Mainland Portugal is located in the Iberian Peninsula, Western Europe. Its territories also include the Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores. Modern day Portugal dates as far back as 868AD and as such has an abundance of historical charm, which includes rustic landscapes, castles and forts around every corner and plentiful beaches. Together with great healthy cuisine and plenty of all year round sunshine, Portugal is a great place to explore and visit. Consider picking up a car hire in Portugal, and taking to the open road to experience everything the country has to offer.
Auto Europe is a multinational car hire broker with offices on four continents. With local knowledge and being partnered with world renowned car hire brands, Auto Europe can provide the best possible quotation from one of the largest car fleets around. Our service does not just focus on cars, but also motorhomes, luxury vehicles and even a chauffeur service. With pick up locations across Portugal, from airports, city centres to train stations, contact us today to find out how we can best help you.
Portugal has an extensive road network, with most motorways being tolled. For tolled motorways you are able to pay by cash and credit card at the booths. Otherwise, a transponder needs to be present in your car and linked to your bank account. With this equipment you are able to pass through manned tolls and e-tolled motorways at ease. Cities in general do not have traffic restrictions in the centre and some have relaxed parking too. It is not uncommon to find plenty of cars parked on top of pavements.
Major cities however, such as Lisbon and Porto, have more road regulations and restrictions. It is advisable to use official car parks or metered parking bays. Otherwise you could find your car being clamped or even towed away. Central Lisbon operates a low-emissions zone (LEZ) that prohibits older cars from entering during peak times. Cars prior to 2000 are not allowed to enter between the hours of 07:00 till 21:00.
Although there is always much to do and see in Portugal, here are a few suggestions to help you maximise your stay and Portuguese experience. From splendid national parks to mystical palaces, Portugal has it all within easy reach.
Although one of the smallest countries in Europe, Portugal still has plenty of road trips to undertake. Just collect your car rental in Portugal from numerous locations and discover one of the oldest countries in Europe. Due to Portugal's geographical shape, an ideal place would be to start in the south and head towards the north, stopping at key locations along the way. Portugal is easily drivable, approximately 2.5 hours from west to east and 7 hours from south to north. With our one-way option, you are able to collect in one location and drop the car hire at another location.
We would recommend taking a road trip along the Dao region in northern Portugal. Here you will discover plenty of culture, history, agriculture and wine. Alternatively, as you are never too far from a beach, why not consider taking a road trip and savouring what each beach has to offer. From the north to south, Portugal has some of the best beaches in the world. Try Praia do Guincho, Figueirinha, Troia Peninsula, Praia da Rocha, São João da Foz and Ericeira world surf reserve. If you prefer shorter road trips, why not fly into Lisbon and drive to Sintra. Discover all that Lisbon has to offer, from museums, monuments and plenty of history. Then explore the microclimate of Sintra, with its abundance of palaces, gardens and fairy tale surroundings. If flying into Porto, drive along the Douro River and explore everything that Portugal's famous Port wine district has to offer. An area of tremendous beauty and a must see. For further travel inspiration, visit our Portugal road trip page.
The minimum age to hire a car in Portugal is 18 years old and drivers must have held their licence for at least a year (though both age limit and driver's licence requirements may vary depending on the supplier and car category). Drivers younger than 25 may need to pay a young driver surcharge (paid locally). Further information can be found either on the voucher, in the terms and conditions, or during the booking process.
With few exceptions, Portuguese motorways are toll roads. On older motorways, there are toll booths where you can pay by cash and card. The newer toll roads, however, have a fully automated system, which requires drivers to either have the car fitted with a transponder, or to go to a post office or seek out a pay shop sign in order to pay for the tolls (which must be done within five days, but no sooner than 48h). Some of the newer tolls also have pay machines on a lay-by just before entering the toll zone. Here you are able to hire an electric transponder and link it to your credit card. The transponder can be returned once you no longer require it to any of the pay machine lay-bys along the tolled motorway.
Most suppliers of car hire in Portugal already fit their vehicles with a transponder and offer clients the option to request its activation in exchange for the payment of a fee. You can find more information in regards to this transponder in the Product Information, Terms and Conditions and Local Fees sections within the vehicle booking engine.
Portugal has had many influences throughout its history. Numerous civilisations have passed through its lands and influenced its culture - bringing with them farming, bronze and iron working. Civilisations such as Lusitania rose and flourished until being defeated by the Romans. Human inhabitants have lived in Portugal since the ice age. Around 700 BC Celtic tribes arrived from the north, Phoenicians and Greeks arrived around 800 BC, the Romans in 210 BC, Suevi 409 AD and the Moors in 711 AD. Wars and rebellions led to numerous individual kingdoms being created with one of them being the Kingdom of Portugal.
It was not until 1140 that Portugal became an independent kingdom, with its borders hardly changing until modern times. In the 15th century Portugal became a major maritime power, venturing far from its shores and opening up trade routes to countries that had not been known by Europe. In 1415 Ceuta was captured, Madeira discovered in 1419 and the Azores in 1427. From here on, the golden age of discovery emerged. The Portuguese sailed down the coast of Africa, establishing trading posts along the way and in 1488, Bartolomeu Dias became the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. In 1498 Vasco da Gama opened the first sea route to India and over time Portugal's empire reached from Brazil (South America) in the west to Timor (Asia) in the east. The Portuguese explorer Magellan conducted the first circumnavigation of Earth in 1519 and naval aviators Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral made the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic Ocean in 1922 by plane.
With the Napoleonic wars, the 1755 earthquake and subsequent assassination of the King in 1910, Portugal's global influence and empire began to diminish. In 1910 the first republic was formed but it didn't last long and in 1926 a coup brought the country into a dictatorship which lasted until 1974. On the 25th April 1974 the army overthrew the dictatorship and democracy was re-established. Independence to all Portugal's overseas territories was granted quickly afterwards. Nowadays Portugal is a member of NATO, the EU, UN and UNESCO, amongst others.
Portugal is part of the eurozone and, as such, the euro is the national currency. Pound Sterling is not accepted. Portugal has one of the most advanced ATM networks in Europe and you can easily find ATM machines in towns and cities. Restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores also normally allow payment with credit or debit card; however, some impose a minimum purchase amount for anyone wishing to pay with a credit or debit card.
Continental Portugal (Lisbon and Porto), including the Island of Madeira are on the same time zone as London (GMT). In the Azores, the time zone is GMT-1, making it one hour behind UK. Daylight Saving Times apply on the Continent, in Madeira and the Azores, and run yearly from the last weekend of March to the last weekend of October.
Hello - Olá
Good morning - Bom dia
Good afternoon - Boa tarde
Good evening - Boa noite
Where is the closest police station? - Onde fica a esquadra de polícia mais próxima?
Where is the closest hospital? - Onde fica o hospital mais próximo?
Where is the closest ATM machine? - Onde fica o multibanco mais próximo?
Where is [location]? - Onde fica [location]?
Can I pay by credit card? - Posso pagar com cartão de crédito?
Can I pay by debit card? - Posso pagar com multibanco?
How much does this cost? - Quanto custa?
Thank you - Obrigado
Keep the change - Pode ficar com o troco.
The voltage in Portugal is 220-240 Volts and the socket type is, as is common in Europe, the Europlug Type C or Schuko Types E and F. If your appliances have an English type of plug, you will need a power adapter plug to use them in Portugal.
Portugal is part of the Schengen Area, so British Citizens do not need a Visa to travel there. You will need only a passport, valid for the duration of your stay.
If you need consular assistance during your stay in the country, the UK keeps an embassy in Lisbon and a Vice Consulate in Portimão (Algarve). For assistance in the North of Portugal please contact the Lisbon Consulate.
British Embassy in Lisbon
Rua de São Bernardo 33
1249-082 Lisboa, Portugal
Telephone: +351 213 924 000
Fax: +351 213 924 184
British Consulate in Lisbon
Rua de São Bernardo 33
1249-082 Lisboa, Portugal
Telephone: +351 213 924 000
Fax: +351 213 924 153
British Vice Consulate Portimão
Edificio A Fábrica
8501-915 Portimão, Portugal
Telephone: +351 282 490 750
Fax: +351 282 414 054
Some of the best ways to see Portugal is during a motorhome trip. Auto Europe now offers campervan rental in Portugal. Feel at home whilst away from home and explore the country at leisure. Modern, top quality campervans are available for pick-up in Lisbon, Porto and Ponta Delgada.