Airlines in Portugal
These days most of Portugal is served by one of the several airlines than operate flights to Portugal. Portugal's own airline is TAP (www.flytap.com) Air, but there are a number of other airlines that service Portugal, including several discount flight operators.
Central Portugal can be reached by flying to Lisbon airport; northern Portugal is serviced by Porto airport; the south is accessible from Faro airport. The only areas that are difficult to reach are the mountainous and inland areas as, whilst Portugal's airlines have been steadily getting their act together over the last few years, inland transport is still somewhat shaky. The situation is improving, however, with motorways and railways undergoing restructuring and renovation thanks to the European football championships in 2004. Madeira is connected to the mainland with fairly regular flights to Funchal airport from Portugal and Europe, whilst the Azores are more remote and there are fewer scheduled flights to the Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel.
From London you can reach Lisbon airport in just over two and a half hours, and Porto is marginally closer. If you are headed to northern and central Portugal, Porto is ideal and there is little difference between Porto and Lisbon in terms of reaching Coimbra, the Costa da Prata or the area leading to the Serra da Estrela: both airports have good rail, road and coach connections to these areas. Flying to Faro from the UK takes nearly three hours and it is really the only airline link in the Algarve. From the airport you are no more than an hour away from the Algarve's top destinations as the new motorway, the Via do Infante, runs from Lagos to the Spanish border and is ready to whisk you off in no time at all.
Budget airlines tend to fly to Portugal's Faro airport and so this is a popular choice among travellers headed to Alentejo and the Costa de la Luz, or even destinations that are normally considered as being in the Lisbon catchment area. However, seasonal discounts are always available on the various airlines flying to Portugal so you may find it is more cost effective to fly direct to Lisbon than it is getting a cheaper flight to Faro and then battling with the inland transport. Purchasing a return ticket is usually cheaper than buying a single, but this depends which airline you choose. Shopping around is the only way to ensure that you are getting the best deal from Portugal's airlines, and buying tickets online may save you some charges on the total price.
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