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Algarve region, Portugal

Poulsbo, Washington
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Algarve region, Portugal

My sister & I, both over 55, will be in Algarve region in October, arriving by train to Faro from Lisbon. We do not care about nightlife. We like to see scenic, historic areas, like to walk, go to markets, churches, a little shopping. We are thinking of renting a car, staying in a small town or two as our base, to drive to scenic areas, taking day trips. We will be there five or six days, then take off for Seville. Does anyone have suggestions for towns to stay in while day tripping? Is the airport a better place to rent a car or the train station? How are the roads, really? We are mindful of our budgets.

Algarve, Portugal
Destination Expert
for Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal
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1. Re: Algarve region, Portugal

If you like to see scenic areas you need a car. Do you need an automatic car? If so, they are few and much more expensive than the small economic cars. You rent them at the airport.

The roads are fairly easy to drive and traffic is light here.

If you like, have a could look into Tavira (East) and Lagos (West).


(check out the 'downloads' section for booklets, brochures, maps, etc.)

Albufeira, Portugal
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for Algarve, Faro
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2. Re: Algarve region, Portugal

You may be better renting a car at the airport as everyone has offices there. There is no-one actually based at the railway station, so getting the car etc and dropping off might be a little more complicated. Most of the actual car rental depots are on the road leading to the airport, so best check out a few of the big names for the options.

Leeds & Albufeira
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3. Re: Algarve region, Portugal

To rent a car please be mindful of the companies with poor reputations that are reported on here.

We use Economy Car Hire (ECH) who have only companies with a "Fair Fuel" Policy so that they don't charge you for a full tank of fuel (at higher than pump price) and then you have to return it empty!

We've used Drive 4 Fun and Luz recently without any issues. Please heed the advice on here re inspecting the car thoroughly and ensuring that all damage is marked on the report sheet. That said Luz did not even take a credit card swipe or inspect the car on return!

Many companies work out of vans and a cabin on car park 4 at the airport. A walk of around 350 metres from the arrivals area. It all looks and sounds a bit chaotic - but it does work - providing you ensure that you are with a car hire company with a good reputation!

You may have to return the car to the airport when you leave for Seville - which may be an issue for you?

I'd always advise taking out an online Hire car Excess insurance for the duration of the hire - cheaper than the companies own and they have a good reputation for paying out. Also covers for tyres and glass, locks and underbody that the normal "Full Collision Damage waiver" does not. Not sure how available they are in the US.

Driving is great, roads are relatively clear. Be aware of the toll roads (do a search on here) and that the situation at roundabouts can be a bit chaotic - but, to me, very amusing!

One of the great sights for me on the Algarve is the coastal scenery - some great beaches and spectacular views along the coast.

Paderne, just inland from Albufiera may be a good base as it's pretty central to the Algarve and is a typical Portuguese town. Alte is a bit further inland and has the natural spring as does Caldas do Monchique, but that's a bit further west.


Edited: 12 August 2014, 10:25
Cascais, Portugal
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11 posts
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4. Re: Algarve region, Portugal


We did a 10 day Faro rental and drove 1500km and loved it. Top 3; Mertola, Marvao, Monsanto. Add Manteigas (a scenic ski area). We are 55+ too. story and photos are on our travelpod blog - profile michellendave. google us, it will pop upI Or send us a private message (if TA has that option).

Faro Airport start 77708

Mertola 0 7/7/2014 77834

Serpa 1 7/8/2014 77916

Evora 2 7/9/2014 78078

Borba 3 7/10/2014 78199

Marvao 4 7/11/2014 78348

Marvao 5 7/12/2014 78348

Monsanto 6 7/13/2014 78527

Manteigas 7 7/14/2014 78636

Belver 8 7/15/2014 78877

Beja 9 7/16/2014 78877

Faro 10 7/17/2014 79269km

If you have an unlocked smartphone with GPS, google maps navigation works wonderfully in Portugal. No need for any other map while actually driving. You should then get a SIM for 10euro for talk and data - ours ran out of data and we had to recharge - 5 euro minimum. But MEO has a data special sim for 2.50euro with all the data you'll ever need (7.50 would take care of you because you will need to at 5 euro for talk time going this route). Look for one of their store front offices and not a tobacco or recharge phone shop .

Booking dot com was our g- to site when we decided on the fly to book a hotel - couldn't beat the rate on other site or just walking in - ever... You will be traveling off season and not have any capacity issues except - maybe - some places will be closed.

Our car contract said we could drive the rental in Spain and Portugal only.....

We used International Car Hire at the Faro airport (opaquely booked though a broker, Holiday Auto) They are in the cut rate rental parking lot with a bunch of others - easy to find and near the where the city bus stops at the airport . WE HATED INTERNATIONAL CAR HIRE. They binged us for 180 euros for hidden damage that probably was there from the start. When we inspected the car at checkout, the agent said 'don't worry, its an old car.' They were not so casual on the return though. But then we read here-say reports that Faro Airport car rentals firms have many scammers - even the big names. Rates are good at Faro airport but you could try walking into in-town companies in Lagos or Tavira - When we talked to one off, the rates were not bad but online rates were better. October should have super rates no mater which route you go.

Why not rent in Lisbon and drive down the coast?

Expect very little traffic except in the historic cores of the towns where the roads are very narrow.

With whoever you use, take many photos - clean and damaged parts of car - and maybe a video. Don't let them rush you like they did us.....

Happy travels!

Liverpool UK
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3,799 posts
28 reviews
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5. Re: Algarve region, Portugal

Emily, all the car hire advice is good stuff, search this site and read the reports of the rogue traders. Would hate the start of your trip in the Algarve to be spoilt by being ripped off as many unsuspecting travellers have been in the past. All these extra charges mount up!!

Note: If you are using the toll road (A22) you will probably be offered a transponder from the hire firm pre loaded with 20 euro on. Just note 5 euro of this is admin fee, so in fact you only have 15 euro credit. You can keep a count of the costs as you pass through the rolls it is clearly shown on signs at them. If you go over this amount your company will know and probably charge you the extra. If you are using the car for spain make sure the company allow that. Have fun driving in the Algarve, October is a great time to drive around, don't forget the scenery along the coast also, there are stunning rock formations and lovely beaches / coves. There is plenty of help from people on this site if you need any more advice.

Edited: 21 August 2014, 21:27
6. Re: Algarve region, Portugal

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