ALBUFEIRA - GETTING AROUND
Due to its proximity to the coast and its great weather, Albufeira is a wonderful place to explore on foot. Keep in mind that some distances are large: it is a two-mile trek from west to east on Avenida dos Descobrimentos, and the Strip is about two-thirds of a mile long. If you feel tired from walking, there are other forms of transportation to get you to sights in Albufeira proper. A bus, taxi or car is recommended to go further afield, like to Vilamoura or to Aqualand or Zoomarine.
Albufeira`s local bus service is operated by EVA Transportes, `EVA` being an acronym for `Empresa de Viacao do Algarve`. EVA operates the Giro bus system, which is broken up into five lines: Linha Vermelha 1 (Red Line 1, noted on maps by a simple red shade); Linha Vermelha 2 (Red Line 2, noted on maps by a maroonish shade of red); Linha Azul (Blue Line); Linha Verde (Green Line); and Linha Laranja (Orange Line).
The Green and Blue Lines take travelers to many of the tourist destinations, including Albufeira`s Old Town and The Strip. The Orange Line connects Albufeira-Ferreiras train station with the city bus station (on the corner of Estrada de Vale de Pedras and Rua Paul Harris). The Red Lines cover the city from west to east; the Red Line 1 travels out to Albufeira Marina. Red Line 2 is the closest bus line to Praia do Peneco, and the Blue and Green Lines are closest to Praia dos Pescadores, Praia do Inatel and Praia dos Alemaes.
Bus fares can be paid for in cash or on a special Giro card. The Giro card costs €3 and can be bought either at the bus station or at the Bus Shop on Avenida da Liberdade. You can buy a 20-ride pass on your Giro card for €20, a good deal considering it is roughly €1.50 cash for just one ride (not including transfers). One thing you will find somewhat strange about Giro buses is that there are no fixed timetables: Giro buses run every thirty minutes on weekdays and at least once per hour on weekends, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m. (9 p.m. during the summer). For a map of bus routes, visit www.cm-albufeira.pt (map only available in Portuguese).
By the Tourist Train
Visitors to Albufeira will no doubt smile when they see a little automobile trolley, resembling a steam-powered `choo choo` type of train. It is called the Albufeira Tourist Train and it runs on a circular path through Areias de Sao Joao (the Southern Strip) and the Old Town, stopping at the Brisa Sol Hotel before returning to the Strip. The Tourist Train runs every 20 minutes from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (to 1 a.m. during the summer, and even later for select holidays). The Tourist Train is run by Turistrem Transportes. To buy your ticket in advance (€5 plus fees for a one-day pass), visit www.turistrem.com and click on `Touristic Train`.
Taxis in Albufeira are either white or black/green in color. They can be flagged down from the street anywhere in town as long as the light on top is green (signifying a vacancy). Unlike in other towns, you will find that many taxi companies in Albufeira will not reserve a cab in advance. If you need a cab, call just before you wish to depart. Albufeira is a tourist town and many people speak English, but do not assume your driver will automatically speak it. Just so there is no confusion, write your destination (with street address) on a piece of paper and give it to your driver before departing.
There are 24 taxi ranks in Albufeira`s four parishes. In high-traffic tourist areas, you will find taxi ranks located on Avenida da Liberdade, Rua 25 de Abril, in Areias de Sao Joao, and on Avenida Doutor Francisco Sa Carneiro, among others.
Fares start at €4 for the first 1.1 miles, with €1 added for each 0.6 miles traveled. Expect a 20% price increase if you are traveling after 9 p.m., on weekends or during holidays. There is an upcharge of approximately €2 for each piece of luggage placed in the trunk. Many companies, such as Radio Taxis de Albufeira (+351 289 583 230), charge flat rates to drive to many sights in Albufeira proper from the Old Town (for example, €5 to the Strip, €5 to the Marina, etc.). For those set prices, plus a list of taxi ranks in Albufeira, complete with maps, visit www.taxis-albufeira.pt (website in English and Portuguese).
The Algarve is a great place to cycle while on vacation, and Albufeira is perhaps one of the best places to start. Some of the best biking paths can be found close to the beach and above the Northern Strip, going in the direction of Ferreiras. There are a couple of regional and national bike rental chains in Albufeira: MTB Algarve (www.mtbalgarve.com) has a brick-and-mortar location on Avenida dos Descobrimentos in the Centro Comercial Bela Vista, and Go Cycling Portugal (www.gocyclingportugal.com) will deliver your bike rental to you anywhere in Albufeira. MTB Algarve`s daily rental fees start from €20 and Go Cycling Portugal`s fees start at €30 (including delivery).
Driving in Albufeira is an option, although it isn't necessary as nearly every recommended point of interest in our sample itinerary can be reached via bus or taxi. If you do wish to rent a car, we recommend that you book your vehicle during the reservation process. This would mean that you would pick up your car at Faro Airport upon entering Portugal, and not in Albufeira. If you decide to rent a car after arriving, Albufeira is represented by all the major European and US brands (Europcar, Hertz, Avis, etc.).
Keep in mind that parking is at a premium in Albufeira, and when it is available, it can be costly. If you desire a hotel that includes parking, be sure to specify such a desire when booking with TripMasters.