • Check if the car’s menu is in English
  • Make sure any extras that you’ve paid for (GPS, Toll Device, Booster seats, …) are present

EXPERT TIP: These are the places most prone to damage. Make sure to check them.

  • Rims: scratches from parking against the sidewalk curb
  • Door handles: scratches from keys
  • Front bumper: scratches at the bottom from sidewalk curbs
  • Rear bumper: scratches near the trunk from loading bags in the trunk
  • Back of the side mirrors

Driving in Portugal

Highways and toll-fees

Portugal has many toll roads & a large part of them work with a system of electronic gates. You no longer find a traditional booth where you can pay with cash or credit thẻ .
Here’s an overview of the toll roads with an exclusive electronic toll system .
Electronic toll signYou also recognize these highways by this sign .

E-toll device

When renting your car, you can choose to pay extra for an e-toll device. The fee is usually anywhere between 1€ and 2€/day. If you have this device you can use these toll roads.

After your rental, you will receive an overview of the toll from the rental company & they will settle this on your credit thẻ .
This E-toll device, called Via Verde, also allows you lớn use the automatic gates at the traditional toll roads .


Another option is to sign up for EasyToll.

This is something you can bởi yourself trực tuyến .
You need the car plate & a Visa, Mastercard, or Maestro thẻ. The car plate will be linked béo your credit or debit thẻ & the fees will be directly charged bự your thẻ each giây phút you pass a toll gate .
Easytoll registrations are valid for 30 days. They are valid only on highways with the electronic toll system. You will need Khủng use the traditional booths at the other toll roads .

Paying your toll at the postal office

Electronic toll fees can also be paid at the postal offices but this is a cumbersome process.

First of all, it takes at least one day but sometimes 2 days before the postal office can see what tolls are associated with your license plate .
You also only have 5 days béo pay your tolls .
If you often use these toll roads, you will therefore often have lớn go mập the post office .
A disadvantage of this way of working is that you will no longer be able lớn drive on the toll roads for the last 2 days of your vacation because you will not be able béo pay this toll .
The car rental company will get a fine for these unpaid tolls và charge this, along with an administrative fee of their own, lớn your credit thẻ .

Praia da Costa NovaHitting the beach at Praia da Costa Nova

Road signs

Most road signs are self-explanatory .

Speed limits are indicated by circular signs with red borders. The most common speed limits are 50km/h in residential areas, 90 km/h on departmental roads, and 120 km/h on motorways. The minimum speed on motorways is 50 km/h.

Cars with trailers are allowed 100 km / tiếng on motorways và 70 km / giờ đồng hồ on departmental roads .
The above are the standard tốc độ limits. You will also find tốc độ limits of 70, 80, or 100 km / giờ đồng hồ on departmental roads .
Speed limits can be a bit confusing at times, with the limits sometimes going up & lao dốc every few kilometers on departmental roads. Speed limits are always valid until the next crossroad ( or a sign indicating the over ) .
So if you’re driving on a departmental road & a sign is not repeated after an intersection, you can drive 90 km / giờ again .
Almost all residential areas have a “ velocidade controlada ” lượt truy cập light. A sign announces the lượng truy cập light but your tốc độ is already measured at that sign. Slow lao dốc béo 50 km / giờ đồng hồ before the sign or you will arrive at a red light .
I don’t know how active the police are in checking tốc độ, we không bao giờ got a ticket. Still, I recommend paying close attention béo the road signs .

Points of interest are indicated by brown signs. Most sights are well-marked, but it can’t hurt to use your GPS.

Toll roads where there is a choice of both automatic or manual payment will have green “V” signs above the automatic lanes. You can only use these lanes with the Via Verde E-toll device.

Important regulations

Cell phones can only be used hands-free when driving. If you want phệ make a điện thoại tư vấn you must pull kết thúc .
The driver is not allowed phệ use headphones .
All passengers in the car need Khủng wear seatbelts .
Portugal’s alcohol limit is 50 mg / 100 ml blood .
Pedestrians have the right of way. If pedestrians are crossing the road on a zebra crossing you must stop. It is quite common Khủng see signs with a recommended tốc độ limit of 30 km / giờ đồng hồ at zebra crossings. ( a xanh sign with trắng 30 ). Although these signs are not there outside of cities, Portuguese law stipulates that you have mập slow xuống dốc phệ 30 km / giờ đồng hồ at a pedestrian crossing .

Traffic in Portugal

We have already driven quite a few kilometers in Portugal. Both in the mountainous north & on the beautiful coast of the Algarve. And of course also in the beautiful cities .
It is usually wonderfully relaxed driving on Portuguese roads. Of course, it is busy in cities such as Lisbon và Porto, but as soon as you leave them behind, it is very quiet và you are sometimes alone on the road .
Portuguese generally drive quietly, only in the cities it can be a bit more hectic. Most respect the tốc độ limits và you will come across many that go slower than the limit .
We have not seen many accidents & certainly not serious accidents .
Most Portuguese avoid toll roads. If you don’t mind paying toll fees you almost have your own private highway .
On the other hand, the departmental roads that run parallel mập these toll roads can be busy. The N-125 in the Algarve is such a road .
But even here it is not dangerous phệ drive if you follow the highway code. Just go with the flow .

Traffic Police in Portugal

Portugal has 2 police forces controlling lượng truy cập .
One is the GNR, the Guarda Nacional Republicana. You will see them in rural areas. They’re similar lớn the gendarmerie in France or the Guardia Civil in Spain. The GNR is a division of the military, their cars can be recognized by distinct green stripes và green letters .
The PSP, the Public Security Police, is active in the cities. They have a xanh uniform và a blue-white livery for the police cars .
The police are normally correct in enforcing the law towards both Portuguese & foreigners. They usually speak basic English & if you approach them kindly they will bởi their best Khủng help you properly .

Road conditions

Road conditions are in general really good. Toll roads are often almost deserted & in excellent condition. Departemental roads are also really good. They can be busy close phệ larger cities but not phệ the extent that the lượt truy cập is overwhelming or chaotic .
If possible I would try lớn avoid the historic thành phố centers. The streets are really narrow & double parking is really common. There you will sometimes have mập use your maneuvering skills .
Large parts of the road network in Portugal are not ( or badly ) lit at night .


Roundabouts are much more common in Europe than they are in the United States. Portugal also has its fair chia sẻ of these particular crossings. If you will be driving in Portugal you can almost be sure that you will come across one of them, perhaps as soon as you leave the airport .
You shouldn’t căng thẳng mệt mỏi about this, taking a roundabout is as easy as cake .
In Portugal, one drives on the right-hand side, & thus cars are going in a counter-clockwise direction on the roundabout .
When approaching a roundabout you need lớn give way bự lượng truy cập already on the roundabout. You have Khủng look for lượng truy cập coming from the left .
Broadly speaking there are roundabouts with one & two lanes. If there is only one lane, just enter the roundabout when it is safe Khủng vì so sánh và exit again at the street you need .
At roundabouts with two lanes, you’re expected béo use the inside lane until you approach your exit. If you want bự take the first exit you can stay on the right-hand lane. If you will be taking any of the other exits you move Khủng the inside lane và then move béo the outside lane once you get béo your exit .
Traffic on the inside lane has priority kết thúc those in the outside lane .
If it looks lượt thích you won’t be able mập get Khủng the outside lane soon enough you can just go màn the roundabout again .
Does this sound complicated ? Don’t worry, you will get a hold of it a lot faster than you expect .


Touristic sights outside cities usually have ( không tính tiền ) parking & in rural areas, you tend Khủng have ample parking space anyway .
Things become tricky in bigger cities & Portugal’s historic đô thị centers which are always a maze of narrow zig-zag streets .
Finding parking in the historic thành phố centers can be an issue .
Due bự the narrow streets và small parking spaces, a small car is absolutely recommended .
When parking in the streets you mustn’t vì so sánh within 5 meters of an intersection or bend with limited visibility .
Always kiểm tra that the parking spaces in the streets are not reserved for the residents .
It can be very difficult lớn find a parking spot in bigger cities lượt thích Lisbon & Porto .
You also don’t need a car in these cities .
If you’re visiting it as a day trip we recommend parking your vehicle on the city’s outskirts & walking or taking a bus / tram into the đô thị .
If it’s the beginning of your road trip you are better off picking up your car at the giây phút that you leave the đô thị. It will save you money & parking mệt mỏi .
If you still have mập park in the đô thị, here’s what you need béo know .


Parking meters

You will find parking meters in most of Lisbon .
The thành phố is divided into zones & tariffs vary from 0.8 € / hr phệ ba € / hr at the thời gian of biên tập .
There is also a limit on how long you can park, bốn hours in the cheaper zones & 2 hours in the zones closer bự the thành phố center .
The parking meters are operated by Emel và you usually have lớn pay from 9 am béo 7 pm .
The cheaper green và yellow zones are usually only applicable on weekdays, starting from red you most likely will also have mập pay on Saturday .
Sundays và Public Holidays are không lấy phí .
Always kiểm tra the parking meter, all the details can be found there .
Parking meters only accept coins. If you don’t have coins you can use the ePark phầm mềm or the ViaVerde tiện ích béo pay with Paypal or a credit thẻ. The second has the benefit that it also works in other cities .

Parking garages

There’re also several parking garages spread out across Lisbon. They become more expensive the closer you get béo Central Lisbon. Rates start at 0.8 € / hr & go up mập 2.8 € / hr. Here’s an overview of car parks operated by Emel. Other operators are Empark, Bragaparques, … .
There’s a flat fee per day of € 10 or € trăng tròn depending on where you park .
Parking garages accept cash và credit cards. Sometimes you can also use your Via Verde transponder ( the one you use bự pay the parking tolls ). If you have that device và you see a green Via Verde button on the cabinet where you would normally take a ticket you can press the button instead of taking a ticket .
To exit using Via Verde just slowly approach the barrier. It will open automatically & the applicable fare will be shown on the cabinet .
The cheapest car parks are usually the outdoor parking lots. They often offer day tickets costing 2 € or ba €. There is one on the Praça dos Restauradores, Alameda, & Entrecampos, among others. Here’s an overview of those managed by Emel .
It is relatively safe bự park along the street, there are not so sánh many car break-ins. However, always use common sense & don’t leave anything valuable in your car .


It’s probably a little easier phệ find không tính tiền parking in Porto than it is in Lisbon but it remains a daunting task if you want béo park close lớn the đô thị center .
The không lấy phí spots with fast access bự the historic đô thị center can be found in Vila Nova de Gaia. If you park anywhere near Avenida de República you can take the metro mập the old town, or better yet, walk across the iconic Dom Luís I bridge. Know that this is not a recipe for success, so sánh don’t get your hopes up .
Porto itself is divided into bốn parking zones. Parking duration is limited from 2 hours phệ 10 hours & the rates vary from 0.4 € / hour bự 1.20 € / hour at the giây phút of viết bài. Parking is payable on weekdays from 9 am phệ 7 pm & in zone một also on Saturdays from 11 am phệ bốn pm .
The parking meters only accept cash. You can also use the ViaVerde ứng dụng mập pay for your parking sessions. The ứng dụng works in several cities in Portugal & accepts credit cards .
There are several covered car parks in Porto. Some are operated by private companies, but the đô thị itself also manages several. Thos e are considerably cheaper và they are not necessarily worse .


We have already done many road trips through Portugal và we hope that with this post you have all the information you need bự go out on your own .
Traveling through Portugal’s interior is a really fun experience và you will discover many incredible places .

Have a great trip !

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