My partner and I will be driving in Portugal in February. We arranged for a rental once we leave Lisbon and took out excess insurance from a UK company so we don’t get stiffed for a 1000 euros. Has anyone driven in Portugal and lived to tell about it? We will drive from Lisbon north to the Spanish boarder with stops along the way.- How are the roads? Problems with road signs? Thanks for any helpful hints!
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As the navigator a couple of years ago (no spacial awareness or sense of direction, so husband nixed any notion of me driving), I’d agree that Portugal doesn’t offer a bad driving experience. None of the frighteners much of the rest of southern Europe provides. The sign posting is intuitive and in the main the other drivers are pretty laid back. Parking meters proved to be quite intellectually challenging so we just stuffed loads of money in and hoped for the best.
Booking online ahead of time will certainly get you the best price, and be sure you get all your insurances sorted in advance. Using a recognized company which doesn’t sub-contract in a convoluted manner and has easily contactable customer services might not be the cheapest option, but if something goes wrong it’ll be a lot less hassle in the long run. In my experience, car hire places can’t help but try to offer you some sort of upgrade to either the vehicle or your agreement when all you want is for them to give you what you’ve arranged. Make sure you’re happy with the vehicle size at time of booking and stick with that when you get there – it just gets long-winded, irritating and a waste of time otherwise. And make sure you really thoroughly check for existing damage to the car (take pictures if necessary and make sure it’s logged on your documentation). If you’re dropping the car back at the airport ahead of a flight you can’t miss, you don’t want to be arguing over scratched paintwork.
I’m going in September driving around for 4 weeks. Did you use the Rough Guide Portugal book? If so my copy does not have page numbers? Which makes researching through it a little difficult when it tells me to go to page 375 for more info ect. If any of you have the book could you please tell me which is number ONE as well as the page number for each chapter, (which will help me confirm things as I go along I’m doing it correct) I can then go through the whole book & write in the pages.
Last drove from Faro to the Spanish coast in 2011 and I agree that it was a wonderful experience, we went the highway route and returned by the old (downgraded) highway route and both offered a really relaxed journey.
I would suggest that unlike in the UK, Portuguese road signs are not placed as far in advance (especially on faster routes) and as a result turnings, junctions and slip roads can sometimes spring up on you.
One bit of advice is to arrive at the Car Rental place and try out as much Portugese as you can, it worked for me and my free upgrade gave me a bigger car that had only done 13Kms
Enjoy and relax
I am also interested in renting a car from the airport for a day trip from Lisbon in a couple weeks. Can anyone recommend a car rental service? I’ve read a lot of horror stories on forums about getting completely scammed and ripped off by most of them. Most of the reviews of Carjet seem to be the most consistent and the most satisfied. Anyone have further input to add? Thank you!
Thanks Clare! You are right about the upgrade stuff for sure. I am prepared to take pictures of the car to make sure there are no ugly issues. I took out an excess insurance policy from a UK company and it will take care of ding’s, cracks and scratches +++. Not in the mood to haggle in Portuguese, as I am rusty in speaking the language and may end up owning the car. So thanks again!!!!!
I was last in Portugal in December 2012; but the last time I drove there was in August 2009. Signposts on major Portuguese roads are well-placed and easy to understand, and the drivers are polite and are not aggressive.
I don’t have any horrific memories from that earlier experience, but you and your partner will need to work effectively as a team — one person navigating with a map and spotting turn-offs, with the driver responding calmly to directions while coping with the traffic. Same as everywhere else.
You’ll have a great trip.
Thanks for the information. I had to laugh when you said calm navagation. The last time in Bali I almost fed him to the sharks. I drive and he screams for his life? Thanks for the road sign info as I feel more confident now.
I used VIP Cars ([email protected]) and they farmed it out to Hire Car 4 Less in Lisbon. They seem OK, but I will find out next week. I too have followed the ragged road of rental car stories. VIP is all over the world and if you had a problem you can call VIP UK 44-208-196-9510, AUS 61 388 205 031.
Hire Car 4 Less may try to jack up the price with excess coverage and I’m sure some other goodies. I took out excess coverage online, so I think it is much cheaper than letting them zing you when you pick up the car. I’m hoping for the best and I’m originally from New England and I will be like rat poop on toast if they try to screw me.
A daily rental is pretty expensive if you wait to do it when you get there. After our respective trips we can share our war stories or the fact that all went well. Trip Advisor is great for putting the work out and I do it whenever I travel. Good luck!!!!!
To everyone who responded you were right on. Great trip, great cool weather, and OMG I gained 3 pounds. A word to the wise. If you stay in Sintra Portugal, don’t park on the street if there is a curve in the road anywhere nearby. My car was hit overnight and major damage to the rear of the car. In Portugal drivers are nuts! Drink and drive is the motto on a Saturday night. Other than that aat wonderul trip and driving was so easy (almost as the GPS sucked). Thank God for maps!!!!!