The founding team of SeaBookings grew up in the Algarve and as some of our customers have been asking some tips on getting around in the Algarve, we decided to share some personal tips. We hope these tips help you planning your holidays in the Algarve.
The Algarve is the most sought for region of Portugal by tourists, especially during the summer season. The big influx of tourists is noticeable on hotel and restaurant occupations but also on traffic. The Algarve counts with two major roads: the national road N125 and the highway A22, also known as the Via Infante de Sagres. If you’re travelling by car in the Algarve, you’ll quickly meet the A22 highway which stretches from Bensafrim (near Lagos) to the Spanish border. In total the A22 measures about 133 Km, having Faro (airport) about in the middle. The N125 national road is free, opposed to the tolls we pay on the A22, but it’s not as safe and comfortable as the motorway.
Tips on getting around in the Algarve
There are essentially 7 ways to get around in the Algarve: by (rental) car, train, bus, taxi, uber, transfers and hiring a camper. Each of this means of transport can be most suitable to get around in the Algarve, depending on the situation. We’ll present the how, pros and cons and a tip for each of these ways for getting around in the Algarve based on our personal experience.
Rental car in the Algarve
How: upon arriving at the airport, you can hire a car at the airport. There is a broad range of car rental agencies. Marina rent-a-car is the one we’ve been working with most. We’re very satisfied with their pricing, quality of fleet and service. International agencies like Europcar are also available. The toll charged because of the use of the A22 highway will be debited from your credit card after giving in the car.
Pro: Hiring a rental car in the Algarve is a great way to discover the region and opens up many remote beaches or villages that have little or no public transport access.
Con: The Portuguese are rather impatient drivers. They will attempt to overtake on hills or blind corners and speed up. Unfortunately, Portugal has one of the highest levels of road deaths per population in Europe.
Tip: don’t forget your credit card as for most rent a car agencies in the Algarve, a credit card is required as a deposit.
Train in the Algarve
How: the trains in Portugal are operated by CP. There’s a train rail along the whole Algarve, “Linha do Algarve”, being the endpoint Lagos and on the East Vila Real de Santo António. Personally, this is one of our favorite means of transportation in the Algarve. For example, to get from Lagos to the airport in Faro, we usually go by train. The timetables and prices can be easily found on the official site of CP. The tickets can be bought on the train stations and if there’s no station, only a stop, you should get your ticket in the train.
Pro: Traveling by train is cheap, fun (nice views and local people) and you can do something while traveling (sleeping or reading a book for example).
Con: Despite having 30 different train stations and stops in the Algarve, some beaches or points of interest are not reachable by train. Of course you can then jump over to a bike, taxi or uber.
Tip: There are special discounts for the summer season.
Bus in the Algarve
How: Eva Transportes in one of the major bus operators in the Algarve. In the Algarve, you’ll find frequent daily, long-distance busses connecting the major towns in the Algarve with Lisbon and the rest of Portugal. Within the cities, sometimes there are urban bus networks (Albufeira, Faro, Lagos and Portimão).
Pro: There are no trains to the Southwest point of continental Europe, Sagres. Fortunately, Eva Transportes operates in between Sagres and Lagos. So, if you want to go surfing or do a boat tour in Sagres, you can go by bus (schedule here).
Con: Along with the limited network, bus services on weekends and Public Holidays are a lot less frequent than on weekdays. In addition, most routes have no service after about 8pm. In fact, personally, we avoid to use the bus in the Algarve all times.
Tip: To get to Faro airport from the train station of Faro, you can go by bus. This bus runs about twice an hour from around 5AM to 11PM. The fare is about €2,50, tickets can be bought in the bus and the journey takes about 20 minutes.
Taxi in the Algarve
How: The taxis in Portugal are easily identifiable. Taxis are either beige or black and green. Taxi ranks are usually found in all the resorts and big hotel chains, city centers and shopping centres. To catch a taxi in the Algarve, it is best to go to a rank or call a taxi to pick you up (you can find a list of numbers here).
Pro: Taxis are a easy, flexible and relatively cheap way of getting around in the Algarve.
Con: Regular taxis can only take four passengers. Some taxis are six and eight seater, so if you are a part of a bigger group it is recommended to book beforehand (and be ready to pay a bit more). In addition, be aware that taxi drivers are not fond on getting their cars dirty, so don’t count on them for dusty dirt tracks.
Tip: You may find some taxi ranks with no taxis or packed with people cueing. It’s recommendable to call to arrange your pick up. Call Taxi Luís from aljezur for example (car on picture).
Uber in the Algarve
How: We’re Uber fans. We use Uber to get around in Lisbon all the time. This summer, the smartphone taxi service also launched in the Algarve (possibly only until the end of September).
Pro: Uber is the easiest, safest and cheapest way to get around the Algarve. In fact, traveling by Uber is easier, safer and cheaper than a regular taxi service. And it’s classier too 😉
Con: For now, Uber is more concentrated in the busiest cities of the Algarve: Faro, Albufeira and Vilamoura. You can also order an Uber in other cities, but waiting times may be a bit longer than usual.
Tip: For first users, download the app and use the promocode SEABOOKINGS to receive €10 discount on your first ride (valid until August 31st 2016).
Transfers in the Algarve
How: There is a wide range of choice for personalized transfers in the Algarve. These small operators are happy to take you from the airport to your accommodation or from your accommodation to the Marina where your boat tour departs from.
Pro: Transfers are a good option for families with more than four members who choose no to rent a car.
Con: Pricewise, transfers are not the best option as it’s a totally personalized service.
Tip: Find your best transfer partner and negotiate a good deal for the several trips you’ll need to do during your stay.
Hire a camper in the Algarve
How: Yes, it is possible to hire a camper and go for a road trip in the Algarve. Indie Campers is present in more than 80 locations across Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Mediterranean Islands and one of them is Faro. You can choose your favorite camper from a brand new fleet of more than 2000 campervans. Hiring a camper gives you a lot of freedom. You can go to the prettiest beaches and to unique locations for surfing or boat tours along the whole algarvian coast. This is probably the most awesome way of getting around in the Algarve.
Pro: Indie Campers includes a 24-hour pick up/drop off service at the airport or hotel in every rental/booking.
Con: Are there any cons behind this cool way of getting around in the Algarve?
Tip: You can add your surfboard and wetsuit to the package or book a surf tour with us and go there with your Indie Camper.
Let us know if you’ve got any questions or suggestions regarding ways to get around in the Algarve. Happy holidays!