About Portugal (PT)
Situated on the Iberian coast of the Atlantic Ocean, and carved out of the western half of Spain, Portugal (PT) enjoys a temperate climate, varied topography, and a dynamic culture found in vibrant cities and scenic countryside. Part of what makes Portugal unique among European countries is its geographical isolation courtesy of the Serra de Estrella mountain range. Due in part to its north-south orientation along the coast, Portugal boasts a diversity of landscape concentrated in one compact location. Lush and rocky mountains in the north, desert wasteland in the south, rolling forests in the center, and gorgeous beaches on the coast — all of which can be accessed in a half-day’s drive from the thriving city of Lisbon. Combined with the welcoming Portugeuse people, it’s no surprise that Portugal is considered one of the world’s top value destinations for leisure and business alike.
Rail and bus travel in Portugal are both slow and costly. If you want to make the most of your trip, you will want to rent a car. Fortunately, Portugal car rental rates are exceptionally reasonable by European standards. Driving in Portugal is generally straightforward, with a modern network of roads to the majority of imaginable attractions. Portuguese drivers don’t have the best reputation for civilized traffic behavior, but the same could be said about half the cities in Europe, and two-thirds of the continental U.S., never mind Asia. Of course, there will be traffic jams in Porto and Lisbon. Of course, you’ll see reckless behavior from time to time. But most importantly, you car hire gives you the opportunity to see so much more of this beautiful country than you would via public transportation. And rest assured that the Portuguese government is doing what they can to promote a more visitor-friendly atmosphere on the roads.
Choosing your car
Getting a cheap car rental in Portugal is easy when you rent a car from from Sixt, National, Enterprise, Thrifty, Dollar, or Budget. The best deals can be found in the compact and economy class of cars, but you’ll still find great rates on fullsize luxury and premium sedans, 7-12 seater minvans, SUVs, estate wagons, and convertibles.
Tips and advice
The majority of Portugal’s expressways are toll roads. Rates are pretty reasonable and you can either pay in cash, with a toll transponder (Via Verde), or a vignette sticker. Have a chat with your car hire vendor if you plan to put a lot of miles on the vehicle.
Secondary roads and rural routes are in various states of repair. All-wheel drive vehicles tend to fare better in the remote areas.
Be advised that when entering towns and villages from major highways, you’ll pass a speed camera that will indicate whether you’re under the 50 km/h limit. This is more of a scare tactic than anything else. The idea is to simply get the idea into your head that you’re not on the highway anymore.
Lane markings on Portugeuse roads are not as common as those most countries, and you’re likely to be driving on any number of unmarked two-lane highways.
Road signs in Portugal, particularly exit signs, have a vaguely amusing tendency to be located immediately after the exit you just passed.
Unlike most developed nations, you can secure and pay for your Portugal car rental in cash.