When you intend to rent a car in Lisbon airport, be prepared, that more and more renting companies are now moving out of the airport and have their station "somewhere". It might be only a little hint in your papers, that you will be expected by a representative next to the "Vodafone" both, to guide you to the shuttle bus.
You might know that from the US. In Lisbon however the shuttebusses do not run every 5 or 15 minutes, it may take 30 min or even an hour until the bus arrives. Some companies then bring you to an industrial area next to the airport in a town called "Prior Velho" which is 5 min. drive. The area is unpleasant, ou would not want to walk there at night. Other companies (e.g.Sixt) have their stand in the "Parque das Nacoes" close to the river, somewhere hidden in a garage in a little side street. In both cases, when you return the car, theses places are not easy to find! Plane sufficient time for renting and returning the car. The only remaining major companies at the airport are Avis, Europecar (Alamo) and Jardim (local). Thus when booking a car please keep these things in mind.
Driving in Lisbon can be pretty hectic, but we managed to find our way around the city by avoiding rush hours (usually 7 am to 9 pm and 5 pm to 7 pm) and by doing some prior research we saved a lot of time! With a car rental in Lisbon http://www.auto-europe.co.uk/go/car-hire/portugal/lisbon we explored the city and its surroundings. Finding a parking space in the city centre can be tricky, and as soon as we did we decided to do the rest of our tour by foot. Hiring a car is the best choice if you don't want to spend money on taxis or time on public transportation.
I have never driven in Lisbon, nor do I plan to, and its public transport is so good that most visitors probably rely solely on that. But if you should decide to bring your car into the city, look out for the local men who work as self-appointed (I assume) parking attendants. For a small tip they will help you squeeze your car into the smallest of spaces, and will keep an eye on it in your absence. I was told that even if you feel quite able to park without their help it is perhaps not a good idea to refuse it. As they say, “refusal often offends”, and at best they are likely to turn a blind eye should anyone choose your car as a target for vandalism. I watched from my balcony one morning as this guy helped several locals who were clearly arriving for work in the neighbourhood, and if they value his service and are prepared to pay for it, so perhaps should you ...
One of the most frequent questions is how to get to the beautiful medieval town of Óbidos.
By car - It takes about 50 minutes (85Kms from Lisbon city centre). You have to take A8 highway, pay 7,60€ of tolls and exit in exit nr 15 that has a sign saying Óbidos. You can also use other routes that avoid tolls but you'll take about 1h30 and probablility of getting lost will be higher. www.viamichelin.com might be a great website to plan your route without highways.
By bus - The best way to get to Óbidos is by taking a bus from Rodotejo from Campo Grande station. Buses take about one hour and departure at weekdays at: 8h, 8h15, 9h30, 11h, 12h, 13h15, 14h15, 15h30, 16h, 17h15, 17h30, 17h45, 18h, 18h15, 18h30, 18h45, 19h30, 20h15, 21h, 22h. At Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays at 9h30, 11h, 14h30, 16h45 and 19h30. However check in www.rodotejo.pt in the separator Rápidas just to be sure. The final destination of the bus is Alcobaça and the first stop is Bombarral. A ticket costs 7€ and Campo Grande is easily accessible by subway (green or yellow line).
You can also get a Rede Expressos bus to Caldas da Rainha (you can get it in Sete Rios station) and there get a taxi to Óbidos (about 8 kms).
Train - There is a train to Óbidos station. However this one is not in the centre and train takes a long, long time (betweeen 2h10-2h50). You can find the schedule here: http://www.cp.pt/StaticFiles/Imagens/PDF/Passageiros/horarios/regionais_2007/lisboa_fig_da_foz.pdf.
Taxi - A trip from Lisbon can cost around 80€ but prices might shift significantly. You can also purchase a taxi Voucher that will assure you of the price to pay (http://www.askmelisboa.com/en/content/taxi-voucher-rest-country-daytime). This vouchers can be bought online, at the airport, in Lisbon Welcome Centre (Praça do Comércio) and Palácio Foz (Restauradores Square).
Tours - There are many companies offering tours to Óbidos: Mr Friend (www.mrfriend.pt), Inside Lisbon (www.insidelisbon.com), Tours for You (www.toursforyou.pt), Lisboa Sightseeing (www.lisboasightseeing.com), Lisboa Tours (www.lisboatours.com), etc...
Traffic drives on the right in Portugal and international traffic signs are used. The minimum age for driving is 18 years. Speed limits are 120kph (74mph) on motorways, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and 50kph (30mph) in towns. Tolls are charged on most motorways. Motorways are indicated by the prefix ‘A', minor roads by the prefix ‘N' and European routes by the letter ‘E'. Both International Driving Permits and national driving licenses are accepted. A Green Card and third-party insurance are compulsory, as is a warning triangle. Seat belts must be worn and children should travel in the rear seat. The legal maximum alcohol to blood ratio for driving is 0.05%.
The national motoring association is Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP) (Rua Rosa Araújo 24 Phone: +351 213180202), can offer assistance to motorists belonging to an automobile club with whom the ACP has a reciprocal agreement. Nevertheless, if you hire a car in a rental-car company they will have their own contacts and assistance.
Routes to the city: The A1, Auto-estrada do Norte, extends from Porto to Lisbon and the A8 arrives from destinations to the north and west of the city. The A9 bypasses Lisbon, connecting the A1 and A8, as well as the A5, which links Lisbon with Cascais and the beaches. The A2, Auto-estrada do Sul, arrives from Faro and the Algarve via Almada and the 25 de Abril bridge. The A2 also links to the A6, which continues on for connections to Madrid. The A12 crosses the Vasco da Gama bridge, offering a less congested route into the city. The Auto-estradas tolls are payed.
On the auto-estradas there are many emergency phones (orange) to contact the emergency services. In case of accident contact also 112 (the emergency phone number everywhere)
Emergency breakdown service from ACP phone: 707 509 510
Info about maps with » mapquest
Best way of "Getting there" it's the online route planning of » Via Michelin which includes directions, costs (petrol + toll), time, if scenic views are available, etc...
If you are driving to Portugal, then you will have to travel from Spain via one of 15 border crossings. Driving is on the right side of the road and speed limits in the city and built up areas is 50kph (37mph) or 90 kph (55 mph) on the regular roads. On the motorways you can travel up to 120kph (75 mph).
As I live in a city with a bad driving behaviour, I am often impressed by the driving attiitude of foreigners. In the city of Lisbon, I found really astonishing the fact that all drivers stop immediately and wait for pedestrians to cross the street...
I rented a car (for 40 euros a day) and took a trip in the south Portugal. leaving Lisbon, you cross the 25th April Bridge, heading south on the A2 Sul (which means south) highway and stay straigh ahead. The tolls'service is very convenient: at the first booth, you just press the button and your toll ticket is issued. At the next, there is an agent who collects the amount charged on your ticket, depending on the distance you covered. I paid 18,25 euro for 260 klms.
On my way back on Sunday evening, I remebered Greece with the heavy traffic and all..!
the weather was very warm and given the national holiday on friday (the Carnation Revolution) plenty of people took advantage of the long week-end. Therefore, it took me five whole hours to get back, as 100 klm outside Lisbon everything stopped!
Good thing was though, that along the highway there are frequent service stations where you can stop to refresh.
I wouldn’t recommend driving in the centre of Lisbon, and I didn’t do it either! But then I wouldn’t recommend driving in the centre of many cities. Most of the time, the traffic wasn’t too bad, but there were some shocking drivers about. One night, when the centre of Avenue Liberdade was closed for a procession, the roads at each side were a solid queue of traffic – all hooting impatiently as if that would clear the blockage half a mile up the road.
There were signs for several underground car-parks, usually with spaces free. The car in the picture must have been desperate though.
There is a company called S2 Rent. In here you can rent a smart car from 1€/day. The catch is that the car has publicity in the exterior and you have to travel between 30 to 100 kms inside the Lisbon District and you can only have the car for a maximum of 4 days. If you're thinking of going to Sintra, or Cascais and drive around this can be a great choice.
The places to rent are in Alcantara (between the city centre and belém) and in Cascais.
On my second trip to Lisbon I rented a car from Thrifty. (The first time around it was Europcar, and my experience was very good.) I can only encourage everyone NOT to rent from Thrifty, at least in Lisboa.
1. All other companies have facilities inside the airport. Thrifty does NOT. In theory they are supposed to pick you up at the airport, but they do not. They were not even answering the phone! I ended up getting a taxi (!) and have him look for the Thrifty location.
2. Their website lists Clio, but in fact they give you a Fiesta, and insist that it is "similar". In fact, Fiesta is a lower grade vehicle.
3. The car that they gave us had no gas (!), was missing B-pillar plastic covers and wheel covers, and was scratched and dented everywhere.
4. Website advises that the location is open 24 hrs, the plaque on the door says it is open 7-11, and the guy running it says it is open 10 - 9.
Renting a car is not needed if you just visit the city, but is very convenient if you plan to visit some of the historic towns nearby. Getting around is difficult because on many streets left turns are prohibited, and navigating the many glorietas is hard to get used to. Parking is hard to find, and you don't just have to parallel park, but do it uphill. Also be aware of a possiblity of break ins! Gas is ridiculously expensive, like E8 for gallon.
If you rent, I strongly recommend Europcar. I rented Renault Clio, with which I was very pleased, with full insurance for three days for E130. They have a location in the airport and one near Pombal; I believe they have more locations, too.
There is a rental car terminal in the airport near arrival area, used by all the major rental companies. Just follow the signs to arrivals, and you will see the rental car garage right next to it.
Whatever you do in Lisbon I advise you against renting a car. I know transportation in Lisbon isn't very reliable, I use it everyday, but driving a car in Lisbon is quite an adventure. Portuguese drivers don't respect anybody and drive as if they had to go from Lisbon to Madrid in half an hour. Road signs don't exist also for Portuguese drivers so I really advise you not to drive in Lisbon, you might but probably won't take longer but you'll be a lot safer.
I had the furtune of having the official car throught my stay in Lisbon. And with a driver that was born in Lisbon. He was a fantastic guide. He knows where to go and when. This made my stay very wonderful. We also ventured across the border into Span as you could see in this picture.
During our first 3-days in Lisbon, we purposely decided not to bother with a car. This turned out to be a good decision because public transport is plentiful and taxis are cheap. In addition, you get to notice so much more about the city if you just walk wherever you can!
When we did finally pick up our car from the Airport, we zoomed out of the city as fast as we could, heading south for the Algarve across the spectacular Vasco da Gama bridge at the north end of the city. We snapped a quick shot through the windshield to capture at least a bit of this longest bridge in Europe. At 17-km (10 miles) in length, with its cable-stayed main span (visible ahead as we approach it) to allow ship traffic on the Tagus River, this bridge was opened in March, 1998 on the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's arrival in India.
At the very end of our trip, we had to drive into downtown Lisbon for an appointment at the Canadian Consulate. The traffic that we experienced verified our earlier decision not to bother with a car. After fighting our way into the city, while my wife went inside, I stayed with the car on a small side street off Av. da Liberdade where the cars were Triple-parked!!
My friend and I thought it would be pretty easy to get from Lisbon to Seville as they're only about a four hour drive apart. But we found that we would have to change buses a couple of times and likely lose an entire day. So we decided to go to the airport and rent a car. But no one would let us return a car in Spain (something about a tax) and it was also hard to find an automatic. Finally, Avis said we could take the car to the border and return it there, then catch a bus. They charged us an outrageous amount (I'm too embarrassed to print it here) and we managed to figure it all out, after some excitement. Bottome line: if you have to get from Lisbon to Sintra, fly or get ready for a lot of bus riding.