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“Having prepaid for 9 days’ car hire in Portugal I was surprised, following my return home, to receive a statement from Budget saying that a sum of 220 euros had been charged to my credit card. Still not sorted out three weeks later. Apparently a response can take up to 6 weeks!”
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Located on the southern tip of Portugal, Faro is the hub of the Algarve coast. The region has long-been a favoured getaway to Portugal for sun-seekers from all over Europe. And now with a barrage of budget flights opened up to the international airport, reaching Faro has never been more convenient. Car rental is commonplace in Faro and is the preferred way of getting about for most tourists.
Who to Book With
There are plenty of car hire agencies to choose from in Faro, many with locations at the international airport for convenience. The top rental companies of Avis, Budget and Hertz are located here, or you can venture into town for yet more operators. In any case, it is always best to book online before you arrive in Faro to secure the best deal and widest choice of vehicles.
Best time to go
The best time to visit Faro is during the summer, when the days are hot and the evenings are warm; the climate benefits from the country’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the cooling Atlantic coastline. There are year-round scheduled flights to Faro, including those offered by budget operators, so to beat the crowds and for lower accommodation prices, you may want to visit during the low season.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car you must provide the following documents:
- A valid EU driving license or an approved International Driving Permit
- A second photo ID alongside your licence, such as a passport
- Evidence of the credit card used to make the booking
- A printed confirmation of your booking, if possible
The airport is located west of the city centre, and takes about 15 minutes to drive to with no traffic. Roads in and around Faro can get busy, particularly during the summer, when Portuguese and other holidaymakers tour the beauty of the region. Driving is the best way to travel the Algarve, since the roads are of high standard and have good signage, making driving a breeze.
Parking in Faro town centre is difficult, since there aren’t that many spaces. There are some multi-storey car parks located at the shopping malls, which are also close to the restaurants, but they will always charge a fee. There is one free car park next to the ship yard, from where the tour boats depart.
Public transport around Faro isn’t particularly convenient, although there are two public bus routes that ride around the town centre and then connect up with the airport. Mostly, travel around Faro is done via the fleet of metered taxis or fixed-rate minicabs, although it is quite feasible to simply walk around the town centre with no trouble. For reaching destinations farther afield, there is a train line that goes through the Algarve to reach the town Lagos.
There is a high-speed express train that runs between Faro and Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The journey takes 2.5 hours and tickets cost €20. There are also regional trains serving the Algarve coast, reaching Lagos, about an hour away.
There are plenty of metered taxis operating around Faro, usually taking the form of large white sedan cars or minivans. The metered taxis operate on two tariffs, with the cheaper being between 6:00 and 21:00. After that, and on the weekends and public holidays, you pay a surcharge for travel. There are also several minicab firms operating in Faro that offer fixed fares. For example, you can call FaroTaxi on +351 960 204 709.
There are a few bus routes that run around Faro. Numbers 14 and 16 go around the city centre and connect to the airport. Tickets can be bought from the driver when you board the bus. There is also a long-distance bus service headed to Lisbon and Porto, the two other major cities of Portugal. It is also possible to travel direct to the neighbouring country of Spain from Faro. Routes go to Madrid and Seville.
The Algarve is one of the most beautiful spots in Europe, and for this very reason, alongside the fine weather, it attracts hordes of tourists each year. Faro is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore this enigmatic coastal area. You can also venture north to experience some of the verdant mountains that make up the landscape of Portugal’s interior.
Lagos - This is a cosy little Portuguese seaside town that speaks volumes of the charm of the Algarve. It is easily reached from Faro, either on the major A22 road or on the 125 westbound route. Along the way, you will pass through the quaint villages of the Algarve, including the Porches Pottery.
Serra de Monchique - To get away from the coast for a day, take a drive to the Serra de Monchique for some fresh mountain air. Once you reach the peak of Foia, you will be rewarded with stunning views and some great trails. Expect about a 1.5 hour drive either way from Faro, so it’s a full day out.
Sagres - This is a stunning coastal town, seemingly at the end of the world. It sits on a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, and is the most southwesterly part of Portugal. The drive takes about 1.5 hours from Faro using the A22. Note that there is a toll booth on this road.