Oporto, PortugalThe Norte Litoral Toll Road
For years, those who ventured south of the border between Galicia and Portugal traveled along a magical highway.
This wasn’t because of its long, gentle slopes as far as the eye could see, nor its wild landscapes of Portugal’s Atlantic coast. The magic there was thanks to technology. The road could be traveled from beginning to end, Caminha to Porto, without coming across any toll booths. And yet, in some impossible way, it was paid for.
The Norte Litoral Toll Road was groundbreaking in terms of installing a free-flowing electronic toll. When it was implemented between 2008 and 2010, few highways in the world had this type of solution. Hence the surprise of those who were accustomed to lines and counting coins at toll booths. The system, called Vialivre, is much more common today on roads in Portugal and other parts of the world, and it has allowed for more efficient traffic management.
The Norte Litoral Toll Road runs along the coast, hidden in the Portuguese Atlantic forest. It connects the city of Porto with Caminha, a border town located on the banks of the Miño near its mouth, overlooking A Guarda. The highway ends with a branch that goes inland for a total of 119 kilometers between Viana do Castelo and Ponte da Lima.
Along the route, the highway that was once magical crosses 16 bridges and five tunnels; that allows it to follow a straight, efficient route through northern Portugal’s mountainous landscape. In fact, to build this road now managed by Cintra, more than 10 million cubic meters of earth had to be excavated and 300,000 cubic meters of concrete used in different structures.