Portugal is a beautiful country to explore and discover by car. Besides special cities like Porto and Lisbon and the tourist coasts of the Algarve, there is so much more to see and do.
You want to be sure that you choose the right car for your holiday. In this article we explain everything you need to know about age and driver's license requirements, insurances, credit cards and give you useful tips to rent a car in Portugal. You can easily find the right rental car via our easy-to-use tool.
Are you searching for specific information about a certain topic? If so, click on the link in the table of contents below. To read all information on this page, just scroll through it.
You can rent a car in Portugal from the age of 18 years. You will have to pay a surcharge and you will choose from fewer models than drivers that are 24+ years. Below we will tell you more about the conditions that apply to the various age categories.
From the rental companies we researched, there are two where you can rent a car when you are 18 years old. In our rental company’s overview at the bottom of this page you can see which rental companies they are. You pay a surcharge of around €12 per day with a maximum of around €80 per rental period. The number of models you can choose from is limited.
At this age you can rent a car at all the rental companies from our survey. The number of models you can choose from is therefore much more extensive than for 18-year-olds. However, you still pay a surcharge that can go up to about €80 per rental period.
From the age of 23 you can choose from all the models that the rental companies have to offer. Some companies may have a surcharge up to the age of 25.
From this age on, the conditions may vary greatly from one rental company to another. There are some who do not set a maximum age limit while others set a limit of 65 years, 80 years or for some models a surcharge. Please check before entering into a rental agreement if there is an age limit for the chosen model.
If you want to rent a car in Portugal, the following documents are required for all ages:
If you live outside the EU, you will also need an international driving license.
If you want to rent a car in Portugal safely and hassle free without a credit card, there are two companies we can recommend. The other rental companies we researched all require a credit card in the name of the main driver.
At several sun destinations, including Portugal, Sunny Cars offers the possibility to rent a car without a credit card. You pay the rental fee when you book via Ideal.
When booking online (at least 5 days before the rental date) you can check the option 'without deposit'. The surcharge for this option is, depending on the car model, between €64 and €105 for a rental period of two weeks.
The number of models you can choose from when using the 'no deposit' option is significantly smaller than when using a credit card to rent. During our survey we had a choice of 164 models with credit card and 7 models without credit card. During the high season, Sunny Cars in Portugal does not offer the option to rent without a credit card.
Sunny Cars takes over the guarantee for the rental company when using the option 'without deposit', instead of the rental company using a credit card as a guarantee.
As a condition, you will need to be able to show several documents to the rental company when picking up the car:
Tui Cars also offers the possibility to rent a car in Portugal without a credit card. One condition is that the amount to be paid does not exceed €500. During the booking you will have the opportunity to pay not only by credit card but also by bank transfer or direct debit.
They rent out several cars throughTui Cars Top Partner. Some models of that partner can be hired with a cash payment of the deposit (€300) when picking up the car. During our research we at Tui Cars had the choice out of a total of 53 cars of which 3 could be hired without a credit card. For this service Tui Cars does not charge a surcharge.
You are going to rent a car in Portugal and do not want to be unpleasantly surprised. So, it is useful to insure your rental car properly. Unfortunately, rental companies have made it difficult, by using different terms in an unclear way in their terms and conditions. To create clarity, we have detailed the following explanations.
With a standard rental contract, you are responsible for the damage incurred, including income lost by the rental company because of the damage. Rental companies include legal liability coverage as standard here. With a bare rental contract, however, you are not properly insured.
The best option is a rental car insurance where you do not run any risk. This is possible with some rental companies when you tick the most extensive (and expensive) insurance options of the contract. The price of such a rental car is often high. A cheaper way is to make use of an all-inclusive insurance.
Pay attention. This term is used by many rental companies but does not offer the same coverage everywhere. Before you accept this option please read the terms and conditions carefully to know what is excluded and when there is a deductible.
With an all-inclusive insurance you do not have a deductible and the deposit is a lot lower or even €0. Of course, you still must abide by the rules of the contract and the local traffic rules. Consult our handy rental company overview to see which rental company’s offer full-coverage insurance.
Maybe you don't want to insure the car with full-coverage, but choose specific individual options to suit your needs instead. What individual insurances are there for rental cars in Portugal?
This damage insurance limits the maximum amount for which you are liable in the event of damage to the car. The damage to the vehicle may be caused by collisions and accidents. However, there remains a deductible that can be between €1000 and €3600.
This insurance, which you can take out in addition to the CDW, also covers any damage to the windows of the car.
With Super CDW, the deductible that does apply with the regular CDW and Theft protection expires.
The deductible is reduced with this insurance in the event of breakdown, accident, vandalism and tire damage.
This insurance, which is also compulsory in Portugal, covers civil liability (MTPL). The coverage of this insurance is not always high enough to cover the legal standard of €50.000.000. In that case you can insure yourself with the Supplemental liability protection.
With this option the coverage of the liability towards third parties (i.e. of the TPI) is increased to the legally valid standard of €50,000,000. This option can be useful as the standard TPI often only covers a claim of a few tens of thousands of euros.
An insurance to cover damage caused by theft. There is, however, a deductible. With Super CDW plus Theft protection there is no deductible.
This is a passenger insurance that pays out in the event of injury or death. Tip: check the driver's standard third-party liability insurance. Often the compensation is better than the PAI and you do not have to take it out. The PAI is especially useful when the third-party insurance decides not to pay out, for example when the driver is to blame for the accident.
This voluntary insurance is offered for € 3.50 per day for some car models. With this insurance you are insured for assistance in matters such as loss of keys, replacement of a flat tire and towing if the car comes to a standstill due to the wrong fuel.
Which specific traffic rules do you have to consider in Portugal? How do you pay the toll in Portugal? How many glasses of port can you enjoy during dinner if you still must drive afterwards? If you want to enjoy a stress free holiday, it is important to be aware of this.
Below we give the answers to these questions, among others. And even better: with our experience we have put together a list of tips to take into account when renting a car. Roadtripcar.com also has a handy checklist, so you can be sure to check the most important points when you pick up the rental car. You can download it for free from the same article!
Driving in Portugal is easy to do. The traffic rules and signs do not differ much from ours and the through roads are good. On secondary roads it is better to be aware of bumps and potholes in the road surface. If you really go 'off the beaten track', you will encounter unpaved and very narrow roads.
The green lanes you may encounter on motorways are intended for cars with an electronic toll system (more about this below).
Almost all rental cars in Portugal are equipped with an electronic toll system. The rental amount for this is between €1.50 and €2.10 per day with a maximum of €18.50 to €21 per rental period. In addition to your rental costs, you will pay the toll costs. The bill will be charged by the local rental company via your credit card.
Besides other ways to pay the toll, there are more things important to know about the toll in Portugal. Roadtripcar.com collected this information for you and wrote a separate article about it.
This sign indicates that you are entering an electronic toll road.
The traffic rules in Portugal are almost the same as in most European countries. However, there are some rules that are good to know before you go out in a rental car.
In Portugal, the following speed limits typically apply:
For the Portuguese themselves, these speed limits do not seem to apply. Do not be rushed by tailgaters and unexpected overtaking maneuvers, this is the Portuguese driving style. And if they give you a light signal, this does not mean you can go for it: they want to go for it themselves.
The use of a mobile phone is only allowed for drivers if you use a headset that is suitable for use in one ear. A two-ear headset with only one ear is not allowed.
It is only allowed to overtake left. You may only pass a stationary tram if there is a refuge.
On bi-directional roads a so-called 'switch strip' is sometimes used. You can recognize that strip by double interrupted stripes on both sides. These strips can be used by traffic in both directions. Matrix signs above the road indicate which direction of traffic can use that extra lane at that moment. You are encouraged to use your low headlights here, even during the day.
In Portugal it is not allowed to park on the left side of the road (i.e. against the direction of travel). In the big cities there is paid parking in the city center, mostly in parking garages.
At the blue marked zones, you can park with a parking disc. If it is not in your rental car, you can pick it up at a police station.
Children up to 12 years of age who are less than 1.35 meters tall may only sit in the back of the car. They must then be seated on an approved child seat or an approved booster seat with safety belts.
Children under 3 years of age may be transported in the front seat under certain conditions: facing the opposite direction of travel and in an approved child seat.
In Portugal, a maximum limit of 0,5 grams per liter is allowed. On average this is about two glasses of beer/wine or whiskey. If you have had your driver's license for less than three years, it is forbidden to drive a car if the blood alcohol level exceeds 0.2 grams per liter. Driving under the influence of narcotics is completely prohibited.
The cheapest way to refuel in Portugal is usually at petrol stations that belong to a supermarket. At all petrol stations you can usually pay with a debit card or credit card. If the gas station is closed, there is often a payment terminal available. Keep in mind that at the latter foreign bank cards and credit cards are not always accepted.
Make no mistake when refueling, the names are quite similar. Petrol is gasolina and diesel is gasóleo.
For a holiday in Portugal any model is basically suitable, although we have used a more compact model for our holiday. What is the reason for this? We will explain this below based on a few models.
Preferably you want to rent a car in Portugal at an affordable price. Of course, the cost of a rental car depends on your wishes. Renting a cheap car in Portugal is nice, but often there are hidden costs so you will lose more money in the end.
Roadtripcar.com has conducted a broad research into the costs and conditions of car rental companies.
In our survey we compare rental cars that are fully insured and have a deductible of €0. The rental period was 14 days in low season and the rental location was Faro.
The cost, for a 14 day rental period in Faro, with the cheapest rental company with all-inclusive insurance:
Pay attention: The above prices are the outcome of our investigation at that time. Prices may vary greatly, depending on:
Always be wary of offers that are hugely different from other offers with the same conditions.
Taking a road trip through Portugal is a particularly beautiful holiday experience. Portugal is not very large, so you can explore the country from north to south in 14 days at your leisure. With all larger car rental companies it is possible to return the car at a different location than where it was picked up.
This so-called One-way service is always possible on request before booking. Sometimes at no extra cost and sometimes with a surcharge between €100 and €200. At the rental companies we have researched it is possible to return the car in Spain at one rental company: Tui Cars. Again, you must request this before booking.
During your holiday in Portugal with the rental car, can you also visit Spain and return the car in Portugal? No problem!
All the rental companies involved in our research allow this. Provided you request this in advance. Not every car has the right papers for crossing borders. If you make your request in time, the rental company can reserve the suitable car for you to cross the border.
Portugal is in Europe one of the top 5 countries where people rent a car for their holiday. And it is growing, especially now that more and more people discover Portugal as a destination for a road trip.
At every airport you will find the offices of car rentals. Do you want to be sure that a car of your choice is available? And do you think it is important that you do not under- or over-insure on an expensive rental agreement?
Also in Portugal it is advisable to book a car online well before your holiday starts. Most major car rental companies rent cars in Portugal. Which rental company you choose depends on what kind of car you want to rent and which insurances you consider important.
For your convenience, we have researched various rental companies on points that are important to most people. At the end of this article you will find the results in a handy overview.
Most people going to Portugal will land at Porto airport, Faro airport or Lisbon airport. From there you can start your round trip or transfer to your hotel.
Would you like to use the rental car throughout your holiday? Then it is cheaper to take the car directly from the airport. With a shuttle bus the rental company will take you to their office. No extra costs will be charged for this.
Porto at the Doura river, is a good location to rent a car for your day trips or to start your round trip. It is an important tourist city in the north-west of Portugal, which gives you a wide choice of rental cars. Most rental companies are located near the airport and usually organize a free shuttle for you between the airport and their offices.
However, the city of Porto and its region also have local branches of their rental offices. This is quite handy if you want to rent the car for a few day trips during your vacation.
Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Porto that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our survey of car rentals in Portugal.
Faro district is the largest tourist attraction in the Algarve. Would you like to see more than the hotel chains in places like Albufeira and Lagos? Then be sure to rent a car and discover the beautiful nature and the original Portugal. You can even hop across the border and visit, for example, the nearby Seville in Spain.
Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Faro that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our survey of car rentals in Portugal.
Also when you are on holiday in Albufeira you will find yourself in a beautiful central place from where you can further discover Portugal. Let yourself be surprised and go on a voyage of discovery and, who knows, you might decide to take a road trip in Portugal for your next holiday.
Would you like to rent a cheap and stress free car in Albufeira that meets your needs? Use the handy overview of our survey of car rentals in Portugal.
You want to make the best choice for a rental car in Portugal. Roadtripcar.com continuously researches rental companies and has made the following handy overview. This will make it easier for you to find a good rental car. We select companies that rent a car in Portugal based on experiences and rate the costs, requirements and options.
At some rental companies we read about bad experiences of customers more often than at other companies. Do not be put off by this at first. People quickly tend to post bad reviews when the problem could easily have been avoided.
Sometimes there are rental companies where there is a particularly large amount of negative reviews. We advise not to rent a car from such companies. If you do, we advise you to pay extra attention to the advice above and follow all the tips provided.
Our article on the most important tips for stress free car rental including checklist will help you minimize the chance of an unpleasant experience.
Looking for a rental car for your holiday or road trip? Use the tool on roadtripcar.com and find the perfect car for you!
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