Car Rental and lodging in Portugal

Aug 11th, 2019, 06:49 PM
  #1  
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Car Rental and lodging in Portugal

We are traveling to Portugal in late October. After Lisbon we head to Porto and the Douro area for three days before heading south to the Algarve.
Since we'll be 4 adults with luggage we need a fairly big car. Any rental car agencies to recommend or avoid?
Wondering about a place to stay along the Douro, as we tried Quinta do Tedo and they don't have room for us ( they had been highly recommended). Wondering about one night in Porto and two somewhere along the river or the opposite? Since we don't have much time we thought we shouldn't spend too much time driving between places, if possible. We do want to taste wine, and our friends want to do a river cruise.
Would also love to hear recommendations about where to base in the Algarve, as we will be there for 4 nights. Can we pick one area and do day trips? We like to hike/walk and enjoy nature, good food, and wine. Our daughter suggested Lagos, which she visited in the summer. Does that make sense for late fall?
thanks in advance.
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Aug 11th, 2019, 07:44 PM
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We stayed in Lagos and did day trips toward the east (Olhão) and to the west

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmENSCvb

We used AirBnB and had a well located apartment close tot he central market and with a view of the port.

Car rental: we used Autoeurope and had a Europcar rental. We had requested a Mégane or equivalent and got a Renault Captur which is a small SUV with less luggage space than ;the Mégane. Thee suitcases, one 25" and two 22" suitcases barely fit in the trunk. Depending on your style of travel, a Mégane, bigger than a Clio, should suffice as long as they do not take the Captur as an equivalent. in the Captur and 22" suitcase would not fit lengthwise in the turnk. Hee are two photos, one of the Captur turnk and one of the Clio trunk for comparison. Note that the Clio trunk contains two 22" suitcases with ample space for a third, and possibly a fourth.


Driving in Porto is a nightmare. You might want to stay across the river in Gaia. Make sure that you rent a transponder from the car agency, it makes life easier and probably cheaper as the rental agency will not charge you a fee for looking up your address when the bill comes in.

Last edited by Michael; Aug 11th, 2019 at 07:48 PM.
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Aug 11th, 2019, 07:54 PM
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In Lisbon and in Porto we've rented with both Avis and Europcar, arranged with Auto Europe, with no issues.

Late October, surprisingly, can be quite a busy time for the Douro Valley.
Since I don't know your budget, I would just say first check the Casa de São Domingos in Régua, then check the Quinta de Marrocos, Quinta do Pégo, Quinta de la Rosa, Wine Hotel Quinta da Pacheca, although the last 3 have nightly tariffs that usually run slightly higher.
Another option would be north of Pinhão at the moderately priced Casal de Casa de Loivos.
The Vintage House in Pinhão (now belonging to the Taylor Fladgate group) will be pricier, albeit extremely convenient.
Ditto to the Quinta do Vallado in Régua, which needs to be booked far in advance, because it's so popular with wine buyers and wine writers and the newish Vila Galé Douro.

For your river cruise, I would take one of the 2-hour cruises departing from Pinhão and going as far as Tua.

We based in the Algarve just west of Lagos at the family-run Quinta Bonita for 4 nights last November and were very happy there and had excellent meals in restaurants recommended by the Quinta.
In Lagos itself, you have several nice lodging options.
We did several day trips---for walks on the spectacular, pristine beaches and promontories of the Costa Vicentina, to Sagres and windy Cape Vincent, to wineries around Silves. * You can take a tour of the grottos, caves, rock formations of the Ponte da Piedade from Lagos pier.
We thought that the Lagos area was the most attractive base in our 8-night Algarve stay, traveling from west to east, with the most dramatic, compelling scenery, especially west of Lagos.
Maribel is offline  
Aug 11th, 2019, 08:02 PM
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I do so share Michael's pain regarding the Captur with tiny trunk that was forced upon us recently in Bordeaux--aargh!--no other option!

All Portugal rental cars are now required to have a transponder for the electronic tolls.
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Aug 11th, 2019, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Maribel View Post
I do so share Michael's pain regarding the Captur with tiny trunk that was forced upon us recently in Bordeaux--aargh!--no other option!

All Portugal rental cars are now required to have a transponder for the electronic tolls.
This past May it was offered to me as an extra.
Michael is online now  
Aug 12th, 2019, 10:27 AM
  #6  
 
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Yes,
I think it may be this: The car rental companies are obligated by law to offer you the option of renting the transponder, and it's the client's option to accept it or not.
In our recent cases the transponder was already fitted in the car, we didn't need to request it. But this was Europcar at Lisbon Oriente rail station. We accepted the extra daily charge, as we knew we would be using the electronic toll roads.
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Aug 12th, 2019, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Maribel View Post
Yes,
I think it may be this: The car rental companies are obligated by law to offer you the option of renting the transponder, and it's the client's option to accept it or not.
In our recent cases the transponder was already fitted in the car, we didn't need to request it. But this was Europcar at Lisbon Oriente rail station. We accepted the extra daily charge, as we knew we would be using the electronic toll roads.
My recollection, with Europcar, is that we paid a flat fee for the rental of the device and Europcar then charged us the tolls when it received the billing. I can't swear to it because the charges were not on my credit card. It may also be that because we had the car for more days than the maximum daily rental cost, it was the equivalent of a single fee. Eventually I will write a trip report that will include the actual costs that we incurred.
Michael is online now  
Aug 12th, 2019, 03:23 PM
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This is helpful to know and we'll see if they say anything about he transponder on the rental site. I do worry though, about being given a smaller car which won't fit our four suitcases! It sounds like it's just a matter of luck? That's not how I usually like to travel!!

And Maribel, are you the same person who responded to my queries about Spain about 14-15 years ago? If so, I remember your wonderful advice which helped me plan that trip.

I will be posting more questions as we solidify our itinerary.
Would certainly appreciate any restaurant recommendations for LIsbon, and the Algarve. We love good food and wine, but it becomes uncomfortable for us when the price is sky high, so not sure we will do many Michelin starred restaurants ( thought I gather there are quite a few). We may treat ourselves to one or two in the Douro/Porto or Lisbon area.
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Aug 12th, 2019, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by debwhite View Post
This is helpful to know and we'll see if they say anything about he transponder on the rental site. I do worry though, about being given a smaller car which won't fit our four suitcases! It sounds like it's just a matter of luck? That's not how I usually like to travel!!

And Maribel, are you the same person who responded to my queries about Spain about 14-15 years ago? If so, I remember your wonderful advice which helped me plan that trip.

I will be posting more questions as we solidify our itinerary.
Would certainly appreciate any restaurant recommendations for LIsbon, and the Algarve. We love good food and wine, but it becomes uncomfortable for us when the price is sky high, so not sure we will do many Michelin starred restaurants ( thought I gather there are quite a few). We may treat ourselves to one or two in the Douro/Porto or Lisbon area.
I was not in a position to argue because Europcar was being very kind with me. Moreover, we could fit the main luggage in the trunk of the car, but our traveling companion (we were three) also had a small travel bag that had to be kept on the back seat. If we had been four, I would have strenuously objected to being given the Captur. Ideally a compact is the way to go, because a mid-size car will be almost double the price. But that assumes that one 22" suitcase per person is the largest suitcase acceptable. If space is a worry, Google the actual trunk size of the compacts offered on the Autoeurope site and compare it with a car that is known to you.
Michael is online now  
Aug 12th, 2019, 05:55 PM
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debwhite,
I think I must be the same Maribel, since I haven' changed my screen name. Thanks so much for your kind remarks!

We paid a daily fee for the rental of the transponder, already installed, and our credit card was charged for the tolls when Europcar received the billing, about 10+ days later.
Our Captur trunk wouldn't have handled 4 bags, only two 21 in. bags, max. My husband (hasn't yet learned to pack light!) had a 24 in. and I had a 21 in. along with 1 backpack + 1 cabin bag (for 32 days). My 21 in. had to go in the back seat, covered with our black coats. We had planned to rent a mid-size, as usual, but after an expensive 16-night rental in Brittany, we decided to economize on the 2nd, 2-week rental (never again). Alas, there were no other available cars. We managed when moving from lodging to lodging, backing in to spaces in monitored garages when sightseeing and stopping to dine at restaurants with private parking.

Dining recs for Lisbon:
We like both the Cantinho de Avillez in Lisbon very much (J. Avillez's first eponymous restaurant & the best, imo) and his sibling in Porto.
https://cantinhodoavillez.pt/en/
For a tapas-petiscos, small plates dinner we also enjoy Tapisco (by Michelin-starred Henrique Sá Pessoa) in Lisbon's Príncipe Real district. But it's not inexpensive by Lisbon locals' standards, and one needs to reserve. It also has a sibling in Porto.
Tapisco - Henrique Sá Pessoa - Tapas, Petiscos, Vermutes - Porto
On our Lisbon last trip we discovered Prado, a new farm-to-table, opened by a chef who trained with Nuno Mendes and who received the designation of #5 on Mesa Marcada's "Portuguese Best Restaurants" list last year. It was a great find in the Baixa not far from the cathedral & prices moderate.
https://pradorestaurante.com
Near our hotel, our concierge sent us to Sr Lisboa for another small plates dinner, a tiny place with a young, friendly staff & retro vibe. Open continuously, prices moderate, but reservations are recommended. Up the street there's also the cute, cozy & inexpensive Taberna Anti-Dantas.
https://lisboacool.com/en/eat/sr-lisboa
https://www.facebook.com/Taberna-Ant...3554022788092/

In Porto, if you find yourself at the beach in upmarket, attractive Foz do Douro, where the Douro meets the Atlantic, we like Cafeína, Casa Vasco and Terra there, now acquired by the Jose Avillez group. He also will soon open Cafeína Downtown in the former home of the iconic Café Progresso.
https://www.cafeina.pt
For an inexpensive, casual, small plates dinner in Foz, we go to Casa de Pasto da Palmeira, the little dark red house with a whimsical décor, near the Jardim Passeio Alegre, facing the river. Here the menu changes monthly. We also go to BarTolo there in a narrow 3-story storefront with a rustic-chic upstairs dining room and a rooftop terrace, on Rua Senhora da Luz, a block from the beach--inexpensive.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/categ...5081119171836/
https://www.facebook.com/bartolofoz/
In downtown Porto, I can recommend Traça, a slow food restaurant. (They also own Pisca in Foz).
Traça
I've read solid reports about Tapabento near the São Bento rail station, another inexpensive, informal, cute place.
https://www.facebook.com/TAPABENTO.Bar.Restaurante/

In Douro-In Régua we've enjoyed very much several lunches at Castas e Pratos, a favorite of area winemakers, housed in a reconverted rail warehouse, with a sibling, Sus Douro, in the same building at the other end. Fantastic wine list.
http://www.castasepratos.com
In Pinhão for wood grilled meats we like the inexpensive rustic-cozy Veladouro just a block from the pier in town.
https://www.facebook.com/BarRestauranteVeladouro/
In Pinhão the Cozinha da Clara inside the Quinta de la Rosa is also a good bet, with outdoor terrace facing the river.
https://www.quintadelarosa.com/content/cozinha-da-clara

If you do decide on a Michelin-starred (or equivalent) splurge, I can personally recommend the Alvaro Siza-designed Casa de Chá da Boa Nova in Leça da Palmeira, facing the Atlantic in front of his swimming (tidal) pools. Just a taxi ride from downtown. Stunning location, memorable dining. Chef Rui de Paula also supervises the D.O.C., right at the river's edge with outdoor terrace in the Douro at Folgosa, between Régua & Pinhão. Great setting. And he has D.O.P. in downtown Porto, but for me it's less impressive (but less expensive, especially for lunch).
Or Pedro Lemos in Foz Velha (Porto), housed in a charming, two-storey old stone home, also romantic at night.
And for a drink (white port tonic?) and soaking up gorgeous Porto views, The Yeatman Hotel Dick's Bar/lounge above Taylor-Fladgate port lodge (same owners) in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Hope this helps.
*
Maribel is offline  
Aug 12th, 2019, 07:09 PM
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debwhite,
I forgot the Algarve.
In the Algarve if you decide to base in Lagos, I can recommend the lively and inexpensive small plates & wine place, Tasca do Kisko at the marina.
https://www.facebook.com/tascadokiko/
The owner of our Quinta sent us there and also to the family-run Cantinho Algarvio in the Old Town for very traditional Portuguese: great prawn skewers, large portions, local Algarve wines (also Michelin recommended).
https://www.facebook.com/ocantinhoalgarvio/
She also sent us in Sagres to Mar À Vista for lunch directly facing the ocean and recommended there Vila Velha for romantic evening dining, a classic in Sagres--only open for dinner.
https://www.facebook.com/maravistasagres/
Vila Velha Restaurant Sagres

Because the Quinta had a beautiful collection of antique blue/white ceramics that I admired, she also sent us east to Porches to the Olaria Porches for ceramics shopping and for lunch there at their Bar Bacchus, after our wine touring in Silves.

Our most memorable meal with gorgeous views was on route from the Alentejo coast to Lagos on the Costa Vicentina at O Paulo, at the point next to the fortress above the pristine surfers' beach, Praia Arrifana, one of the most photographed of the Costa Vicentina beaches. We shared an enormous rice dish, arroz a tamboril. Arrifana is about a 40-min. drive northwest from Lagos.
https://www.restauranteopaulo.com/#/home

If you need recommendations for the eastern Algarve, please ask. We skipped the highly developed middle Algarve (Albufeira, Portimão) on our recent 8-night trip.
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Aug 12th, 2019, 09:49 PM
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Maribel,

You are exaggerating the limits of the Captur trunk. The photo I posted contains three suitcases, one 25" and two 22" suitcases. At any rate it would not suffice for the OP.
Michael is online now  
Aug 13th, 2019, 06:47 PM
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Michael,
You're probably correct...i only know that our Captur trunk would not fit our one 24 in, one 21 inch, one backpack and one cabin bag, as hard as we tried.
I didn't take a photo, however. I only know that all of the above would not fit. It was the smallest trunk we have had recently.

Last edited by Maribel; Aug 13th, 2019 at 07:02 PM.
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