First Portugal visit this October

Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 11:33 AM
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First Portugal visit this October

Hello, new member here. We are booked for our first trip to Portugal in late October, reserving one week through RCI at the Ondamar in Albufeira. We are a spry and experienced couple of 70 year-olds who carry our own gear and largely use public transportation in our travels. We arrive in Lisbon Oct 20 and will stay two nights at the Corpo Santo Hotel and travel by train to I believe Faro where we will take a taxi or car from the train terminal to our destination. After a week we will return to Lisbon and fly back to the US.

Is this an OK outline for our arrival and trip to Albufeira? We have no agenda except to see cool stuff and eat as much seafood as possible. We hope our choice of accommodations goes well. Will we need train reservations or just walk on? Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome. Looking forward to our trip. Thanks.

Last edited by wildiowa; Sep 22nd, 2022 at 11:36 AM.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 11:59 AM
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If it were me I would get the rail tickets from the Algarve to Lisbon and back online, at least a couple days prior, just to have them in hand.

If it were me, I would also definitely have a car in both Albufeira and Faro. Public transportation is very limited and/or painstakingly time-consuming in the Algarve - - it is not designed to make your tourist visit happen, it is bare bones perfunctory, if and where available.

Where you are staying in Albufeira, the Ondomar, is a 25 minute walk to the center, and it is not a charming walk (with a stiff uphill walk back). It is all bland/commercial. The #2 bus does take you toward the center, but that's about it. At least at the Ondamar you are a 7 minute walk from excellent grocery shopping.

Without a car, you will miss all the charming villages, the atmospheric vistas, the enchanting landscapes, the stunning coastal bluffs and hidden ocean enclaves, so I hope you are considering getting a car in addition to exploring public transportation optoins. There are reliable Avis and Hertz franchise stations not far from the Ondamar, if needed.

Last edited by dfourh; Sep 22nd, 2022 at 12:02 PM.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 01:18 PM
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Thank you! This is what I need to know! I totaled a car in France a few years ago and that freaked me out and we have relied on public transportation since then...sounds like we need a rental car this time!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 02:01 PM
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The Algarve, out of the intense summer season, is very easy driving. For long distances the toll highways are quick, comfortable, and virtually devoid of traffic (locals don't pay the tolls, and stay to the denser parallel highways). The car won't be much use into the center of Albufeira (walking to the center or taking the #2 bus will work; though you can take the car a few minutes and park it at the nearest access at Ave. Liberdade), but for quick shopping trips, for trips to local seacoast idylls (like the atmospheric beach at nearby Olhos d'Agua or the craggy Sao Rafael beach west of Albufeira) and for jaunts to the pottery places in Porches or the phenomenal all-you-can eat fresh grilled seafood at Ze Leitero in Armacao de Pera or the long coastal strolls at Gale' - - these are all nearby and the traffic is negligible. Daytrip options further afield (like the Saturday market in Loule'; then towns from Lagos to Tavira and beyond) can be done with a mix of the empty toll superhighway and easy backroads. If it is not high season in the Algarve, traffic is light and well structured.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 03:09 PM
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This is valuable information thank you. We may enjoy Lisbon then take the train south, enjoy the ride and pick up a rental in Faro there is a Hertz franchise there. I will ask you for more specifics on the activities you recommend as we get these details sorted out thanks again.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 04:47 PM
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We stayed in an apartment in Lagos and had a car to see the area. Here's my trip report that covers our entire trip, and within it, there is an Algarve section:

Trip Report: Portugal, May-June 2019

and this is where we stayed:


Last edited by Michael; Sep 22nd, 2022 at 04:51 PM.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2022, 04:52 PM
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There is a Hertz agency at the Faro airport, along with others---Europcar, Avis/Budget, Sixt. The pick up/return there are easy.

https://www.aeroportofaro.pt/en/fao/...ort/car-rental
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Old Sep 23rd, 2022, 05:22 AM
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Thanks to all. I feel we should make a reservation for a car soon and we are probably most comfortable with Hertz. Even though we are taking the train from Lisbon would you recommend going to the airport to pick up the car and return it, or go to the Hertz office in the city center to pick it up. Perhaps it would be better taking the train directly to the airport and do it there considering traffic etc. We would arrive on a Saturday to pick up the car. Thanks!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2022, 12:11 PM
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We didn't do a pickup at the car rental offices at the airport, just a return. But it was quite easy, one of the easiest returns we've had driving in Portugal.
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 12:01 PM
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I have had nothing but completely fair and professional experiences with Hertz and Avis in Portugal (including airport offices and Albufeira). You could rent right away at the airport (to save the initial transfer cost) or you could wait a couple days to relax, then get the car locally in Albufeira (the drive from the airport to Albufeira can be confusing at first, if you don't purchase the GPS due to the merging/splitting lanes; you then need to opt for toll road or regular but toll is by far the easiest driving and way quicker - - be sure to opt into the toll transponder option for which you will be billed after your trip; both Hertz and Avis have local offices near the Ondamar in Albufeira - - but be sure to check the opening hours very closely - - limited if at all on weekends, and often closed at lunchtime). If you choose to train up to Lisbon and not drive, getting to the train in Albufeira would involve a cab because it is further inland in the town of Ferreiras.
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