Travel in the Algarve
Without a car, travel in the Algarve is still enjoyable, and there are many ways to explore the region. But note that, while Algarve travel can be great fun, there are some cautions for newcomers to its roads.
(By the way, if you've arrived on this page by mistake and you'd really rather learn about Algarve car hire, you'll want to read this
But, whether or not you hire a car, you owe it to yourself to explore and discover more about this wonderful region...
In years gone by, I'd have been quite happy spending my entire vacation as the sandwich filling between sky and strand. It never occurred to me that I might travel in the Algarve. But now, even an Algarve beach-addict like me manages to
crowbar herself away from the seashore and enjoy the rest of the region.
This still amazes my husband Nev, since he insists there must have been an amphibian strain somewhere in my family's recent past!
It would be a great shame if you didn't attempt some travel in the Algarve, since you'd miss so much of what the region has to offer the explorer. And there are so many things to do when you leave
the coastline behind (for just a while, of course!)
Whatever the reason, once you need to get around on something sturdier than those sand-abraded beach shoes, you're faced with a few choices...
At certain times of day, bus services may be scarce, so unless you hire a car you're stuck with taxis.
I soon discovered that, when using Portuguese taxis, it's always best to agree the fare with the driver before you even climb into the vehicle. That way your holiday won't start with a nasty
surprise - or an unwelcome haggle at the end of a tiring day. (And remember to allow for a 10-15% tip, because that's what taxi drivers expect, bless them!).
So, (unless you're hopelessly decadent) I'm guessing you probably won't be using taxis as your primary means of getting about. It would be far more economical to hire a car or to avail
yourself of cheaper public transport for most of your travel in the Algarve.
Since I first wrote this page, I've learned
that there are companies around that are happy to
provide services from airports and the like at
prices (especially for larger parties) that can be
more economical than taxis.
In addition, they can offer a drop-off or
pick-up service to suit you, so that you don't
need to worry about hailing a taxi, missing the
last bus, or driving after you've imbibed alcohol.
If this sounds of interest, then check out the
details of Algarve
airport transfers (and much more, as
If you just want to get about locally on an impromptu basis, Algarve buses are a
However, while they are generally clean, comfortable and cheap, Algarve buses can disappoint. Some local daytime services are sparse and night-time services can be infuriatingly rare. (Perhaps the
drivers are 'moonlighting' as taxi drivers?)
Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to travel in the Algarve. For covering longer distances, and especially between regions, I've found that booking the express service on
Algarve coaches helps avoid tediously long journey times.
Competition between the different Algarve coach companies on longer routes (for example to Lisbon) keeps journey costs reasonable.
From Faro, there are also frequent coach services to Spain. And it's simple to get comprehensive and reliable information about Algarve coach routes and timetables (you can even do it
My favourite mode of travel in the Algarve, and between regions, is on trains. The Portuguese railway system is quite enviable (compared to the one in the UK!)
For preference, if I wanted to travel between major centres (say Faro and Lisbon) I'd choose Algarve trains. That may have something to do with the romance of railways, compared to travel by road.
Or, perhaps I'm reminded of how nice railway journeys used to be (even in the British Isles).
Then again, perhaps it's just safer and more relaxing than the roads...
Walking in the Algarve
Of course, to appreciate anything properly, you need to be on foot. Even if you've driven somewhere to do some sightseeing, you do actually need to get out of the vehicle to stand any chance of
taking in your surroundings.
But there are many visitors who go to the Algarve only to walk around its beautiful countryside. They think that the best form of travel in the Algarve is 'Shanks's pony' (an old English
expression for using one's legs).
I haven't had a bash myself (yet) but Algarve hiking and walking are extremely popular pastimes in the cooler months of Spring and Autumn (that's Fall if you're in North America -- or if
you're a North American in the Algarve, come to that).
Cycling in Algarve
This is an often overlooked form of travel in the Algarve. While I wouldn't recommend it for exploring the mountainous Alentejo region (unless you're super-fit) it's a great way to explore the
region at a leisurely pace.
For scudding about within the area where we're staying, we sometimes like to
hire bikes and get some exercise. That way, I don't feel so guilty when I scoff down that big evening meal (or when I get home and climb on the bathroom scales). And, with that great climate, cycling can be one of the most enjoyable forms of travel in the Algarve. (Just remember to take care!)
And I think it's safe to say that, for short-to-medium expeditions in a wonderful climate, you can't beat cycling in the Algarve! (But don't forget to use a cycle lock whenever you leave your
(Note: see Algarve Fires Update page. Here's some recent information about how the
latest wildfires have affected the Algarve.)
In the meantime, why not subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, Algarve Beach Life News, by clicking on the link below ("For Lovers of Algarve Beach Life") or on the button at top
left ("Subscribe to ABLN") -- I'll keep you updated, every month, about the new information I have added about this wonderful area.
For Lovers of Algarve Beach Life
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