Porto airport & Car hire
There are direct flights with Ryanair to the airport of Porto from London Stansted, Liverpool and Dublin, and with Easyjet from London Gatwick.
The drive from the airport to most properties takes about 1 to 1½ hours. A fly-drive is a good option since you only need to bring your personal luggage. At the airport are branches of most major and several local car hire companies, but to avoid disappointment it is best to book the car well in advance at your local travel agency or online. For those wishing to use public transports, GetBus has direct shuttle services from the airport to the cities of Braga and Guimarães.
From Spain it is best to drive via Burgos, Leon and Benavente to Orense. On the motorway A52 to Orense take exit 160 near Verín to Portugal. This road leads to Chaves.
If your destination is Vieira do Minho, Terras de Bouro or Póvoa de Lanhoso, go from Chaves along the N103 in the direction of Braga. The exits to Vieira and Póvoa are on the left, and to Terras de Bouro and the lake Caniçada on the right.
For the municipalities that are situated a bit more to the South, take the new motorway A24 from the spanish border in the direction Vila Real, and then head along the A7 for Cabeceiras de Basto, Fafe, Guimarães and Esposende.
If you rent a villa or a cottage you will get detailed directions to your destination.
Maps and guides
There are several good general maps of Portugal, like Michelin (1:400.000) or Falk Easy Driver (1:300.000). In Portugal you can buy a good tourist map (scale 1:200.000) of the Minho, published by ForWays.
In 1997-99 all 1:25,000 scale topographic maps of the region were newly published by the IGE. In Portugal these maps are not easily found; only in Porto and Lisbon. Therefore it is best to order them well in advance in a specialist shop in your home country, or through us (see page Extras).
The Rough Guide is highly recommendable, no other guide covers this region more extensively. There is a summary at their website.
Weather and climate
In the winter and early spring (February, March) the evenings and the nights are cold, but during the day you'll often have a clear sky and sunshine. Temperatures will sometimes rise up to almost 20 degrees centigrade, ideal weather for walking and hiking. Except in the higher parts of the Serra's there is no snowfall to speak of.
The summers are warm, but not as hot as in the South.
North Portugal has a green countryside and that means rain, which mainly falls in spring and autumn. Be prepared for cold and warm, wet and dry weather at those times of the year.
Since 2002 the Euro is also in use in Portugal. Please bear in mind that the Portuguese generally only use notes up to € 50, and that the € 200 and € 500 notes may not be accepted everywhere.
Portugal has the same time as the UK and Ireland. It is 1 hour earlier than in Spain and the rest of the continent.
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