Things To Know About Portugal

algarve car rental

The history of Portugal spans several thousand years and includes a period during the 15th and 16 centuries when the Portuguese established the first truly global empire which extended from Brazil in the West to Batavia (present day Jakarta) in the East. It was maritime prowess that enabled the Portuguese to build their global trading empire and that maritime tradition is still alive and well today in the form of a robust commercial fishing industry. But while the fishing industry remains an important component of Portugal’s economy other areas of the country have shifted away from traditional industries toward a combination of private investment, exports and high tech. As a result, despite enduring some tough times in the wake of the global financial crisis, Portugal has since regained its collective footing and is a vibrant, forward looking nation with its eye on the future and its heart firmly grounded in its astonishing cultural legacy.

What things to know about Portugal now? Read on!

Top Places to Visit in Portugal by Car

faro car hire


Faro is Portugal’s southernmost city nestled into the rocky outcroppings that line the country’s Mediterranean shore. Sprinkled in amidst those outcroppings are some of the most relaxing and beautiful beaches on the continent; many of which are part of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. Car rental in Faro is easy so exploring the surrounding countryside is too and makes for exquisite day trips. While the city is fairly small it hosts a plethora of wonderful seafood establishments and cafes.

lisbon car hire


Lisbon is not your typical overcrowded, ridiculously expensive European capital. From its narrow winding roads to its amazing scenic overlooks, it’s a favorite for travelers seeking both the cosmopolitan and the comfortable. At night the city comes alive with irresistible aromas emanating from a thousand restaurants, live music in quaint squares and just enough leading edge clubs to satisfy partiers. Car rental in Lisbon like car rental in Portugal in general is a straightforward process that will allow you to really explore the surrounding areas.

porto car rental


Porto is one of those cities that great European vacations are built around. There is more character in any given block of the city center than you’ll find in some entire countries. Porto straddles the line between ancient and modern the way all the best European cities do. It occupies the hillsides that slope gently down to the banks of the Douro River. The Old Town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one visit will tell you why. Car rental in Porto is a snap in the city that gave Portugal its name.

Driving in Portugal - rules on the road

Speed limits

On most motorways the maximum speed is 120 kph while on non-highway open roads you’re allowed to drive as fast as 100 kph in your car rental in Portugal. In most towns you won’t be able to exceed 50 kph and that limit will come down further in the smaller villages or more densely packed city centers.

Alcohol levels

Don’t even think about drinking and driving in Portugal. The maximum allowable alcohol level is 0.05, which is 2 drinks +/- for the average person. Should you be found to have violated the legal alcohol limit you’ll be facing everything from a large fine to loss of license and perhaps imprisonment.

Speed fines

Speeding fines in Portugal are no laughing matter and can range from a minimum of €200 for those exceeding the motorway speed limit by 20 kph to €2,500 for speeding in parts of the countryside. All fines must be paid on the spot with most police vehicles having a credit/debit card processor. Failure to pay the fine on the spot may result in your car being impounded.

Speed radars

Speed radars in Portugal are a fairly new phenomenon but they’ve quickly become a favorite tool of law enforcement. Year on year the number of speeding tickets resulting from radar traps in Lisbon alone increased from less than 800 in the first half of 2015 to more than 7,000 in the first half of 2016. So be careful driving your budget car rental in Portugal.

Road quality

You may be surprised that car rental in Portugal is so simple and the quality of Portuguese roads is so high. The 2017 Road Quality List actually places Portuguese roads higher than those you’ll find in Spain, Germany and the United States. Of course in some of the more remote regions you’ll likely encounter uneven surfaces resulting from less than stellar maintenance, but on the whole the roads in Portugal are excellent.

Minimum driving age

Portuguese law requires an individual to be at least 18 years of age to drive a car. There are no particular renting a car in Portugal tips you’ll need to be aware of. Just know that you’ll need to be at least 19 and in some areas 23 and even 25.

Fuel price

The price for a liter of gasoline in Portugal as of this writing ranges from €1.37 to €1.54 per liter with an average price of €1.45. For a liter of diesel the average cost is €1.25.

Side of the road

As is the case in most of Europe the Portuguese drive on the right side of the road.

Seat belt fines

You may incur a fine of up to several hundred Euros for not wearing a seat belt. Seat belt use is compulsory for everyone in either the front or back seat whether you’re in a limo or a budget car rental in Portugal.

General information about Portugal


The weather in Portugal is regulated by the proximity of the sea. As such it is a favorite vacation spot for those wishing to escape oppressive summer temperatures in other European countries as well as for those wishing to avoid the mind numbing cold of winter. Typically the south of Portugal is around 5 degrees Celsius warmer on average than the north.


The population of Portugal is 10.3 million. The country is fairly homogenous although there are notable populations of Romanians, Bulgarians, Brazilians and others. For the most part the population is concentrated in the northern 50% of the country with vast tracts of the south only sparsely inhabited.

Speaking language

Portuguese is the language of nearly all the Portuguese people although there are nearly a dozen distinct dialects that can be heard in the various parts of the country.

Cost of living
The cost of living in Portugal is among the lowest in Europe although that’s not a reflection on the quality of life, simply the economic realities that have Portuguese workers typically making far less than their counterparts in places like France and Germany. If you’re going to investigate car rental in Portugal and spend time driving about you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its affordability.


Because of its long proud history, affordability and temperate climate Portugal attracts a large number of foreign tourists each year. In 2016 alone up to 6 million tourists visited the country which has a population of only 10.3 million. Affordable car hire in Portugal is another factor drawing people in as are the country’s many beautiful beaches. It’s never a struggle to find affordable accommodations and affordable car rental. Portugal is used to hosting legions of foreign tourists so you’ll never feel resented like tourists can in other places. So go ahead, find a car rental in Portugal and have the time of your life.

If you are looking for a great inspiration for road trip in Algarve, we have something for you!

Have a great road trip!

Your four-wheel travel buddy, Carrentalia