Basic info and car hire in Portugal:  

  • Location: Iberian Peninsula, Southwestern Europe.       
  • Population: 10,295,615 (2016 estimate)   
  • Official language: Portuguese and Mirandese.    
  • Currency: Euro (€).      
  • Weather: Portugal has three main climate zones: Mediterranean climate in the North and central Portugal and coastal Alentejo, oceanic climate along the northern half of the coastline and semi-arid climate in the South of Portugal. Read more »
  • Holidays in Portugal: For public holidays in Portugal click here »
  • Internet coverage: Hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés are mostly equipped with Wi-Fi. There are plenty of free hotspots across Portugal.
  • Road conditions: Roads are well maintained and have good connections.
  • Car hire in Portugal: Most visitors of Portugal pick up their rental at the airport, wheter at Lisbon Airport, Faro Airport or Porto Airport, and begin their journey. To ensure you have the lowest car hire price, make a car booking from 3 to 8 weeks prior to your vehicle collection. Alternatively, it's possible to get a great last minute car hire deal also. Don't worry, there's plenty of car hire agencies all across Portugal, so you'll definitely find a great hired vehicle for your trip. Get a perfect car hire deal »

Driving in Portugal

There are two toll systems in Portugal. The traditional one is called Via Verde (Green Lane). These toll lanes are marked with green V signs. You can pay with cash, credit cards or prepaid cards as you go. In order to use a Via Verde lane, you must buy or rent an electronic transponder or vignette at any CTT Post Office and Via Verde stores. Don't use the Via Verde lanes if you don't have the Via Verde Transponder. Other roads only have electronic tolls, meaning that there are no toll booths and can't be paid as you go. The devices placed at the beginning of those highways detect the passing vehicles. They are marked with a black car with three beams expanding toward it. The majority of car hire agencies in Portugal have Via Verde devices pre-installed in their vehicles. Nevertheless, if you'll be hiring a car in Portugal, ask the company you're hiring with how their systems work with both toll systems.

The roads are well maintained, however, extremely heavy traffic in major cities can be an issue. Since this might not be the news you wanted to hear, but on the other hand, car hire in Portugal is a simple and affordable process. There are plenty of car hire agencies in the area, such as Sixt, Hertz, Alamo and more, and you'll definitely find your dream rental vehicle! The maximum BAC level is 0.05% for drivers of private vehicles. There is a Zero Tolerance Law for novice drivers who have held a driver's licence less than two years.

The best time to plan your visit to Portugal is in spring or autumn as far as the weather goes. The maximum BAC level is 0.05% for drivers of private vehicles. There is a Zero Tolerance Law for novice drivers who have held a driver's licence less than two years.

  • Age limits: 21 (minimum age may vary according to car hire companies. A Young Driver fee will apply to drivers under 25 years of age. In order to hire a car, it is required that a driver has held a driver’s licence for a minimum of one year).
  • International Driving Permit: Yes, if you are a non-EU driver’s licence holder.
  • Additional papers: Identification (passport), a valid driving licence and a valid proof of insurance. (It is advisable to buy insurance at the car hire company in case your policy doesn't cover you while driving in Portugal).
  • Additional requirements: Warning triangles, reflective vests, spare bulbs for the car’s exterior lights, and hands-free equipment with hearing aids are required while driving and talking on the phone.        
  • Children in the car: All car occupants must wear a seatbelt. Children under the age of twelve or shorter than 1.50 metres have to be seated in the back seat and should be accommodated in appropriate child car seat.
  • Driving side of the road: Right.     
  • Lights: Headlights are not turned on unless you are in a tunnel or during conditions of poor visibility.      
  • General speed limits: 120 kph on motorways, 90 kph on rural roads and 50 kph in built-up areas.      
  • Parking suggestions: There are underground parking garages in major Portuguese cities and there are metered parking spots identified with blue lines where you can usually park your hired vehicle. Parking in spaces with yellow or red stripes is prohibited. It is recommended not to leave any valuables in the vehicle.

Top 4 Car Hire Destinations in Portugal

Portugal is a popular tourist destination – beaches, urban scene, culture and history are just one of the many things you can experience there. If you haven’t quite made a wish list of the places you want to go to while in Portugal, then read our Top 4 Car Hire Destinations and make it easier on yourself!


1.   Lisbon

This capital is one of the oldest cities in the world. But there's nothing dull about it, though. It's lively, amazing, affordable and entertaining. Get wobbly by looking at the stone paving on Rossio Square and see the marvellous Belém Palace, Belém Tower and Lisbon Cathedral. Discover Lisbon’s districts and have a fun night out! Taste their delicious local food and attend a festival. If you hired a car, you can take some amazing road trips and get the most of Portugal! Drive to the picturesque Sintra and admire the palaces, surf at Cascais or Peniche, take a walk down the narrow streets of medieval Obidos and count the painted houses in Evora city. With that said, this city can easily be your number one pick.

2.   Porto

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, and its postcard-perfect – playful and colourful houses, charming cafes, lovely neighbourhoods, baroque churches and sizzling night scene. Explore the historic centre, marvel at the beautiful houses in Ribeiro district and get busy at Avenue of the Allies shopping boulevard. Take a photo of the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge, step inside the Porto Cathedral, wander along the bank of Douro River and get the gist of the city by visiting the 19th century market, Mercado do Bolhão – this exuberant, noisy market is the real deal. If you have a hired car you can also drive to nearby places, such as Braga (60 km south), Guimarães (60 km southeast) and Aveiro (75 km north) and create a memorable vacation!

3.   Faro

Faro is a charming city and a very popular pick up location for those hiring a vehicle. Whether you're in search for a relaxing holiday or an adventure, this city will not let you down! You can catch sun rays on Faro Beach, walk the Old Town and have a pleasant lunch break. Do some sightseeing and visit the Faro Cathedral, and explore the Palacete Belmarço square. If your time permits, venture out of town and find more beaches close by, or other towns and villages where you can unwind, meet the locals and get acquainted with the culture and traditions of Portugal. Read about car hire in Faro, attractions, dining out and more.

4.   Madeira

Madeira is a group of Portuguese islands in the north Atlantic Ocean. Its capital is Funchal, and the Funchal Airport is the most common pick up location for vehicle collection. Madeira is less urban than Portugal’s mainland. The beautiful nature is omnipresent, offering a myriad of outdoor activities. If you love hiking, you can climb Arieiro Peak, said to offer the best views of the landscape. A visit to Madeira Botanical Garden rich in exotic plants is also highly recommended. The popular Fermosa Beach and the low-key Calheta Beach are only the beginning of your days at the beach! While in Funchal, don’t miss the beehive-like market called Farmers Market and the Funchal Cathedral!    

Road trip destinations

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