It’s very easy to avoid toll roads in Portugal as the country legislated that a secondary road had to closely parallel the toll roads. We recommend that you mix and match your routes to allow you to experience some of the real Portugal whilst using the autoestradas for rapid travel between regions. Route planners and sat-navs will give you an alternative toll-free route to your destination whilst road maps of the country also show the tolled A roads as well as the free national roads.
Selected Routes - Popular Toll Road Journeys in Portugal
Lisbon to Porto by Toll Road
€22.55 on the A1
is Portugal’s beautiful capital city and has stunning architecture as well as a thriving cultural scene. It’s where you’ll find a lot of the cultural and archaeological highlights of the country and is a favourite city break destination. Porto
is world famous as the home of the fortified wine, Port, and no trip to the city would be complete without a visit to one of the port warehouses that line the Douro river.
If you want to make your visit to the country a two centre one, the trip between the cities can be done easily in under three hours along the A1 inland motorway. You have the option of using other, less direct routes including the A17 motorway and, unless you are prepared to use very minor roads or urban routes, sticking to the autostrada is much quicker. In doing so, you’ll pass by Aveiro
, both interesting cities and worth an hour of your time if you want to break up the journey.
Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António by Toll Road
Lagos is the main city for people holidaying on Portugal’s Algarve coast. It’s around an hour from Faro Airport
along the A22. From here it’s a nearly two hour journey to the east of the Algarve coast, a journey with many beautiful stopovers to allow you to enjoy the beaches, the culture and the food of Portugal’s holiday coastline. Highlights include Portimao
and the river delta south of Faro. Along the route, looking north, you’ll enjoy beautiful mountain views best accessed from the Estoi turn off. If speed isn’t of the essence, the national routes N270, N125 and N269 will get you to the same destination but on slower, often more picturesque roads that run north and south of the main autoestrada.
Porto to Valencia by Toll Road
Northern Portugal offers a very different holiday experience and here we recommend starting at Porto with its port warehouses and head north on the A28 to Valencia
on the Spanish border. The A28 skirts the coast and passes through the Parque Natural do Litoral Norte, taking in the stunning coastline as well as the beautiful landscape of the interior. Viana do Castelo is a pretty town built on both banks of the Lima River. Further north still is the crossing of the Rio Mino which passes through Valencia.
If you want to avoid the toll road, there’s the option of the national road, the N13. Taking this route will add an extra half hour to your journey but will allow you a more leisurely drive to the north. Crossing the border at Valencia you’ll find yourself in the charming Parque Natural Monte Aloia.
Lisbon to Elvas
Travelling across Portugal to the Spanish border you can cross at Elvas to reach the Spanish city of Badajoz
. The journey isn’t particularly picturesque, crossing dry, barren fields in summer which only come alive in winter and spring. That said, although Badajoz is an interesting city, particularly for lovers of culture, it’s not got the best reputation for cuisine and many guide books recommend that you stay on the Portuguese side of the border for the best food.
The best alternative route is the national road, the N251 which crosses the country in an arc to the north. A slower road, this will add thirty minutes to your journey and, given the lack of interesting places to see on the way, we’d recommend that you use the autoestrada.
Aveiro to Vilar Formoso by Toll Road
This drive is a really interesting one for those who love open countryside and wine tasting. One of the more attractive towns on the route is Viseu, which is famed for its Grao Vasco Museum as well as the delicious pale white wine produced in the nearby hills. Albergaria a Velha is also pretty with open squares and traditional Portuguese buildings dotting the town. The route encounters more dramatic scenery as it passes Queira before dropping down to lush meadows later in the journey.
The N16, N232 and N17 combine to help you avoid tolls but the routes deviate widely from the autoestrada and are comprised of hundreds of hairpin bends as the road winds up and down the mountains, great if you’re in no hurry but torture if you need to get to Vila Formoso quickly.
Map of Toll Roads in Portugal
Further Reading on Driving in Portugal;