Building bridges: the multi-level bridge over the Douro river in Porto, northern Portugal
Building bridges: the multi-level bridge over the Douro river in Porto, northern Portugal

Air fares soar for Champions League final in Porto

Football fans may be able to sail to Portugal’s second city thanks to new ferry link

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 13 May 2021 15:07

Air fares from London and Manchester to Porto have soared after Uefa awarded the Champions League final to the northern Portuguese city.

The most important match in European club football was originally due to be played in Istanbul on 29 May. But on Friday the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, placed Turkey on the “red list,” from which all arrivals must undergo hotel quarantine.

Portugal is the sole major European country on the “green list” from which travellers need not quarantine.

Chelsea will play Manchester City in the match at the Estadio do Dragao. Around 6,000 supporters of each team are expected to be allocated tickets.

Even before the tickets are issued, the cost of flights to Porto shortly before the match and returning immediately afterwards have risen steeply.

On Friday 21 May, Ryanair has seats on a dawn flight for £10 from Manchester to Porto. The same flight a week later, the day before the final, costs £288.

Other flights are £300 or more.

But airlines are adding flights, which may see some fares come down: easyJet said it has added 5,000 seats from Luton, Gatwick and Manchester to Porto specifically for the match.

British Airways says it will operate direct flights from Heathrow and Manchester to Porto on 28 and 30 May, and additional flights from Heathrow on the day of the match itself.

Within an hour of the news, Ryanair had laid on an extra Friday lunchtime departure from Manchester to Porto, which is selling for £239.

From London – home to Chelsea – fans can expect wider choice, more flights and lower fares.

So far on Friday 28 May, there are nine flights: British Airways from Heathrow, TAP Portugal from Gatwick, easyJet from Gatwick and Luton and Ryanair from Stansted. The cheapest flight is on Ryanair for £209.

Returning on Sunday 30 May, fares from Porto to London start at £196 to Stansted and £233 to Manchester, both on Ryanair.

Fans who are able to spend time in Portugal and make a holiday out of the trip will find much lower prices, particularly if they focus on Lisbon and/or Faro, on the Algarve.

A more serene alternative could be to sail. Brittany Ferries is considering a new “green list” ferry link between the UK and Portugal which could begin in time to take fans to the match.

The route to Porto would probably be served from Plymouth in Devon, but Portsmouth is another possible departure point.

Even before Uefa’s decision to move the Champions League final, the ferry line was investigating the new link, to start before the end of May to capitalise on the surge of demand for Portugal.

Hotel rates rose on the confirmation of the match, with four- and five-star properties doubling their prices. But Porto has long been Europe’s best location for cheap hostels, and beds for about £20 per night should be available.

In addition the city has a plentiful supply of Airbnb properties.

Fans will need to factor in the cost of testing. It is not yet clear what requirements Portugal will impose on fans, but the UK’s rules for returning from green list countries are clear: a test before departing from Porto, and a pre-booked PCR test to be taken within two days of arrival – likely to total around £100.

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