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Topics include Dining Scene, Portugal: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Driving in Portugal is easy, and the towering cliffs of the Algarve coastline can make for a scenic view, but can also be a bit hair-raising for those not use to winding roads, which aren’t exactly that wide. The locals tend to drive fast as well and taking in the sights while keeping an eye on the road can be a bit much at times. Still exploring the Algarve by car can be quite rewarding.
Lisbon to the north is about a two-hour drive, and this passes ancient rural villages and offers views of numerous historic sights. Exploring Portugal by car is easy too, but be warned that the main motorways (as they call the highways in Europe) are toll roads. They’ll accept credit cards however, as well as cash for payment. There are also service areas to let you fuel up the car and your stomach while you’re taking a day trip around the countryside.
To rent a car you must be 21 years old, and drivers under 25 might incur an additional young driver surcharge. An international license is not required but you do need to have held a drivers license for at least one year.
Taxicabs area also available at most of the major destinations, and your hotel can also likely arrange for a guide. This can be the best way to take in the sites and not worry about having to watch the road! Just be sure to confirm the rate prior to starting your trip.
Trains - Portuguese trains are great fun. The Algarve network has been modernised, including the Lagos branch to some extent (although the trains themselves are pretty basic). There is a mostly 2-hourly service between Lagos, Meia Praia, Portimao, Silves and Tunes, Albufeira and Faro. The Algarve line manages to miss most of the resorts unfortunately, running about 10km inland (even Albufeira station is a 10-min bus ride from the town itself). Annoyingly, they do not serve Faro airport either, passing 2km to the North (although you could get a taxi from Loule to save heading into central Faro and getting a bus/taxi out again).
Change at Faro for Tavira and Vila Real S.Antonio, or change at Tunes for the fast electric trains to Lisboa Oriente (no hassle with the ferry to reach Lisboa nowadays). Trains are about the same price as coaches. Latest timetables can be downloaded or viewed at http://www.cp.pt/.
EVA and Frota Azul (all the same company) run buses from Lagos to Luz/Sagres, Portimao, Albufeira and Faro (but not the airport). EVA also goes to Lisboa ( http://www.eva-bus.net/home.php?lang=PT). Other companies (eg., Renex) also do a Lisboa run, and there is even a four times daily coach to Sevilla in the summer, twice a day on weekdays in the winter.
Lagos has a new network of mini- and midi-buses operating in and around the town seven days a week. Buses run out to the major tourist locations of Praia da Luz, Meia Praia, Porto do Mos and Praia Dona Ana, as well as more distant villages such as Espiche, Bensafrim and Odeiaxere. All the maps and timetables can be downloaded from the official website www.aonda.pt
During the peak summer months of July and August, the buses run until around midnight on the most important routes. Outside those months, services run between about 7am and 8pm only.