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Car rental. Best made plans. . .

So, when I started to plan my trip, I used Autoeurope to coordinate cities/rental companies for a one way rental from Caldas de la Raina to Braga. I went all the way thru the transaction up to payment because I wanted my accommodations in place before I booked a rental. Today, I went back to book, and apparently, a booking isn't finalized when submitted and paid for until Autoeurope has reviewed it. Turns out that even though an option came up with Europcar, the office at Caldas won't do the one-way rental. There aren't a lot of car rental options between Lisbon and about Coimbra. We always try to avoid driving in large cities.

I would say this is mostly my fault. If you read everything on the site it does say there is a 24 hour review period. I have rented many times in Europe with Autoeurope and this has never come up. The rental, usually one way within one country, has always been approved.

I have the whole itinerary planned with inns booked. Roughly, this is my itinerary for my almost 4 week trip:

Sintra (pick up car in Caldas after visiting Obidos)
Batalha (day trips)
Duoro River
Braga (return car, train to Porto)
Porto(train to Lisbon)

So, I basically, I need transportation from Sintra/Obidos/Caldas to Braga.

An option, would be to pick up a car on the EDGE of Lisbon and then return to Braga, or I guess the EDGE of Porto.

Any ideas welcome. I have looked at public transportation to cover that area and that's why I was looking at car rental. I am happy with my itinerary and would really hate to change it.

Posted by
1381 posts

Try We have used them several times, but you don’t learn which rental company you have until you get the confirmation email. The email is almost immediate. They often have local companies.

Posted by
3572 posts

I share your anxiety about driving in cities, but there are often locations that are not terribly tricky to drive out of town from.
You can search yourself on Maps, then ask AutoEurope about alternate pickup and drop off locations. I'd do that before reworking the whole plan!

Posted by
178 posts


They are a American joint that specializes in European travel. I generally cannot afford most of their offerings, but their car rental service has never failed me. You do all your business with an American company, they do the work for you, you have an American phone number and American person to call if there are issues.

You DO pay fully in advance, but it's been fully refundable up to the last minute.

And for whatever reason, their price is ALWAYS lower than when I have compared apples-to-apples with the same european car rental company... so there's a discount in there somewhere.

I do not hesitate to recommend.
No harm to you for just asking for a quote.

Posted by
638 posts

We booked a Europcar thru Autoeurope for one way but in the opposite direction.
Picked the car up at Porto Campanha Railstation (10 minutes train ride from historic area) and dropped off at Cascais, close to the train that goes to Lisbon. Perhaps these could be alternative locations?

Edit to add: If concerned about driving in Obidos (notice you want to pick up a car after visiting), there is a large parking lot by the Roman aqueduct where you can park your car and walk.

Posted by
4633 posts

Thank you so much for all the responses so far. The responses are giving me some ideas.

I was told by an Autoeurope manager to not make any dramatic decisions until noon or so tomorrow. They are contacting the rental car place in Caldas. They also told me I should come up with some solid plan Bs.

I can't do my trip in reverse (Rent a car in Porto return in Caicais) because I'd have change all my hotels. However, I do see that the rental office in Porto is just off a major highway, or what looks like one on a map. If I can figure out where I can pick up a car somewhere on the north side of the Lisbon outskirts, the Porto train station for return could be a viable option.

Where to pick up the car is the trickier part. As far as I know, there is no rental office in Obidos, that's the only reason we were going to Caldas. Autoeurope was trying to find me car rental offices near Sintra and while there are some, they do not come up on their system.

I will try the 2 rental car companies suggested. It looks like Gemut has a form to submit, I'll do that tonight.

Again, I appreciate the help.

Posted by
6222 posts

What ribaholic60 said above.


I'm a longtime, satisfied, repeated customer of and they are always my first contact for any European car rental.

Stop beating yourself up, let someone else do the work (and at probably zero cost to you). Go to, contact them, tell them your parameters: what kind of car, when and where you want to pick it up, and where you want to drop it off. Be very specific, including dates/times. Some places are not open on weekends, some places close for a few hours mid-day, some places do things I would not expect, whatever, I don't care, it's not my problem, it's Gemut's job to find me what I need, tell me what it would cost, and if I choose to go with them, they do all the other work for the booking. If there's any drama at the rental counter (or if there are sketchy surprise charges after you get home), you deal with Gemut - they give you a phone number to call, staffed by one of their native-English speaking agents, avalable 24/7, if you encounter a surprise.

If filling out their form is tricky, just shoot them an email or call and leave a message; they're generally good about returning calls (it's a small family business, not a faceless corporation...Bob is the dad, Andy is the son who generally handles car rentals, you'll deal with one of them).

Yes, you will pre-pay for your car (typically fully cancellable and fully refundable up until the day you pick up the car). They give you the paperwork, you show up and hand the paperwork over, it's easy. They work with all major agencies and little local ones, too. Prices are the same or better than you will find elsewhere. If you find a better price elsewhere, they'll match it.

Worth noting: The prepayment is a feature, not a bug. If you "reserve" a car but have not paid for it, there's a risk that when you show up, they may have given your car to someone else - it happens (see that Seinfeld episode...). But if you prepay, your car WILL be there waiting for you, even in a post-pandemic world where instagram has driven 10,000 would-be "influencers" to the little backwater village where you plan to pick up your car.

I'm done wasting time and bandwidth chasing car rental deals in Europe. Gemut has come through for me even in some fairly off-the-beaten-path locations. They may not be able to help you if you really go completely off their grid (I've resorted to doing it myself for cars in the Faroe Islands, Baja, Japan, Morocco, and Australia), but everyplace else in Europe I've tried (including Lithuania, Orkney, Sardinia, and 5 different islands in the Azores), they've come through for me. In mainland Portugal, they should have no trouble.

This should be easy for you. Let them make it so.

Posted by
638 posts

I didn't mean to say do the trip in reverse, but was more into letting you know the two locations that worked for me.
Cascais isn't that far away from Sintra and an easy train ride from Lisbon.

Posted by
4633 posts

Gail, I didn't think you were suggesting that we do the trip in reverse, just wanted to be clear. I really appreciated the suggestion of the Europcar rental near the Porto train station. If need be, instead of returning in Braga we could return to Porto, might even be easier than Braga.

David and Ribaholic, I have submitted the form to Gemut. I provided my objective, Sintra to Braga/Porto. I can be somewhat flexible on which town we pick up the car as long as its reasonably close to Sintra/Obidos and we can get there via public transportation.


Posted by
107 posts

I agree with David above and I would also suggest calling Bob Bestor at He has handled our european rental cars in the past and we just booked again for our upcoming trip. However I will warn you. Rental cars in europe are very different post Covid. Availability is scant and one way rentals usually come with very high drop fees. We found it best to Lease a car for our month long trip, however we are picking it up in Lisbon and dropping it in Lisbon. They do have an office in Porto too so perhaps you could pick up a lease car in Lisbon and drop it in Porto. The price will be the same. I've literally just been through all this so I know how it can be. Definitely call gemut and he can advise you what your best option is. If you dont want to fill the online form in but prefer to speak with him directly you can call and they will return your call in a timely manner.
Good luck and enjoy your trip.
BTW...I just referred a friend to gemut in December for their xmas trip to europe. They had several flight delays and were so relieved to be able to contact a real person at gemut and know that their delays would not be a problem when they finally arrived to pick up their car. Its a good service to have.

Posted by
4633 posts

Hi Margaret, yes, I'm painfully aware of rental car prices. I've rented in Sicily and Bordeaux post COVID. Bordeaux I would actually consider reasonable. I got a say, though, you've seen nothing until you try to rent to Hawaii. Oahu has settled back down, but the Big Island and Kauai. OMG, I resorted to Turo. At a certain point, if you want to do particular trips, you just have to bite the bullet, as they say. We did go to Poland post COVID, and were able to use trains and buses, and that was very relaxing and inexpensive.

I am waiting on Gemut. Submitted last night, hopefully that gets someone looking at it prior to the weekend.

If my "ideal scenario" doesn't work, I'm sure, like Gail implied, I can rent from somewhere in Lisbon and drop somewhere in Porto. Had I known this earlier, I probably wouldn't have booked us in Sintra, but it'll be fine.

Posted by
4633 posts

Gemut comes thru. Funny thing, Gemut booked thru Autoeurope, and the car will be thru Europcar. They have sent an Autoeurope voucher. We're picking up in Sintra and dropping in Braga. Interesting, though, I was trying the same logistics on both the Auroeurope and Europcar websites and wasn't getting anything to go thru.

I think I would have rather taken a train to Obidos and then picked up a car somewhere around there, but we can make Sintra work. I keep telling myself that we have driven in many crazy, large cities in the U.S. And, actually many of the minor issues we've had driving in Europe are in the small towns--narrow streets, pedestrian only areas, oneways, parking. . . They do make for fun stories.

I appreciate all the responses I got to my post.

Posted by
6222 posts


Glad to hear it worked out. Gemut is great.