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Why rent a car in Lisbon?
Lisbon is a great place to experience by car. Whether traveling its small neighborhoods, going over the 25 de Abril Bridge or exploring the small beach towns nearby, having the independence of your rental is your best bet to experience everything this majestic city has to offer.
Top ways to enter Lisbon
- Lisbon Airport: Portugal’s largest international airport hosts flights to and from all the world continents.
- Porto Airport: Located about three hour car ride away from Lisbon, Porto Airport is another good way to enter Portugal and then head to the nation’s capital.
- By land: It is possible to rent a car in another location and then drive to Lisbon. Large international airports near Lisbon include Faro Airport in Southern Portugal, as well as Madrid Airport and Santiago de Compostela Airport in Spain.
- By public transportation: It is also quite convenient to enter Lisbon by train or bus. You can then pick up your rental car at locations like Oriente Railway Station or Apolonia Railway Station.
Useful city facts
Lisbon is located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and has a very mild climate. Even at night in winter (between December and February) the air temperature rarely drops below 9°C (48°F). The summers, on the other hand, can get very hot.
The main language spoken in Lisbon is Portuguese, so it’s useful to learn at least a couple of phrases before you go - the locals will appreciate it! English is also quite well known, especially by people working in the service industry, and French and Spanish can also be heard.
Top destinations and activities
- Baixa and Chiado: Anyone who has visited before will tell you that Lisbon’s biggest attraction is Lisbon itself. Drive up to the city centre, find the perfect parking spot via Empark and dive right into one of the most fascinating cities of Europe. Stroll through the old shopping district of Baixa, take in some culture at Museu Colecção Berardo or one of the countless small art galleries, appreciate remnants of stunning and enigmatic Moorish architecture, eat like a Portuguese in Chiado area and enjoy truly authentic music at a local Fado club. Or try out one of the countless other things this unique place has to offer.
- 25 de Abril Bridge: The best way to make your entrance into Lisbon is by driving over the majestic 25 de Abril Bridge. Considered by many the Europe’s answer to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, this beautiful landmark offers views of Tejo river and the panoramic beauty of the Portugal’s capital. If you arrive early, it’s worth driving back here later for a spectacular sunset.
- Belém. One of the charming parts of Portugal’s capital has history, monuments, and stunning architecture on every step of the way. Easy to reach by car or on foot, Belém attracts visitors with such landmarks as Torre de Belém of the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, and Padrão dos Descobrimentos or the Monument to the Discoveries.
Traffic and parking tips
- You can only enter the roundabout after giving way to cars already on it.
- The car documentation and insurance always has to be inside a vehicle.
- Drivers can only use a mobile phone if it is a hands free or an earpiece.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.2 for novice drivers.
- Safety cameras are in use.
- On-street parking is available in the centre of Lisbon. In the red zone, parking costs €1.60/hr ($1.9/hr), with maximum stay of 2 hours. In the yellow zone, parking costs €1.20/hr ($1.42/hr), with maximum stay of 4 hours. In the green zone, parking costs €0.80/hr ($0.95/hr), with maximum stay of 4 hours.
- There are numerous car parks in the city centre where parking costs €15-45 ($18-53) per day. A better option might be heading south of the city center where parks like Santa Apolónia, Docas and Docas Ponte charge around €5-6 ($6-7) per day. Look up more information about parking in Portugal on Empark.
- When parking in a street, your car must be parked facing the direction of travel.
A lot of motorways in Portugal are subject to toll fees. See the official site for maps and prices.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Sintra: A trip to Portugal won’t be complete without visiting Sintra. Its spectacular castles of Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio de Pena are less than half an hour trip from Lisbon. There are always many visitors, so the drive around Sintra will be slow, but that only adds to the experience. Do note that most streets here are one-way only. Continue onwards to the spectacular Cabo de Roca, the westernmost point of the continent of Europe.
- Serra de Arrabida: On of the most scenic drives in the whole country is just southeast of Lisbon, in Serra da Arrabida national park. The road, Estrada de Escarpa (N379-1), winds through steep limestone hills offering gorgeous vistas of ageless cliffs, stunning beaches and turquoise waters.
- Nazaré: If you’re feeling truly adventurous, head north of Lisbon - in 90 minutes you will reach the beach town of Nazaré where the record for surfing the world’s highest wave was set. It is a beautiful and wild place where the Atlantic ocean comes in its full force. The charming Peniche is also on the way, offering more beginner-friendly surfing waves. On your way back, catch your breath in the town of Obidos - park outside its historical fortress, visit the bookshops and sample delicious jinja right on the street. Or visit one of the tiny beach villages where tasty bifanas, fish soups and bolinhos de bacalau are always on menu.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental type in Portugal is Economy, with Compact and Mini also quite frequent choices.
The most popular rental car in Portugal is the VW Polo, closely followed by the Ford Fiesta and the Fiat 500.
- Alentejo. Southern Europe is nothing without its wine traditions and Portugal is no exception. The wine region of Alentejo makes for a great trip, not only for its excellent local produce but also this land’s endless horizons, rural guest houses and slow pace of life.
- Porto. While different in atmosphere and distinct in traditions, Portugal’s second city and Lisbon’s great rival is a wonderful city to explore.
- Algarve. If you are restless for a road trip, head south of Alentejo and you will soon reach Algarve. Do visit the world-famous beaches and charming coastal towns like Portimao, Albufeira, and Lagos, but don’t miss out on going inland to visit lesser-known but breathtaking mountain roads and nature reserves.
How can I save money on my rental car?
- Compare rates
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Consider visiting in March - according to our statistics, March is the cheapest month for renting a car in Portugal, more than 50% cheaper than the yearly average.
Which is the cheapest month to rent a car in Lisbon?
What’s the usual rental length in Lisbon?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in Lisbon?
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