Not long ago, Uber faced a ban in Portugal. Fast forward to today, and it operates seamlessly in several Portuguese cities. Whether you’re in the bustling streets of Lisbon, the historic lanes of Porto, or sun-drenched paths of the Algarve, Uber’s there for you.
I’ve used Uber (and other taxi apps like Bolt and Freenow) all over Portugal, as well as traditional taxis. If you haven’t used any of these apps, it really is one of the easiest ways to get around Portugal, particularly if you don’t speak the language and are nervous about phoning a taxi company.
Other taxi apps:
- Bolt, once known as Taxify, is a very popular taxi app in Portugal.
- Free Now, previously known as MyTaxi, is less popular than Bolt or Uber, but could be a good backup option.
For longer distance trips (e.g. Lisbon to the Algarve) it may make more sense to pre-book a taxi or airport pickup in advance using a company like Welcome Pickups.
Lyft is not available in Portugal.
Is Uber Cheaper than a normal taxi service?
Portugal’s taxis are reasonably priced. While Uber might be a tad less expensive, the difference isn’t stark. It’s not the significant cost-cutter you’d find in other nations.
However, Uber does bring additional perks:
- No risk of drivers quoting inflated fares for tourists.
- Drivers can’t detour to rack up the fare; every move is monitored. If they do, you can raise it with Uber.
- Book a ride without any knowledge of Portuguese or needing a local taxi number.
- Get estimates on journey duration.
- Know your taxi’s arrival time.
How do I download Uber? How do I download an app?
Using Uber in Portugal is a convenient way to get around various cities. Here’s a quick guide on how to use Uber:
- Download the Uber App:
- Sign Up and Log In:
- Open the Uber app after installation.
- Sign up for a new account using your email address and phone number.
- Once registered, log in to your Uber account.
- Set Your Location:
- Ensure your device’s location services are enabled.
- Open the Uber app, and it will automatically detect your current location using GPS.
- Enter Your Destination:
- Tap the “Where to?” field and enter your destination’s address or name.
- Select a Ride Option:
- Uber offers various ride options, including UberX (standard), Uber Comfort, Uber Black (premium), and more. Choose the one that suits your needs and budget.
- Request a Ride:
- After selecting your ride option, tap “Confirm” to request a ride.
- You’ll be able to see the estimated time of arrival and the fare upfront.
- Wait for Your Driver:
- The app will display your driver’s name, photo, and vehicle details.
- You can track your driver’s progress on the map.
- Enjoy Your Ride:
- Once your driver arrives, hop in and enjoy your journey.
- Payment is typically cashless through the app, so no need for physical currency.
- Rate Your Trip:
- After your ride, you can rate your driver and provide feedback through the app.
- Your payment method (credit card, PayPal, or other options) is linked to your Uber account, and the fare is automatically charged at the end of the trip.
Remember that you can always check the app for ride estimates, ride history, and any ongoing promotions or discounts.
Where is Uber available in Portugal
According to Uber’s website, Uber is operational in an impressive range of locations across Portugal including:
- Lisbon: The bustling capital city of Portugal, known for its historic charm, vibrant culture, and stunning views over the Tagus River.
- Porto: Portugal’s second-largest city, famous for its rich history, exquisite wine, and picturesque Douro River landscapes.
- Algarve: A renowned coastal region, popular for its beautiful beaches, golf courses, and Mediterranean climate.
- Aveiro: Often referred to as the “Venice of Portugal,” Aveiro boasts picturesque canals, colourful Moliceiro boats, and delectable seafood.
- Braga: Known for its religious heritage, Braga is home to iconic churches, historic architecture, and lively festivals.
- Coimbra: A city steeped in academia, Coimbra is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities and a charming old town.
- Evora: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Evora showcases well-preserved Roman ruins, medieval streets, and a rich cultural heritage.
- Guarda: Portugal’s highest city, Guarda offers breathtaking mountain scenery, historic architecture, and a tranquil atmosphere.
- Leiria: A picturesque town known for its medieval castle, vibrant cultural scene, and proximity to the Silver Coast beaches.
- Viana do Castelo: A charming coastal town with beautiful beaches, historic sites, and traditional fishing culture.
- Vila Real: Surrounded by stunning vineyards, Vila Real is a gateway to the Douro wine region, known for its wine production.
- Viseu: A charming city in central Portugal, Viseu boasts historic squares, a captivating cathedral, and a laid-back ambiance.
- Beja: A historic town with a rich Moorish heritage, Beja offers a glimpse into Portugal’s past through its architecture.
- Bragança: Nestled in the rugged landscapes of northern Portugal, Braganca PT is known for its medieval castle and rural charm.
- Castelo Branco: A city with a relaxed pace of life, Castelo Branco is surrounded by olive groves and known for its castle.
- Pacos de Ferreira: Famous for its furniture industry, Pacos de Ferreira offers a glimpse into Portugal’s craftsmanship.
- Portalegre: Nestled in the Alentejo region, Portalegre is known for its traditional crafts, historic buildings, and natural beauty.
- Santarem Portugal: A charming city on the banks of the Tagus River, Santarem Portugal is famous for its Gothic architecture and agricultural heritage.
- Santiago do Cacem: Located on the Alentejo coast, Santiago do Cacem offers beautiful beaches, historic sites, and a relaxed coastal atmosphere.
Most of these locations are cities. In certain locations, such as the Algarve, you may have to wait longer to get an Uber in rural locations. Near the Algarve’s coast, there are normally lots of Ubers.
If you’re travelling in rural parts of Portugal, it’s also good to have Bolt and FreeNow on your phone, just in case you can’t get an Uber.
As of late 2023, Uber and Bolt are not available in Madeira or the Azores. If you need a taxi, you will need to phone a local taxi company (or have your hotel or accommodation do it for you).
Uber at Lisbon Airport
At Lisbon Airport, the Uber (and Bolt, Freenow, etc) pickup area is at the departures area in Terminal 1 near the Kiss & Fly car park (also known as Parque P1 Partidas).
- Head up the escalators (you’ll see a sign saying ‘check in’ above the stairs next to it). These are located above the car rental area.
- Pass the Heineken bar on your left and go through the automatic doors marked ‘Salida’ or ‘Exit.’
- Once outside, you will need to use the pedestrian crossing to cross over to the Kiss & Fly car park. This is just after the bus stop.
This is where the driver should pick you up, and most likely will. If you have any problems, try phoning the driver or send them a message through the app.
Uber at Porto Airport
At Porto airport, the Uber (and Taxify, Cabify, etc) pickup area is front of the arrivals entrance on the first floor. Uber will tell you to go to the “Kiss and Fly” car park, which isn’t really signposted.
Basically, you walk outside the arrivals entrance/exit and go to the island in the middle of the two-lane road. Ubers normally come down the lane on the side furthest from the airport entrance but, standing in the middle, you’ll be able to look out for it on both sides.
Uber Tipping Etiquette
Tipping in Portugal can be a confusing topic as there isn’t really a tipping culture in the same way as there is in other countries like the United States or, to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom. Many American websites suggest tipping between 10% and 20% as standard, depending on the quality of service, and 30% for longer trips.
In Portugal, there isn’t a set rule or percentage. The biggest rule about tipping in Portugal is that tips are always appreciated. Wages are low in Portugal, and people work hard, and every little helps.
Before Uber came along, some people would round up and tip a Euro or two or tell the driver to keep the change. These days, most people tip inside the Uber app. As there isn’t a tipping culture in Portugal, you can choose whether to round up or tip a percentage. 10%, which would be considered low in the US, would be appreciated in Portugal.
Should we be supporting Uber?
Taxi drivers in Portugal aren’t fans of Uber. They’ve gone through the process of getting licences, and now they see newcomers arriving without the same effort. This sudden competition has understandably ruffled feathers.
While I get their concern, I can’t entirely side with them. The taxi world in Portugal could use some updates.
For example, in Lisbon, taxis sometimes overcharge tourists or take longer routes. I’ve experienced it myself.
Down in the Algarve, getting a taxi after dark can be a hassle. A lot of drivers finish up before midnight, which leads to some resorting to drink-driving. With Uber around, there are more transport options late into the night.
So, have taxi drivers stepped up their game in response to Uber? Have they become more transparent with pricing? Or ensured availability late at night? Not really.
In fact, in October 2016, they protested against Uber by blocking Lisbon airport with their cars. That’s not improving service; it’s resisting change. Actions like these make me lean more towards using alternatives like Uber.
Have you used Uber (or any other taxi app) in Portugal? Let us, and other people visiting Portugal, know your experiences by leaving a comment below.