Car Rentals in Portugal: Expert Advice to Save You Time and Money (2023)

Renting or hiring a car in Portugal is not too different from other developed countries and does not involve too many hassles.

In this article we will tell you how to go about it, the documents you need to rent a car in Portugal and some tips on driving in Portugal.

Is renting a car in Portugal a good option?

Renting a car to explore Portugal mostly depends on your itinerary of where you are going and for how long.

Renting a car versus public transport

Public transportation in Portugal is quite cheap and reasonably efficient, especially in Lisbon and Porto. Most routes are designed to serve the most touristic and historic places, there is also frequent bus and Metro services to and from the airports, so you should not have trouble getting around.

But, if you want to visit a place like the Algarve or the Azores, renting a car to move around is necessary because public transport is not great in those regions.

Basically, if you plan to just visit Porto and/or Lisbon, renting a car to drive around is probably not the best option because parking spaces are very difficult to find and the streets are very narrow making it a bit difficult to drive if you’re used to big roads.

Besides, most of the sightseeing in Lisbon and Porto involves lots of walking and they are both pedestrian friendly cities.

Car Rentals in Portugal: Expert Advice to Save You Time and Money (1)

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Ok, so you’ve decided you want to rent a car. Where do you find one?

Top car rental companies in Portugal

Should you decide to rent a car in Portugal, below are the top car rental companies in Portugal you can choose from. They all have an office and Pickup points at the major airports in Portugal (Lisbon, Faro and Porto).

Before deciding on any of the car rental companies, we recommend making a price comparison with sites like: Rentalcars orAuto Europe.

The top car rental companies in Portugal are:

Should I rent a car in Lisbon’s airport or in the city?

There are a number of factors to consider in choosing to rent a car at the airport or in the city.

Convenience and price

In the airport in Portugal, car rentals are slightly cheaper than inner city car rental offices. It is more convenient to pick up and drop off the car at the airport, so you don’t have to commute.

Going to an inner city office is inexpensive and you may see lesser queues than at the airport, but it might not be very convenient if you have a few bags.

More choices

In the airport, most car rental companies are usually in the same section so it’s easy to scan through and pick the one that suits you. In the city centre, this may not be possible because the car rental offices are in different locations.

You itinerary

Your itinerary is also a major factor in deciding whether to rent a car from in the city or at the airport. For instance, if your destination from the airport is a place like Setúbal or Ericeria, it makes more sense to rent a car from the airport and get onto the highway to go directly to your destination.


But, if you are within the city limits, renting a car in the city is not a bad idea.

Car Rentals in Portugal: Expert Advice to Save You Time and Money (2)

The average price of car rentals in Portugal

Renting a car in Portugal can be as low as €4 to €5 per day albeit this is for a very basic option with lots of limitations.

The average price for renting a small car that can seat four people with room for one large suitcase is about €9 to €10 per day.

If you want some additional functionalities like GPS, wifi and other add-ons, the prices can go up quickly.

Automatic versus manual transmission in car rentals in Portugal

Sorry to disappoint you guys, but you should know that 80% to 90% of the rental cars in Portugal have a manual transmission.

They do have some cars with automatic transmission, but they are limited in number and very expensive to rent.

Is it possible to rent a car in Portugal without a credit card?

No. It is not possible to rent a car in Portugal without a credit card because the car rental companies need to hold a certain amount which serves as a security deposit on the car. This is always refunded to you once the car is returned providing it is in the same condition as when you picked it up.

What do I need to rent a car and drive in Portugal?

Driving licence

To rent a car you will need to have your regular driving licence which you use in your home country. This is applicable for anyone from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) as well as Switzerland, Australia, Canada and South Africa.

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If you come from a country outside the EU, EEA or the countries mentioned above, you may needan additional International Drivers Permit which you have to get from your home country. Not all rental companies ask for this but it is better to have one ready, just in case.

If more than one person will be driving the car, the other person should have both licences too (you will incur more charges for additional drivers).

A note about age limits

Drivers younger than 25 years old usually pay an extra fee. Some car rental companies will not allow you to rent a car if you are under the age of 18 years and some say 21 years so it is best to check with the agency before booking the vehicle.


Always bring your passport and take it with you in the car when driving around Portugal.

Credit Card

As mentioned, you need to have a valid credit card to rent a car in Portugal. It should have sufficient funds on it to also cover the deposit.


Although the fees for renting a car might come with collision damage cover, you may still need extra insurance cover.

You can buy full protection insurance from the car rental company for around €10 to€20 per day.

You can also pay a small amount to waive the excess in case something happens. This means you don’t have to pay a huge amount as excess in case you need to make a claim.


The car rental companies in Portugal usually hold €1000 on your credit card as a security deposit. This is done because you will be liable for any type of damage to the car you are renting, even for little dents and scratches. Be sure to note anything you see on the car on your contract before driving away from the car rental office.

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Car Rentals in Portugal: Expert Advice to Save You Time and Money (3)

Campervan rental in Portugal

If your plan is to explore cities and towns of Central Portugal with a camper van, motor home or an RV, you will have no problems finding a vehicle that suits your needs. These companies listed below all have pickup and drop off points in Lisbon, Porto and Faro.

Here are some companies that rent out campervans, motor homes and RVs;

You can also use a site like Auto Europe Motorhome to compare prices for different campervan rental companies in Portugal. If you would like some really cheap deals, tryYescapawho list private rentals.

Car Rentals in Portugal: Expert Advice to Save You Time and Money (4)

Quick tips for renting a car in Portugal

  • Pay up front – this is generally good practice as it saves you money. Book a rental car early once you have a set travel date.
  • Ask for weekly rates – it is sometimes cheaper than daily rates. If you are staying longer, you get a better deal.
  • Get a transponder (“Via Verde” Device) from the car rental agency so your card can be debited directly for toll fees instead of joining a long queue to pay tolls on the way.
  • Read and understand the fine print on the contract clearly so you avoid unnecessary charges and fines.
  • Inspect the car properly at the rental car lot before driving off and note down any dents and scratches with the agent.
  • For fuelling options, always choose full to full. That means the rental company gives you the car with a full tank and you return it with a full tank. This way you pay for only the fuel you used.
  • Don’t forget your charging cable for your phone and be aware that some cars don’t have USB chargers, so the old-fashioned cigarette lighter charger is a handy gadget to bring along.

Tips for driving around Portugal:

  • Don’t drink and drive, the legal alcohol limit permitted in Portugal is quite low;
  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road; and
  • Watch out for pedestrian crossings.

For more tips on driving in Portugal, see our article:Your Ultimate Guide to Driving in Portugal: Rules, Documents and more!

We hope you have a great time driving around Portugal in your rental car and if you have any questions, feel free to leave us a message in the comments section below.

For more tips for your visit to Portugal, be sure to sign up for our newsletter today.

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Does it make sense to rent a car in Portugal? ›

Renting a car in Portugal is the best and easiest way to explore everything the country has to offer. From beautiful cities like Porto and Lisbon to driving the stunning coastline and visiting the interior, a rental car will help you make the most of your time in Portugal.

What are rules for renting car in Portugal? ›

In order to rent a car in Portugal you must be 25 years old. Some companies rent to drivers under the age of 25 charging an extra fee; some other companies have the minimum age of 30 years old without extra fee. Older drivers (over 65 or 70 years old, according to the company), may be charged an extra fee, too.

Is it worth renting a car in the Algarve? ›

So, renting a car may be the only option if this is on your list of places to visit. Beyond this, many beaches in the Algarve, like Santa Eulália and Praia de Falésia (“Cliff Beach”), are quite far from bus stops and train stations. So, having a car can help you access these hard-to-visit destinations as well.

How much should you spend on a rental car? ›

Typical cost of a car rental

The expected cost to rent a vehicle varies depending on factors including location, car type and rental company. But the average cost in mid-October 2022 was about $81 per day, according to travel website Hopper.

Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or online? ›

Outmaneuver Fees and Industry Quirks

For example, cars rented at the airport are almost always more expensive because of added taxes and fees. Rent at an off-airport location and you could save 20 percent or more.

Is driving difficult in Portugal? ›

Driving in Portugal can be dangerous. The IP5 and the N125 route to the Algarve, the EN125, the A20 in Porto and the Antigua ER101 are particularly dangerous roads. There are lots of windy, narrow roads and in rural areas, many are poorly kept. There are several toll roads in Portugal.

Why has car hire gone up in Portugal? ›

The car rental industry has also blamed the price rises on rising demand. A spokesperson for one of the biggest rental firms, Europcar, says car rental is no different from other sectors of the travel industry, “where prices reflect the tension between supply and demand”.

Which car is best in Portugal? ›

So, Peugeot became the absolute leader in sales, overtaking Renault. In terms of models, get to know the best-selling cars in Portugal in 2021.

How much is car rental deposit in Portugal? ›

The car rental companies in Portugal usually hold €1000 on your credit card as a security deposit. This is done because you will be liable for any type of damage to the car you are renting, even for little dents and scratches.

Can you turn right on a red light in Portugal? ›

Portuguese traffic lights follow the conventions of the Vienna agreement and so should be familiar to most drivers. You cannot turn right on a red light unless indicated and you should also be aware that many local drivers run red lights.

Do I need CDW in Portugal? ›

The basic CDW is compulsory in Portugal, it includes unlimited third-party liability insurance and is required by law. You don't need to worry about this CDW because the price of all car rentals will always be shown including this fee.

What is the prettiest town in the Algarve? ›

Tavira. Regularly described as the prettiest town in the Algarve, if you're going to pick just one place to check out during your trip, Tavira is it. All white walls and red terracotta roofs, cobblestones small fishing boats, Tavira is the kind of traditional Portuguese town that tourist brochures are made of.

Why are car prices so high in Portugal? ›

Vehicle import taxes are very high. So much so that, although the price of cars in Portugal is on average much higher than in other European countries, taxes make importing even more expensive. To start with, cars with less than 6 months of registration or less than 6,000 km are considered new.

What is the easiest way to get around Portugal? ›

Portugal is not a large country and you can get almost everywhere easily and efficiently by train or bus. Regional trains are often cheaper and some lines very scenic, but it's almost always quicker to go by bus – especially on shorter or less obvious routes.

How much is a car rental for a week? ›

On average a car hire in South Africa costs R3 749 per week (R536 per day).

Is renting a car monthly worth it? ›

One of the main advantages of renting a car for a longer period of time is without a doubt the price. In many cases, renting a car for a month is cheaper than having your own car. Besides being cheaper than having a car, it can also be cheaper than renting a car for short periods.

How much should I set aside for a car? ›

How Much Do I Need for a Car Down Payment? In general, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 10% down for used cars and 20% for new vehicles. For example, if the new car you've settled on costs $25,000 and you want to make a 20% down payment, you'll need to save $5,000.

Is it better to book a rental car directly? ›

Renting online can save you money.

First, you can often find better deals if you book in advance, which isn't an option when you're booking on the spot at the airport. When you book online, you can more easily compare rates via travel booking websites.

Is it cheaper to book a rental car ahead of time? ›

Booking three to six months before you travel is usually ideal. Prices tend to be most competitive during this period. There isn't much benefit to booking further ahead. If anything, prices tend to be higher a year ahead.

Is it better rent a car directly from the rental company? ›

Our research showed that rental companies offer the best rates online. In addition, renters are more likely to get discounts and special offers when they order in advance online. These offers usually aren't available to customers who go over the counter because of the seeming urgency.

Is it rude to tip in Portugal? ›

In general, Portugal is not a tipping culture, there are no established rules, and different people follow different rules. There is no obligation to tip in restaurants, hotels, bars, or personal service locations like salons and spas.

What time is rush hour in Portugal? ›

How is the traffic in Lisbon? Congestion in Lisbon can vary considerably. Like all major capital cities, rush hour is the worst time of day to drive around the city. Rush hour normally starts at 08:00 until 10:00 and again at 17:00 until 19:00.

Which side do you drive in Portugal? ›

Portugal Rules and Regulations

Here are some rules and driving tips that you should make yourself aware of before you start your road trip in Portugal: When driving in Portugal remember that you have to drive on the right hand side of the road.

Are Ubers reliable in Portugal? ›

Is Uber in Portugal safe? From my experience using Uber in Portugal, I consider it to be a safe mode of transportation because I have never had a negative experience. The drivers are very respectful and professional.

Will there be a rental car shortage in 2022? ›

Halfway through 2022, and some rental firms still don't have enough cars because of a shortage of automotive chips. Manufacturers haven't built as many vehicles, and they have prioritized production of high-margin models (rather than the small, cheap vehicles holidaymakers typically rent).

What documents do I need to hire a car in Portugal? ›

When you rent a car in Portugal, you'll need to bring the following documents:
  • Your driver's license from your home country.
  • Your ID (passport)
  • Credit Card in your name.
  • International Driver's Permit (recommended)
9 Jul 2022

What is the nicest part of Portugal? ›

The Algarve is arguably the best part of Portugal to visit. The region has hundreds of beaches, beautiful hotels, and arguably the most delicious cuisine in the country.

Is it worth driving in Portugal? ›

For the most part, driving in Portugal really is a breeze. Now, we've heard from other travelers while in the country that they hate the idea of driving in Portugal, but honestly, the opinions we heard were quite unfounded. The reason for this is because Portugal's roads are by and large fairly easy to navigate.

What is a T2 rental Portugal? ›

The apartments are classified in types T0, T1, T2, etc., that define the number of separate bedrooms. So a T0 means a studio apartment (no separate bedrooms, with bedroom and sitting room combined in the same single room), while a T2 means an apartment with two separate bedrooms (plus a living room).

What is the deposit for most rental cars? ›

In general, a minimum of $200 plus the amount due for the rental will be charged to the payment method for security purposes. The deposit for high-value vehicles may be higher. These funds will not be available to you during the rental.

Do I need an international driving permit to rent a car in Portugal? ›

Driver's Licenses -- U.S. and Canadian driver's licenses are valid in Portugal. But if you're at least 18 and touring other destinations in Europe by car, you should probably invest in an international driver's permit.

Can you drive in flip flops in Portugal? ›

Police in Spain and Portugal, in particular, have very strict - and very strictly enforced - rules on drivers wearing flip-flops, sandals or even going barefoot while driving to hotels or to the beach.

Whats the speed limit in Portugal? ›

Speed limits

On motorways, the speed limit is 120 km/h (75 mph) and on dual carriageways it's 100 km/h (60 mph). In urban or built-up areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h (30 mph).

How do I pay Portuguese tolls? ›

If your vehicle has a Portuguese plate number you can pay tolls through the following systems: Via Verde Portugal, CTT's post-payment system, Satelise or Paytolls.

Do expats get free healthcare in Portugal? ›

Portugal provides free and subsidized healthcare facilities for all Portuguese residents including the expats. To be eligible for the subsidized healthcare plan, expats need to get themselves registered with the Instituto da Solidariedade in Portugal.

Do tourists get free healthcare in Portugal? ›

Please note: Portugal does not offer free medical treatment to visitors, and under European Union rules non-EU citizens are required to have travel medical insurance covering emergency medical, hospitalization, and repatriation (including the case of death).

Should I get insurance on an international rental car? ›

Make sure you're covered

Most U.S. auto insurers won't cover you while you're driving abroad, with the possible exceptions of Canada and Mexico. So unless you have a credit card that offers rental car insurance, you'll probably need to purchase your insurance from the rental company itself.

Where is the not touristy to stay in Algarve? ›

Western part of the Algarve

This is the least spoiled and touristy part of the Algarve. In winter this place can get quite windy and cold but if you love wild unspoiled sublime nature this is the place to go!

How many days is enough in Algarve? ›

A full week on the Algarve gives you plenty of time to split between activities and relaxing on the beach. If you're looking for a more relaxing beach holiday, 7 days on the Algarve is a good choice. If the Algarve is a part of a broader Portugal itinerary, we'd recommend between 3 and 5 days.

Where do most expats live in the Algarve? ›

Where do expats live in the Algarve? The majority of expats in Algarve are in Tavira, Vilamoura, Lagos, Faro, Albufeira, Alvor and Ferragudo. These towns also happen to attract a large amount of tourists each year, so they can get quite busy during high season.

Can you negotiate prices in Portugal? ›

In Portugal there is no tradition of bargaining on prices. The value asked is usually the final value. There is some room for negotiation, but it's minimal and only applies in special cases.

What is the most popular car brand in Portugal? ›

Portugal Best Selling Cars in 2021 is dominated by the Renault Clio, followed by the Peugeot 2008 and the Renault Captur.

Is Portugal or Spain cheaper country? ›

Generally speaking, Portugal is cheaper than Spain, although the flight there will likely be the most expensive part of your Portugal vacation.

Should I get euros before going to Portugal? ›

It's a good idea to exchange at least some money -- just enough to cover airport incidentals and transportation to your hotel -- before you leave home (though don't expect the exchange rate to be ideal), so you can avoid lines at airport ATMs (automated teller machines).

How can I save money in Portugal? ›

Five easy steps to saving money in Portugal
  1. Avoid imported products. ...
  2. Stay off the tourist trail. ...
  3. Don't only shop in supermarkets. ...
  4. Make use of trips home. ...
  5. Shop carefully for phone, internet and TV packages.

What should I look for when renting a car? ›

  • Make sure you have your paperwork. ...
  • Check the car exterior. ...
  • Familiarize yourself with the Rental vehicle. ...
  • Know where you are going. ...
  • Ask what kind of fuel your rental car uses. ...
  • Get back in time. ...
  • Make sure you get the Full Damage Waiver Insurance. ...
  • Stay on the Road.

Is it cheaper to rent a car longer or shorter? ›

In many cases, rental companies will provide a lower rate on a long-term rental compared to a short-term one, and they sometimes also offer unlimited mileage.

What are the best days to rent cars? ›

Weekends are the best days to rent a car because most people do not need them on the weekend. Weekend rentals are a great way to take a day trip somewhere if someone doesn't want to rack up miles on their own vehicles. Most car rental places will offer price points that include unlimited mileage.

What are the risks of renting a car? ›

There are several bad things that can happen to car renters in California:
  • Third Party Liability. Damaging someone else (bodily injury or property damage) and getting sued by the injured person. ...
  • Theft if renter is careless. ...
  • Collision/Loss for whatever reason. ...
  • Personal Accident Medical Costs. ...
  • Personal Effects Loss.

What are the most important things to look for in a car? ›

10 Popular Features to Consider When Buying a Car
  • Heat and air conditioning. Most people want to be comfortable when they're driving, regardless of the season. ...
  • Power windows. ...
  • Automatic vs. ...
  • Front-wheel drive vs rear-wheel drive. ...
  • Engine type. ...
  • Safety features and ratings. ...
  • Hauling capacity. ...
  • Seats.
16 Feb 2021

Is it cheaper to rent a car for a week or by day? ›

Sometimes it's cheapest to rent for only the days you need the car, sometimes it's cheaper to rent for a week even if you only need a car for a few days. In other words, be sure to check both before you book—just make sure the rental car company won't charge a fee if you return the car early.

What is the longest amount of time you can rent a car for? ›

These days, the rental duration for any car can last from a single day to up to 6 months. Some companies may even offer contracts with 12 month durations. However, not all rental car companies offer such long durations.

What are the cheapest times to rent a car? ›

But when it comes to rental cars, this might surprise you: The best time to rent a car is last minute, when they tend to be cheaper. That's according to a NerdWallet analysis conducted in March 2022 of 360 rental car prices from eight major car rental companies in the United States.

Does time matter for rental car? ›

Many people don't realise that choosing the right pick-up time for their rental car really matters. Being late means the car might have gone. Find out the best time to book your car when you're flying in, and what to do if things don't go to plan. Hire cars won't wait indefinitely if you're late.

Is it better to reserve a rental car in advance or at airport? ›

Reservation in advance is a good approach. In this way, the car rental seldom cost you the money. Rental companies let you book a car free of costs, using the credit cards only when the customers arrive for pick up at the main franchise or counter.


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