Our thoughts after touring Portugal in 2019…
Strengths: Portugal had been on our bucket list since our first tour of Spain several years ago. But we just ran out of time in 2014. Having decided on touring the Iberian Peninsula in 2019 we were determined to explore Portugal. In the months leading up to our departure it became evident that Portugal was a current tourist hotspot as every travel show on TV or travel magazine had an article on Portugal. Our tour lasted for 5 weeks all through August to mid September travelling from north to south. The weather very warm and humid in the west along the coast but very hot and dry in the Beira and the east.
We found Portugal very motorhome friendly. Camper Contact and Park4Night provide lots of overnight parking options through the country. We found several aires in the east with free power. We paid a total of €60 for overnight stops in our 5 weeks in Portugal. The people are friendly and helpful. There are English language translations on more complex signage and things like ticket machines.
The iconic cities of Porto and Lisbon are highlights along the west coast as were the stone villages of the Beira in the east. The larger towns of Alcobaça, Coimbra and Chaves are far less touristy but just as interesting to explore.
Portugal has an excellent 4G mobile network, data sims are easy to purchase and relatively cheap compared to England and France.
Weaknesses: Summer in Portugal can be draining, the heat of the day ebbs slowing after sunset. Finding shade in the afternoon becomes a focus to help the fridge cope. As the Hymer is air-conditioned we tended to target overnight spots with power on the hottest days in the east.
Alcohol and diesel prices are slightly more expensive than Spain, but significantly cheaper than England.
Travelling on the motorways is a bit of a challenge. There are no toll booths and vignettes are not simple to acquire. We managed to register the Hymer’s plate on-line and buy some credit but the toll companies operate independently and our credit worked on some motorways but not others. It’s all fairly confusing. We had no idea how much of our €10 credit was expended. So good luck with that !
Opportunities: As Portugal is geographically a relatively small country, the daily driving distances are manageable. The road network is comprehensive making it possible to drive from the coast to the Spanish border in a few hours. Compared to Ireland the A roads are good.
Cannot speak highly enough of the food and wine in Portugal. The local octopus salad and sardines were our personal favourite. A Portuguese tart with our coffee or perhaps for desert became an obsession. The local rosé was definitely Pam’s favourite.
Threats: The huge numbers of tourists visiting Porto, Lisbon and particularly Sintra did detract somewhat from the experience. Other than that nothing springs to mind.