Renting a car in Portugal: Everything you need to know

Renting a car in Portugal: Everything you need to know

Portugal is a beautiful country to discover, with its varied landscapes, rich culture, delicious cuisine and friendly people. But what is the best way to travel around Portugal? What modes of transportation are available, and what are the pros and cons of each? We find renting a car in Portugal the most convenient way to explore the country. Portugal is an ideal country to travel around by car, you will see the most beautiful landscapes and pass the nicest villages. In this article you can read everything about renting your car and driving in Portugal.

Rent a car in Portugal

One of the most popular ways to travel around Portugal is by rental car. A car gives you the freedom and flexibility to go where you want, when you want, and to visit places that are less accessible by public transport. With a car you can also enjoy Portugal’s beautiful roads and landscapes, stopping wherever you want to take photos or take a break.

You can rent a car from Discover Cars, which we find to be a very reliable rental company. They offer a Full Coverage package that covers any damage or theft of your car, they will pay you back for any charges up to a limit. You just pay once and don’t have to worry about anything else. The price of the rental car depends on the car type and how long you rent it for. For more peace of mind, we highly recommend adding Full Coverage to all your rentals.

Road Portugal

Activate Easytoll for the toll roads

In Portugal there are two types of toll roads: some have a booth where you can pay, but others only have cameras that record your license plate number. If you have a rental car, you cannot simply pay the toll afterwards at a post office. Fortunately, there is an easy solution: the ‘Easytoll’. This is a system that links your license plate to your credit card, so that the toll is automatically debited. You can have the ‘Easytoll’ activated by the rental company when you pick up your car. If you go by car yourself, you can arrange this in advance via this website.

Take your credit card with you

Almost all rental companies require that you carry a credit card in the name of the main driver. An amount will be reserved on the credit card for the deposit. It is important to have sufficient balance available. Without the credit card or if you do not have enough space on the credit card, you will not receive the car. The amount of the deposit may differ per company.

Renting a car in Portugal without a credit card is possible. At Discover Cars you can select the filter “Debit Card”. You will then see all rental cars that can be booked without a credit card.

Road Lisbon

Do you need an international driver’s license

You can drive with any EU license. If you have a non-EU license (except Switzerland) and a visa in your passport, you can drive as long as you have not been in Europe for more than 6 months.

Don’t get extra insurance

With Discover Cars Full Coverage package you are completely insured. This even goes so far that in the event of damage, your deductible is also reimbursed. Some local rental companies will try to offer you extra insurance. Don’t go into this, it’s really not necessary when renting a car in Portugal.

How old do you have to be to rent a car in Portugal

Depending on the rental company, a minimum age of 21 years is required. There are exceptions that you can rent a car from the age of 18. You will need to have had your driver’s license for at least 1 year. Please note that an additional surcharge for young drivers often applies up to the age of 25. A maximum age of 65 or 75 years can also be used. When booking the car, all the information you need is included in the conditions.

Lisbon tram

Driving in Portugal

Driving in Portugal is safe and the roads are generally good. The traffic rules in Portugal are comparable to those in most countries. If you navigate with Google Maps, it will also provide alternative routes to avoid the toll roads. Please note that these routes often take worse roads or the journey is significantly slower. The driving itself can be a bit exciting in the big cities, the traffic is more chaotic and busy there. Above all, stay calm and give the local driver priority where necessary. Outside the cities, the roads are quiet and people generally drive neatly. In some places the streets are steep, narrow and can be full of bends. Of course, there are also a number of rules that you must take into account, we have listed the most important ones for you.

  • Trams are a typical feature of many Portuguese cities, such as Lisbon and Porto. You may only overtake a tram that is moving on the right. You may only pass a stationary tram if there is a traffic island. Last but not least, trams always have priority over cars.
  • Parking on the left side of the road (against the direction of travel) is not permitted, even if there are parking spaces there.
  • Do not park near a yellow line on the road or sidewalk, within 10 meters of a railway crossing or within 5 meters of a petrol station.
  • If you go into the interior of Portugal you can drive on beautiful narrow mountain roads. Please note that ascending traffic always has priority over descending traffic.
  • A double broken line on both sides of a lane means that this lane is for both directions. This is also called an alternating lane. You must always drive with low beam when driving in this lane.

Tram lissabon

The best way to navigate in Portugal

In Portugal you basically have coverage with your own provider in Europe. Do you have a bundle with not much data or do you simply prefer not to be reachable? Then it is possible to download the map of Portugal offline in the Google Maps or Maps.Me apps. This way you can navigate without data usage. Finding and navigating to important locations such as gas stations or supermarkets becomes a lot easier. You can also pin sights and booked hotels to the map. Then they can easily be found in your overview and you can drive there in no time. Because you navigate offline, you will of course not receive the latest information about traffic situations. Pay close attention to the signs to see where you can and cannot drive.

If you are not from the EU and you want to stay online in Portugal we highly recommend getting an eSIM through Airalo. They offer cheap data packages so you always have access tot the internet.

Lisbon bridge

Renting a car in Portugal gives you the most flexibility to get the most out of your visit. Experience the freedom and enjoy all the beauty the country has to offer. Would you like to travel through Portugal in a different way? We will soon release tips for traveling by bus, plane or train.

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