I’d like to hear from anyone who’s travelled in Portugal and who can help settle a debate. My GF and I are planning to visit Portugal for one week in December. Our itinerary is still very open, but we’re planning on visiting the southern coast (we’ll probably fly into Faro with EasyJet), and then go up to Lisbon and maybe Coimbra, with daytrips to various sites in between.
My GF would like to rent a car for this time, arguing that it’s more convenient (for instance, for loading and unloading luggage) and that it saves time (not having to wait for public transportation, etc.). She also thinks it will be necessary to have a car to visit the countryside. She’s found a rate for about $200 for a 5-day rental, with unlimited mileage, that she’d like us to reserve.
I’d rather ride the train. It seems to me that the train fares are very reasonable in Portugal, and since it’s such a small country there aren’t many great distances that would require a car. I’m also not too keen on the idea of driving in a foreign country (although reading the road signs won’t be a problem since my GF’s Brazilian), and I don’t really like navigating the inner circle of big cities and having to deal with the stress of parking and traffic in general.
Has anyone here experienced either or both forms of transportation in Portugal? If so, what would you recommend in favor of renting a car as opposed to riding the train (or vice versa)? Would renting a car (with the kind of rate that she’s found) be more cost-effective than paying for two train fares? Or would the convenience of car travel make it more worthwhile?
I’ve tried to suggest a combination of train travel for most trips, and maybe renting a car for a couple of days (if there are some out-of-the-way sites that aren’t accessible by train) so that we can see the countryside at more leisure. But we haven’t come to a firm agreement yet.