There's plenty to see in Portugal, from the bright lights of Lisbon to the beaches of Madeira. Of course, if you want to explore them at your own pace, then you'll certainly going to need to drive. And if you're planning on renting a vehicle during your visit to Portugal, then you'll also need to be aware of the laws regarding licensure, and legal driving age.
Some visitors to Portugal may drive rental cars using their own driver's licenses, depending on their country of origin. U.S. citizens with valid licenses may drive in the country for up to six months, at which point a Portuguese license would be required. EU and EEA citizens may use licenses issued in their home countries as long as they are valid and current, as may residents of Canada, Australia, and South Africa.
If you're traveling with licensed teenagers, it may be tempting to let them take the wheel so you can relax while you see the sights of Portugal. However, this is best avoided, as there are specific driving and car rental age requirements that usually prohibit such actions.
The minimum driving age in Portugal is 17, but the minimum age to rent a car is 21. If a young driver who was unlisted on the rental agreement were to get into an accident while operating your rental vehicle in Portugal, then your insurance coverage may be compromised, resulting in serious liability.
Young drivers who are at least 21 years of age may rent vehicles in Portugal, as long as they have been licensed to drive for a period of at least 1 year. However, be aware that drivers who are under the age of 25 may be subject to a young driver surcharge. This charge may vary, depending on which car rental company you do business with while traveling in Portugal.
When driving in Portugal, or weighing the decision to let a younger driver take the wheel during your trip, it's also very important to remember that driving here is quite different than in many other places. Drivers in Portugal tend to be on the aggressive side, especially when compared to motorists in places like the U.S., the UK, and Germany. On the other hand, if you're accustomed to driving in Ukraine, Thailand, or Korea, then the roads of Portugal may seem rather tame.
Regardless of your origin or level of experience, the takeaway should be: do not to put anyone behind the wheel in Portugal who is not up to the task. Beyond this, it is wise to remember that many young and inexperienced drivers would tend to fall into this category.