Europe road trip day one – Algarve, Portugal, to Seville, Spain
I have always found touring Europe by car one of the best ways to holiday. There’s so much to enjoy and outside of the peak school holidays finding accommodation is so easy.
This means you don’t have to plan your route. If you get bogged down in rain in Picardy you can motor on to the south of France or Spain or Italy.
But that amazing freedom of the road comes at a price, a price which is continually, it seems, being upped at the petrol pump and the auto-route toll booth. So taking note of where you pay most for petrol and for using roads has become quite important.
As I am from the North-East of England, I usually head south but this time I was going the other way and heading north. I was setting off on a journey of more than 1,500 miles from Portimao on the Portuguese Algarve to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in northern England so I decided to cut the cost of tolls by using N-roads.
I avoided the A22 and took the N152 eastward out of the Algarve to drive directly in to Spain which is relatively toll free and has excellent auto-routes.
Portugal has great auto-routes to take you northwards but they have installed electronic tolls on them which are a great inconvenience to its visitors. I took the Spanish route because I can’t be bothered with these electronic toll roads and avoid then wherever possible. You can read more about that on link below this story.
This pleasant Saturday drive – at one stage I was wedged firmly behind a horse and trap – took me through whitewashed Portuguese villages and the very quiet city of Faro. I ran out of road at Vila Real de Santo Antonio on the Portuguese border and a ferry crossing was necessary. However this was pleasant and only cost 5 euros. I was the only car on the boat.
Once in Ayamonte on the Spanish side the E1/A49 no toll auto-route took me swiftly all the way to Seville – 85 miles – at no extra cost.
Another financial point about the journey was that fuel prices displayed on Algarve forecourts were 1.60 euros and up for 95 octane unleaded. The first price I spotted on the Spanish side was 1.44 euros and this got cheaper.
Landing in Seville at the end of a long journey is not to be recommended. The city centre is difficult to navigate for a first timer and overnight parking is crazy. You end up cruising the streets searching for a free space.
Next day I took the time to explore this great city and the day after I was driving through Spain to France – a journey I was able to complete on great roads and spend less than two euros on tolls. More about that later.
(TO BE CONTINUED)