Driving to Portugal is not a particularly cheap travel option, but it can be one of the most enjoyable and if you want to get there from the UK without flying, it’s a very feasible option.
It might seem like a cheaper option to go via roads and ferries, but once you consider toll roads, electronic toll roads (introduced in Portugal), the cost of food on the road, fuel, overnight stops (if necessary) then it can be fairly expensive. If you are travelling via campervan or RV then you have the luxury of having your home already with you and there are plenty of places you can stop en route although it will take longer.
The straight journey is 2000 kilometres and will take a minimum of two days of full travel depending on your vehicle, but obviously, if you’ve got the time to spare then you might as well enjoy as much of France and Spain as you can on the way.
France is full of Aires (legal overnight parking locations for campervans) that are usually well sign posted. Some of these are in lovely locations and others can be a little soulless but at least you save money on accommodation or campsites and another benefit is that you are likely to be among other wildcampers. Safety in numbers is always good when you are wildcamping.
From England to France you can either take the Eurotunnel (best option if you are taking pets as you all remain in your vehicle throughout the 35 minute journey) or one of the cheap cross-channel ferry services from Dover to Dunkerque or Dover to Calais. Prices start as cheap as €40 one-way with Norfolk Lines.
If you want to drive a little less then you might want to take a ferry directly to Spain from either Plymouth or Portsmouth to Santander. Brittany Ferries run a weekly service from both with the Plymouth route taking around twenty hours and the Portsmouth route 24 hours.
Another option is to take a P&O service from Portsmouth to Bilbao. These cross the channel twice weekly and take 34 hours.
Fares start at approximately €150 one way to Santander, or approximately €265 to Bilbao.
It’s much cheaper for foot passengers although you have to book either a seat or cabin. It’s worth mentioning that foot passengers are unable to travel with pets.
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