Hiring a car can be a great way to explore Portugal, as it gives you the ability to travel from A to B with ease. It gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and see parts of the country that might not be accessible by public transport, and you can get around without having to book a taxi or rely on a bus. However, renting a car in a foreign country can also be a daunting experience. There are different rules, regulations and driving customs to navigate. Luckily, a lot of holidaymakers and tourists hire a car in Portugal, and the process is relatively simple. As long as you are an experienced driver, you shouldn’t struggle to drive your way around Portugal. In this blog, we cover some of the key things to remember when you’re hiring a car in Portugal.
What To Do When Hiring a Car in Portugal
- Book in Advance – One of the most important things to remember when hiring a car on holiday is to book in advance. This will not only save you money but also give you more options when it comes to choosing the type of car you want. Booking ahead of time will also give you the chance to compare prices and make an informed decision about which car rental company to use. If you leave it too late, you might end up with limited choice and spending more than you budgeted for.
- Check Your Driving License – Before you rent a car in Portugal, make sure your driving licence is valid and up to date. Some countries require an international driving licence, so check with the car rental company before you travel. It’s also a good idea to bring a copy of your licence with you, just in case. After all, you don’t want to get all the way to Portugal and then find that you can’t hire a car because you don’t have the right documentation.
- Consider the Type of Car You Need – When hiring a car, think about the type of car you need for your holiday. If you’re planning on driving long distances or on rough terrain, you may want to consider an SUV or a four wheel drive. If you’re travelling with a large group, a van may be more practical. On the other hand, if you’re driving in a city or on narrow roads, a smaller car may be more suitable. Portugal has a range of roads, cities, towns and remote areas, and the type of car you need will depend on exactly where you are going.
- Understand the Insurance Options – It’s important to understand the insurance options when renting a car on holiday. Most car rental companies offer a collision damage policy which covers the cost of any damage to the car in the event of an accident. However, this often comes with an excess, which you will need to pay if you make a claim. Consider taking out additional insurance to cover the excess or look for rental companies that offer zero excess insurance.
- Check the Rental Agreement – Before signing the rental agreement, make sure you read it carefully and understand the terms and conditions. Check the rental period, the pick up and drop off locations, and any additional charges such as petrol, tolls or extra drivers. Make sure you understand the penalties for late returns, cancellations, or changes to your reservation. This will help you to avoid any unexpected charges.
- Inspect the Car Before Driving Away – Before you drive off in your rental car, inspect it for any damage and make sure it’s documented in the rental agreement. Take photos or videos of any scratches, dents, or other damage to the car, and point them out to the rental company. This will help avoid any disputes over damage when you return the car. You don’t want to return the car, and then be charged for damage that you didn’t cause.
- Get Familiar with the Driving Rules – Driving in a foreign country can be intimidating, especially if you’re not familiar with the driving rules and customs. Before you set off, take some time to read up on the local driving laws and regulations. This will help you avoid any fines or penalties and ensure you drive safely and confidently. Luckily, Portugal is an easy country to drive in.
- Plan Your Route – Before you hit the road, plan your route and familiarise yourself with the directions. Use a GPS or a map to navigate, and make sure you have a backup plan in case of road closures, traffic jams, or other unexpected events. Take breaks regularly to avoid fatigue and enjoy the scenery along the way.
- Be Mindful of Fuel Costs – Fuel costs can vary widely between countries, so be mindful of this when renting a car in Portugal. You might find that petrol is a lot cheaper than at home, but it could also be more expensive. Check the fuel efficiency of the car and plan your route accordingly. Avoid driving too fast or too aggressively, as this can increase fuel consumption. If possible, choose a rental company that offers unlimited mileage or a fuel efficient car to save money.
Though there are a lot of things to think about, hiring a car in Portugal is relatively simple and straightforward. It’s a convenient way to get around during your time on holiday, and it’s often cheaper than many people assume it to be.