With a modern and well-connected highway and roads network, the Algarve is a motoring paradise. There are excellent car hire services available at Faro Airport. But what if you prefer to travel by other means for your next holiday in southern Portugal? With the right planning and some creative imagination, travelling around the Algarve without a car is both manageable and enjoyable. Plus, it is also more adventurous. In this article we will discuss how to travel around the Algarve without a car.
First of all, if you still want the convenience of road transport, but with someone else taking care of the driving, the public transport system in the Algarve got you covered.
The rail network of the Algarve links Lagos in the west to Vila Real de Santo António in the east. Important train station are for example Portimão, Albufeira, Faro, Olhão and Tavira. Some of the stations are out of town, but buses and taxis are conveniently available for local connections.
The bus network of the Algarve is extensive and well-serviced. It links all the main tourist resorts with smaller towns along the coast and the bigger towns inland. You can even reach tiny villages around the region by bus.
Getting on your bike
Cycling in the Algarve is a true joy. You don’t need special clothing, but for long rides it is advisable to be as comfortable as possible. The Algarve offers an extensive and diverse array of options. You can go coastal cycling, or hit the tranquil countryside roads and off-the-beaten-tracks.
You can arrive with your own bicycle, as Faro Airport has three assembly points. Or you could rent one: several companies offer a range of guided tours and advice for self-guided routes.
With MTB Algarve, for example, you can combine cycling with another popular tourist pursuit on the Algarve: wine tasting. They also have a fleet of scooters to cater for this increasingly popular market, as well as e-bikes for traversing the more onerous slopes.
Another company offering cycling Algarve experiences is Abilio Bike. One tour takes riders into the hills, through orange groves and classic landscapes of Mediterranean flora to the village of Moncarapacho. Here you can take an olive oil tour, where you will see the traditional olive tree culture and olive oil production process. The tour ends with a tasting of award-winning olive oils. Another tour visits local markets near Tavira where there is the opportunity to discover and buy fresh vegetables, fruits, and fish.
Hiking in the hills
Covering the whole Algarve on foot is quite a challenge, unless you have unlimited energy. However, there are numerous walks and hikes which are suitable for all ages, physical capacities and preferences.
According to the Algarve Tourism Board, thousands of tourists travel to the region every year to enjoy its nature. As such, hiking is one of the most popular activities in the Algarve. During many walking tours you will discover the hills of the Algarve, while you learn more about the local traditions and customs of its people.
Heading out to sea
If you don’t rent a car, you can also discover the Algarve by boat. The region has several first-class yacht harbours, such as in Vilamoura, which is one of the most luxurious destinations of the Algarve. You can find other great marinas in Portimão and Lagos. In these marinas you can find plenty of boat tours, which will let you discover the Algarve from the ocean’s side.
Kayaking and SUP
For something completely different, try kayaking of stand-up paddle boarding. Okay, you would have to be pretty fit to cover any significant distances. However, for hardcore enthusiasts, travelling even just few kilometres along the coast would provide exceptional views of the beach landscape – combined with an invigorating workout.
So, whether you decide to take public transport, cycle, walk, or go boating, travelling around the Algarve without a car is an adventure worth taking. With such a variety of ways to travel, you’ll find that you are exploring much more of the region than you would if you were driving.