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Portugal is an ancient country with close ties to the sea and some of the best surfing anywhere in Europe. It also benefits from a gloriously sunny climate, particularly on the Algarve coast.
Book car hire in Portugal and you’re free to explore everything this gorgeous country has to offer, from the cosmopolitan delights of Lisbon to the epic surf of the Atlantic coast, and the small sheltered coves that dot its southern reaches.
Portugal is surprisingly close to Africa (from a high place on a clear day, you might even see it’s distant outline), which makes it perfect if you’re looking to combine your visit with a trip to Morocco. Spain is also just a short drive away (just over two hours from Lisbon) so it’s easy to create your own country-hopping itinerary.
Portugal’s biggest airport is Lisbon Portela Airport, which sits just outside the capital, Lisbon. If you’re visiting the Algarve, you might prefer Faro International Airport, which is only 30 minutes away from Albufeira, one of Portugal’s most popular resorts.
Whether you fly into Faro or Lisbon, you’ll be free to choose from a wide range of trusted and reliable car rental providers. Popular brands include Hertz, Goldcar and Budget, or you can choose from a local provider like Bravacar and Firefly Portugal.
If you flew into Lisbon, it’s worth spending some time exploring the city before heading on to your final destination. The enthralling capital sprawls over seven hills, with prettily mosaicked pavements, ancient architecture and some of the best pastries you’ll ever taste. Popular attractions include Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a Unesco-listed monastery that dates from the 15th century, and Castelo de São Jorge, a similarly ancient castle that looks out across the city.
Porto, just three hours away by hire car, is the nation’s other big city. It’s brimming with history too – particularly in its medieval centre – but it also has a thriving culinary scene and friendly locals. Make sure to visit Igreja de São Francisco – from the outside it appears to be a somewhat dour-looking church, but step inside and you’ll discover a glittering, gold-filled interior.
Portugal’s beaches are second to none, and many of the most popular are found in the Algarve, which stretches all the way across the southern coast. If you’re only going to visit one (and why would you do that?) make it Praia da Marinha, 25 minutes east of Portimão, where you’ll find a tranquil oasis of orange-brown sands and turquoise waters.
Like the rest of mainland Europe, Portugal drives on the right. Apart from that, you shouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary – just be aware that the Portuguese have a somewhat distant relationship with their indicators. Carry on using yours, but don’t expect other motorists to do the same.
Itching to get out to Portugal and experience it for yourself? Get started with this Lisbon city guide and the Expedia search tool. It’s a simple way to find the best deals on flights and hotels, and to research all the most popular attractions.
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