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Basic info and car hire in Portugal

Iberian Peninsula, Southwestern Europe
10,295,615 (2016)
Portuguese and Mirandese
Euro (€)
  • Weather in Portugal: 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 in Portugal: Hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés are mostly equipped with Wi-Fi. There are plenty of free hotspots across Portugal.
  • Road conditions in Portugal: 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 »

About Portugal

Portugal is a country to remember - beautiful beaches, welcoming and friendly people, cities full of history and bustling with life.  The nature is extrodinary, especially if you'd like to avoid the busy beaches, there's much peace to find in the underrated coastline, where rarely a tourist set's his foot. And let's not forget about the Portuguese couisine - the Portuguese table is always set for a delicious meal and full of sea food. Once in Portugal, you'll wish you'd visit this paradise on earth sooner. 



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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 in Portugal: 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, you need one in Portugal, if you are a non-EU driver’s licence holder.
  • Additional papers for driving in Portugal: 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 in Portugal: 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 in Portugal: Right.     
  • Lights in Portugal: Headlights are not turned on unless you are in a tunnel or during conditions of poor visibility.      
  • General speed limits in Portugal: 120 km/h on motorways, 90 km/h on rural roads and 50 km/h 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.

What to see 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!


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