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Enjoying some of what Portugal has to offer – except its confusing toll system

Our visit to Portugal was far too short, but really enjoyable. We’ll be back!

Our schedule meant that we only had a few days to explore the great city of Porto – and its famous drink – as well as drive through some of the spectacular mountains and valleys in the centre and north of the country.

Here are our thoughts on the sites we stayed at, as well as a few words about the country’s motorway toll system.

Our usual disclaimers apply.

The listing represents the order in which we stayed at each place as we travelled, not any sort of ranking.

The prices are the ones we paid, using our ACSI discount where possible, and may not necessarily be available in the future.

‘All services included’ means you don’t have to pay any extra for electricity, wifi or showers – though everywhere charges extra for their washing machines.

Aveiro Camperstop, Aveiro   

N 40.64328, W 8.65859.   

30+ dedicated spaces for campervans next to major car park and canal.  

Ashphalt.

Bins and water on the main car park area; no grey water/toilet disposal.

The lovely town centre of Aveiro and its canals (it likes to be known as ‘the Venice of Portugal’) are just a few hundred metres away. It’s not the most visually appealing aire, as the parking spots are near a flyover and next to some waste ground, but it’s quiet enough at night and the town itself makes it well worth staying a night or two.

Orbitur Canidelo, Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto

www.orbitur.com/campsite-orbitur-canidelo

N 41.124444, W 8.666111.  

€17 per night – all services included (but wifi not available all over site).

Grass.

Many restaurants and bars within easy reach along the seafront.

No. 15 bus into the city stops around 200m from the entrance – takes about 45 minutes.

The location of this campsite is incredible: directly on the other side of the road from the entrance is an enormous sandy beach and the Atlantic Ocean! It’s part of a chain around Portugal, and the facilities are generally pretty good, but the site was being upgraded while we were there. The diggers and cement mixers going from 8:30 in the morning would have been a real pain if we’d had stayed on site all day.

Parque Campismo Quinta do Rebentao, Chaves

www.campismochaves.pai.pt

N 41.70127, W 7.50013.

€10.40 per night – all services included (but wifi not available all over site).

Grass.

Around 5km from Chaves town centre.

There’s a restaurant on site, and a baker visits every morning.

This site is part of a farm in a beautiful, quiet location – there’s a stream running through it, very helpful staff who will tell you about local history and the nearby walks, and a general air of calm (at least when we visited and it wasn’t very busy).

Portugal’s motorway toll system – some words of warning!

I had done some online research before entering the country, and most motorhomers seemed to find Portugal’s tolls a bit confusing.

It all started very well.

We came into Portugal from Salamanca on the road that becomes the Portugese A25. Simply follow the signs which will, after a few kilometres, take you to a toll station.

There you put your credit card into the machine and receive a print-out to say you are registered with the Easytoll system (it has electronically read your number plate as you approach the machine).

The rest is incredibly straightforward. Every so often there are electronic toll-readers above the road to register your vehicle. All the charges from our short visit appeared on my credit card bill within 10 days or so.

And when you leave the country, you go to the website to cancel your registration.

However … not all motorways are part of the Easytoll system, as we discovered!

On the other roads there are two types of lanes at the tolls. One are the ‘Via Verde’ lines, designed for vehicles with electronic devices that register as you pass through them.

There are also lanes for the other types of tickets.

Embarrassingly, as (mostly) law-abiding citizens, we decided to drive through the Via Verde lanes without paying since they did not have any barriers.

It seems unlikely, from the experience of other travelers, that the Portugese authorities will catch up with us – but I will keep you posted!

So, with hindsight, I should have done more research.

The most helpful web page for visitors is probably this one, part of the official toll website, that I didn’t spot until after we left.

It doesn’t sound too hard to pick up a pre-paid toll card at post offices, service stations or online. Or even to hire a Via Verde transponder.

And this site is also very helpful in showing what happens when you come into Portugal on an Easytoll road.

Hope you do a better job of paying your Portugese taxes than we did!

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