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What is the best way to travel between Lisbon, Porto, and Salema?


My girlfriend and I are flying into Lisbon, then immediately heading up to Porto for a few days, then heading down to Salema for a few days, then heading up to Lisbon for a few days before flying home. We do not want to rent a car (or take any inter-country flights) while in Portugal. How would you recommend getting from Lisbon to Porto, then from Porto to Salema, then from Salema to Lisbon? Any advice and/or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Obrigado!

Posted by
5478 posts

Porto to Salema is a long journey which is going to take all day by public transport and when in Salema, you really need a car as public transport is scant. IMO the character of Salema has been ruined by over development. Unless this trip is 3 weeks to make all the travel worthwhile, I would drop the Algarve.

When is your trip? How many nights in Portugal?

If you want a beach (which would be the only reason to go to Salema, I would suggest that you visit the Silver Coast north of Lisbon, which would involve far less travelling.

I have stayed in Salema several times in the past and have always hired a car, so I head to Zavial, Furnas or Figuira beaches which are much more interesting than Salema. It’s now very windy there, so I have been blown off the beach more often than not.

Porto to Lisbon has a good train service. There are also many interesting towns to visit in between such as Coimbra.

Posted by
1767 posts

I was in Salema in 2018 and pretty much had the beach to myself. I took a direct 30-minute bus from Lagos and was able to rent a straw beach umbrella and two straw chase lawn chairs for 8.99 euros for the day. There were a few European families, my sister and me. We had this spectacular beach to ourselves. Afterwards we had a nice meal and talked to a British couple that were seated next to us.
The Algarve is a huge resort area until you get to Salema. It looked like a fishing village with a couple of low- rise buildings. Jennifer and I have two very different opinions of this place. Obviously, Jennifer stayed at a resort hotel and I didn’t. I would look at Rick Steves recommendations because he stays where I was.
You can fly nonstop from Porto to Faro for < $75 and take a bus to Lagos and transfer to Salema (2h 30m). To get back to Lisbon you can take a 30-minute bus to Lagos and a direct bus to Lisbon (4h 30m).
The train and bus service in the Algarve is good too.

Posted by
5478 posts

No I wouldn’t never stay in a resort hotel - I have rented three different private villas there. It’s changed in character and has become much busier, not to its benefit.

I have stayed there 6 times over the past 20 years as it used to be my default beach holiday. Tavira is now my preferred option as it has more character.