When my boyfriend asks which countries I want to visit in the future and what places to see, I always answer: all of them! And I believe I’m well on my way to achieving this. One of such new discoveries was Portugal, which we visited together for the first time. This year’s long journey was full of pleasant surprises and positive discoveries – we returned with smiles on our faces, richer with new experiences, tanned and with tons of beautiful pictures. At first we planned to stick to just a few main spots, to not drive around too much, but later on decided to see the whole Portuguese coast. This year’s travel was different, but it was very interesting! We were able to discover almost the whole coast of Portugal, as well as we’ve visited Gibraltar, which started the whole idea of this expedition. I thought about this place a year ago, looking at pictures of this famous mountain – but then we chose the Balkans. This time swhile aying: Let’s go to Gibraltar to pet the monkeys, I did not expect an answer like: Let’s do it! Faro was thus our starting and ending point, but it did not prevent us from discovering some of the charms of this place and falling in love with the local cuisine. Read on to find out more about this place and our trip.
Where to leave the car while flying from Vienna?
Although Graz has an airport, it is in Vienna that you can find more international connections at low prices. We arrived in Vienna by car (from Graz it is about 2 hours drive) and we used the Mazur parking lot (more information can be found on their website: here). We have previously bought the ticket online and at the entrance it’s enough to scan the code. Parking also offers transport from the car park to the airport and back, but you don’t not have to wait long because the buses run very often. For those who plan to fly from Vienna and do not want to drive by car I recommend Flixbus bus and their various airport connections.
Planned route of the Portuguese roadtrip
The main idea was Gibraltar, but instead of going directly there, we decided to get to Faro, where we rented a Fiat 500 for two weeks of our trip. From here we reached Seville, then on Gibraltar and back, crossing the route almost all of the Portuguese coast – according to google maps we traveled over 2000 km and spent in the car a total of 20 hours. We took care not to stop in the places between the main points not to ride everyday and not to go long distances in one go, not counting the penultimate day we drove from Porto to Faro – but the distance seems to be huge only on the map, because in The reality did not take us more than 5 hours.
After a very early flight from Vienna the only thing we dreamed of was a decent breakfast and coffee! We went to one of the local cafes, where to my surprise, my coffee arrived in a micro version. Well, I forgot that the Portuguese people enjoy a small, strong coffee in a types of espresso. It was something I missed the most during the trip.Faro is a fairly small city with access to the airport and the possibility of having a direct flight to and from Vienna (which was not possible at the time for Lisbon or Porto). To my delight everywhere you could find palm trees and lime trees, and the architecture itself reminded me a bit of Graz. The advantage of Faro was that we could not find the crazy crowds of tourists here, but the downside is that the best beaches are only reachable by boat or by small ferry. Our stay in Faro was, however, treated only as the aforementioned starting point, so we did not care about it.
|Little Portuguese coffee
Best restaurant in Faro
I would not overreact if I even call it (subjectively) the best restaurant on the whole Algarve coast. If you are in the area, I encourage you to visit Portas de São Pedro (Rua de Sao Pedro, Faro). The ordered portions are especially small to try different dishes, exchange them and find your favorite flavors. My definitive favorite was an octopus served with garlic cloves and sweet potato puree – perfect! I also recommend the local bacalhau, various fresh cheeses (also with fig jar), pork cheeks and sweet white wine. For a dinner for two people we usually paid around 50 euros.
Renting a car in Portugal (Faro)
We used Centauro company for the rental (their offer is available here), but our friends also recommended Sixt. We chose to pick up the car from the airport and it only took us the walk through the parking lot to the Centauro booth, where the driver picked us up and drove us to the company headquarters, where we left with the white Fiat 500 after a couple of minutes (my dream car!). We rented over the internet and at the place we only signed the document and chose the full insurance (more expensive, but more reliable option) and the possibility of driving for two people.Total cost of rental: 577 € (about 2500zł) not including highway or gas charges.Auto was available for us for the full two weeks, which was very comfortable option, as we could easily get anywhere and do not worry about haggling with luggage. Of course this is not a small expense, but for someone who likes such a way of traveling – I recommend! I have to admit that we had a lot of fun testing such a small car that turned out to be very responsive, comfortable, and above all there was no problem parking it and passing through extremely tight roads like this one in Seville, Spain where after folding the mirrors, we had… maybe a centimeter of the free space.
First trip to Portugal
I have to admit that I am very happy with the whole trip. Especially as some of my dreams have come true, like visiting Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar. I liked the architecture there as well: shutters, colorful tiles, and nature: limes growing at every sight!
I also spoiled myself with the local cuisine which consisted of fresh (or dried) fish in various forms, seafood and sweets (Pastel de Nata and many others). We did’t say no to culinary pleasures and beautiful views – this trip had everything I expected and more. Unfortunately, Portugal surprised me by the prices and at times the amounts were even close to those of Austria – especially when it comes to the hotels located in small villages, which prices were too high in my opinion. Still, I look at the pictures from the trip with a smile on my lips and I’m glad I could once again discover another piece of the world!
If you’re interested in the longer travel relation, check out my blog from time to time to read more about Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar!