A Driving Day: Manteigas to Estarreja – Spain & Portugal Tour 2009

After leaving the Serra da Estrela National Park, we headed west on the IP5 / A25 / E80 towards Aveiro, which our guide book claimed was the ‘Venice of Portugal’. We weren’t planning on visiting Aveiro until the next day but wanted to be close to it the night before to make it easier to get into the city in the morning.

Our original plan was to stop for the night at Praia da Vagueira, where there was apparently a proper motorhome service area with overnight parking. However, on our arrival we discovered two problems:

1.) The town was a bit of a dump, despite its seaside location.

2.) The old motorhome parking had been turned into a construction site and the new motorhome parking was both surprisingly expensive and currently being used to provide lorry access to said construction site (it’s signposted, though, and should be fine to use once the building work is finished).

With these discoveries, we moved on and finished the day at another official ‘Parque de Autocaravanas’ in the town of Estarreja, just north of Aveiro. This cost the princely sum of €2 per night and provided allocated parking, electricity and a full service point. The car park where the Aire was located was in the centre of the town and seemed almost new. Indeed, Estarreja is very much a ‘real’ town – where people live and work, unconnected to tourism – and as such, we really liked it. In fact, we liked it so much that we came back for another night a few days later.

Parque de Autocaravans, Estarreja - a very pleasant (urban) place to stay with good facilities
Parque de Autocaravans, Estarreja - a very pleasant (urban) place to stay with good facilities

This was the first of two Aires we stopped at that had been provided by the regional government and which required a payment of €2 per night to use, payable in a nearby café. In return for this, you get a key for the electric cupboard (so you could plug in) and a token for the Euro Relais Mini, providing you with full services. Maximum stay was 48 hours – these aren’t intended for camping holidays, they are parking spaces with services. Highly recommended.

Distance driven: 166 miles

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