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Other Mediterranean Ports Dubrovnik, Gibraltar, Istanbul, Kotor, Kusadasi, La Goulette (Tunis), Lisbon, Madeira (Funchal), Malta, Odessa, Sevastopol, Varna, Zadar

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  #1  
Old January 20th, 2012, 02:00 PM
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Default Driving in Portugal

Anyone have any experience To share? We will be arriving Lisbon mid-November and renting a car in Lisbon to travel to Coimbra for one evening then Pinhao for two evenings. Then back to Lisbon for two nights before flying home.

Specifically 1) easy to reach car rentals from cruise terminal?

2) ever been to Coimbra?

3) have experiences to share of your time in the Douro Valley?

I'm in my early stages of research but I thought I'd seek others experiences. Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old January 21st, 2012, 07:16 PM
hkto hkto is offline
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There is more than one cruise terminal. I would seriously doubt that an agency will be at pier but then Lisbon is not that big and cab ride to the office shouldn't be long. Smaller agencies might deliver to pier larger ones probably wouldn't. Shop around.

Also November is rainy especially in Northern Portugal. Pinhao is very small and wouldn't know what to do there for 2 days. Porto is a better choice IMHO. Keep in mind that there are automated tolls in place on major roads (no toll booths). Tolls for Portuguese registered cars can be paid later in post offices (there is one in Lisbon airport) otherwise hefty fines go to rental agency which transfers them to customers CCs.
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  #3  
Old January 22nd, 2012, 12:48 PM
Hlitner Hlitner is online now
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We have rented cars in Lisbon on many trips and, unfortunately, have never found a decent rental car office near the port. You also need to be careful about the opening hours (and days) of any city rental car office. As a norm we use public transit to get us to close to the Rua Castilho office of Hertz which is located at a center city parking garage. This location has long hours and is also open on Sundays (at least it was the last Sunday we were there). There are a couple of metro stops within a few blocks of that location. We also find it useful to have a GPS (we have our own with Europe maps) which is available for rental from Herz.

Hank

Last edited by Hlitner; January 22nd, 2012 at 12:50 PM.
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  #4  
Old January 24th, 2012, 09:39 AM
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There are three cruise ship terminals in Lisbon, none have car rental on site. The terminals are (from west to east): Alcântara, Rocha Conde de Óbidos, Santa Apolónia

Alcântara and Rocha are the two old terminals. They very close to each other (about 800m, 1/2 mile, but you can't walk it due to the container depot between the terminals). From a practical point of view Rocha is very inconvenient (draw bridge pedestrian access only, no public transportation) and Alcântara is convenient (taxis portside, train adjacent).

Santa Apolónia is the new terminal, and far better and more convenient. It is the most commonly used terminal these days, with Alcântara and Rocha serving only as overflow. With some luck you will be at Santa Apolónia.

I have prepared a Google Map for you. Here you can see the location of the cruise ship terminals and other relevant transportation.

Now on to your specific questions:
Quote:
1) easy to reach car rentals from cruise terminal?
None are too bad, but it really depends on your cruise ship terminal.

If arriving at Santa Apolónia cruise ship terminal, you can rent from a low-cost car rental outfit (InterRent) right there at the train station directly across from the cruise ship terminal. They advertise rates as low as €6.99 a day, but I have never rented from them and can't vouch for their quality or service. €6.99 seems too good to be true, though, so watch out.

The normal international rental car agencies are elsewhere. I marked on the map the Hertz station that Hlitner mentioned, which is best accessed by taxi. Avis and Sixt have offices at the Oriente station, which can easily be reached by train from either Santa Apolónia or Alcântara terminals.

If arriving at the Alcântara Terminal, you may want to consider picking up your car at the suburban locations of Hertz in Cascais or Avis in Estoril. Cascais and Estoril are going to be on most tourist itineraries anyway, and these rental offices are right outside train stations with a scenic direct service from the station adjacent to the Alcântara cruise ship terminal. For Avis, get off at the Estoril station and Avis is adjacent. For Hertz, get off at the Monte Estoril station and Hertz is just up a very short hill (100m) from the station.

Of course all these car rental companies and then some also have locations at the airport. But I would avoid the airport, because the airport imposes about 30 euros in extra fees. Only use the airport if you need a car when the city or suburban locations are closed. Check their hours.

Quote:
2) ever been to Coimbra?
Yes. Check out the university. On your way up from Lisbon to Coimbra make sure you stop at Tomar (templars convent, a UNESCO site) and Batalha, and give those sites some time. If you are of the appropriate religion you may also find Fátima an interesting stop.

Quote:
3) have experiences to share of your time in the Douro Valley?
We spend time there in the summer, cruising the Douro and all. In November it will be slow, quite slow, cold and very possibly wet. Try to get some vineyard tours in, plan ahead.

Not sure why you plan on driving back down to Lisbon. You can fly out of Porto (OPO). As far as I know, none of the majors (Avis, Hertz) change for one-way drop-offs within the country. There are nonstop flights from Porto to Newark and to many european airports where you can connect to home.

Let me know if you need anything else.
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  #5  
Old March 15th, 2012, 11:35 AM
ftmill ftmill is offline
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Default What public transit do you use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hlitner View Post
We have rented cars in Lisbon on many trips and, unfortunately, have never found a decent rental car office near the port. You also need to be careful about the opening hours (and days) of any city rental car office. As a norm we use public transit to get us to close to the Rua Castilho office of Hertz which is located at a center city parking garage. This location has long hours and is also open on Sundays (at least it was the last Sunday we were there). There are a couple of metro stops within a few blocks of that location. We also find it useful to have a GPS (we have our own with Europe maps) which is available for rental from Herz.

Hank
Hank,
Based on this post we rented a car for a Sunday pick up at the Hertz location on Rua Castiho 72. What mode of public transit do you take from the pier there?
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  #6  
Old March 15th, 2012, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftmill View Post
Hank,
Based on this post we rented a car for a Sunday pick up at the Hertz location on Rua Castiho 72. What mode of public transit do you take from the pier there?
Taxi.
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  #7  
Old March 17th, 2012, 06:24 PM
ftmill ftmill is offline
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Default Is a taxi far to the Hertz Car Rental?

About how much does it cost?
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  #8  
Old March 17th, 2012, 06:33 PM
Lisbontaxis Lisbontaxis is offline
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If from Santa Apolónia port, about 7 Euros, if from Alcântara, around 10 Euros
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  #9  
Old March 17th, 2012, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisbontaxis View Post
If from Santa Apolónia port, about 7 Euros, if from Alcântara, around 10 Euros
Strange. Hertz on Rua Castilho is actually closer to Alcântara (about 4km) than Santa Apolónia (about 5km). In any case, the cost will be less than 10€, nothing to worry about.
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  #10  
Old March 19th, 2012, 07:33 AM
Lisbontaxis Lisbontaxis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by First Time 2008 View Post
Strange. Hertz on Rua Castilho is actually closer to Alcântara (about 4km) than Santa Apolónia (about 5km). In any case, the cost will be less than 10€, nothing to worry about.

Not strange. Viamichelin or any other distance calculator(as far as I know), can't recognize streets reserved for public transportation, or bus lanes where taxis can go.
The distance is about the same, but from Santa Apolónia you have 95% of the distance with bus lanes (usually no traffic and not very time stopped at traffic lights), and from Alcantara only about 30%, and the traffic is very but very different.
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  #11  
Old March 20th, 2012, 09:04 AM
calliopecruiser calliopecruiser is offline
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In October 2009 I rented a car in Portugal for 2 weeks, driving from Lisbon to Minho (stayed a week there) and back. Wonderful trip. If you've never driven in Portugal you should be aware that many of the roads are very narrow and the hills are very steep, and in Coimbra and Porto I got into a few narrow inclines that took my breath away and were kinda scary to drive. Good fun, though, and still worthwhile.

I didn't arrive in Lisbon by ship, so I can't comment on rental agencies and the port.....I used Auto Jardim and took a taxi from my hotel to the agency, and did the same in reverse when I dropped the car off (I didn't drive in Lisbon other than to/from the rental agency to out of town. Also didn't drive in Porto other than to/from my hotel to out of town).

I agree that Minho was rather wet at that time of year, but very green and beautiful. I spent most of my time further north than Douro, in Minho, but the Porto area was also lovely and I enjoyed my 2 days in that city. I adored Portugal, and I'm looking forward to going again next year, this time at the end of a transatlantic cruise.
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  #12  
Old March 20th, 2012, 10:14 PM
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Thanks for all the wonderful information! I'm still trying to figure out what is the easiest car agency to pickup/dropoff from my cruise with minimal city driving.
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  #13  
Old March 20th, 2012, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTJtraveller View Post
Thanks for all the wonderful information! I'm still trying to figure out what is the easiest car agency to pickup/dropoff from my cruise with minimal city driving.
What exactly are you trying to minimize? The distance from the port to the car rental agency, or the distance from the car rental agency to leaving the city?
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  #14  
Old March 20th, 2012, 11:40 PM
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My dilemma is:
We are two couples arriving on a Windstar cruise (not sure if that makes a difference in which port we dock). I want to make it easy to pick up the car and return it (we return after 5 days to stay in the old castle area, writing this off the top of my head so not sure of the name).

I envision us dropping off our friends and the luggage at the hotel then returning the car and taking a taxi back to the hotel.

Suggestions?
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  #15  
Old March 21st, 2012, 05:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTJtraveller View Post
My dilemma is:
We are two couples arriving on a Windstar cruise (not sure if that makes a difference in which port we dock). I want to make it easy to pick up the car and return it (we return after 5 days to stay in the old castle area, writing this off the top of my head so not sure of the name).

I envision us dropping off our friends and the luggage at the hotel then returning the car and taking a taxi back to the hotel.

Suggestions?
Pickup and return have nothing to do with each other. Most (all) rental car companies in Portugal do not charge extra for one-way rentals within the country. So you can pick up at one location and drop off at another for no extra cost.

It's too early to tell where your ship will dock, as terminal assignments are only made about 2 months in advance.

If your plans are to travel straight to Coimbra nonstop, here is what I would do:

1. If ship docks at Santa Apolónia, take train from there to Coimbra. Pick up the car in Coimbra. In Coimbra, Avis is location inside the train station, and Hertz in only 500 meters away.

2.If ship docks at Alcântara, take train towards Cascais and pick up your car from Avis in Estoril or Hertz in Monte Estoril. Both are right outside the respective stations.

These are doable only if you don't have a lot of luggage. One wheeled piece per person would be fine, much more would be a problem (but then again, any more would be a problem for the trunk of the car too).

For the return, there is no rental car location near the castle (I suppose you mean the Lisbon castle). So do as you plan, drop off friends and luggage at hotel and take a taxi back. It's not really important where you return it, as Lisbon is rather compact and you are never more than about a 10€ taxi ride from anywhere. Your could even return to the airport, which has the longest hours of operation.

Do you have a preferred rental car company? I mentioned Hertz and Avis, but there are other companies. Does it matter to you?

I mentioned luggage in trunk above. Will you guys have lots of luggage? Keep in mind that cars in Europe are smaller than American cars. Keep in mind also that there is petty crime of breaking into vehicles to steal valuables. So whatever car you pick, make sure all you luggage fits in the trunk, out of sight of potential thieves. If you have lots of luggage it will be a challenge. If you look up car rental rates in Portugal, you will find huge gaps in price between the small cars and the large cars. For a sample week in November, I see ~160€ for a Ford Focus (typical compact in US, but actually rather a midsize car in Portugal) or ~ 480€ for a full-size Open Insignia. Pack light.
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  #16  
Old April 27th, 2012, 08:43 PM
dcchili dcchili is offline
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The roads are good, the scenery very nice, Coimbra is a fun college town.
Driving is not a problem.
Caution
Do not leave any suitcases or things in any car , trunk, out of site , in site, locked or alarmed in any tourist area. They will be Stolen
The police look at it as a way for the locals to benefit from the tourists.
I repeat, THEY WILL BE STOLEN !
If you are visiting a town and not spending the night, check your luggage at a local hotel or bus station. Church parking lots like Batalha have thefts all the time. I lived in Portugal three years, and even my luggage was stolen in 60 minutes.
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  #17  
Old April 28th, 2012, 12:17 PM
iancal iancal is offline
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If you get a car with one of those radio antennas that are screwed onto the base, then unscrew the antenna and put it under the seat or in the trunk. They often get stolen and the rental car company will charge you for them. Europcar gave us this tip last time we picked up a rental in Faro.

Last edited by iancal; April 28th, 2012 at 12:18 PM.
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