Portugal is a great country for a road trip. What do you need to know before renting a car in Portugal? This article covers car rental, toll roads, and other tips.
Road tripping in Portugal
Portugal is one of Europe’s finest travel destinations. It’s full of historic cities, beautiful natural areas, and golden sand beaches, and the locals are very friendly. It is for sure a great place for a road trip because most of the roads in Portugal are of excellent quality. In this article, you can read all about car rental in Portugal.
Where to rent a car in Portugal?
What is the best place to rent a car in Portugal? Renting a car in Portugal can be done in many places. Obviously in the airports of Lisbon, Porto, and Faro, but also in many cities. For example, in the Algarve, you can also rent a car in Albufeira, Portimão, and Lagos.
Rent a car with Auto Europe
There are many organizations in Portugal to rent a car. Which one should you choose? Personally, I actually always choose Auto Europe for rental cars. So far, I’ve got nothing but good experiences with this company. Auto Europe is a car rental broker and when you search for Portugal rental cars, you get a great overview of all your options.
In addition, there are other benefits of using Auto Europe for Portugal car rentals:
- The prices are already very competitive, but you also get an additional 10% off when you create an account.
- Free cancellations up to 48 hours in advance
- You often have the choice of several packages. The basic package already includes good insurance, but for a little more money you also have a super cover package including a refund of the permanent excess.
- It is very easy to book extras, such as a baby seat or navigation system.
- There are no hidden costs, you always see the correct price immediately. Of course, you can book extras, but if you don’t need them, then you won’t pay more than the first price you see.
- Customer service is available 7 days a week. Yes, also on weekends.
Renting a car in Portugal: Costs
What costs should you take into account when renting a car in Portugal?
What does it cost to rent a car in Portugal?
You can rent a car in Portugal for as little as €10 per day. How much you pay depends on many factors. Of course, it matters when you want to rent a car, and it also matters from which location you want to pick up the car.
An example: When I stay in Lagos (in the Algarve) I usually rent a car for a week. If I were to do that for a week in November, a midsize car at the Lagos office costs €283. If I pick up the same car at Faro airport, it costs only €148. So, as you can understand, I usually travel to Faro to pick up a rental car. Even if you include the cost of the train ride (€16 round trip) it is still much cheaper.
So it’s a matter of trying different options to find the cheapest rental car.
In addition to the cost of the rental car itself, there are additional costs that you (may) need to consider as well.
In most cases, you pick up your rental car with a full tank and you must return it with a full tank as well. Pay close attention to whether you need to fill up with gasoline or diesel, this is usually stated in the confirmation. In Portugal, gasoline is called gasolina, and diesel is called gasóleo.
Gasoline prices in Portugal are generally slightly lower than in other Western European countries.
When you rent a car you always have one main driver, for each additional driver you pay an extra amount per day. This exact amount varies by the rental company but it is usually around €10 per day.
By the way, pay close attention to the price if you add an additional driver with the rental company. In my case, for example, they charged almost double the amount that was on my confirmation. So keep your confirmation handy and check the prices.
Young driver fee
Most rental companies charge a young driver fee for drivers younger than 26. This surcharge varies by the rental company, but you can expect to pay around €10 per day on average.
Look carefully at the rental company’s terms and conditions for this surcharge, sometimes it only applies to young drivers up to age 22.
Very occasionally, there is also a senior surcharge, for drivers 70 and older.
One way fee
Do you rent the car at place A and return it to place B? In most cases, this means you have to pay a one-way fee. How much this varies greatly from one car rental company to another. For pickup in Faro and return in Lisbon you may pay €50, but it could also be €150.
One advantage of booking with Auto Europe is that the one-way surcharge is already included in the price.
Traffic rules in Portugal
In general, the same traffic rules apply in Portugal as in other places in Western Europe. You’re driving on the right side of the road.
Note that fines for violations are quite high in Portugal. Overtaking on the right can easily cost you €1000 and the same goes for using a mobile phone while driving (fines start from €600).
Toll roads in Portugal
Virtually all major highways in Portugal are toll roads. It is helpful to know how the system of toll roads in Portugal works before you enter the toll road. For some toll roads you can choose from several lanes, in addition to paying automatically through a toll booth, you can then pay with cash or a credit card.
The newer toll roads (for example, the toll road in the Algarve) only have an electronic toll system and here your license plate is registered. If you do not have a transponder in your car, you must pay your toll charges at the post office (CTT) within 3 to 5 days. However, my experience is that this does not work well with Portuguese rental cars.
The easiest way is to have a transponder installed in the car when you pick up your rental car. You pay a small fee for this (in addition to the toll charges) and you can drive right through anywhere. Upon completion of your car rental, you will receive the bill with toll charges from your rental company.
Don’t feel like paying toll fees? It is quite possible to avoid the highways, but of course, you will be on the road a bit longer.
Car rental Portugal: practical tips
There are a few final things I’d like to share with you when it comes to car rental in Portugal.
- You cannot rent a car in Portugal without a credit card and the credit card must be in the name of the main driver. Your credit card is used to reserve a deposit, in case you damage the car. Most car rental companies accept Mastercard, Visa, and American Express.
- You can rent a car in Portugal from the age of 18, provided you have had your driver’s license for at least 1 year. Please note that this is not a set rule, each rental company has its own rules. Check this when booking your rental car.
- Want to drive from Portugal to Spain with your rental car? This is usually allowed, but not with every car rental company. So check the conditions carefully.
- You can park for free in many places in Portugal, but in the (big) cities you usually have to pay. So look around carefully to see if you see a pay station.
- Do you want to visit some small villages? Some streets can be very narrow! Therefore, it may be wise to choose a small model instead of a large SUV when you reserve your rental car.
Read more about Portugal
These were all my tips for renting a car in Portugal. Would you like to go road tripping in Portugal and are you looking for tips on the most beautiful destinations? Then there are some handy travel guides full of fun road trip itineraries and tips:
I myself lived in Portugal for about seven months in the last two years (and I will be back soon!), that’s why you will find a lot of information about a trip to Portugal on this website. You might like to check out these articles:
- What to do in the Algarve? 26 tips!
- Silves, the oldest town in the Algarve
- The top things to do in Lisbon
In my monthly newsletter, you can read more about my adventures in Portugal and tips for other fun travel destinations. Subscribe now.
This article is part of a collaboration. I only collaborate with companies that are a good fit with this website and that I believe will add value to my readers. Read more about collaborations here.