ALGARVE WEST - GETTING AROUND
The Algarve is one of the best places in Portugal to explore on foot. Except for a stretch of coastline between Ferragudo and Albufeira, and the northern towns such as Aljezur and Silves, much of Algarve West is flat and easy for travelers to walk. There are no shortage of walking trails, and many towns and villages boast promenades, not to mention sidewalks when possible. Do note that while you can explore the towns and villages themselves on foot, you will need some other form of transportation to travel between them.
The Algarve Tourism Board recommends a number of picturesque walking trails that are under ten miles in duration, allowing most people in satisfactory physical condition to complete them without issue. In particular, they recommend a three-mile trail in the town of Alvor, a five-mile trail in and around Quinta da Rocha, and an eight-mile walk along the Carvoeiro and Benagil coasts. To read more about these trails, visit www.iltm.com/_novadocuments/62282.
EVA Transportes (www.eva-bus.com) and Proximo (www.proximo.pt/en) offer bus service from Faro Airport to Faro City, and from there to various destinations in Algarve West. Bus route #16 in the Proximo system leaves at least once hourly from between the 5 a.m. hour and midnight (last leaving 12:10 a.m.), heading toward Faro`s bus station at Avenida da Republica 5. From there, you can buy tickets for EVA buses headed west. From there, you can take the EVA #9 bus to Albufeira, which departs sixteen times daily. The EVA #9 stops in Almancil, Quarteira and Vilamoura before eventually arriving in Albufeira, with a full travel time of 90 minutes. The EVA #51 bus leaves from Albufeira bus station six times daily (four times on weekends and holidays) in the direction of Lagos, with additional stops along the way at Zoomarine Algarve, Armacao de Pera, Lagoa, Portimao, and Praia da Rocha. Travel time for the #51 bus between Albufeira and Lagos takes an hour and 25 minutes. Finally, there is an EVA #48 bus which leaves Lagos and travels in the direction of Sagres and Cape Saint Vincent. Eleven buses leave daily, with nine ending in Sagres and two (11:25 and 2:35 arrivals) in Cape Saint Vincent. The journey takes between 45 and 55 minutes.
The Proximo ticket in Faro between the airport and the bus station costs €3 and can be bought on the bus from the driver. For EVA buses, you can buy tickets either online or at an EVA office. For tourists, there are three and seven-day tourist options available (€35, €40 before taxes and fees) which allow you to travel on EVA buses throughout the Algarve for the same flat rate. To buy these tickets, you must do so by going directly to an EVA office. Here are EVA Transportes office locations in the western Algarve:
-Albufeira Bus Station (Alto dos Calicos, +351 289 580 611, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily)
-Grande Odisseia Viagens e Turismo Lda, Armacao de Pera (Avenida Beira Mar, Edificio Sao Gabriel, Loja 4, +351 911 196 111, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily)
-Lagos Bus Station (Largo Rossio de Sao Joao, +351 282 762 944, 6:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mon-Fri, 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sat-Sun)
-EVA/MT Bus Shop, Portimao (Largo do Dique, +351 282 418 120, 6:10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mon-Fri, 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sat-Sun)
-Travelgarve, Praia da Rocha (Avenida Tomas Cabreira, +351 282 417 171, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily)
-Quarteira Bus Station (Avenida Francisco de Sa Carneiro, +351 289 389 143, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily)
-Aparthotel Aldeia do Mar, Vilamoura (Avenida Tivoli - Aldeia do Mar, +351 289 315 643, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mon-Sat June through mid-October, closing at 5:30 p.m. Mon-Fri mid-October through May, and at 4 p.m. Saturdays mid-October through May)
-Edificio da Praca, Silves (Rua Francisco Pablos, Edificio da Praca, Loja B, +351 282 442 338, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sat)
All towns and villages have at least one taxi operator, with the larger cities obviously having the widest selection. Licensed cabs will be either beige or black and green in color; any other cab with different colors may very well be illegal. The meter in Faro, Albufeira, Lagos, Portimao, and other cities in the region will begin at €4 and an amount between €1.50 and €2 will be added with each mile traveled. Keep in mind that many taxis may charge a discounted fare if traveling between Faro and cities to the west, or to attractions in the north such as Paderne, Zoomarine, etc.; please have your hotel call ahead and inquire. Also keep in mind that in smaller towns, there may be a flat fee for traveling via taxi no matter where you go in the town.
For those arriving and wishing to take a taxi to your destination, you will find a taxi rank just outside the arrivals terminal at Faro Airport, and you will notice a big sign that quotes taxi prices from Faro Airport to various locations throughout the Algarve. The average fare between Faro Airport and Faro city ranges between €10 and €15. Expect to pay €25-€30 to Vale do Lobo and Quarteira, €30-€40 to Vilamoura, €40-€55 to Albufeira, €55-€65 to Porches, €70-€80 to Carvoeiro, €60-€75 to Lagoa, €65-€80 to Silves and Ferragudo, €70-€85 to Portimao and Praia da Rocha, €75-€90 to Alvor, €90-€105 to Lagos, €95-115 to Praia da Luz, €115-135 to Sagres, and €110-€130 to Aljezur. Faro Airport`s arrivals taxi rank is one of the few ranks in the Algarve which sees taxis queue 24 hours a day.
NOTE: If you hail your cab from the street or walk up to a rank, do not assume your taxi driver will know how to speak English. You may find many English-speaking taxi drivers in Faro, Portimao, and other large cities, but the chances diminish in rural areas. Write out your destinations on pieces of paper and give the paper applicable to that specific trip to your driver before departing just to be safe.
Considering much of the area sits at a low elevation, not to mention its proximity to water and the gorgeous weather, it should be no surprise that the western Algarve is a delight for cyclists of all experience levels. A number of companies rent bicycles to travelers in Algarve West:
-Bike a Wish (+351 289 316 059), located in the Vilamoura Marina Arcade just off the water, near Rua do Clube Nautico.
-MTB Algarve (www.mtbalgarve.com) has a brick-and-mortar location in Albufeira on Avenida dos Descobrimentos in the Centro Comercial Bela Vista, and in Lagos on Rua Jose Afonso.
-Onebike, located northwest of Portimao`s old town on Rua Cidade de Damao (+351 282 031 457).
-Algarve Velo Bike, located a half-mile from Rua do Miradouro on Avenida Sao Lourenco da Barrosa in Portimao (+351 925 971 760).
In addition to the local options presented above, you can rent a bike from Go Cycling Portugal (www.gocyclingportugal.com); the Lisbon-based company employs English-speaking staff, online orders can be made completely in English, and on top of all that, the company will deliver the bike rental to you anywhere in the country. Expect to shell out €30-€50 per day depending on the type of bicycle rented.
TripMasters recommends reserving a car during the booking process, as some sort of transportation is necessary to explore the entirety of Algarve West. If you choose this option, keep in mind that you will be picking your car up at Faro Airport when you enter the country, not in Faro City, Vilamoura, Albufeira, Portimao/Praia da Rocha, Lagos, or in any other town.