PORTUGAL RENT A CAR OR USE TRAIN/BUS?

Hello everyone we are planning a 17 day trip to Portugal, during which we hope to see Lisbon,salema, Tavira, Evora, Nazara, Coimbra and Porto. We ususally rent a car and drive around when we go to Europe. that way we have more freedom. However, we heard nightmare stories about driving in Portugal whether it's confusing tolls or local driving. So here is the question, should we rent a car or use public transportation while there? Which is easier, which is more cost effective? thank you in advance
LT

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Do what you want, but driving in Portugal is a piece of cake. A car is worthless in Lisbon, however. Most of the rail is along the western side with only spurs into the east. The only place I can think of where the nightmare stories might have come from is the coastal Algarve and even that's not hard, just a bit crowded.

Posted by LT
MONTREAL, CANADA
48 posts

Thanks Ed, much obliged. How about the electronic tolls? anything i should know about them?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Nothing to it. The roads are marked if that's the case where it's electronic only. You can get a gizmo for thirty euro or so from the freeway service areas or a post office. When you give it back, whatever money you didn't use up (and you can't use it all) is given back to you.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2172 posts

The electronics tolls in Portugal are easier to deal with than the mess of multiple operator Texan toll roads...

Posted by LT
MONTREAL, CANADA
48 posts

thanks guys, now that is settled, any suggestion of where to rent from?

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
517 posts

We usually rent from Budget Rent a Car but we recently used EconomyCarRental.com. They represent local car rental companies and they usually have the lowest price. We were met at the airport by the representative and taken outside to our car; just a short walk. We were given an almost brand new car, which was a pleasant surprise. This is the third time we have used Economycarrental, the other two times being in Turkey last year and so far have had no problems.

Posted by Anita
Vancouver, Canada
58 posts

We did a 17 day trip to Portugal last year and loved it so much we are going back this year. We rented from Auto Europe. They have an app or you can use their website. It is a company out of the U.S. They find the lowest price and so use many car companies. We Have used them many times and never had a problem. Driving is really a piece of cake. We took a cab( very cheap) in Lisbon to the airport and piced up our rental from there. We brought our GPS with maps downloaded with Spain and Portugal and made it even easier. Enjoy.

Posted by Anita
Vancouver, Canada
58 posts

Make sure you go to Sintra. It is about 1 hour by train from Lisbon. It is amazing.

Posted by LT
MONTREAL, CANADA
48 posts

thanks so much Anita. do you remember which car company you ended up with? Did you have to pay for fuel take the car full and return it empty? This is a gimmick that car rental companies use to make more money off of you. I would appriciate any other input either about this topic or others about Portugal. thanks
LT

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

We always use gemut.com to arrange our rental cars in Europe, and have always been very satisfied with the results. Driving in Portugal, including the Algarve, is easy. I don't understand where these scare stories come from, they seem to have no basis and are self-perpetuating. We drove there (Lisbon to Algarve, around the Algarve, to Faro) and there was nothing complicated about it at all - turn the key, turn the wheel, stomp on the pedals, go where you want, find hotel, eat local seafood and drink wine - no problems! Of course, a car in Lisbon is both unnecessary and a headache, but that's true of any big city in Europe. Use public transport (take the train to Sintra) and get the car when you're ready to move on from Lisbon. When you pick up a rental car, the tank should always be full. Fill up right before you return the car and you'll have no problems. A GPS brought from home (one that you're already familiar with and is loaded with European maps) will be useful and will eliminate a lot of the "yikes, I'm driving in a foreign country!" stress. Portugal is quite easy. Relax and have fun.

Posted by LT
MONTREAL, CANADA
48 posts

Thanks David for the info. What I got through economycar is that they sell you a tank of gas and you should return it empty that's what I dont like. I am thinking about canceling it. I would try your suggestion.
thanks again LT

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

You can't go wrong with gemut.com for car rental. They do all the work, they're your advocates, if there's a problem you can call them (middle of the night in North America, no problem). If you find a cheaper price elsewhere, they'll match it.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Definitely do not do the option of returning the car empty... How can you figure out exactly when it will be empty and do you really want to risk driving around a foreign country on fumes? I always cringe when I hear people opting for this rip off. They know that most people will pay for a full tank and probably return it about half full. Fill it up yourself and save yourself lots of money. I also always go directly to the car rental company and do not use a third party. Just how I have done it and I like not having to use a middle man, but I have become pretty good at finding the best deals. I never prepay because I might find a better deal. So, I make my reservations and continue to check periodically until time of travel. If I find a better price I make a new res and cancel the old one. I tend to use Budget, Hertz, Avis or Sizt... whoever has the best price.

Posted by LT
MONTREAL, CANADA
48 posts

Thanks Terry you've been very helpful. BTW the fuel thing was not an option they kind of force that on me, that's why I am canceling it