From its charming cobblestone streets and colorful buildings to its delicious seafood and lively nightlife, there’s something for everyone in Lisbon.
When it comes to Lisbon car hire, you have many choices. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about renting a car in Lisbon: the rental process, car rental locations, and how to get car rental deals.
This essential guide to car rental in Lisbon, Portugal will give you all the insights needed about car rentals in this charming city.
Do you need to rent a car in Lisbon?
Renting a car in Lisbon is a good idea for a number of reasons:
- Freedom: It’s a great way to explore the city and its surroundings at your own pace.
- Adventure: You’ll have the freedom to discover the hidden gems and lesser-known sights that tourists often miss – such as the beautiful landscapes and charming villages that dot the region.
- Day trips: You’ll be able to take a scenic drive along the coast, explore the nearby towns and villages, and even make a day trip to the beautiful Sintra.
There are some great other reasons, too:
- Transporting belongings like beach gear or shopping bags will be much easier with a rental car.
- You may even save money if you hire a car – you won’t need to use taxis. It’ll also be easier to stay in cheaper hotels outside of the main tourist areas.
I rented a car when I visited Lisbon, and I feel this made my experience so much better. I was able to easily go on day trips to Lisbon’s spectacular nearby attractions – such as the historic castles of Sintra and the lively coastal resort of Cascais.
I used Discover Cars to get the best deal – I quickly compared all the offerings available from all the different car rental companies and got an amazing deal on a little Fiat 500 for about €10 a day!
What requirements are there to rent a car in Lisbon?
The car rental requirements of Portugal are the same as in most Western European countries.
You need a driving license from your own country. Preferably, your license should be at least a year old – most rental companies expect this.
You don’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP), though it might be a good idea to get one as it’s quick and cheap.
You can pay ahead using the most popular payment methods, but you’ll need a credit card for the deposit payment on arrival. This credit card needs to have the same name as on your passport.
Finally, for most car rental companies, you need to be at least 21 years old, although some companies may allow younger drivers for smaller cars. Expect to pay a little extra if you’re under 25 – inexperienced drivers usually have to pay an extra charge.
Portugal Car Rental Checklist
Here’s a full checklist for renting a car in Portugal:
- A driving license from your home country – at least a year old.
- Over 18 years old.
- Possibly an International Driving Permit – if your license is not in Latin characters.
- Your ID (passport).
- Credit card, debit card, or PayPal for payment when booking the car online.
- A credit card in your name (not debit card) for the deposit on arrival.
- Extra insurance if you prefer.
Tip: Ticking the box and getting the extra insurance offered will give you peace of mind. You don’t want any bumps or scrapes ruining your trip!
How much does it cost to rent a car in Lisbon?
The cost to rent a car in Lisbon can vary depending on the type of car, the rental company, and the length of the rental.
On average, a compact car can be rented for around €10-30 per day, while a larger car or luxury vehicle can cost €30-70 or more per day.
It is recommended to check with different rental companies for the most current prices and to compare rates. You can do this quickly by using Discover Cars.
By booking earlier, you’ll get a better rate. Also, renting over a longer period will lower the daily price – it may only be a bit extra to rent a car over five days compared to just three.
Additionally, during the summer, prices will be higher from June to mid-September. Book ahead if you’re visiting during these times – you’ll get a much better price.
Tip: The longer you rent a car, the lower the daily rate. For example, renting a car for five days instead of just two or three might only cost a tiny bit extra.
Where should I rent a car from in Lisbon?
There are many car rental companies in Lisbon. Here are some options:
- Major rental car companies: Companies like Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt have locations at Lisbon Airport and throughout the city, making it easy to pick up and drop off your rental car.
- Local rental car companies: There are also smaller local rental car companies in Lisbon that may offer more affordable rates than the major international companies.
- Car rental agencies located in hotels: Some hotels in Lisbon also have car rental agencies on-site, which can be convenient as they’ll drop off at the hotel. Expect to pay a bit extra for this service.
- Car rental comparison websites: You can also compare prices and book a car rental online via car rental comparison websites such as Discover Cars. This will help you get the best car hire deal.
When it comes to Lisbon car rental pickup locations, you have these choices:
- Humberto Delgado Airport: Also known as Lisbon Airport. Avis Car Rental, Hertz Car Rental, Guerin Car Rental, Sixt Lisbon, and other car rental companies have desks in the arrivals hall, making it easy to grab your rental car as soon as you land.
- Lisbon City Center: Locations such as the Enterprise branch at Gare do Oriente, a major transport hub in the Parque das Nações district, or the Sixt Car Rental near the Principe Real neighborhood.
In my opinion, the easiest option is to book ahead online – this way your car will be waiting for you in your chosen pickup spot when you arrive.
Which type of car is best to use in Lisbon?
The best car to use depends on your needs and preferences. You should think about the following:
- Size: Lisbon is a relatively small city, and parking can be difficult to find in some areas. A smaller car might be more suitable for navigating the city’s narrow streets and for finding parking.
- Petrol mileage: Petrol prices in Portugal can be relatively high, so a car with good gas mileage can help save on fuel costs.
- Transmission: Many rental cars in Portugal are manual transmissions, though if you’re not used to driving a manual, there are automatic cars available.
Tip: If you need automatic transmission, make sure to book in advance as most car rentals in Portugal are manual.
Is it a good idea to rent an electric car in Lisbon?
Renting an electric car in Lisbon can be a good idea, as it can help you save on fuel costs and reduce your carbon footprint.
Before you make a choice, here are a few things to think about:
- Charging infrastructure: Lisbon has a growing network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, but it’s not as extensive as some other cities.
- Battery range: Electric cars have a limited range on a single charge, so it’s important to consider how far you will be driving and whether the car’s battery range will be enough. Some extra planning may be needed. Websites like Electromaps are helpful.
- Price: Electric cars can be more expensive to rent than traditional petrol or diesel cars. Overall, it may be cheaper to go for a small petrol car.
Tip: Remember, most rental companies have a small supply of electric cars. So, if you’ve decided on an eco-friendly car, always book ahead!
Is driving in Lisbon difficult?
Driving in Lisbon may be a little difficult if you’re not used to city driving. Here are some things to look out for:
- Narrow streets: Many of the streets in Lisbon are narrow and winding – they may be a bit tricky to navigate with larger vehicles.
- Traffic: Traffic in the historic center of Lisbon can be quite heavy during rush hour. Use a navigation app on your phone to see congested streets and adapt accordingly.
- One-way streets: Lisbon has many one-way streets. Again, use a navigation app to help find the best routes.
- Parking: Finding parking can be a significant issue, especially in historic central Lisbon, as many areas like Baixa, Chiado, and Alfama districts have limited spaces.
That being said, driving in Lisbon is relatively easy. The roads are well-maintained and in good condition, and it’s a lot of fun exploring the city in a car.
Portuguese driving rules you should know
Driving rules in Portugal are pretty typical of most western-European countries:
- You drive on the right-hand side of the road and overtake on the left.
- You have to wear a seat belt at all times, and children under 12 years old need a child seat or booster seat.
- You can’t use your phone while driving unless it’s hands-free. Get used to using voice commands.
- Drinking and driving rules in Portugal may be stricter than in your home country – the maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) allowed is 0.05%, while for the UK and most of the USA, the legal limit is 0.08%.