Car rental in Algarve
Rent a car in the Algarve

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The Algarve, in southern Portugal, is a quintessential sun, sea, and surf holiday destination, with alluring beaches, stunning cliffs, and gorgeous bays. There's no shortage of exciting and relaxing activities for visitors. Ride the waves, chill out on its beautiful shores, or visit a historic castle during the day and hit the bars and restaurants at night. If you rent a car in Algarve, you can do more during your break, covering a larger area in a short time.

It’s your choice: Where to go in the Algarve

East of the Algarve is Tavira, a small town boasting sandy beaches, a marine national park, and 18th-century buildings. The municipality was once occupied by the Moors, whose influence is still visible through the whitewashed buildings. Albufeira, another great place for beaches, is divided into two parts, with the Old Town consisting of a lively centre, small streets, and traditional houses, and 'the Strip' lined with shops, restaurants, clubs, and bars. Another captivating town is Lagoa, known for its wines and the beautiful beaches of Praia Grande and Praia Nova. There are also historical sites to visit, such as the Iglesia Madriz de Lagoa, the Sao Jose Convent, and the Sao Joao de Arade Fortress in Ferragudo, which was designed to protect the mouth of the river. Not to be missed is the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa's beautiful lagoons, salt pans, dune islands, and rich wildlife.

What to do in the Algarve

Visitors to the Algarve are drawn by its temperate climate and more than 150 beaches. When you rent a car in the Algarve, you'll find that it's easy to go beach hopping. Praia de Marinha in Lagoa, which has stunning limestone rocks and exciting cliffs, is considered one of the best in Europe. The Algarve is also a paradise for surfers of all skill levels – you can catch the best waves at Arrifana, Praia Amado, and Praia Amoreiro. There are also plenty of day tours to join, such as excursions to Cape Vincent, the southernmost point of Portugal and mainland Europe. The headland has a lighthouse and cliff and offers superb views of the sea. History buffs will enjoy the hilltop Castle of Silves, the largest and best-preserved historic monument in the Algarve.

Important info about the Algarve

The Algarve covers 500 square kilometres, with a series of mountain ranges in the north. The eastern side is a wetland consisting of lagoons and barrier islands. On the west side of the region are high cliffs, grottoes, and beaches. The vegetation is typically Mediterranean, with holly oaks, rosemary, rock roses, and other shrubs. The Algarve’s climate is influenced by the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Fisheries and aquaculture are important sectors in the Algarve's economy. Major products include sardines, sole, and other kinds of seafood. The agriculture sector is also a key revenue contributor, with figs, oranges, cork, and almonds being the predominant crops. The leisure industry, particularly in summer, is another substantial source of income for the region.

Weather in Lagos, Algarve
Country Portugal
Language Portuguese
Currency Euro
Time-Zones Western European Time
Country Code +351

Good to know

Faro, the region’s capital, is the main gateway to the Algarve. Pick up your rental vehicle at Faro Airport, just 4km from downtown Faro. The modern airport welcomes 6 million passengers annually and operates regular flights from major European cities. The minimum age to drive and rent a car in the Algarve is 18, but car hire companies may apply a surcharge for drivers under 25. All EU-issued licences are valid in the region. Drivers stick to the right lane and pass on the left in Portugal. Drunk driving, speeding, and distracted driving (such as talking on a mobile without a handset or fidgeting with infotainment screens) are major offences that attract hefty fines. The speed limits are 50km/h in built-up areas, 100km/h in non-built up areas, and 120km/h on motorways. Drivers' blood-alcohol content should not be over 0.5%.

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Our tour suggestions for the Algarve

The Algarve, a mix of town life and rugged beauty, attracts visitors year round. Many of these visitors, especially well informed travellers, will opt to rent a car in the Algarve. With your own four wheels, you can explore every one of the Algarve's 150 beaches and sample the fresh cuisine of its fishing villages. Once you've picked up your rental car in the Algarve, possibly in the town of Tavira, head to Faro. While this atmospheric city is worthy of a few days' exploration, if you have to rush, do make sure to at least see its Old Town and 13th-century cathedral. Continue to the beachy city of Lagos, where you'll find sandstone cliffs and a rich surfing culture. After you sampled lively Lagos's cuisine, nightlife, and laid-back vibes, head to the remote beaches by Sagres to unwind before ending your tour.

What to bring to your friends from the Algarve

The Algarve promises a wealth of interesting souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home. Pick up a copper cataplana pan, great for preparing seafood dishes. Beach-inspired jewellery also makes beautiful gifts, as do cork products such as purses and shoes. The country produces half of the world’s cork, with some of the best originating from the Algarve and Alentejo areas. Food and spirits are always welcomed as presents. For a taste of the region, consider buying a bottle of medronho, a brandy, or amarguinha, a traditional Algarvean liqueur made from bitter almonds. It can be used in cocktails, as an aperitif or as a digestif. For your teetotaling friends, pick up Monchique water, which is bottled in an elegant container. The mineral water is praised for its high pH and said to neutralize acidity in your body. Olive oil, used extensively in local cuisine, makes another wonderful gift.