The ferry from Vila Real de Santa António (VRSA) Portugal to Ayamonte, Spain is worth the trip if only for the views of the Guadiana River that separates the two countries.
The crossing takes about 15 minutes and the ferry is fully accessible. It is nice that Mobility scooters and wheelchairs have space on the deck to see the sights from.
The Ferries are run by Portuguese and Spanish companies. The staff asked if they could help, none was really needed as the Ferry had good ramps making it easy to board. A person traveling solo on a manual wheelchair could probably use the assistance on offer to get a push up and down the ramps.
The Ferry runs every hour or so during the winter and every half an hour during the summer. It is confusing that in Spain the time is an hour later than in Portugal.
The Spanish still close their shops in the afternoon. We still managed to find a few cafes open serving nice cold drinks and tapas when we arrived unknowingly, in the middle of siesta.
The very first impression on arriving at the dock In Ayamonte was underwhelming, it looked a bit drab and run down. Upon turning the corner and heading a couple of blocks back we were pleasantly surprised to find a traditional Spanish river town, with beautiful architecture, plenty of narrow streets, cafes with esplanades, all very easy to get around.
We are very happy that the Ferry is accessible. We live in Lagos a 135 kms from VRSA. We were able to have this adventure because our dear friend Pam visiting from a Florida rented a car to take us and the wheelchair.
It is a shame that the journey across the Algarve is not possible for people with reduced mobility using public transport. This is not only a human rights issue of equal access but could also help in reducing carbon emissions.
You can help us by sending in your experiences with public transport in the Algarve, contacting public officials to demand equal access, or making a donation to our blog and advocacy.
Ferry schedule and contact info here: