You can easily get around by car, train or bus. Taxis can also be a good help in short distances and late night rides.
But as locals, we definitely recommend you to hire a car if you can, as it’s the best way to experience the Algarve to its full extent. Having a car gives you the freedom to explore every corner of this magnificent region like off the beaten track spots, hidden beaches, tiny villages that remained almost unchanged by time, incredibly delicious restaurants and food taverns out of the main circuit, traditional markets and appealing fruit stands that otherwise would be difficult to reach.
Explore the Algarve by…
With a car of your own, you’ll be able to explore every corner of the region, and access desert beaches, as well as off the beaten track gems. The real Algarve awaits you…
And if you go for an accommodation in a more remote or quieter area, badly served by public transports (or not served all), this may be crucial or the only option to get the best of your vacations.
If you decide for a renting a car, you can make your reservation online or upon arrival, directly at the airport car hire desks. But we advise you to book your car rental online in advance, as you can get by far a better deal.
You can also decide for a car rental later, after reaching your accommodation – in that cases, you may also find car rental desks at main towns and online booking is also an option.
What you need to hire a car:
- Minimum age of 21 (required by most car hire companies)
- Passport or European ID card
- Valid Driver’s license
- Leave an imprint of your credit card as a deposit or pay cash, which will be refunded on return of the vehicle
Getting around by bus is definitely a viable option for your holidays in Algarve, especially if you’re travelling on a budget as the Algarve has a surprisingly extensive bus network. But for that to work for you, gather as much information as you can about bus schedules, circuits and connections. And we can help you out with that. So here we go…
The main bus operator In the Algarve is EVA bus company. This company operates the express (Transrápido) and the normal (Interurban) bus services.
Another bus operator in Algarve is FROTA AZUL, that covers mainly the WESTERN part (Portimão, Monchique, Praia da Rocha, Lagos, Lagoa, Silves, Messines and Albufeira). Main towns also have local buses services run by local operators, like “GIRO” in Albufeira, “SOBE e DESCE” in Tavira, and “PRÓXIMO” in Faro.
You’ll find urban buses in major towns and interurban buses services. In the majority of Algarve’s cities, our opinion is that you don’t really need to take the municipal (urban) buses because everything is within a reasonable walking distance.
The same bus stops may be used by the urban and interurban routes (so always remember to check what bus are you taking) but tickets are not transferable between these two different routes. EVA company and others (like Rede Expressos and RENEX) also have bus services to (and from) the Algarve from other regions in Portugal (Lisboa, Évora and others) and Spain (Huelva and Sevilha).
Considered by the majority as average, according to international standards.
Most are air conditioned, fairly comfortable and clean.
Usually regular, more or less on schedule. The number of journeys may be less during the weekend, especially on Sundays. The most remote areas may not be served at all.
Good, usually considered cheap – check the tourist pass as it may be the cheaper option (available in the interurban bus operators and in some urban ones). For example, EVA tourist pass gives you unlimited bus travel on most interurban main routes for 3 or 7 days (29,10€ and 36,25€ respectively) – check it out HERE.
Routes and Timetables
- Find them at every local tourist office, bus stop, bus central station (in larger towns) and eventually at the front desk of your accommodation site.
- Or check for information online, at EVA and FROTA AZUL websites, as well as at the local bus operators’ websites (listed next).
- Another website worth a visit is Algarvebus.info – the result of a local resident effort to gather all the scattered information about bus schedules in Algarve.
Urban Bus Operators
- Albufeira – GIRO website and GIRO’s route map, prices and other infos
- Faro – PRÓXIMO website and route map
- Lagos – A ONDA website
- Portimão – VAI e VEM website, route map and prices
- Loulé(yellow-blue-light blue-red lines) and Quarteira/Vilamoura(green-red lines) – APANHA-ME route map and schedules
The remaining cities are quite small so you don’t really need to take a city bus, just walk around and enjoy!
Giro in Albufeira
- Don’t travel without a ticket – if you do, you might end up paying a high fine;
- It can be challenging to find the right bus stop and read the timetables without undestanding the portuguese language, but people are friendly and helpful – just ask for help.
A good option to travel between coastal cities in the Algarve. The inland is almost not served by train.
You have railways running from Vila Real de Santo António (east) to Lagos (west), with approximately 140 km in length and a total of 30 train stations. You also have a train line going north (up to major cities like Lisboa, the country’s capital, and Porto) that starts at Faro station.
Train travelling works particularly well when exploring the East coast because the railways practically hugs this part of the coast, from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António. You can easily access beaches and resorts.
The West part, starting from Faro, may not serve your needs as the train route map may suggest. Some of the train stations on this part of the line aren’t near the cities they appear to serve (due to local geography, the railway has to run some miles inland). This happens with popular destinations like Quarteira, Vilamoura, Albufeira, Armação de Pera and Praia da Rocha, that are a few kilometers away from the nearest train stations. In these cases, you’ll have to take a bus / taxi to town.
Faro Train Station
Algarve Railway Network
Algarve Train Stations
Also considered average, it’s operated by the National Railway Company called Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses. Check out its website clicking HERE.
Usually considered clean, fairly modern and with air-conditioning.
The service is reliable. Trains run several times a day. Large gaps between trains at weekends and some delays may be expected.
Considered cheap comparing with the northern Europe. Check them out:
Apart from the above considerations, you just can’t deny that the best thing about train trips is the amazing landscapes you’ll get to see along the way.
Rail Lines in the Algarve
Rail Lines in the Algarve
Generally, taxi cabs in Portugal offer fair values over short distances and are a safe way to travel around. Taxis are a very convenient option, as they’re available at any time of the day or night – you can find them at designated taxi ranks or at a distance of a phone call (you may have to pay a little bit extra in this case) and ready to take you anywhere you want. It’s not easy to flag them down on the streets, but you can try your luck, and during the high season you may have some problems with availability, so we advise you to have the central rank phone number always with you.
Portuguese taxi-cabs are easily recognizable by their colors – black with green roof or beige color – and the word TAXI on the roof. No other vehicles in Portugal are allowed to wear this color arrangement.
Recognized internationally as of good quality, in terms of safety, vehicle conditions and driver’s friendliness and honesty. You’ll find that almost every driver will speak English to some degree.
Taxis in Portugal usually work on a meter basis. The applied fares are supposed to be listed inside the taxi or at least at the taxi rank, but always check the price with the driver before starting the run.
There’s a initial fixed rate that you’ll pay independent of the miles travelled – it’s 3,25€ during day time and 3,90€ at night, weekends and holidays.
The price you’ll pay for kilometers will also be different whether it’s day time or nighttime, week days or weekend / holidays, and whether it’s a urban or interurban ride.
For taxi rides that go through A22 motorway, tolls will be applied and the passengers are responsible for its payment at the end of the journey.
Calling a cab by telephone will cost you an extra 0,80€.
In taxis with no meter, you’ll need to agree on the total price with the driver before beginning the trip, to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end. You can also agree on a fixed price in case of very long journeys (instead of km-based price) in order to get the best fare possible.
A 10% tip is usually considered fair but tips are not mandatory.
In Portugal, you’ll find generally 2 types of taxis, in terms of seating capacity – taxis that carry up to 4 passengers and taxis that carry up to 8 passengers. According to the type of taxi, you’ll have to pay different fares. The most common ones are the 4 seat taxis. ADVICE: For a group with more that 8 persons consider private transfer services, as it may be more affordable (the inconvenience is that you have to book it in advance) – check it out in our section Private and Shared Transfers in Algarve.
Reduced mobility taxis
Adapted taxis for reduced mobility passengers are identified with the accessibility sign. You can find them at Faro airport. In case you don’t find one, at the airport or at any given taxi rank, ask for one to the driver of a regular taxi or request it by phone (check taxi numbers in the next section or clicking HERE).
Consider the hiring of a reduced mobility car or van, to avoid waiting for reduced mobility taxis that are in much smaller number than regular taxis and wasting precious time of your vacations. Check for reduced mobility vehicles renting options here soon.
You’re allowed to transport your pets in a taxi, as long as:
- you have a proper carrier box
- the animal behavior doesn’t represent any danger to the passenger or driver
- the animal and its box present adequate hygiene.
By law, the taxi driver can apply an extra fee of 1,60€ to transport your pet.
The carrier boxes of small pets can go in the front of the vehicle but bigger animal boxes may require larger vehicles like a taxi van.
If a luggage item is bigger than 55 x 35 x30 cm or the total amount of luggage is considerable, it can’t be transported in the passengers’ compartment – it has to go in the baggage compartment or on the roof rack. In these cases, an extra 1,60€ will be charged (as defined by law).
This extra fee does not apply to baby carrying systems, like baby pushchairs, buggies, strollers and prams, nor to reduced mobility equipment like wheelchairs.
List of telephone numbers for several taxi ranks in Algarve
Portugal’s Taxi Central Contact – 707 277 277
For Portimão, Alvor, Praia da Rocha, Ferragudo and Carvoeiro:
- Táxi Arade: 282 460610 / 967 238 507
- Rocha T Táxis: 800 207 069
For Faro, Vilamoura, Quinta de Lago, Vale de Lobo, Loulé, Quarteira:
- Rádio Táxis de Faro: 289 895 795
- Táxis Antral de Faro: 289 827203 / 289 806898 / 289 827 214
- Táxis de Almancil: 289 393 333 / 289 399 998
For Albufeira, Galé, Guia, Armação de Pêra:
- Táxis Radio de Albufeira – Albucoop: 289 583 230
- Táxis Armação de Pêra: 963 056 040
For Lagos, Praia da Luz:
- Táxis Coop Lagos: 282 763 587
- Táxis Gil Eanes: 282 764481
For Vila Real de Santo António:
- Táxis Antral V. R. St. António: 281 544 444