Portugal car rental

Renting A Car in Portugal: Everything You Need to Know in 2023

Looking into a Portugal car rental?

You’ve come to the right place as I live in Portugal for the past few years, and going to walk you through the process of renting a car in Portugal. By the end of the article, you will feel confident about the entire Portugal car rental procedure.


When booking your Portugal car rental online, I use and recommend Discover Cars. They have the best deals from international and local companies.

Portugal is by far one of the most diverse countries I have visited. From whitewashed villages and medieval towns to beautiful rivers, rolling hills and rugged coastline. 

I have travelled across Portugal and must say that there is no better way to explore the country than by car. You get the freedom to stop whenever you want and take the less travelled roads.

Renting a car in Portugal can be expensive, and if you have never been to the country before, it can be hard to decide which company to choose from. I rented a car here on many different occasions with different companies each time. And learned everything there is to know about renting a car in Portugal.

Ready to learn the ins and outs of renting a car in Portugal? Let’s get to it, starting with the most frequently asked questions about renting cars in Portugal.

Renting A Car in Portugal FAQ

Should I rent a car in Portugal?

There is no better way to explore Portugal than with a car rental. Portugal is full of hidden gems that are hard to access by public transport. Of course, you can easily explore the city of Lisbon or Porto without four wheels, but if you want to venture outside the main towns, you will need a car. Many amazing places I have been to are inaccessible via public transport. 

The freedom of travel makes renting a car in Portugal worth it. There is no need to be afraid to drive the roads here. You might have seen many pictures of narrow cobblestone streets, but these can be easily avoided. 

Portugal has a well-developed road network, with many highways connecting major cities and towns. Within 3 hours from Lisbon, you can be in Douro Valley or the beautiful coastal Algarve.

How old do you have to be to rent a car in Portugal?

The minimum age to rent a car in Portugal is 18 years old. Some companies, however, will require you to be a minimum of 21 years of age.

Renting an automatic car in Portugal

Automatic cars are much more expensive than manual ones and can be hard to secure due to high demand. Most companies have only a few automatic cars available in their fleet, which get booked quickly. I normally find the best available cars on Discover Cars.

Renting a car in Portugal with U.S. Licence

You can rent a car in Portugal with a US driving licence. 

When renting a car, make sure to have the following:

  • Your driver’s license from your home country
  • Your ID (passport) 
  • Credit Card in your name

Can I drive a hire car in Portugal with a UK licence?

Yes, you can legally drive in Portugal with your UK-issued driving licence. You do not need an International Driving Permit for Portugal from the UK.

What’s the cheapest car rental company in Portugal?

I recommend and use Discover Cars. It compares local, national and international companies, so you get the best rates.

The best part? You can add full coverage for Portugal insurance for as little as € 6.36 per day.

Oftentimes, I have found the cheapest Portugal car rental companies to be Sixt and Enterprise  — both of which you’ll find on Discover Cars.

Remember to always check ratings, and never go with a low-rated company.

What is the best car rental in Portugal?

All the big-name car rental companies also have offices in Portugal — Hertz, Sixt, Alamo, Budget, Europcar, Enterprise and Avis.

Discover Cars searches for all the best deals with the best car rental companies in Portugal.

Wherever you choose to rent cars in Portugal, read reviews about the company and that particular location.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Portugal?

I rented a car in Portugal for as little as €12 per day. On average, expect to pay €45-60 per day in the high season. There are, however, a lot of great deals out there, and depending on the car model, pickup location and time of the day, you can find very affordable car rentals in Lisbon or Porto.

Finding cheap car rental in Portugal

Consider all the costs associated with renting a car when comparing car rental prices.

In addition to the daily rental rate, you will also need to pay for insurance. Keep in mind that most rental companies also charge additional fees for extra drivers or child seats. 

To get the cheapest car rental in Portugal, I usually went with the basic model and often got an upgrade upon pickup. This is, however, never guaranteed, so if you want to make sure you get the model you want, secure it at the time of booking. 

If you are planning on pick-up and drop-off at different locations, be aware of the one-way fee.

To save money, compare the prices of car rental pick up at the airport vs the nearby town as the price may vary.  Also, I found that when renting a car for a longer period, many companies offered us additional discounts on weekly or monthly rentals.

When I am renting a car in Portugal, I always use Discover Cars. Their full coverage insurance only costs € 6.36 per day. You can book with Discover Cars here.

Tolls in Portugal

Almost all Portuguese motorways are subject to toll fees. Some of them, such as the A2 between Lisbon and the Algarve, have toll booths where you can simply pay as you go.

Others, like the Algarve motorways, have electronic tolls. Most car rental companies offer you the addition of a transponder for a small fee. This way, you can use the motorways, and the fees will be collected from your credit card at the end of the rental.

If you decide to opt out of this option, you will have to pay the toll yourself at a CTT office. Failing to pay the tolls will result in a penalty letter arriving at your home address a few months later. 

Renting a car in Portugal: A city-by-city guide

Renting a car in Lisbon

Lisbon is a top Portugal travel destination, and renting a car in Lisbon is very easy and straightforward. It’s easier to just rent the car at Lisbon Airport and drive to your desired destination. If you are looking to rent a car at Lisbon airport, you will find all the major companies within the terminal. I always find cheap car rental options in Lisbon with Discover Cars.

What is the most popular rental car in Lisbon?

When it comes to cars, the Mini is the most popular rental car in Lisbon as it’s small and easy to get around with. If you are planning to stay in Lisbon city centre, there is no need for a car rental. For day trips from Lisbon to Cascais, Ericeira, Peniche, Obidos or Sintra, car rental can be very useful.

Renting a car in Porto

I found some of the best car rentals in Porto with Discover Cars. Renting a car at the Porto airport is easy, as you will find the best rental agencies here. It is also the most convenient place since you can go straight from your flight right to your rental car. There is no better way to explore Douro Valley than with a car.

Should I rent a car in Porto?

Unless you’re planning for a few Porto day trips, there is no need to rent a car to stay in Porto.  You can get around Porto by Uber or by using public transportation.

Renting a car at Faro airport

Faro is the best airport to arrive at to explore the Algarve. Faro has some of the best car rentals, like Sixt, Guerin and Drive on Holidays. At Faro Airport, I also found the cheapest car rental options. Faro and the Algarve region are best to be explored by car. There are many stunning beaches and whitewashed villages that are otherwise hardly accessible without a car. You can easily explore Lagos, Albufeira, Olhao, and many other beautiful spots with a car.

What do I need to rent a car in Algarve?

The general requirement is to provide a driver’s license, credit card and a passport or national ID card. For most car rental companies, the minimum age to rent a car is 18 years old, while some companies require you to be at least 19 or 21 years old.

Final Thoughts: Renting A Car in Portugal

A Portugal road trip is one of the best ways to see the country, especially places like the Algarve and places like the Nazare, Peniche or Douro Valley. Even if you’re not doing a full road trip, the easiest way to explore Portugal’s hidden gems is by car.

Driving in Portugal is generally easy, and renting a car in Portugal is normally a simple, hassle-free process.

One of the most important things to keep in mind for a Portugal car rental is to rent with a reputable company like Discover Cars.