Faro

Should you rent a car in Faro?

[See also: Faro car hire details]

Should you rent a car in Faro Portugal > Faro

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 and public transport options,. We also look at places to visit and local walking connections in and around resorts.

Faro Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

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 should you rent a car in Faro?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Faro?

Faro Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

80%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€5

 #1/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €115

52/300

 

Free parking score

Total 1219 - of which 489 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

40%

#155/300

 

Why should you hire a car in Faro?

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Head inland – the Algarve isn’t just about the coastline, there’s a lot to see inland, including around Cadiz in neighbouring Spain.
  • 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.

Timing

  • 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? Visiting Faro without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Faro public transport quick facts

Train score

 

00%

Water travel score

00%

Overall public transport score

00%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

10%

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Local trains – there is at least a local train service operating between Faro and the small town of Lagos.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Travelling beyond Faro without a car

  • 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.

[See also: Faro car hire details] This section covers a few more details about whether or not you should rent a car in Faro, giving further suggestion in terms of how your prefer to get around, where you might be staying, and what time of year you are visiting.

Ratings

Car rental in - Faro Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Faro?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Faro?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Faro?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Faro if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Faro if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Faro if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

9

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Faro car hire advice summary

Should you rent a car in Faro? 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.

Would you hire a car in Faro?

Have you driven in Faro? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Faro?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Lisbon

Do you need a car in Lisbon?

Should you rent a car in Lisbon Portugal > Lisbon

When you fly into the Portuguese capital Lisbon, you really are already landing right in the middle of the city. This is absolutely the sort of place where you can start as you mean to go on – with easy metro and bus links from the airport. Lisbon boasts colourful trams that rival San Francisco or Melbourne, as well as a more than half decent Metro and an extensive suburban rail network.

Lisbon Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

You’ll find that you should have no problem not just getting to the main sites in Lisbon itself, but also getting to outlying areas like the famous resort of Estoril.

Why should you rent a car in Lisbon?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Lisbon?

Lisbon Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€5

 #2/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €320

213/300

 

Free parking score

Total 1693 - of which 142 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

8%

#284/300

 

Why do you need a car in Lisbon?

  • Road trips – the obvious reason for hiring a car in Lisbon is that it’s a natural place to start a Portuguese Road trip.
  • Rural Portugal – there is so much more to Portugal than the golf courses of the Algarve, and in order to see a good range of rural towns and villages, you will absolutely need to pick up a hire car in Lisbon.
  • Flexibility – the key reasons for hiring a car in Lisbon would still be the same as anywhere else – you will have freedom and flexibility, and a hire car is certainly useful once you get outside urban areas.
  • Lisbon car hire value – If you can find the right deal, then car hire in Lisbon can still be great value, even if it isn’t usually quite as cheap as you might expect in Faro or Porto. A hire car always becomes more worth it when you have enough people to fill it.
  • Train pains – longer distance train services really aren’t that good outside the main north-south Porto-Lisbon-Faro trunk route.
  • Train cost – if you are used to finding bargain off-peak advance train fares in countries such as the UK or France, then these are much harder to come by in Portugal. Most train services will operate with a much more simple price structure. This means a rental car might well be better value during the quieter times of year, but in the middle of summer when the car hire costs go up, most train fares will stay at a level peg.

Lisbon v Faro?

Flying to Faro and then driving up from the Algarve might have two potential advantages over doing the same in Lisbon – firstly, you will almost always find a much wider choice of flights to Faro, and secondly, since there’s much more choice of car rental providers, you’ll probably get a better rental deal too.

We don’t advise doing this if you just want to stay around Lisbon, as if this is the case, we’d just suggest not hiring a car at all (as per reasons below). However, if you are interested in driving around southern Portugal, then it could well make a lot more sense to start your trip in Faro, rather than Lisbon.

Why not? Visiting Lisbon without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Lisbon public transport quick facts

Train score

 

30%

Water travel score

40%

Overall public transport score

40%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

100%

Visiting Lisbon without a car

  • No need – you absolutely do not need a hire car in Lisbon if you just want to enjoy anything within the city and the area around it. This includes much of the coastline, which is easy to reach by train and/or bus.
  • Public transport – in Lisbon this is much more than merely adequate – you will find a good range of metro and suburban rail services, together with plenty of buses, and of course those famous trams.
  • Trams – the trams in Lisbon are very much part of the colour of the city, and they are also a cheap and practical means of getting around. Given that Lisbon is a dramatically hilly city, think of this as San Francisco without all the hype!
  • Oriente station – one of Europe’s more impressive station structures is Oriente station, designed by Santiago Calatrava.
    Although it’s not the main railway station part serving Lisbon, it should be easy enough to pass through as you travel around the city, and it’s well worth a detour to this “destistation” to gaze up at the impressive lattice roof work.
  • Walking city – despite some tough gradients in some places on the banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon is still a great walking city. In the more historic areas, where steep sided buildings flank narrow streets, you shouldn’t find yourself beaten back by the heat of the sun.
  • Public lifts -one of the most famous landmarks in Lisbon is the Santa Justa Lift, right in the heart of the city. It’s best to purchase a Lisbon tourist card, otherwise it will cost €5 to use. There are also 3 funicular railways within the city.
  • Vasco de Gama bridge – no visit to the city is complete without crossing at least one of the impressive bridges which provide strategic connections in and out of the city. But there’s no need to get a hire car in Lisbon to do this – just take one of the plentiful local bus services.
  • Cycling / bike hire – Lisbon launched a pioneering e-bike hiring scheme in August of 2017. Whilst this is in its infancy, you can also rent bikes from various places across the city. You might prefer instead to take the train to Sintra, and then rent a bike there to enjoy the fantastic forested landscapes between here and the coast. Check rental terms before setting off, as some locations only rent for a 3 day minimum period.

Beyond Lisbon

  • Combine with Porto or Faro – it’s very easy to use coach or Portuguese national rail services to make a two-city break out of Lisbon and either Porto (again for a more urban experience) or Faro on the Algarve. You could also get a one way rental deal, but the chances are that this would be a needless extra cost, and for Porto at least, there would be little need, just like Lisbon.

Verdict

There is no particular need to get a hire car in Lisbon if you aren’t already planning on doing so. If you are trying to decide if it is worth it to get a hire car in Lisbon, then we would suggest looking at a few more places you might want to visit which are relatively near to Lisbon first.

Does that swing it towards visiting Lisbon without a car? If not, then you will still find good value car rental options here, and with the freedom of a rental car, you will no doubt get to see some places that public transport can’t reach.

It’s just that Lisbon is also such a great city in its own right that you really would be missing out on very little by not getting a hire car here.

Ratings

Car rental in - Lisbon Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Lisbon?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Lisbon?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Lisbon?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Lisbon if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Lisbon if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Lisbon if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

2

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Would you hire a car in Lisbon?

Have you driven in Lisbon? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Lisbon?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Madeira

Do you need a car in Madeira?

Should you rent a car in Madeira Portugal > Madeira

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.

Madeira Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

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.

Why should you rent a car in Madeira?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Madeira?

Madeira Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

50%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€75

 #61/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €215

138/300

 

Free parking score

Total 199 - of which 67 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

34%

#186/300

 
  • Price wise, It’s usually worth hirng a car in Madeira, especially if you are visiting away from the peak tourist season.
  • Fuel costs are unlikely to be a major problem as you are unlikely to do much mileage – just check the terms of your fuel deal before confirming your rental.
  • Freedom and flexibility – as with anywhere.
  • Madeira is exceptionally hilly – a car will be better if you don’t want to be walking up steep hill sides.
  • Bus routes are generally slow and infrequent.
  • Buses aren’t very well integrated – to travel across the island starting from the airport can take 3 trips, with long gaps between services. Buses are only really useful to get you round the whole island if you are staying in the capital Funchal.
  • There are FOUR different bus stations in Funchal – one for each part of the island.
  • There is no rail service of any kind.
  • Madeira is popular year round, including as a winter sun destination. Car rental prices tend to fluctuate, but not as much as they do in places like Faro on the Algarve, where there is more of a peak in demand in the summer, and not so much demand in winter.

Why not? Visiting Madeira without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Madeira public transport quick facts

Train score

 

30%

Water travel score

40%

Overall public transport score

50%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

40%

  • The island is relatively small – a car might be useful some of the time, but not always for a full week.
  • Traffic can be a problem on any denseley packed holiday island.
  • Parking – you will of ten have problems finding a parking space.
  • Check your fuel contract – Madeira car hire can be poor value if you have to pay for a full tank of fuel you won’t use.
  • Buses are very good in the main town and resort areas.
  • Buses are excellent value compared to northern Europe.
  • Madeira has a pleasant climate with many gardens – ideal for walking around, providing you are reasonably fit.
  • Madeira Cable Car – a great way to see the city from above, and also to visit the botanic gardens is to take the Madeira Cable Car.

Ratings

Car rental in - Madeira Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Madeira?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Madeira?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Madeira?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Madeira if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Madeira if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Madeira if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

9

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

So, do I need to hire a car in Madeira? 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.

Would you hire a car in Madeira?

Have you driven in Madeira? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Madeira?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
 

Porto

Should you rent a car in Porto?

Should you rent a car in Porto Portugal > Porto

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.

Porto Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

The city of Porto (with substantial external help) 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.

Why should you rent a car in Porto?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Porto?

Porto Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

30%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€35

 #15/300

 

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

 

 €345

219/300

 

Free parking score

Total 737 - of which 62 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

8%

#283/300

 
  • 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,

Why not? Visiting Porto without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Porto public transport quick facts

Train score

 

60%

Water travel score

60%

Overall public transport score

50%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

40%

  • 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!

Ratings

Car rental in - Porto Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Porto?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Porto?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Porto?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Porto if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Porto if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Porto if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

5

Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments
 

Should you hire a car in Porto?

Probably not!

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