Portugal 2018



2000+ mile trip through Portugal and Spain

.itn route files here


youtube Tour movie


Portugal 2018, one of the most intense, life-affirming and addictive tours we have done in over 7 years and 20,000+ miles through Europe.

Portugal with it's small population and vast open spaces is probably the single best country for fast driving that I've so far visited. So that means it trumps Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Croata, Belgium, Slovenia and probably all other EU countries as well. Sure, there are incredible roads everywhere but the best road is the worst road if there are too many other cars on it and in the Portuguese countryside you will be pretty much on your own. If you could only pick one single country to satisfy a complete Tour with lots of fast seat time planned, you would pick Portugal.

The scenery there is nowhere near the beauty of say Bavaria or Austria but it's certainly more varied and aesthetic than brown dusty northern Spain. Then you have the complete absence of police or cameras and then of course the absolute emptiness of it all. The roads are smooth, modern, well appointed and are hugely varied with just about every combination on any given day. Good twisty motorway, ultra fast sweeping A roads, medium and tight twisties. Ravines, rivers, mountains and wide open plains. This place has it all.

What really makes it special though is the Portuguese who are so friendly and welcoming and they absolutely love supercars. Using your cars properly here is not antisocial but to be celebrated. We were treated so well and elicited so many positive reactions from the locals and engaged with many many warm people along our travels. It made the trip very poignant and we will be coming back in 2019 for certain.



Using the overnight ferry to Santander and back saves you about 1700 miles and a pretty tedious slog as well, a no brainer in a more mileage sensitive car. Our original route took us west on day 1 out to Oviedo and through the stunning Pico mountains but one of our gang doesn't like ships and elected to drive down and meet us on the first evening in the lovely San Sebastian. It's a great city too so we headed east for our first day and then back across again to Braganca in the top right corner of Portugal for day 2. After that, the route was a simple 3 day affair of core driving visiting Porto and Lisbon and then Eljas just inside the Spanish border. The final 2 nights were for partying in Madrid with plenty of unstructured time to look around the city and/or nurse sore heads.

Next year we will do the run to Ovideo or Santiago de Compostela and then head for Braganca on day 2 from there. This will add a much better initial 1.5 days driving to the trip. We will also miss out Lisbon and stay more in the country around Castelo Branco. Nothing wrong with Lisbon of course but it's Motoway only getting in and out and it will be more efficient hanging out in the middle area.


Afternoon departure from Plymouth. I highly recommend Plymouth over portsmouth as well. The crossing is noticeably shorter and instead of having amongst the whole next day at sea, you wake up and are almost in Santander mid morning. This means more driving on the day you land in Spain and the slightly longer UK drive to Plymouth is neither here nor there because it's a wasted morning in any case.

Travel in smaller numbers and you always have more impromptu encounters. The first night on the ferry set the tone. We bumped into 3 other groups of lads on road trips of various kinds and we all drained the bar till it eventually shut. Lots of fun !


Light rain in northern spain.

Pinchos in San Sebastian


Braganca countryside

Down toward the old town at Braganca.


The car park ramp at the Ibis Braganca was too steep for the F12 (the other cars have lift) so they managed to arrange for me to securely lock it up overnight at the fire station ! This set the tone for the tour. You couldn't make it up. Such warm and accomodating people.



Our first proper day of driving dropping down South, just incredible roads. Every kind of bend in the first 4 hours or so.

The Pestano Palacio at Porto. Nice pool and views and a 17th century palace.


Porto to Lisbon. Another amazing days driving around Castelo Branco.

Rooftop poosl and bars aplenty.

Yep the best in Lisbon. Time to hit the town again.


Onto day 5, the single best day of driving there was. Lisbon to Eljas in Spain via the Parque Naturel da Serra da Estrela. Also proof that Portugal does snowy mountains.

Next year we will surely spend a lot more time in the Serra da Estrela region. There are tons of roads round there.

Yet another Espresso stop.

And OMG !!!! R346/EX205 Penamacor to Eljas. My new "best road in the world". So so fast, open and empty. The drive of the tour without question. I was grinning ear to ear for 30 minutes solid.

Spainsh countryside at Eljas. A chance for a much needed early night.



Heading out on our last driving day we know we'd left Portugal. Several police spotted and a tug in a small village. To be fair they just advised us to go slow then shook our hands and bid farewell.

Lunchtime, slight drop in food standards but great Spanish hospitality nonetheless.

The Berlinettas were amazing. Mr F. was stunned at the breadth of the car's ability and reckoned his newly acquired F12 was more fun than his Speciale, both here and at a recent Portimao trackday. And he rates his Speciale above his Scud, 360CS & 650s. Go figure ! Truth be told, the Gallardo Performante was also devastatingly effective, a very fast and stable car particularly into the apex. and I lost count of the number of smiling people that clambered into it to have their photo taken.

The Gran Melia at Madrid, my favourite hotel. We felt really looked after and boy did we need looking after.

'Old wife'

Very rare to see madrid completely empty. The nights were as heavyweight as the driving.

Some sightseeing on a scorching day.

Detoxing at the rooftop pool.


Homeward bound. Ever so slightly melancholic and wondering where the hell your holiday just went and why you can't remember any of it.

I highly recommend going for the Commodore suite/cabin with room service and steward. Some of the smaller rooms on the ship are like solitary confinement.

Sticky like a detailing layer of sucrose. Proof that you've had another mesmeric tour. Memories that I will honestly never forget.


The Jackals Racetrack http://www.jackals-forge.com/lotus 1998 Richard Morris