Why rent a car in Portugal?
Portugal is an extremely popular tourist destination as visitors come from all over Europe to enjoy its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and warm summer weather. Hiring a car in Portugal gives you the freedom to explore areas such as the Algarve and Faro at your own leisure and pace and means you do not have to rely upon public transport. Car hire in Portugal gets booked up very quickly so we recommend booking as far in advance as possible to ensure availability and cheaper prices.
Where can you hire a car in Portugal?
There are numerous car hire locations all over Portugal where you can pick up your car including Lisbon, Porto and Albufeira. If you are flying into Faro car hire is available from Faro Airport or direct in the city of Faro. The most popular locations to hire a car in Portugal are:
How to get the cheapest car hire in Portugal?
Car hire prices in Portugal can vary significantly and are dependent on the time of year, rental company and type of vehicle. Portugal have over 25 car hire companies competing for your business which helps to keep prices low. Expect to pay as little as €5 per day for a small rental car during winter months when demand is low, but for the same car in peak summer months, €20 per day is more realistic. Compare car hire deals from leading rental agents such as Hertz, Enterprise and Thrifty against local car hire company deals from trusted suppliers like Guerin and Discovery.
Best time to book car hire in Portugal?
If you're visiting Portugal in the peak summer season, or around any school holidays, it's wise to book at least 4-6 weeks in advance, although we recommend as early as 3-6 months. The further in advance you book, the wider range of cars are likely and prices are less volatile. The closer to the time of travel you book, prices can vary hugely to reflect supply and demand.
Car hire in Portugal by region
Aveiro is a coastal region in the north west of Portugal famed for the namesake city built, like Venice on swampy land that was drained into a network of canals. Much of the architecture there resembles that of Venice too. The city is renowned for its splendid cathedrals as well as the beautiful and unspoilt beaches along the Peninsula de São Jacinto.
The Azores are Portugal’s piece of subtropical paradise. Way out in the Atlantic, they are warmed by the Gulf Stream and enjoy year round summer. The islands are unspoilt and timeless, covered by wild hydrangeas and dotted with tiny communities who make their living from the sea and tourism.
Beira Interior Norte
In the north east, this region faces Spain across the border and is the highest part of Portugal. The region is beautiful, crammed with stunning mountains, languid rivers, meadows bursting with wild flowers and fragrant pine forests all overlooked by imposing castles.
Beja region is often overlooked by tourists visiting the Algarve but aVilamoura of car hire locations towns and cities that retain their watchful stance from the time of the Moorish occupation. Vast citadels crown mountain tops looking down today on plantations of olives and vineyards.
In the North West of Portugal and with a small Atlantic coastline Braga is ruled by the city of the same name, acknowledged as the oldest city in the country. The region is proud of its Roman ancestry and the city of Braga hosts a Roman market when people role play Roman characters and the food and drink of the day are distinctively Roman in flavour too.
Braganca is the far north eastern region of Portugal and has the country’s rugged and sometimes hostile environments. Famed for nine months of winter and three of summer, it’s divided into the ‘cold lands’ all above 300 metres, and the ‘hot lands’ where the Douro River flows, carving out the valleys and bathing the water meadows.
Bordering Spain and in the central eastern part of Portugal, Castelo Branco means ‘white castle’ and is so called because of the castle built by the crusaders in the 12th century near the city that has the same name. The region is thickly wooded by pine trees and in the summer sun, the dazzling green swathes give off a heady scent of pine.
Further north again, Coimbra is home to the speciality music style of Portugal called Fado, a melancholic style of ballad. The region is also renowned for stunning ecclesiastical architecture. The main city of Coimbra has a stunning waterfront location and a vibrant nightlife revolving around the life of the university.
Crammed with history and architecture, this region is bounded by the Algarve in the south and the Tagus River in the north. Visit stunning sights such as the six mile long Agua de Prata Aqueduct built in the 16th century and still in perfect condition today. Elsewhere, see the nearly complete Roman temple in the middle of Evora itself.
Best visited in winter for a true sense of its identity, it is a hotspot of partying, sun and sand during the summer months. If you get bored of the beach, drive inland and visit the villages of the rural Algarve, often completely untouched by tourism and full of friendly and welcoming locals.
Found on the coast north of the capital, Leiria is part of a region renowned for its cuisine; barbecued piglet, piquant cornbread and delicious fresh Atlantic fish. Round your meal off with the delicious pastries; originally made by the local convent. The region combines tranquil countryside with beautiful unspoilt beaches, offering the best of both worlds.
On the west coast, this is the capital of the country and a beautiful city of white limestone buildings overlooked by a hundred metre high statue of Christ. The centre of the city is a maze of cobbled streets oozing with old world charm.
Madeira is a gardener’s paradise. Found far out in the Atlantic Ocean, it is a volcanic island of steep hills and soaring cliffs. Dark sandy beaches rise up to pretty whitewashed villages whilst the vines thrive on the rich soil to produce the cousin of port, the soft and sweet Madeira wine.
Portugal’s second city, a UNESCO Heritage Site and home to the delicious port wine. Spend some time in the wineries before follueda.
Right on the border with Spain in the centre of Iberia, Portalegre has changed hands many times over the centuries. It’s a land of rugged hills and forests and is ruled by the city of Portalegre itself whose huge cathedral looks out over the city and surrounding countryside.
The region of Santarem is the hinterland of the capital and offers glimpses of old Portugal with an economy based on vines, cattle, horses and bulls. It’s a land of sweeping meadows watered by the Tagus and Alviela Rivers and gentle hills warmed by the Iberian sun.
South of the capital and with the Tagus River flowing through it, Setubal region has the imposing Castle of Palmela for visitors to explore and admire, the wonderful sandy beaches of the Tróia Peninsula and the Serra da Arrábida with its soaring mountains, beautiful beaches and many dedicated picnic sites for the tourist.
Viana do Castelo
Viana do Castelo was once the most important port in Portugal from where famous explorers such as Da Gama and Magellan set sail. It had great importance which is why the streets are crammed with stunning buildings worthy of Lisbon. It’s been called the Mecca of Architecture and Portugal’s most beautiful city, enhanced by the sublime views out over the Lima River.
The Viseu region occupies a high plateau between the Serra da Estrela and the Serra do Carmulo and is famed for the wine produced in the Dao Valley. Drive the road from Nelas to Viseu along valleys hemmed in by towering peaks for some of the most beautiful views in Europe.
In the central, northern part of the country, the region of Vila Real is noted for weather extremes with snow in winter and baking temperatures in summer. The countryside is rugged with stunning waterfalls such as the Agarez and dotted with palatial homes such as the Palacio de Mateus, after which the wine in the distinctive round bottle was named.
Portugal Mini Guide
Portugal is one of the most visited holiday destinations in Europe and is particularly popular with the British, Germans and the Dutch because of its excellent weather and comprehensive facilities. We have other great locations in Europe including Spain and France.
The most westerly country in mainland Europe, Portugal has an expansive coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and has been a perennial favourite with holiday makers across the globe looking for beautiful beaches and a temperate climate whilst offering great value for money.
Whether you plan to relax on the beach, enjoy the nightlife or take a walking tour while sampling wines at local vineyards, Portugal has something for everyone. This is due in part to the diversity of its landscape along the Iberian Peninsula which means that you can get from the mountains down to the beaches in almost no time at all.
Recently the country has promoted itself as one of the best golf destinations in the world and many people are coming to Portugal to play the sport on its fine courses. The Portugal Open is part of the European PGA golf tour circuit and takes place in April on the Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golfe in Cascais.
The roads in Portugal are good and there is usually a way to get anywhere that you want to go without leaving a highway, though some of these do charge a toll. Some of the drivers can be dangerous to say the least and care should be taken especially around the major conurbations of Porto and Lisbon. We have rental locations for car hire at Lisbon Airport and also in the city centre for car hire in Lisbon, so check out our great rates.
The Algarve is another place where extra careful driving is advised. However, planning your journey well in advance by carefully studying a map and also trying to avoid rush hours can help to prepare you. You can also add on satellite navigation to your car hire booking, for extra peace of mind! Just keep an eye out for people impatiently attempting risky overtaking manoeuvres and beware that lanes discipline is not always followed.
Once you feel confident, get out and explore this wonderful country. As well as the main cities and The Algarve, which are fantastic destinations, there are a host of other places worth seeing such as Viana do Castelo, Braga, Guimarães, Coimbra, Tomar, Aveiro, Amarante, Braga, Bragança, Chaves, Lamego, Viseu, Vila Real, Lagos, Silves, Évora, and Angra. These are a very good bet during the high season summer months when the Algarve is at its busiest.
Hire a car in Portugal with debit card (without credit card)
If you need to rent a car in Portugal but don't have a credit card, it's not the end of the road. Some of the car rental agents we work allow you to rent a car in Portugal without a credit card. The table below shows which rental agents in Portugal allow debit card car hire;
Alamo (from EUR 41.09)
Autocunha (from EUR 120.84)
Bravacar (from EUR 33.26)
Budget (from EUR 35.34)
Dollar (from EUR 33.50)
Drive & Go (from EUR 35.30)
Drive On Holidays (from EUR 35.29)
Enterprise (from EUR 45.64)
Europcar (from EUR 88.18)
Firefly (from EUR 31.40)
Flizzr (from EUR 41.07)
Goldcar (from EUR 35.28)
Guerin (from EUR 71.98)
Hertz (from EUR 72.00)
Interrent (from EUR 34.81)
Keddy By Europcar (from EUR 71.96)
Oporent (from EUR 32.30)
Rent A Star (from EUR 37.07)
Rhodium (from EUR 35.32)
Sadorent (from EUR 96.88)
Thrifty (from EUR 55.00)
Turisprime (from EUR 30.96)
*rates shown are indicative of a weeks rental in mid-season
- The Azores and Madeira which are archipelagos in the Atlantic are also part of Portugal
- Portugal attracts around 13 million visitors a year which makes it amongst the 20 most visited countries in the world
- One of the nation's favourite dishes is called 'bacalhau' and consists of dried cod.
- The north of Portugal has its own unique martial art, Jogo do Pau, in which fighters use staffs to combat one or several opponents
- Portugal is the world's leading producer of cork
- If you're driving through Portugal you can travel without stopping on Portuguese motorways with an Emovis Tag