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Stretching across the golden landscape of southern Portugal, the Algarve is one of Europe’s most prized holiday destinations. From the bustling streets of Faro to the peaceful views of St Vincent’s Cape, this region is teeming with magnificent landmarks and alluring attractions, including Moorish castles, ruined fortifications, dazzling beaches and secluded coves. The region covers more than 2,000 square miles, so having a car is the best way to access the many sites.
Who to Book With
Many of the top international rental agencies provide cars for hire throughout the Algarve. In addition, plenty of local companies offer car rental in the centre of many cities. Budget, Hertz and Avis are among the more famous firms in the region. Pre-book online to find the best available rates.
Best time to go
The Algarve is a great place to visit at any time of the year. The temperature remains warm through every month, and rainfall is at a minimum. This makes the region perfect for beach getaways. During the winter months, the milder weather keeps away the large crowds, so accommodation and rental prices tend to be lower. This makes it an ideal time for travellers on a budget.
Need to Know Essentials
There are several important documents needed to rent a car in Algarve:
- A driving license held for more than one year
- A passport or secondary identification document
- The credit card use when booking
- Reservation confirmation sheet
There are many well-kept roads throughout Algarve. However, some of the smaller routes are not well-maintained; some are even nothing more than dirt tracks. In the cities and towns around Algarve, traffic is generally light, with the exception of downtown Faro. However, many of the streets are not named or numbered efficiently, so motorists may find it difficult to get around without a GPS navigation tool.
Given the vast size of the Algarve, there are several public transportation options available for travellers. Taxis are found in the major cities and towns, and a train and bus network provides transportation from place to place. Even though hiring a car is usually the most popular means of transport in the Algarve, the region can be explored using the public services instead.
Taxis are found within the major urban areas and resorts of the Algarve. However, they are operated by a variety of different companies that tend to focus on a particularly city or town rather than the entire region. They are easy to identify, as most cab companies use black and green cars or beige-coloured vehicles. Taxi Arade is a major cab firm operating in Portimao. Taxi Faro services the capital of the region, while, Taxi Albucoop is found in and around the resort town of Albufeira.
The bus network within the Algarve is efficient and inexpensive. Most major towns along the coast and close to the A22 highway are connected via at least one of three bus companies operating in the region. EVA Transportes is the largest bus company, while Rede Nacional de Expressos and Renex are also available. Bus travel in the Algarve is less expensive than other transport options, but it takes longer to reach destinations. Bus tickets are relatively cheap, costing between €2.20 for shorter routes, up to €5.85 for the longer routes. Tickets can be bought from bus stations within cities, at one of the offices for bus companies like Eva Transportes and Frota Azul, or on board most buses. Some bus companies offer pre-paid cards too.
After driving, trains are the next fastest transportation option for getting around the Algarve. From the western city of Lagos to the far eastern town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, daily trains reach most of the towns and cities in the Algarve. Intercity Trains travel from town to town, but commuters have to change trains to get to some of the smaller destinations. Comboios de Portugal (CP) operates regional trains and national services that connect to the Algarve. Regional train stations throughout the Algarve generally have ticketing offices for tourists. For those stations that do not have an operating ticket booth, trains have conductors on board that sell tickets.
The Algarve is swarming with tremendous attractions. Visitors will have to plan their itinerary very carefully, as beaches, golf courses, historical fortifications and dynamic towns are sprinkled across the region. Car hire will make daytrips from any of the major resorts and cities effortless.
Silves - Oone of the most important tourist destinations in the Algarve is Silves. It isn’t a beach town, but rather a historic town that was once the capital of the region. Resting within the township is a beautiful Moorish castle that was built between the 8th and 13th centuries. Silves is only seven miles from Portimao and 15 miles from the town of Lagos.
Lagos - A truly underestimated destination. The inner-city is blessed with traditional architecture that can be explored on foot. In addition, Lagos is flanked by some marvelous beaches, including Praia da Batata and Meia Praia, where jet-skiing, parasailing, kayaking and other water sports are available.
Portimao - Located only a few miles to the east of Lagos, but wherever tourists are driving from, spectacular coastal scenery can be experienced along the way. The city is among the Algarve’s more popular resort spots, as it contains an excellent array of sun-kissed beaches and alluring entertainment strips, complete with bars and restaurants. Praia da Rocha, one of Algarve’s most treasured beaches, lies within the resort of Portimao.
Quarteira - A coastal resort in the centre of the Algarve. Tourists can find a range of fine dining, shopping, and entertainment activities when visiting the town. However, the marina and the impressive Quarteira Beach offers an ideal setting for seaside-resort getaway. A range of activities are found along the beachfront, including jet-skiing and paragliding.