Portugal seemed the natural destination for a late autumn trip in 2007: it was likely to be warm and more importantly "open" - campsites in the rest of Europe start to shut down in the middle of September.
We usually take the ferry to Calais and saunter slowly down to the Algarve but many people choose to get the ferry to Santander and have a relatively short trip down to the sun. Check out Britanny Ferries if this is for you.
Portugal was a revelation, it is cheap, the wine is cheap and good, the people are very friendly and there are lots of interesting towns to visit. The campsites vary and some are pretty basic although they do have all facilities but amazingly cheap, cheaper if you opt to stay for more than a month. There are not many sites shown in the ACSI or Camping Cheques books but there are plenty of them and off season it is not usually necessary to book.There are also lots of opportunities for wild camping in Portugal although on the Algarve the "free" camping spots such as those at Manta Rota and Villa Real are being changed, limited facilities being added and as a result a small nightly charge is being made.
Most campsites are independent but there is a chain of Orbitur campsites and if you click here you will get more info. Once you get to Portugal you wil find a locally produced guide giving you details of campsites large and small all over Portugal, last one I bought was about 7 euro.
We found we enjoyed Portugal so much that we have been back every year since that first trip..The picture above is of Coimbra which many years ago used to be the capital of Portugal.
Eating out is generally inexpensive, although the tax has recently been increased to 23% on restaurant food. Specialities are chicken piri piri and dried cod (bacalau) dishes.
The roads are generally ok, there are motorways where you collect a ticket and pay at the toll booths but beware there are other roads where you have to pay (eg A22 in the south) where the powers that be have introduced a non -user friendly system that makes it difficult for tourists to use. There is more information further down on this page.
Therehave always been a number of wild camping spots in the Algarve, the quality varied and in some cases the police would regularly move campers on or even fine them before moving them on but in 2012 many of these seem to be changing and a small charge is levied but there are now some limited services being provided.
A22 toll road
The system is still pretty creaky and the A22 is barely used at present and there is talk about improving the system.
If you are hiring a car then your vehicle may come supplied with a smart box which will deduct the toll charges from your credit card. if it doesnt have a box then you have to go to a PayShop a few days later and pay there. The webpage will give more details.
If you are in a foreign registered car then you can buy a prepaid card, and register your vehicle via text message. Or you can register your vehicles and credit card at the border.
Put simply, the system is a mess and you wonder why the authorities could not have created a more user friendly method of charging for use of this road.
Scroll up to find the contents menu on the left hand side of the page or click here to return to Home page