A Guide to Car Hire in Lisbon

Car rental in Lisbon might not be essential if you’re only planning a few days within the city.

There’s also no point in renting a car to take a daytrip to nearby Sintra or Cascais. But to make this One Week Itinerary from Lisbon to Porto, having your own vehicle may be the way to go.

Here are a few tips for getting the best and most reliable car hire deals in Lisbon.

1. Plan ahead

Fuel is expensive, and there are a number of different toll roads across Portugal. For short distances, tolls are not be expensive (a euro here, two euros there). However, tolls may cost more than fuel to get to some destinations. For example, from Lisbon to the Algarve expect to pay around €20 in tolls, while getting from Lisbon to Porto will cost you around €22 just in tolls.

2. Ask for a transponder

If you plan to use motorways, be aware that there a number of motorways in Portugal that are completely electronic (no toll booths). If you travel with a transponder, then you should use the special Via Verde lane on all the motorways that do have toll booths. When you return the car, the toll charges that were recorded on the transponder will be charged on your credit card.

3. Don’t drive into Lisbon

Especially on weekdays, avoid the traffic and the parking meters in Lisbon. If you plan to visit the city first, then the best option is to pick up the car right before you leave.

4. Use your favourite car rental service

If you have a favourite car rental service at home, consider using the same company in Lisbon. Otherwise, it’s generally an advantage to go with a larger company, with a wider choice of pickup and drop-off locations.

To get a good deal, spend some time comparing prices and discounts. Websites such as discovercars.com can help you compare daily rental car rates by location, company, vehicle specification, security deposit, and more.

5. Choose small to save money

If don’t want to throw away a handful of money on car rental, choose the smallest option that will keep you comfortable, rather than a truck or a SUV.

6. Book before your trip

If you have decided to go, then the rates are usually cheaper when you book than renting when you arrive in Lisbon.

7. Pay upfront

Not only are you likely to get a discount, but also a collision damage waiver from the rental company, if you’re planning to get one, will likely also be cheaper when paid upfront. But beware of cancellation fees. Don’t pay unless your itinerary is firm, and you’ve read the company’s cancellation policy.

8. Check the car

Before you leave, inspect the car and look for any damage, marking even tiny scratches on the rental agreement. When you bring the car back, take a set of photographs to prove how it was returned, including the wheels and the mileometer.

9. Check the fuel policy and the mileage

Most car rental companies in Lisbon have a full-to-full policy, which means that you get a full tank on pickup and you should bring it back full again. This is usually the best option, because with the full-to-empty policy you may end up returning a car with three-quarters of a tank of fuel you didn’t use. Also, most rental car companies in Lisbon don’t limit the mileage, but you should check their policy to make sure.

10. To be aware

You may be asked to give your credit card details as a deposit. Before you leave home, find out how much this deposit will be and make sure you have adequate funds available (for the deposit and the rest of your holiday).