When planning a trip to immerse in the culture and ways of a new country, one can often debate on how it is best to move around while you are visiting. Either If driving will enhance your experience and allow you to go off the beaten path, if you prefer to use public transportation for a carefree experience or if you prefer to have both and splurge on a private driver. All these are right answers and one of them can be the perfect fit for you. Portugal Trails can offer you tour ideas should you prefer to have a self-drive trip, use the local train connections or have a driver at your service to take you around the country.
Discover the pros and the challenges of each of the transportation methods and take our quiz to learn the perfect way for you to move around while visiting Portugal and Spain.
A self-drive tour is a tour where you will have a rental car previously arranged for you, a pre-programmed GPS (with your bookings and additional suggestions) where you can just click “go” or add additional coordinates. All that you need to drive and discover the country, while having a helpline as your backup.
Pros: Ability to experience both the highlights and hidden gems. You can take the road less travelled, off the beaten path and have unique experiences. Flexibility to choose your arrival and departure times and a free and independent experience.
Challenges: You will manage your own time and energy, so you will have to balance the prebooked arrangements and the free time to ensure you experience both. Plus, some drives may prove more tiresome than others.
What is it?
A private driver tour means you will have a local experienced English-speaking driver at your service to take you to all the places on your itinerary. The driver is at your service 8 hours per day and will be able to balance your itinerary and prebooked arrangements with additional requests that may appear on the road. As a connoisseur of the territory, the driver may also be able to tell you if such additions may jeopardize the great experiences in store for the day.
Pros: You will be taken around the country on a luxurious comfortable vehicle. A relaxing experience while being taken to all the right places and still having the flexibility to change departure times, as long as previously arranged and discussed with your driver directly. Whilst the driver is different from a guide, he or she may also provide some interesting information or insight from a local’s point of view.
Challenges: The private driver rate includes the drivers’ meals and overnights while accompanying you, as well as the car’s expenses, so this can be a costly service comparing to the other two alternatives.
Trains and transfers
What is it?
A train and transfers tour is a tour in which you will benefit from the efficient train connections in the country to move around. One of our local drivers will take you to the train station in time for you to take your train and, upon your arrival in a brand-new city, another of our local drivers will be there waiting for you to take you to your hotel.
Pros: An efficient way to travel and make the most out of the cities you are visiting without wasting time. It is also convenient, since we will purchase the tickets for you (according to your preferred and desired timing) and schedule the transfers as well.
Challenges: Despite being a great net of public trains (and buses) connecting the main cities and highlights, some rural and more isolated areas of the country can prove challenging to visit given the lack of connections.
A common misconception is that this transportation will allow you to save some money, however, to include the train tickets and drivers may prove more costly than a self-drive tour, where these costs are shared among the people travelling.
Some additional notes
- In some occasions, domestic flights might also be an option. However, while this is the fastest transportation method, it might contribute to some geographic confusion and you end up with the challenge of connecting the different cities you visit on the map. Plus, it means you will be spending more time than intended at airport terminals. We may recommend this as a resource should you be on a schedule, but not so much as a mean to discover a country.
- It is always possible to combine different transportation methods throughout your trip. Portugal Trails can do a tailor-made tour for you so you can, for instance, use the train to visit and connect main cities and after rent a car to head to the countryside. Or use the train throughout your tour and having a driver taking you to that special place off the beaten path that you really wish to visit.
Take our quiz to find the perfect transportation method for you
When I travel I like to:
a) Have a plan but improvise along the way;
b) Have everything planned and having people taking care of things for me;
c) Have everything arranged previously so that I avoid worrying about getting from one place to the other while travelling;
When looking for trips I often think:
a) Of a chance to enjoy freedom and escape routine;
b) That I would like to indulge and splurge on an occasional high-end experience;
c) That I would like to focus more on exploring the different places I am visiting than the trips to the destination;
One of my concerns when travelling is:
a) Being unable to choose your own times and having to be run by the clock without enough time for self-exploring;
b) Being unable to go off the beaten path without having the need to drive in order to do so;
c) Having to drive and wasting time going from one place to another;
Choose one of these quotes:
a) It is not the destination, it’s the journey.
b) It looks like we have ourselves the making of a solid escape plan. We only need a vehicle and a driver.
c) All walking is discovery. On Foot we take the time to see things whole.
Hands on the wheel and hit the road! You will make the most of the country by driving along the roads, making your stops and discoveries as you go. You enjoy your freedom and like to have adventures and stories to tell of your travels and findings when returning home.
You know what the good things in life are and you want them for you. You will have an experienced local driver taking you on a comfortable luxury vehicle to all the right places so just sit back and relax.
Train & Transfers
You always have your most comfortable pair of shoes well stored in your luggage for all events and situations. You like to get to know the cities you are visiting in full by walking on foot. When travelling from one place to the other, you like to be efficient and make the most of your time in each of the places.