Top Five Tips for Getting Around in Portugal

Here are five invaluable tips to help you get around in Portugal

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Portugal is an enjoyable country to travel around, with more public transport options than you may expect and some fantastic roads (as well as, it must be said, some less-than-fantastic roads). 
 
Here are five what I would hope are invaluable tips to help you get around in Portugal:
 

1. Learn about the road tolls

For many journeys in Portugal, you have the option of a free road route and a paid toll road. This includes trips along the Algarve and between the Algarve and Lisbon.
 
Taking the latter as an example, a journey from Albufeira to Lisbon will cost approximately €21 in toll charges – but this means you get to drive up the A2 motorway, which has a fantastic road surface and is often almost empty.
 
Alternatively, you can pay nothing at all and use the IC1 road, which is busy, pot-holed and hair-raising in places. Which route you choose will depend on your budget and personal preferences.
 

2. Don’t overlook the trains

Portugal’s train network is reasonably comprehensive and some bargain fares are available for advance bookings.
 
For example, a return trip from Lisbon to the Algarve can be had for around €40 in first class, if you take advantage of an offer. The journey is leisurely and enjoyable, and often better value than driving.
 

3. Find out where the stations are

Local rail travel is also an option in Portugal, with some small towns surprisingly well linked. However, it’s important to check where stations actually are in relation to the places that they claim to serve. 
 
A good example of this is on the western half of the Algarve train line. Many stations are actually miles away from the towns that they are named after, such as Albufeira station, which is actually a significant drive away from Albufeira.
 

4. Check bus schedules carefully

Buses are another good transport option across Portugal, but they, too, are often rather infrequent. If you’re going to rely on buses, you really need to learn the timetables. This is especially important at weekends, as often there are only one or two daily services, if any at all.
 

5. Consider off-season hire cars

If you are a holiday home owner, this tip could come in particularly useful: there are thousands of hire cars in Portugal, especially in the Algarve, and there needs to be to service the requirements of summer tourists. 
 
However, this means there are a great many spare hire cars sitting doing nothing in the quieter months. If you plan to spend winter in Portugal and want inexpensive transport, it’s worth talking to a local hire company and negotiating a monthly rate. This can often work out far cheaper (and more practical) than purchasing a car locally.

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