Europe > Portugal > Porto

See: Why hire a car in Porto ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

Apart from the obvious connections with port production in the region, the most resounding mental image of Porto is out of the huge Luis I double deck bridge which spans the river Duoro.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the 2021 tourist season. For additional Porto car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

The city of Porto has recently invested heavily in its transport network, and this includes a massively upgraded tram network with a tunnel under the city centre, as well as a new airport terminal. Local trains are certainly good enough heading along the coast, and Portugal also has modern high-speed trains heading south to Lisbon and then on to Faro, although they are still using old conventional tracks, so don’t be fooled into thinking you will get anything like the same speed as on the new fast lines in neighbouring Spain.

Yet a hire car is still going to be useful for heading inland, and if you’d rather tour around lots of different locations along the coast instead of just visiting a few major ones by train, then a hire car will still be useful to.


Driving Roads

There’s no doubt that Portugal has some great driving roads, and that a road trip started in Porto could quite nicely continue down to the capital Lisbon or even onto the Algarve – just check carefully about one-way rental charges. In particular, it might well be cheaper to hire in Faro and then work your way up from there, as Faro car hire prices tend to be more competitive than elsewhere in Portugal, but this isn’t always the case.


However we also think that Porto is enough of a city to enjoy in its own right, and if you are going to combine it with a short break featuring Lisbon at the same time, then this really can all be done perfectly well using intercity trains and local public transport.

It’s also well worth researching the different prices for Porto airport car hire for the whole duration of your stay and comparing this with just picking up a car in the city centre for a day or two’s usage beyond. As with elsewhere in Portugal, the prices for car hire in Porto can vary considerably, from ridiculously cheap longer term airport rates for economy hatchbacks, going up to much more expensive peak season rates. During these popular holiday periods we tend to find that the (proportional) difference between city and airport car hire rates is not so substantial.

Remember to check the fuel policy before confirming any Porto car hire deals.


Needless to say, if you are coming here for the love of the production and consumption of port, then there’s more than enough to see, quite literally by sticking around the city of port.
Plenty of tours of vineyards around Porto are available by bus from major hotels in the city.

cool Why? Visiting Porto using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Porto ?

  • Generally useful for exploring well outside the city.
  • The Duoro valley is still very rural once outside Porto (other than the single rail line) – a car is far more flexible.
  • Trains generally only serve the city of Porto, north-south routes near the coast,

foot-in-mouth Why not? Visiting Porto without a car

Why don't you need a car in Porto ?

  • Porto has a truly outstanding range of public transport – from streetcars to funiculars to a modern light rail metro system.
  • The most iconic bridge – the Luis I bridge, can only be fully appreciated on foot – but you can also cross the top deck by tram.
  • Porto is often overlooked in the rush to the sunny Algarve – step back, put on a good pair of walking shoes, and enjoy it!

yell Ratings: How does Porto compare?

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel



Should you hire a car in Porto? Probably not!


Do you or don't you need a car in [table “1” does not have that cell /]



(Update based on visit in 2018 to follow)

Faro car advice –

Our Faro car hire advice is based on a typical family holiday spending around a week on the Algarve and flying into Faro airport. This is based on a study of the driving conditions in and around Faro, including extensive research on local roads, public transport options, places to visit and local walking connections in and around resorts.

Generally, Faro with the sort of destination where most visitors would expect to hire a car, although it’s perfectly easy to find a holiday deal which includes resort accommodation and localised transfers.

Why hire a car in Faro?

o Freedom and flexibility – the main reason to hire a car in Faro is simply because is going to offer a lot more flexibility than trying to get around using public transport, especially as local bus and rail services on the Algarve are really not all that great.
o Coastal road trip – there are many great places to visit along the Algarve coast, and the more adventurous types might even want to start a much longer Portuguese road trip from here and then head further north.
o Ridiculously cheap car rental – when compared to any other destination in Europe, Faro is amongst the cheapest there is for a one-week off-season hire period. The only other sort destinations which might be cheaper still would be Spanish cities like Malaga or Alicante. With Faro car hire being so cheap, it doesn’t really make that much difference if you hire a car and don’t use it much, as long as you don’t end up paying for a full tank on a full to empty fuel deal.
o Head inland – the Algarve isn’t just about the coastline, there’s a lot to see inland, including around Cadiz in neighbouring Spain.
o Golf in the Algarve – the Algarve is one of the world’s top golfing destinations, so it is natural to get a hire car to go between different golf courses, and because rental is so cheap, this will probably work out better value than taking taxis, even if the courses are very close to your resort.
o Booking ahead – it will almost certainly be better value to book a hire car well in advance, and also because rates are so cheap for entry-level cars, it will also usually makes sense to book a hire car for the whole trip. This is not always the case in Mediterranean holiday destinations, and it certainly not the case when renting in major cities.

Why not? Faro and the Algarve without a car

o Faro on foot – if you just plan to stay locally, there’s really no need to get a car, there are plenty of buses around and between the resorts, with easy access to the most popular beaches.
o Faro town – there’s plenty to see in the town of Faro itself, and it’s all easily walkable. If your resort is further out, just take a local bus in, there’s no need for a car here.
o Local trains – there is at least a local train service operating between Faro and the small town of Lagos.
o Faro estuary – there are a lot of water sports and other activities to do around the estuary near Faro, and none of this really justifies getting a car.
o Walk the Algarve – the Algarve also offers many great walking opportunities, especially along the coastal cliffs, and if you can’t find a walking route directly from your accommodation, then it’s easy enough to combine various other walking routes with local bus services. There is no need to hire a car just for this.
o Onwards by train – because of the sheer range of inward low-cost flights to Faro, some visitors might want to fly here first before then continuing northwards to other locations in Portugal by train. Faro isn’t really a particularly strong city break destination, whereas the Portuguese capital Lisbon or the up-and-coming city of Porto tend to have a great deal more to offer. Both can be reached by train from Faro – allow around 4 to 5 hours to reach Lisbon and then another 2 1/2 to 3 hours to continue onto Porto. One option we would certainly recommend for people who want to tour around Portugal would be to fly out to Faro and then return from Porto. This might be something to do with a one-way car rental (although check for extra costs if doing this), but it can just as easily be done by train.

Faro car hire advice summary

It’s very clear that Faro is the sort of destination where a hire car is going to be useful for the majority of visitors. Public transport in the Algarve is adequate, but it’s really no more than that, so I general recommendation is that a hire car here is going to be extremely useful.


Faro town


The city of Faro really is the one place in the Algarve where a rental car is absolutely not necessary, although of course it still useful to have one if you want to drive along the coastline at your own pace.


The city has an attractive Moorish heart, including the 13 central cathedral, where you can climb the tower to enjoy expansive views of the surrounding estuary – this is even better if you can do this at sunset, but they do tend to close quite strictly at 6 PM so this is basically something for December or January.


Although there are extensive short stay car parks in the town, including those provided by the supermarkets (with limited stay based on purchase), overnight parking might be a hassle if you are staying in apartments which don’t have their own offstreet spaces.


There are plenty of car hire offices within the town of Faro, but car rental from the airport can still be astonishingly cheap, so it’s worth comparing both, depending on how long you are intending on getting a rental car for. It should usually be possible to pick up a rental car on arrival at Faro airport and then to return it within the city or vice versa – usually airport pickup and city drop-off is better value.


Although there are plenty of public transport options in Faro, they aren’t centrally coordinated, so the rail system is entirely independent of bus services, and the bus station is a short walk away from the railway station. Faro railway station looks sleepy enough, but there are still multiple daily diesel services which trundle along the coast from Lagos to the west as far as wherever to the east, and there are also regular express train services to and from the Portuguese capital Lisbon, with some of them also forming a continuous service as far as Porto.

Europe Portugal


Madeira (Funchal) car advice – anyone lucky enough to have a window seat when landing at the amazingly engineered airport that serves Madeira’s capital Funchal will notice not just that the airport is incredibly close to the city centre, but that all of the resort areas on the southern side of the island are very tightly packed together. This is hardly surprising, given that the rugged terrain on Madeira makes it difficult to build anywhere in the island’s interior.


Although there are no fixed rail train services anywhere on the island of Madeira, local and regional bus services are available through a variety of different bus companies, and with a bit of planning it is possible to travel pretty much throughout the whole island by bus. Many resorts will also offer guided bus tours of the island’s interior.


Naturally, as with any island destination with no regular rail service, a hire car can be quite useful in Madeira. However, in an island that is so well known for its plant life, the two most impressive gardens on the island are both within the urban area of Funchal itself. You might not fancy walking up to these gardens in the heat, but buses are still widely available, and you might still prefer the breezy walk down.


If your plan is to hire a car in Madeira, but just to get one for a day or two, then it’s always worth checking the rental terms – a full week hire might be much better value than a shorter hire period if the rental contract is on a full tank to empty tank basis. However, if you are staying in the centre of Funchal, it’s always worth checking parking arrangements first.


On balance, our Madeira car hire advice is that this is the sort of island it’s actually very easy to get around just by using local buses, walking in places, and probably making a few journeys by taxi, but it’s unlikely really to be worth justifying getting a hire car, unless you are staying well away from the urban area of Funchal.


Madeira car hire verdict = no.