Buses connect almost all of the country’s towns and village

Buses connect almost all of the country’s towns and villages, with services operated by a wide array of private companies.

It can be a little confusing at times: at some bus stations you may find two or more companies running services to the same towns; conversely, buses going to the same destination may leave from different terminals. However, there is a national network of express buses, with Rede Expressos offering a daily service to destinations right across the country – you can book tickets online or buy them at bus stations and ticket desks (often in cafés by the bus stop/station). Buying tickets in advance is a wise idea, but even in summer in tourist areas the day before is usually fine. Fares are good value: the Lisbon–Porto express route costs e15, Faro–Lisbon e16, Porto-Bragança e11. Under 4s travel free, under 12s half-price, and there are fifteen-percent discounts for under 26s and senior citizens over 65 with relevant identification.

Local and rural bus services go virtually everywhere you’re likely to want to go, with the notable exception of some of the natural parks, like the Serra da Estrela, Serra de Malcata and Montesinho. However, services are often restricted to one or two departures a day, or geared towards school and market times – meaning early morning weekday departures, sometimes only during term times. Many local services are reduced – or non-existent – at weekends.

The local bus station – Rodoviaria or Camionagem – is usually the best place to check services and routes. Most companies have timetables posted in the ticket-office window and copies to give away, though outside the Algarve it’s rare to find anyone who speaks English. Turismos often have bus timetables too, though you can’t always count on them being up-to-date.