Getting there:  You can take your car on the Brittania Ferries ship Pont Aven from Plymouth to Santander in Spain.  This is an overnight crossing on a large modern ferry operated by French staff. Once you arrive in Santander you have a choice of routes through Spain into Portugal.

Please Note:  Once you reach the Portuguese border you will see signs directing you to a machine into which you insert your credit card.  This links your card with your car number plate and enables you to drive on the motorway system.  Overhead gantries automatically recognize your car number plate at each toll point.You drive straight through these.  They are marked "Taxis".  When you return to home you will note the toll charges (fairly expensive) on your credit card statement.  This automatic toll system is used on the A22 motorway running along the Algarve , The A17 and A25 to Porto and a number of others.  For more information please see www.portugaltolls.pt  Some motorways still have the old system with toll booths where you pay as normal.



At the Marina in Lagos a number of companies offer boats trips to see the spectacular scenery of the Algarve coast.  The soft rock is easily eroded by the sea leaving many bridges and caverns likie these on the right.  Boat companies transfer passengers from large boats into small ones for a close up view.

TIP:  Portugal has traditionally been a bad country to drive in because of the number of accidents.  In recent years the authorities have imposed very low speed limits on a number of roads, particularly in towns (often 30 or 40 kph) and done a lot of work on road layouts and furniture to make things safer.  You will find, however, that drivers are not very good at sticking to speed limits.  This particularly applies to the motorways where the speed limit is 120 kph.  It is not unusual to find drivers travelling at 160 or 170 kph.  Keep your eyes on the mirrors to watch for traffic approaching fast from behind. 

On the plus side you will find that youngsters will offer their seat to older people on buses and trains.

 Cafe along the beach near Alvor.  There are a number of these all of which seem to serve good food with the emphasis on fish dishes.  In Alvor there are also many places to eat around the harbour and parking is free but get there before 7p.m. as parking is more difficult later on.
View along the Algarve coast from Alvor towards Lagos.  Alvor is a village about 20 km East of Lagos. It is quieter than some of the more brash resorts but still has many good beaches and restaurants.  Parking around the harbour where most of the restaurants are located is free.

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Advert seen along the riverfront at Lagos in the Algarve.  Lagos is a pretty town with a modern marina from which many boats trips run. This town, like many along the coast, is a favourite of English and Irish holidaymakers.  English is widely spoken.

A cove on the Algarve coast.  There are many of these along what is called the Praia Roche or rocky beach.  The stone is soft and easily eroded that is why there are notices posted on the beach warning people not to sit under the rocks.


The road from the south into Lisbon takes you over the April 25th Bridge.  This takes  its name from the date in 1974 when the Dictator, Salazar, lost power.  At 2.2 Km. long it is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world and resembles the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.  It was built in 1966.
View towards Lisbon from the pretty town of Cascais about 40 km West of Lisbon.  Cascais is at the end of the train line from Lisbon (40 minutes) and makes a good destination to stay if you don't want to drive into Lisbon.  From here it is easy to reach the scenic town of Sintra and the National Park with its castles as well as the Atlantic beaches.


Occupying a commanding position on top of a hill in the World Heritage Site of Sintra is Pena National Park and Pena Castle.  If you visit Lisbon you must visit this National Park which is about 40 Km. from the city.  There is also the remains of a Moorish castle in the park as well as a number of other notable buildings.  The road up the hill is one way and often crowded.  Avoid weekends or holidays.

The district of Belem in Lisbon is full of monuments, towers and historic buildings as well as a modern marina, shops and restaurants.  The broad pavement alongside the river is a favourite of both locals and tourists.


A view of Lisbon from the River Tagus.  This is the best way to get an initial view of the city. The RIB tour leaves from Doca de Belem which is located near Padrac dos Descobrimien.  It is on the river Tagus a few hundred metres west of Belem railway station.

A bit different to the usual river trip and highly recommended is this tour by RIB.  A relatively new company, Lisbon by Boat, offers what is a very personal experience of sightseeing.  Contact Monica (monicacruz@byboat.pt) or phone 933 914 740 to make a booking.  The website is www.byboat.pt if you want more information. 


The river Douro runs through a steep valley in the city of Porto in Northern Portugal.  There is a very interesting funicular with an expanding front that runs from the top down into the gorge.  There is also a cable car which does the same thing. 

Boats like this carried the cargoes of port from Porto.  There are a number of Port companies situated alongside the river and it is possible to take guided tours of them and have tastings of Port Wine.  Boat trips are also offered along the river in these traditional boats as well as longer tours which leave from further down the river.