ALGARVE EAST - GETTING AROUND
The Algarve is one of the best places in Portugal to explore on foot, especially the eastern Algarve. There are no shortage of walking trails, and many towns and villages boast promenades, not to mention sidewalks when possible. The further inland you go, the elevation rises dramatically, but staying close to the coast, as Faro, Tavira, Altura and Monte Gordo are, the highest elevation you will encounter is probably a couple of hundred feet above sea level. 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 five miles in duration, allowing most people in satisfactory physical condition to complete them without issue. In particular, they recommend a 1.7-mile trail on Culatra Island, a 0.9-mile trail on Praia do Barril, a 2.1-mile trail in the Venta Moinhos Wetlands (part of the Castro Marim Vila Real de Santo Antonio Marsh Nature Reserve), and a three-mile trek between Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo Antonio. To read more about these trails, visit www.iltm.com/_novadocuments/62282.
EVA Transportes operates a daily bus which runs from Faro Bus Station and stops at Olhao Bus Station, Alfandanga, Luz de Tavira, Tavira Bus Station, Conceicao, Vila Nova de Cacela, Altura, Monte Gordo Church, and Vila Real de Santo Antonio Bus Station, in that order. First, take Faro`s city bus, called Proximo, from Faro Airport to Faro Bus Station using Line 16. The ticket will cost less than €3 and 20 buses take passengers between the two points each day (between 5:20 a.m. and 12:10 a.m.). If you are staying in Faro for an extended period of time, you can read more about Proximo by going to www.proximo.pt/en.
Daily EVA buses leave Faro Bus Station at 7:15 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:25 p.m., 3:15 p.m., and 6:20 p.m. Traveling in a westerly direction, the daily buses to Faro leave from Vila Real de Santo Antonio at 7 a.m., 11:20 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. Additional buses may run in both directions on weekdays only, weekends and holidays only, or during the school year. Travel time between Faro Bus Station and Tavira takes approximately one hour; between Tavira and Altura, 25 extra minutes; between Altura and Monte Gordo, 8 extra minutes; and between Monte Gordo and Vila Real de Santo Antonio, an extra 7 minutes.
Intercity bus stations are open for business in Faro, Olhao, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo Antonio. In places like Altura and Monte Gordo, informal bus stopping points are utilized. In the case of Monte Gordo, for example, it is the village church.
All towns and villages have at least one taxi operator, with Faro 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 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 east; 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 €35-€45 minimum to Tavira, €55-€65 to Altura, €65-€75 to Monte Gordo, and a similar price to Vila Real de Santo Antonio. 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. Write out your destinations on pieces of paper and give the paper applicable to that specific trip to your driver before departing.
Considering the low elevation, its proximity to water and the gorgeous weather, it should be no surprise that the eastern Algarve is a delight for cyclists of all experience levels. Three companies sell or rent bicycles in Faro; the largest one, MTB Algarve (www.mtbalgarve.com), offers bike delivery and rental within 15 miles of Faro city for less than €20 per day. There are two other bicycle rental shops on the southeast coast: TurFortes in Monte Gordo (+351 281 511 022, Rua Bartolomeu Perestrelo) and Abilio Bikes in Tavira (+351 281 323 467, Rua Joao Vaz Corte Real 23A).
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 East. 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 or in any other town.
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