Visiting The Algarve Without A Car

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There are two types of people that visit the Algarve without a car: those that can’t drive and those that don’t want to drive.

If you can’t drive, read this articvle to see how to get around (skip the next section).

If you don’t want to drive, or you’re too nervous to drive in Portugal, maybe it’s worth reconsidering: getting around the Algarve without a car isn’t impossible, but it can be limiting – particularly if you want to visit more remote parts of the Algarve (e.g. some of the beaches or the West Coast).

Of course, some people won’t need a car for their trip to the Algarve. If your plan is to head to your hotel, and if your hotel is within walking distance of a beach and some restaurants, and that’s really all you’re visiting the Algarve for, you probably won’t need a car. In fact, it’s probably easier just to take an airport transfer from Faro Airport to your accommodation and then to book a taxi or day trip if you decide to go somewhere.

If, you plan to do a little exploring however, either visiting the beaches or nearby towns, you’ll probably need to consider where you stay and how easy it is to get to other places from there.

Is driving in Portugal so bad?

Driving in Portugal can be a little bad sometimes, it has to be said, but actually the Algarve is one of the easiest places to drive in Portugal. The toll roads are practically empty most of the time, and even the non-toll roads are fairly easy to drive along.

Parking is also much easier here than it is in places like Lisbon and Porto: unless you’re in the heart of somewhere like Faro, you’ll rarely struggle to find a parking space or need to parallel park.

If you’ve never driven a left-hand drive before (British and Irish visitors) or if you’ve never driven a manual car before (North Americans), the Algarve is actually quite a good place to learn.

Still not convinced? Here’s how to get around the Algarve without a car.

Where to stay

If you don’t have a car, and especially if you’re visiting the Algarve during the summer, you’ll probably want to stay somewhere that’s within walking distance of a beach.

If you’re planning on exploring a lot, you may also want to consider staying somewhere that has a train station. It’s not essential (you can get everywhere by bus), but it does give you on extra way of getting around the Algarve. 

  Train Beach
Albufeira 🚂* (Albufeira-Ferreiras is ~ 7 km) 🏖️
Aljezur ~ 8 km
Alte 🚂* (Messines-Alte train station is ~ 12 km)
Alvor 🚂* (Alcantarilha train station is ~ 9 km) 🏖️
Armação de Pêra 🏖️
Burgau 🏖️
Cabanas Accessible by boat
Carvoeiro 🏖️
Castro Marim 🚂* (Castro Marim train station is ~ 5 km) ~ 7 km
Faro 🚂 Accessible by bus/boat
Ferragudo 🚂* (Parchal train station is ~ 3 km) 🏖️
Lagoa 🚂* (Estombar-Lagoa is ~ 3.5 km from Lagoa)
Lagos 🚂 🏖️
Loulé 🚂* (Loulé train station is ~ 6 km)
Monchique 🚂
Monte Gordo 🚂* (Monte Gordo station is around ~ 1 km) 🏖️
Olhão 🚂 🏖️
Portimão 🚂 ~ 2 km
Praia da Luz 🏖️
Praia da Rocha 🚂* (Portimão station is ~ 2 km) 🏖️
Quarteira 🏖️
Sagres 🏖️
São Bartolomeu de Messines 🚂
São Bras de Alportel
Silves 🚂* (Silves station is ~ 2 km)
Tavira 🚂 Accessible by boat
Vila do Bispo
Vilamoura 🏖️
Vila Real de Santo Antonio 🚂 ~ 3 km

Ways to get around the Algarve without a car

If you’re planning on exploring other towns on the Algarve, you’ll be able to do so by: train, bus, taxi, coach (day trips), renting a car, or by boat. 


The train is one of the easiest ways to get around the Algarve but, as you can see from the table above, not every town has a train station which means you’ll have to take a bus to visit some towns. It’s also worth noting that some towns have train stations, but the train stations can be several kilometres from the actual town. Don’t worry, though: most of those train stations will have taxis waiting outside that you can take to get to the nearest town.

The main towns that have a train station are Lagos, Portimão, Faro, Olhão, Tavira, and Monte Gordo. You can check timetables and buy tickets at


The Algarve has a good bus network that connects most of the towns and villages. The easiest thing to do is to decide where you want to stay, and then to see where you can get to by bus from there.

  • The main bus company in the Algarve is Eva Bus. Frota Azul also covers some routes in and around Portimão.
  • The Rota das Falésias minibus connects Ferragudo, Carvoeiro, and Lagoa with a number of beaches nearby (note: this bus only runs in summer).
  • There’s a free bus between Albufeira and Algarve Shopping, a small shopping mall with a cinema near Guia (note: this bus only runs in summer).

Taxi (or Uber)

Most towns on the Algarve have a taxi rank, and some taxi apps like Uber also work here as well.

Of all of these, Uber generally has the most cars and the shortest waiting time. Uber is most common in coastal towns like Albufeira, and you may have to wait longer if you’re somewhere more remote.

If there aren’t any Ubers nearby, and you can’t find the nearest taxi rank, you can phone Taxi Arade on 00-351-282460610 (operators speak English). 

Day trips

Most major coastal towns on the Algarve, like Albufeira, Praia da Rocha, and Carvoeiro, will offer day-trips by bus to nearby towns (especially Silves and Monchique), and you’ll see these tours advertised at local travel agencies in the town centres.

As well as coach and minibus day trips, you’ll also find:

Renting a car for the day

You may not want to rent a car for your entire trip to the Algarve but, if you’re planning on visiting more remote parts of the Algarve, it could be worth hiring a car for a day or two.

Most towns on the Algarve will have at least one car rental company, and you can easily see who is nearby using a website like


You can actually get around parts of the Algarve by boat.

  • Portimão to Silves: There’s a river boat ferry that takes you from Portimão to Silves by ferry, where you’ll then have some time to explore Silves before being taken back to Portimão again. Don’t worry if you’re not staying in Portimão as the boat company organises a free shuttlebus that’ll pick you up from your accommodation in Alvor, Portimão, and Praia da Rocha. (Buy tickets on
  • Ferragudo to Portimão: There’s a “taxi ferry” that connects Ferragudo and Portimão and vice versa. Finding timetables can be quite difficult, but you can ask them via their Facebook page.
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Article originally published on 8 April, 2019

17 thoughts on “Visiting The Algarve Without A Car”

  1. Hi, thank you so much for this very helpful layout! We’re planning an 8-10 day trip between October 16th and 25th and we don’t have a car. Which would be best as a base: Portimão, Lagos, or Albufeira? We want to explore two or three locations with natural rocky beaches and old towns. But we’re not sure if that can be done without a car. Do you also think it would be possible to swim in the sea during this time? (we are middle-easterners with quite low tolerance to cold :D)

    Thank you

    • Hi Maram,

      Portimão is probably the best in terms of location (as it’s in the middle) but I would choose Lagos of the three. All three have old towns. Portimão is the least touristy (the old town, not Praia da Rocha area). Albufeira is the most touristy, but does have some nice beaches nearby.

      If staying in Lagos, I would stay on the side near Praia do Canavial or Porto Mós. Both are rockier than Meia Praia on the other side of town.

      In terms of the cold, the Portuguese sea is always cold as it’s the Atlantic. I would bring your swimsuits but expect to feel the cold.

  2. We are thinking of visiting the Algarve area in November. We will be coming by train from Lisbon. Thinking of staying in Lagos or Tavira or Faro. Will we be able to get from train station into the towns? Is one better than the other for someone without a car?

    • All of them are fairly close, although it’ll depend on where your accommodation is.

      Lagos has the advantage of having a beach you can walk to. In Faro and Tavira you have to take a ferry.

  3. Since this about Algarve without a car, I am the ultimate pedestrian. I am legally blind. I am used to finding accommodations near markets etc but is there a town or city you feel is more pedestrian friendly than others? Streets blocked to vehicles, good sidewalks, not too hilly. Places you like to walk around.

    • Hi Captn Blynd,

      It’s a good question! A lot of towns will be a little hilly and often have quite narrow sidewalks, particularly older towns. Very few will be pedestrianised.

      Ferragudo is quite a small town that could meet a lot of these requirements. I think there’s a market in the town but the main supermarket, Lidl, is a little outside. It’s a little hilly but not too much.

      I would also look at:

      Vila Real de Santo António

  4. Hi James,

    We are planning a trip to Portugal next week and were wondering how are business operating with COVID? Are most of them closed?

    Thank you,

    • Hi Angelica,

      It’s more or less business as usual now. Most restaurants, cafés, shops, etc are open, but with some changes e.g. you need to wear a mask inside shops and there are restrictions on large groups meeting up.

      Generally, though, it’s more or less the same as before but with less tourists.

  5. Hi there. We are a family of 6 wanting to travel to the algarve this summer. We don’t know much about the best places to stay. We won’t be using a car so we’re looking for a town that is quite compact that we could easily walk into. We will be booking a villa so would need to be able to walk to shops etc. Any advice?

    • Hi Rose,

      The article above highlights the towns that are best without a car. If you’re planning on doing day trips to other towns, it might be best to look at places with good public transport (the article above shows which towns are on the train line).

      I would look at Lagos. It has both a good bus and train station, you can walk to the beach, and there are several supermarkets that you can walk to as well.

  6. Hi James, I have just come across your site and am finding it very informative and helpful. I am holidaying in Albufeira over Christmas and new year 2019 and would like visit Lisbon for 2 days, 1 night during that time. I am having difficulty figuring out if there is a direct train to Lisbon from Albufeira and if so which station in Lisbon it arrives at /leaves from. I would really appreciate any information you could give me. Many thanks, Denise

    • Hi Denise,

      Albufeira’s nearest train station is Ferreiras (it’s normally called Albufeira-Ferreiras). Ferreiras is about 5-6 km from Albufeira, so you’ll normally need to get a taxi there.

      There’s also a bus station on Rua Paul Harris which, depending on where your accommodation is, may be closer.

  7. Hi James, I should have read your blog before booking my hotel. We are arriving this Sunday and while trying to book my tours, I found out that a lot of the tours would not pick up where I am. I thought I had a pretty good deal to book the Pine Cliffs but now it seems so far and I don’t drive. I really wanted to see Benagil caves, Ria Formosa, Cape St. Vincent, Cork factory, Loulé but I feel I will spend so much on taxis 🙁 Any suggestions ?
    Thank you in advance

    • Hey Krin,

      Sorry to hear that things have become complicated for you. You may find something in Olhos de Agua (map). I think there’s a travel agency there called Expose Viagens, but their website is quite bad so I can’t tell if they still do tours.

      Otherwise, I think you’ll probably need to take a taxi to Albufeira (or maybe Vilamoura) to do most of the tours.

  8. we are going to Portugal in Feb.2020 for 1 month and when we arrive in Faro we were told about a Yellow Bird airport service to take us to our unit……could you give us the email or website for this…thank you


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