Car hire in Portugal

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Car hire in Portugal

Tips for a cheap rental car

Car rental in Portugal is quite cheap. Due to the size of the country, getting around the different parts of Portugal by car is smooth and easy. With a hired car, you’ll be able to experience and discover secret gems that you probably won’t find in any travel guide books. Renting a car is, simply put, a perfect choice for a Portugal holiday.


There are a few general rules that apply for car hire in Portugal:

  • You must be at least 21 years old, but the age limit will also depend on the type of car you’d like to hire.
  • You must have held a driving licence for at least a year, or two years for some types of cars.
  • Several car hire firms have an upper age limit of 70 years.
  • If you are under 25 years old, there will usually be an extra charge.

Some of these rules will vary depending on the car hire firm you choose as well as the type of car you’d like to hire. Remember to check what applies for you!

Car rental firms

There are many local car rental firms in Portugal. Goldcar rents out cars in Portugal, as well as in Spain, and we do not recommend booking with them. They are difficult to deal with. Read more under Car hire in Spain.

Add-ons at booking

It’s a good idea to add whatever extra equipment you want already when booking the car. The equipment can be things like child car seats or a GPS. By booking them in advance you won’t risk the equipment not being available on site.

There are many small, narrow and winding roads in Portugal, especially in the countryside. Even on the larger roads it can be difficult to see the signposting. Because of this, we recommend that you use a GPS.

Also be aware that all children under 12 years and under 150 centimetres (about 4’9”) must use an appropriate child car seat or booster seat. They must also sit in the back seat.

Driving in Portugal

The driving pace in Portugal is generally¬†faster than in the UK. Be prepared to brake suddenly, and also be aware that many drivers don’t use the turn signals when changing lane and turning. Take it easy and be patient, and don’t go faster than what you’re comfortable with.

Portugal has right-hand traffic. This might seem a little daunting at first, and can take a while to get used to, but it’s usually not a problem. Read more about driving in right-hand traffic here.

The speed limits are generally as follows: 50 km/h (about 30 mph) in urban areas, 100 km/h (about 60 mph) on main roads and 120 km/h (about 70 mph) on motorways.

As mentioned, the roads in the countryside are narrow and sometimes winding. Make sure to stay alert, you never know who or what is around the corner. It’s not uncommon for cars to be parked in the middle of small roads.

Below is a list of a few Portuguese traffic rules to be aware of:
  • Talking on the phone while driving is illegal unless you use a hands-free.
  • If you’re driving in an area where there are trams, you must yield to the trams as well as the passengers getting off them.
  • You musn’t use the outer lane in a roundabout unless you getting out at the next exit. You must therefore always actively change lanes in roundabouts. Because of this, it’s also important to keep an eye on the other cars in the roundabout.
  • There are a few toll roads in Portugal re referred to as “A-roads”. Most of them have manned pay stations, but you can also pay by using an electronic pass. You can usually add an electronic pass to your booking. Check with your car rental firm to find out more.