Surprises & Lessons After 5 Weeks In Portugal
okay let's move on overnighting now this is the big one is world camping allowed in Portugal? now just before this video me and Lisa had this big argument about but should we say wild camping or shouldn't we? because it's such a contentious term we're Andre and Lisa full-time travelers and nomads since 2018 last year we bought a camper van in Europe and we're currently traveling along the coast of Portugal this year we're on an epic 20 000 kilometer adventure making our way from the south of Spain to the north of Scandinavia and back to southern Italy so subscribe and follow our adventures welcome back to our channel guys if you don't know I'm Andre and I'm Lisa and today we're going to tell you about Portugal because we just wrapped up our five-week trip in Portugal and we're gonna tell you everything we've learned in those five weeks we're gonna discuss our experience on the roads of Portugal overnighting in Portugal van life in general, what the vibe was like what you need to know we're gonna talk about food we're going to talk about sightseeing we're going to talk about language and then of course we're going to talk about the seasons weather and also some practicalities when it comes to visiting Portugal and particularly to van life or motor homing through Portugal we travel by motorhome if you don't follow us hit the subscribe button but this all applies to vans as well obviously so shall we kick off? first is what to expect of the roads in Portugal we came in from the south we entered from the Spanish side and we did sort of the length of the Algarve coast and we cut straight up north along the coast and we exit Portugal to north we only did about 1 250 kilometers Portugal is actually not that big no and we pretty much covered the majority of the coast and this was over a period of five weeks the roads are reasonably good we actually managed to avoid total roads completely oh no wait there was one you have to know that some of the toll roads are booth based and some of the electronic only so you need to figure out which roads you want to take what you can do and that's what we did we registered our vehicle once off online uh to use the electronic only tolls and actually we never used electronic only tools but at least we were prepared in case Google accidentally put us onto one of those roads it only cost 70 cents and I think that is well worth doing there's an article on our website with all the links and descriptions of what we talk about generally the toll roads are actually not expensive either way if you don't have too big a vehicle it's very feasible to take the alternative routes the only one toll that we did do was to cross over the bridge in Lisbon which really saved us a two hour detour and that only 4.15 Euro and in general fuel prices in Portugal are slightly more expensive roughly 6 percent more expensive than in the neighbouring Spain during the time that we were in Portugal this was March and April of 2022 it was exactly when there was a crazy fuel hike in prices in Europe so we paid on average 1 euro 96 in Portugal we managed to not ever pay 2 euro which is actually quite a feat just to put in perspective when we left Spain we filled up one last time at 1.849 and a couple of weeks before that, three weeks before that, we managed to get diesel at 1.3
yeah this was just before entering Portugal yes wow so you can't just blame it on Portugal everybody has seen massive increases it's roughly only six percent more expensive than Spain and the only other thing that we notice coming from Spain into Portugal is that the driving style is definitely very different we found Spain to be quite relaxed whereas in Portugal the drivers are rather erratic and enthusiastic on the roads not aggressive though no and you don't hear car hooting or anything like that but compared to Spain there's a lot more tolerance towards cyclists and pedestrians where Portugal it's like.... we saw lots of near misses but generally driving in Portugal was a fairly pleasant experience and we really can't complain about the ease of getting around yeah or what it was like okay let's move on overnighting now this is the big one is wild camping allowed in Portugal? now just before this video me and Lisa had this big argument about should we say wild camping or shouldn't we because it's such a contentious term the idea of what is wild camping because we misused that term a lot and so many times we heard before we went to Portugal oh no stay in Spain don't go to Portugal because wild camping isn't allowed but wild camping isn't allowed in Spain either people okay so the the thing is you have to understand what is it what is parking and what's camping in Spain parking is allowed almost everywhere they cannot discriminate against you because you're in a motorhome but in Portugal is not that simple well let's say parking and overnighting in your vehicle okay okay parking and overnighting in your vehicle is generally accepted in Spain or in Portugal? both well no because actually in Portugal there's a lot more leeway towards the municipalities of municipal areas themselves they can determine whether they allow motorhomes to overnight in the municipal area and this is the crux of the matter so firstly you need to know wild camping is not allowed in Portugal it's also not allowed in Spain but that does not mean that you cannot overnight in your vehicle for free legally legally in certain areas now this is where it becomes interesting for a while, supposed this was over the Covid period all wild camping and overnighting was banned in Portugal there was an amendment passed to the Portugal highway code in August 2021 which sort of clarified a lot of this should I read what it actually says? no no it's too much but it pretty much means that unless it's expressly prohibited you can overnight in a municipal area for a maximum of 48 hours not camp overnight overnight in your vehicle so that does not include taking out your awning setting up your chairs and table and being outside of your vehicle in a camping fashion not even that because camping can also be defined as using um levelling wedges camping can be defined as using stabilisers discharging liquids oh yeah that's not allowed at all but the same applies to Spain there are some exceptions where you just not allowed to overnight at all and that is most notably national parks or coastal areas predominantly where it falls under the Natura 2000 network and those areas are predominantly in the south of Portugal just to get a little bit more information to clarify the difference between parking and camping you can have a look at our website we'll leave a link below on a full article explaining the differences between parking and camping for Spain as well as for Portugal yeah make sure you understand it even if it means using a rock to level your van well you know you can't help if you accidently drive onto a little rock and this level your van it's a grey area, levelling is a grey area because if your vehicle is over three and a half tons in Spain, I don't know if it applies to Portugal you must use a chock to prevent your vehicle from rolling so it's all very interesting anyway guys there's plenty of places where you can legally overnight for free in your vehicle yes you can't put out your chairs but camping is obviously not allowed but there are options and in addition to that I mean this surprised us in Portugal the fact that there were so many places where you could overnight in your vehicle legally for free but secondly to that is there are just such an abundance of cheap campsites and what I really like about the campsites in Portugal is they sort of have this three-tiered approach you can either pay to just go and use the services if you're a motorhome or campervan which is really quite cheap or you can overnight at the campsite for generally under 10 euros 6 to 10 euros thereabouts or you can pay an additional roughly three Euros to have electricity included and that's really nice to have that tiered approach that you can spend as much or as little as you want we talk about campsite and this is now interchangeable with like a motorhome specific area it's not really a camp site it could be a motorhome area with electricity and and even facilities like showers and toilets and often a laundry facility on site or some shared facilities so it's like we use it interchangeably it's not only real campsites well some are real.. it's not um luxury campsite where there's a swimming pool and kids activities that kind of thing no not at all because we were here on the off season or shoulder season that it does appear that there's more tolerance towards staying overnight but in total over the five week period that we spent in Portugal we spent a total of 12 nights in campsites and this was actually a little bit skewed because we ended up spending four nights in a campsite in Porto over the Easter weekend these campsites varied our cheapest one was six Euro per night without electricity which was absolutely beautiful spacious green grass campsite in the Algarve and our maximum was 13 Euro including electricity over the Easter weekend just outside of Porto it skewed our numbers a little bit that last one because it was sort of our last stay in Portugal as well but we deemed it necessary just to make it a little bit easier as for as to see Porto and in total we spent 16 nights staying in ordinary parking areas which are not specifically made for motorhomes 7 nights were in official service areas dedicated to motorhomes some of these were free and some were paid which gave us a total of 19 nights spent completely for free in Portugal and this could definitely have easily been higher there's no problem you can find free places everywhere in Portugal so even though we ended up camping for quite a bit 30 percent of the time our average cost per night still went up to only 4 Euro per night let me just add in the Algarve it is more difficult to find free spots unofficial unofficial stops it's a lot more tightly regulated in the southern coast parts that's what we found and as we moved up the west coast and more the surfer beaches along the west coast seemed that there's a lot more options generally we mostly use Park for Night that seem to be the easiest but also mixed it up with the ASCI app for motorhome stops just to see if you see something whether it is an official legitimate stop and most importantly to just make sure that you do read the recent reviews on Park for Night always to see whether there have been any issues and if anybody's been fined and if it really is allowed let's move on to van life general and it leads us straight from parking to servicing that's a question we get often it's like oh where do you guys service your van or what do you do? so even if you're just staying in a parking lot um it's not servicing areas is not as abundant as in places like France or Italy I'll be honest with you but it's it's... surprisingly there's alternative options which you don't see like for example there's some supermarket chains which have service areas like Intermarche in Portugal and even Lidl even Lidl have dedicated parking areas for motorhomes most of the servicing is free or it's pretty cheap if you have to pay for it you can find it free also at many fuel stations things like that the difference is that it's just very often not at the place where you can also overnight for free yeah the two things are separate you're overnight in one place and every couple of days you go past a supermarket or fuel station and go and get servicing done but let's say that off the bat I was so surprised just how popular van life is in Portugal and what was so strange an apparent difference to us coming from France and even in Spain is the demographic suddenly from being the youngest campers in the campsite we were the oldest It was crazy. young, surfer vibe could have been just the case of the time we were in Spain it was sort of the dead of winter and it was more like a retired... what do you call those people?
the snow birds, the sun birds? I don't know, people who come south for summer whereas in Portugal it was a little bit after winter so people there were more surfing type activities all right moving on to the category number four food now food is tricky because you can spend as much as you like and generally I'll say Portugal is super affordable we found Portugal similar priced to Spain in supermarkets there's absolutely no shortage of fresh produce and affordable good quality ingredients and it was actually noticeable a lot of the stuff we found in Spain was available in Portugal like for example in season avocado and asparagus and fresh fruit and vegetables really really well priced and really affordable of course when you're in Portugal the one thing that you have to eat is pastei de nata and you can find these in every supermarket but if you're there do yourself a favour and make sure that you get at least one fresh warm pastei de nata it is completely different and just so much better than a store-bought one we've had some really good surprising store-bought ones but nothing beats warm yes yeah I agree other strange dishes that we tried in Portugal was they're very well known for their salted cod they've got a dish near Porto Franceschina which looks like a terrible soggy pile of goo let me just say that we've seen variations of this dish and some look a lot more appetizing than others even the one we had didn't look great but it actually looked better in retrospect than some of the others yeah just have it somewhere where it's a reputable place and it's actually so much more tasty than what it looks yeah so we didn't dine out a lot but in Portugal it's quite affordable you can get like plate of the day deals for fairly fairly affordably like eight to nine Euros we in total per day our food budget came out to about 20 Euros for the both of us which for us, which is actually quite high because we sort of just did whatever we wanted in Portugal we didn't look at budget we wanted to try different things and this does include um all sweets and treats and also all drinks although we didn't drink much but we did buy some craft beer and the Algarve did some port tastings all these things added up a little bit but food is super super affordable but it can make a big difference on your budget so this is what you've going to watch out for we may or may not disclose how many pastei da natas that included we were in Portugal for 36 days you guys can guess uh in the comments below how many pastei da nata did we eat? let's hop onto the next topic sightseeing generally speaking sites and entry fees are fairly low compared to western Europe standards cities like Lisbon and Porto are so beautiful and picturesque so you can spend weeks there exploring places like this without paying anything if you really want to the coastlines are just phenomenal I mean there's amazing beaches for surfing, SUP-ping also the Algarve itself is just so picturesque you can hike there there's amazing trails everywhere we didn't particularly spend a lot of money on sightseeing and activities we did do one big thing uh you guys can check out our last video in Porto where we did the Porto bridge climb which is quite nice and that was probably one of the most expensive single activities that was 17.50 Euro per person but it was well worth it to do something unique and different and the entire coast of Portugal the west coast is just so beautiful yes the Algarve is special but the rest of the coast of Portugal is as beautiful in a different way it has long stretches of sandy beach you don't need to go to the Algarve to see the beauty of the coast of Portugal the beaches are incredible obviously some of the best waves in the world in Portugal I mean like Peniche where we were Supertubos is in Peniche Nazaré! Obviously Nazaré but that's not for everybody and the cities of Portugal we only visited Lisbon and Porto but they were so much more beautiful than I expected absolutely picturesque cities we aren't on city people but they were just so beautiful I really found them charming the other thing that was a pleasant surprise coming from Italy and France is that in Portugal everybody seems to speak a fair amount of English it was really easy to get anything done in shops just speaking to people being able to converse and that was fantastic and people are also generally very friendly and open and helpful it was a pleasure to travel in Portugal alright next up seasons when should you come to Portugal? not when we're there! well look the wettest months are the winter months unfortunately for us um fortunately or unfortunately Portugal had a very dry winter in 2021 and 2022 we were there over March for the most of it and it was very wet wet and dreary it was it was just bad luck for us so if you want the warmer weather a lot of people say just come after the peak of summer so sort of September is sweet September October and then if you maybe do what we did come maybe from May so anytime from May to September where obviously your peak month are within the summer July and August crazy crazy hot but anytime from May to September also depends what you plan on doing I like kite surfing and there's not a lot of wind over winter oddly enough in Portugal and also the ocean tends to be incredibly rough during the winter so it's not ideal for surfing either if you're an expert surfer maybe it's still fine but if you want you to learn how to surf you're probably better off coming in summer that's the thing Portugal is such a popular destination to come and learn to surf and just do a week course or hang out but winter is not the right time for that like most of Europe if it's school holidays or festivals and especially during the summer it's just so busy it can really be become quite crazy so we will obviously recommend to avoid the peak holiday season we learned something interesting the Portuguese like their weekends so no matter where you are on weekends they come out to play and this this includes even like parking areas and um campsites so suddenly lots of little Portuguese vans and Portuguese motorhomes and Sunday night they normally disappear again it really is a local phenomenon that everybody is out over the weekend cars, motor homes, everybody but I mean because we were here this time of the year uh off season generally it wasn't that much of a challenge to still have plenty of space just some practicalities when it comes to van life or traveling in Portugal with Portugal being known as one of the cheaper countries in Europe I was surprised to find that laundry is roughly one euro more expensive than in Spain it costs about four to five euro in Portugal where it's three to four euro in Spain there's no shortage of laundromats no but we think it's got to do with the cost of electricity it does seem to be slightly more expensive here I was glad to see that public toilets are fairly easy to find and they're either free or really cheap also it's very easy to find fresh drinking water whether you're in the cities or even outside the water quality is generally quite good I was so chuffed to see that supermarkets are so welcoming to campervan supermarkets like Lidl and Intermarche they often have dedicated campervan parking areas which is great as opposed to a height restriction boom are you listening France? we love you France... but Lidl make bigger parkings! and in addition to having camper-friendly parkings many of the supermarkets also have service points and they have public toilets available for those in vans it's just so incredibly friendly Cell and data we went into Portugal knowing exactly what we needed we went to MEO m-e-o and they offer a package called Meo Enjoy and it effectively comes down to one euro per day for unlimited data which is unbeatable you can get it for 5 days 10 days 15 days 20 days 25 days 30 days unlimited data guys ! and you don't even need a passport or an address you walk in you give your money they give you a SIM card you can also recharge it we actually managed to recharge our card and just reload or you can just buy another SIM if it's easier and fuel stations, LPG all of that is easy to find all across Portugal we had no hassles we have got a refillable LPG tank with an external filling point and was no problem in Portugal okay guys we're gonna wrap this up in conclusion Portugal's amazing fantastic country beautiful beautiful country the only thing I could have asked for more is better weather but that's our fault for going in the off season next time we will definitely go back to Portugal somewhere between May and September to enjoy Portugal in the summer I think uh what we've learned is that campaigning motor homing in Portugal is super easy especially out of peak season uh you're in for for a great time no doubt next time what we'll do is we'll probably aim to reach sort of the northern parts of Portugal come the end of summer like maybe September and then make our way down through Portugal just to see what that time of year is like and possibly then get to the south later in the year and then into Spain so it's probably something you can maybe try as well and the thing is in Portugal places are actually so close to each other that you can travel faster you could really see a lot of the country in a short period of time even 10 days and at the same time next time I'd like to spend more time in Portugal maybe two to three months yeah we... to be honest the time we spent there wasn't long enough
we could've spend months there if you want to see a little bit more about Portugal go back and click on our Portugal videos we're gonna come back to Portugal Portugal you were amazing thank you so much guys thanks for watching and we are currently in France and from here we're just keeping north we're still aiming for Scandinavia so keep watching and we'll catch you guys next time couple of Spain videos to come before you get to France! oh yes there's a few Spain videos in between and we will wrap up our Spain thing because we spent a lot of time in Spain but we've got another couple of Spain videos coming out and then we'll do something similar to what we just did for Portugal so stick around we'll catch you guys next time thanks for watching adios I don't know what to say adios