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Key facts for hiring a car in Lisbon

  • Best time to visit

    Spring and autumn are pleasant months to visit the city. Summer temperatures can reach over 30 degrees celsius, but there is often a comforting sea breeze to help combat this!

  • Car hire locations

    There are 11 car hire locations to choose from in Lisbon and 19 suppliers at the airport alone. The highest rated car hire company at the airport is Sixt.

  • Useful lingo

    Roadworks – trabalhos de estrada
    Road closed – transito vidado

  • Time difference

    GMT (the same as London, UK)

  • Not to be missed

    Taking the E28 tram route through the old town, Alfama.

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Hire a car in Lisbon

Lisbon is a destination
on the rise.

Getting ever more popular by the year, Lisbon is a great value place to experience both city and beach life accompanied by a lovely Mediterranean climate.

It’s affordable, it’s laidback and it’s small. Impressive bridges cross the Tagus River to the south, and the Portuguese Riviera is a short drive away to the west. The surrounding area is a great place to explore by car.

Top rated suppliers for Lisbon

  • Sixt

    Average Rating 8.0 – “It was a pleasure. For a car hire company, you act like it was a small private business and you took care of us very well.”

  • Enterprise

    Average Rating 8.0 – “Good car. Professional and service-minded staff.”

  • Thrifty

    Average Rating 7.6 – “Helpful staff at drop off. The overall online rental experience was good and the ability to compare cars.”

  • Budget

    Average Rating 7.6 – “Best hire car experience ever...they fitted the baby seat! Could not ask for more...will use budget again”

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A drive away

Mountainous perfection

This part of Portugal really was made for a road trip. Experience the spectacular scenery along the Estrada de Escarpa (N379-1) into Arrabida National Park. The surrounding hills are covered in greenery, unparalleled curvy roads sit above craggy cliff tops and white beaches await below.

There are plenty of sandy spots to enjoy along the coast, all of them blessed with clear waters. True wilderness can be found in the tiny rocky cove, Praia de Albertuche, and more traditional beach vibes (sand, thatched parasols, grilled fish) can be found at Praia dos Galapos. A sublime beach, quieter than most, Galapos is accessed by a set of stairs. You can have a peaceful day here if you choose a weekday and go slightly out of season.

Local knowledge

Local cuisine

Lisbon is well-known for its cuisine. Seafood and pastry shops are everywhere, and incredible dishes are served up across the city.

Bacalhau a brás – it is said that the Portuguese have 365 recipes for cod, so it would be impossible to try them all in one trip. Bacalhau a brás is up there at the top in terms of fame and flavour. The recipe calls for shredded salt cod to be fried with potatoes, onion and eggs until creamy, then topped with olives. The ultimate comfort food.

Caldo verde – a humble soup typically consumed during Portuguese occasions. This steaming bowl of broth flavoured with potato, garlic, shredded kale and chorizo is possibly best served in an atmospheric fado bar.

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato – named after a poet, this dish consists of clams sauteed in white wine, garlic and herbs. Seafood at its finest.

Alheira de Mirandela – a famous sausage with an interesting history, usually made from chicken or game.

Sardinhas Assadas – grilled sardines, Portuguese style usually served with roasted peppers and seasoned potatoes.

Pasteis de nata – probably the most famous dish in Lisbon, this custard tart served with cinnamon is an unforgettable dining experience. Pasteis de Belem is the place to go if you want what is said to be the best recipe in the world.

Driving tips

  • If you are collecting your hire car from the airport, make sure you know where you are heading before setting off. You’ll face some fairly large roundabouts as you exit, so make sure you’re prepared for this.
  • The centre of Lisbon has old, narrow and winding streets so it can be tricky to navigate by car. A rental car is perfect for exploring the more remote areas outside of the city, or heading on a road trip.
  • There are many toll roads in Portugal, and they are pretty much impossible to avoid if you are travelling a decent distance. Therefore, it’s vital you know how you are going to pay the fees. Your rental company should inform you of the options at the desk – the main options should be prepaying, using an electronic device to keep track of the tolls or paying afterwards.
  • Occasionally, you may see that an entrance to a carriageway is before the exit. In other words, the slip roads can be the wrong way around. This will be obvious at the time, but as it’s fairly unusual it’s good to be aware of it.
  • Don’t cross unbroken double white lines, even if you want to turn onto a side road. This is not permitted and you must find an alternative.
  • Road signage can be sporadic, so if you aren’t familiar with your routes, it’s best to bring or hire a sat nav.

A drive away

Stunning Sintra

You might stumble upon the likes of Sintra in an old storybook. A small town overflowing with extravagance, there is a reason behind the region’s extraordinary facade – royal roots. With palaces, castles and stately homes built across centuries, Sintra was a coastal sanctuary, perfect for escaping the intense rays of the country’s summer. This is a very popular tourist destination and should not be missed - here’s why:

The fantasy of Pena Palace – wonderfully exuberant, this is arguably the finest example of Romanticism in the country.

The mystery of Quinta da Regaleira – a bewitching gothic building, and within its garden walls: strange initiation wells hide subterranean secrets.

The wonder of the Palace of Sintra – initially less flamboyant than some of its counterparts, the white exterior and cone-shaped chimneys hide a beautiful set of rooms inside.

Where to road trip

Porto

3 hours north
City formed around the Douro River, best known for its port wine production.

Coimbra

2 hours northeast
Home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and the very traditional Coimbra fado music.

Lagos

3 hours south
The city with iconic cliffs of Ponta Da Piedade. Drive further around the coast and catch a boat ride to the incredible Benagil Cave.

Evora

1hr 30mins east
Gorgeous preserved medieval town, surrounded by protective walls and rolling hills.