Lisbon

By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Lisbon?

Do you need a car in Lisbon > Should you rent a car in Lisbon Portugal > Lisbon ( LIS ) Do you need a car in Lisbon? Is it worth hiring a car in Lisbon? Should you rent a car in Lisbon?

Lisbon Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

30%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Lisbon but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€5

 #2/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Lisbon during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

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

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €320

213/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 1693 - of which 142 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

8%

#284/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Lisbon, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Lisbon public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

70%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Lisbon

90%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

80%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Lisbon good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Lisbon because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Lisbon. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

100%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Lisbon, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Lisbon Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Lisbon", "is it worth hiring a car in Lisbon", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Lisbon?

Do you need a car in Lisbon?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Lisbon " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Lisbon?

Is it worth hiring a car in Lisbon?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Lisbon" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Lisbon?

Should you rent a car in Lisbon?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Lisbon, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Lisbon compares with other destinations in  Portugal or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Lisbon?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

60%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

1

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

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

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Lisbon for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Lisbon for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Lisbon if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Lisbon if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

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

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Lisbon, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

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

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Lisbon if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Lisbon if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Lisbon, or are there good reasons not to?

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.

Do you need a car in Lisbon? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Lisbon?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Lisbon? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Lisbon as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Lisbon?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

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?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? 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?

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

What is public transport like in Lisbon? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 2?

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

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for Lisbon on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

2


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}? Do you need a car in Lisbon? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *