Car hire in Faro
Basic info and car hire in Faro
- Location: Algarve region, on the very South of Portugal
- Population: 45,000 (2012)
- Official language: Portuguese
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Weather: The South of Portugal has a typical hot-summer Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and sunny (80 – 86 °F / 27 – 30 °C) while autumns and winters are mild (46 – 62 °F / 8 – 17°C). The South of Portuguese is a great, however pretty much underestimated all season destination, that can boost your energy with the sunny days in winter. If you’re in luck, the swimming season can last up to November, and April is when the temperatures can rise again and give you a warm welcome. If swimming is not your priority, then Algarve is just perfect for hiking the coast side, and with renting a car in Faro exploring the sleepy villages is easy. And while stopping for a break you should breath in the fresh sea air. All that will be made easy with a car rental in Faro. Besides, in low season, the prices fall and make some of the poshest accommodation very economical. An opportunity not to be missed!
- Holidays in Faro: Portugal has, like the rest of European countries, the majority of Christian holidays that are granted a time-off work. Car hire Offices in Faro are usually open regardless of the holidays, however when on vacation you may need a supermarket, pharmacy, etc. Good Friday in April along with the Freedom Day and Labour Day in May, conclude in a popular time-off for many Portuguese. Portugal Day and Corpus Christi in June are also work free holidays, and if you’ll be in Portugal in August, on the 15th is the Assumption Day, so have that in mind when heading to the nearest store. For a complete list of public holidays in Portugal, click here »
- Internet coverage: Most hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés offer Wi-Fi. However, if you you’ll be engaging yourself with a car rental in Faro, chances are you’ll need a good and fast connection during the trip. Vodafone is one of the best providers of mobile data transfers, and MEO and NOS are also stated as having good speed and great coverage. If you’re thinking of a longer stay in Portugal, maybe buying a national SIM card is your best option. And, if you’re a UK resident, Three’s Feel at home package has a great offer for someone who’s a regular traveller.
- Road conditions: Portuguese roads are well maintained, and as frost and snow are a rare condition, especially in the Portuguese South, you will not encounter any greater complications with your rented car in Faro, not even in winter. Road connections are also great and the motorways are broad and modern, which is a really good news for all car rentals in Faro.
- Road Toll in Portugal: With a car rental in Faro you’ll want to know more about the Portuguese toll system. The collection of road toll in Portugal can be somewhat disturbing especially for a tourist in Portugal. But don’t get yourself scared too easily, with the rights steps, and reading ahead of the travel, everything is manageable! So, recently in Portugal an Electronic Collection of Toll was implemented, unfortunately it was not introduced on all roads. You can still find the old manned system on some roads, where the road toll is payed as you go (cash, coins, credit cards as well as prepaid cards are accepted). These roads are well signed with a large green post featuring a slanted “V” sign (Via Verde), where a fast Via Verde lane is granted to anyone with a Via Verde toll system. On the other hand, the roads where the tolling is electronic are not that well marked and in most cases, you will not realize you’re on one until you’ll find yourself driving underneath an array of cameras. Remember also, that the Via Verde fast lane system will work on the Electronic Toll Roads, but the EasyTOLL, TOLLCard and TOLLService (all Electronic Road systems) will not work on the Via Verde, as these are separated systems. Read more about the Portuguese tolling system here or ask your car hire supplier in Faro about the road toll system.
- Car rental in Faro: Prices vary but roughly 5 – 14 £ / day (5 – 15 € / day). Most visitors collect their rental car at Faro Airport, also known as Algarve Airport, only 2.5 mi (4 km) west of Faro. Find a perfect car rental in Faro.
Faro lies in the heart of the Algarve region and a car rental in Faro will let you skip a day at the nearest beach and explore the wild nature and the remote Portuguese beaches. Faro can be described as a lively city loaded with cafes, restaurants, bars and other fun social and also cultural spots. However, Faro is for many travellers a means to an end, as its Airport is the only airport connecting the rest of Europe with the South of Portugal. If you’re not starting your Portuguese road trip with a car rental in Lisbon, arriving to Faro Airport is the most sensible thing to do. Most visitors with a car rental at Faro Airport, pick up their car and set out for their holiday in other cities in the Algarve region. But we say, don't be like the crowd and give this city a chance!
Faro has a lot to offer and a renting a car will make you exploit all your options. Faro’s history and amazing sights will keep you busy wandering during the day, its numerous cafes and restaurants let you unwind when the sun goes down. Stroll through the city centre and see its amazing architecture, sunbathe on endless beaches and perhaps even take a boat trip to the wildlife sanctuary, Ria Formosa. And due to its ideal location, trips to nearby towns and other captivating spots in the Algarve region are easily driveable. If you're considering a car rental in Faro, you'll find it’s easy and there are many options to choose from.
If you’ve never been to Portugal or the Algarve region, this part of the globe will capture you in a minute. Due to its mild winters, the south of Portugal makes a perfect getaway in any time of the season – in winter, you’ll find peace and get some warmth when the sun is high. If you’re looking where to spend your December holidays - Algarve in general makes a great Christmas and New Year’s destination – especially if you’re a sea and beach lover, here, you’ll get your share of windy and salty air, combined with the cinnamon scents of the Portuguese Christmas desserts. Especially with a car hire in Faro you’ll be able to experience a December to remember.
In spring, the temperatures can get pretty high and the bravest of tourists already find the courage to swim in the sea, however if you’ll be travelling to the west, the waters get colder, as the ocean’s cold waters mix with the Mediterranean Sea. Summers are crowded and hot and many find the army of tourists unappealing, but don’t get yourself disappointed too soon – the Algarve region is big and the pond gets even bigger if you count the Alentejo region in. With a car rental in Faro the distances will be bearable and, whenever you won’t feel like spending your day at the busy beaches, seize the day and visit the beautiful and tranquil Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa or any other spot that captures your attention in the Faro surroundings.
When speaking about food, Portugal is the right place to be. Prices are reasonable and the quality is top. Sea food definitely deserves its attention, as Portugal is surrounded by the Ocean. If you’re familiar with cod fish, try the traditional dishes with bacalho, prepared in a thousand different ways. And if you have a sweet tooth, find the nearest bar and ask for a pastel de nata, a yummy recipe made by the nuns from Belem. It’s an egg tart pastry dusted with sugar and cinammon.
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Driving in Faro
For anyone opting in for a car hire in Faro, the Portuguese roads are a smooth way of travelling around. The road pavements are well maintained; however, traffic may move slowly during the peak season (June-August). The best time to visit Faro (weather-wise) is in late spring or early summer. The maximum BAC level is 0.05% for drivers of private vehicles. There is a Zero Tolerance Law for novice drivers who have held a driver's license less than two years and for young drivers under the age of 21.
Hiring a car in Faro is simple and affordable. There are plenty agencies offering a car to rent in Faro, such as Alamo, Centauro, Firefly and more, and you'll definitely find your dream rental car! Also, the state of the roads in the Algarve is very good and makes the driving a real joy, especially in winter, when there is no dense traffic. Of course, you should expect the roads get busy in high season, when Portugal is bursting with tourists. Another good news for everyone travelling to Portugal is that the Portuguese are extremely friendly and helpful, so whenever you’ll feel that your sense of orientation has let you down, don’t think twice and stop by the nearest gas station and ask for the right direction.
- Age limits: 21 (Minimum age may vary according to companies of car rental in Faro. A Young Driver fee will apply to drivers under 25 years of age. In order to hire a car, it is required that a driver has held a licence for a minimum of one year).
- International Driving Permit: No, it's usually not necessary, but check with your car hire company.
- Additional papers: Identification (passport), a valid driver’s licence and a valid proof of insurance. (It is advisable to purchase Vehicle Rent’s Super excess refund, that will cover your car rental in Faro for any inconveniences on the road. You can always buy the supplier’s insurance at the counter, just remember that the price that you’ll pay will be much higher. If you have a travel insurance that covers also car rentals, read before your trip what your policy covers and what doesn't while you are driving in Faro.)
- Additional requirements: Warning triangles, reflective vests, spare wheel, spare light bulbs are required as well as a hands-free equipment with hearing aids are required when talking on the phone while driving. Nevertheless, the agency of your car rental in Faro should take care of all the equipment.
- Children in the car: All car occupants must wear a seat belt. Children under the age of twelve or shorter than 4ft 11in (1.50 meters) must ride in the back seat of the car. Suitable booster seats or chairs are required for smaller kids.
- Driving side of the road: Right
- Lights: Dipped headlights are to be turned on while driving in a tunnel or during conditions of poor visibility.
- General speed limits: 75mph (120kph) on motorways, 60mph (100kph) on highways, 55mph (90kph) outside cities and 30mph (50kph) in residential areas.
- Parking suggestions: Parking is usually well marked. There are some free parking spaces, but the majority will be paid parking. With a car rental in Faro, parking your car will be a frequent task, so we recommend you to use the parkopedia.com website.
If this is your first time renting a car, there are several rules you must know before picking up the vehicle at the car rental in Faro. A credit card, along with your passport, driver’s license and excess coverage at the counter is something you should not forget. The credit card holder should be the same as the main driver, otherwise, the agency will make you purchase the additional driver permission. An insurance can be purchased at the counter; however, the price will be 2 to 3 times higher than the excess cover offered by Vehicle Rent.
Drive your rental car around Faro
Faro is a charming, quirky city, but hopefully you have time to explore the region around Faro. If you’re seeking a shorter jaunt, Praia do Ancao (12mi / 20km), Praia do Loulé Velho (15mi / 25km), Praia da Falesia (18mi / 30km) or Praia de Marinha (37mi / 60km) are great alternatives to the more remote places but still, not easily accessible if you do not decide for a car rental in Faro.
If you want it all (meaning beaches, buzzing nightlife and lazy city walks) but you’re still not willing to drive too far from Faro, head to the city of Albufeira (28mi / 45km). A car rental in Faro makes your trip free of public transport schedules.
Travelling east of Faro, you’ll discover the peaceful city of Tavira (25mi / 40km), where you can have your beachy days and your city nights, along with plenty of exploring in between. Close by is the picturesque fishing village of Santa Luzia.
If you are prepared for some real driving, from Faro, you can visit Spain and you’ll arrive there within 45 minutes. Or - you can decide for a road trip around Portugal – don’t miss it, Portugal is a country of great food and a bit of gloominess that you can feel in the Fado, a traditional Portuguese music. If Fado is your interest, you should visit the Fado street in Lisbon or at least check the tour of the world-famous singer Mariza (she is originally from Portuguese Mozambique) that will bring you a piece of Portugal to your home town.
Back to the Portuguese road trip idea – if you have a fortnight vacation or more - we definitely recommend you engaging yourself in a car rental in Faro and driving slowly towards Lisbon. Portugal has more than 500 km of coastline and to limit your stay only to Algarve would be a pity. Understandably, every once in a while, you need to relax in a resort hotel, but not exploring the vast Portuguese beaches and rich cities (Lisbon, Porto, Evora, …) would leave Portugal uncovered.
So, let’s start the engine and …If you love beaches, cliffs and untouched nature, head west of Faro to Odeceixe (approximately 75mi / 120km) in the municipality of Aljezur, a part of the Natural Park of Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast. This part of the Algarve will mesmerize you with the vastness of the beaches, and the wildness of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather is a bit windier and you’ll find a lot of wave surfers here. And above all – this part of the coast is in general overlooked by the tourists and is still left in the shadow of Algarve.
From the Costa Alentejana and Vicentina you can head to the north and visit Comporta (approximately 125mi / 200km) where you’ll find much nature and an active day out. From Comporta, you’re just a step away from Setúbal, where you can visit the Arrabida natural Park or if food and gastronomy is what screams your name, visit the pretty indoor market Mercado do Livramento, where you’ll see all the fresh produce of Portuguese cuisine. From Setúbal, drive past the Santuário de Cristo Rei, a statue of Jesus which construction was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. The statue is overlooking the city of Lisbon and was supposed to protect the city in the WWII.
To enter the city of Lisbon you can cross the Tagus river by crossing either the Vasco da Gamma Bridge or the 25 de Abril Bridge. The second bridge is a suspension bridge, older and astonishingly similar to the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge. If you cross the river at the Vasco da Gamma bridge, you’re close to the EXPO area, full of modern architecture. Once in Lisbon you’ll be a busy bee; the city centre takes its time to be explored and you really should not miss a visit to the walled Moorish city of Sintra and a resort town Cascais, the pride of the Portuguese Royal Family in the late 19th century. Don’t you leave Cascais without setting foot into the Pastelaria de Belem – a place where heavenly delicious pasteis de nata are originally from. We suggest you should stay at least 3 days to get to know better Lisbon.
From Lisbon, you can take your car rental in Faro to Evora, a walled town with exceptionally beautiful cobbled streets, ancient churches and city gates. You can explore the green countryside of Portugal, where you might stumble upon a gipsy caravan.
If wave surfing, wind surfing or kiting is what you would like to experience in Portugal, driving to Peniche is something you should do. Broad beaches, international vibe and splendid weather conditions for all outdoor activities. From Peniche head to Porto, roughly 2-and-a-half-hour drive. Porto, is again like Lisbon, a world of its own. To explore all that Porto offers, you’d need weeks. However, in a three day stay in Porto, you can visit the Douro valley, where some of the finest Port wine is produced, walk the city streets and enter the old wine cellars. In Porto, you’ll notice the different geology of the country – Porto is darker in comparison to Lisbon (where white limestone is found) and the south of Portugal due to the granite below the surface. Porto churches, Cathedrals and cobbled streets are all made of the granite excavated nearby. You’ll also notice it on the beaches, where the fine gold sand is replaced by small granules of quartz. Head to Miramar and admire the Capela do Senhor da Pedra, a tiny chapel set on the rocks surrounded by the sea and take a walk down the coast. If you decide for a road trip in Portugal, you can start your car rental in Faro and drop-off the car in Porto, to conclude your trip in the North of the Portugal. But making the trip round and finishing your car rental in Faro where you started is also an option. It all depends on how much time you have (you can save time by dropping off in Porto) and money (it will cost you a bit more if the drop-off is not in the same place as your pick-up). It’s up to you!
Best Scenic Routes Near Faro
Faro is the southernmost part of the Algarve region, known historically for its turbulent history and stunning nature. This small Portuguese gem offers idyllic vacation opportunities for a wide variety of travellers, including young and old couples, groups of friends, solo travellers and entire families! Its versatility and spirit are there to lure you in and offer a holistic vacation that doesn’t fail to entertain. Below is an outline of some of the most scenic routes in and around Faro to guarantee your Portuguese road trip becomes the trip of your lifetime! You will be able to enjoy not just incredible unspoiled nature, but diverse events, busy nightlife and last but not least – show-stopping cuisine.
Getting to know Portugal by car is one of the best ways to discover this part of the Iberian Peninsula. Faro and the Portuguese south-west coast are a quiet region compared to their more tourist-heavy counterparts such as Lisbon and Porto. This tranquil area still offers incredible diversity, bringing you rock formations, serene beaches, emerald sea, quirky colourful towns and above all – incredible weather throughout the year (even the coldest month of January doesn’t reach below 12°C!). The Atlantic breeze even ensures that the summer months are perfectly pleasant for those who are normally not used to higher temperatures!
Exploring the Algarve region by car – top places to visit
Some of the sights you simply cannot afford to miss:
Start in Faro itself – a town once badly damaged by a great earthquake, but now blooming in colour, iconic cobblestone streets, and landmark historic buildings, such as a cathedral and several museums. During a drive along Faro’s coastline you will be able to rejoice in sights that are hard to find elsewhere - not only beaches but a large natural park, rocky formations, dramatic cliffs and quaint villages.
Those ready for something more adventurous will be pleased to hear Faro is also known for its vibrant nightlife. While on your way in and around Algarve region, make sure to make a stop at one of the traditional restaurants to try out the local fish stew (cataplana) – a comforting, delicious and affordable meal to remember! Look out for ‘azulejos’ colourful and symmetric tiles on walls, markets or historical buildings that are just a perfect Instagram photo opportunity!
Enjoy the heavenly beaches of nearby Albufeira – with more than 20 different beaches to choose from, this Portuguese town is a real gem worth to discover! Whether you’re looking for something completely off-the-beaten-track or crowded beaches – there’s a perfect vacation spot for absolutely everyone!
Head on towards Portimão – another popular destination known not only for its stunning beaches but incredible hotels and numerous shopping opportunities. Do not miss the Autodromo Algarve, an international race track, and a popular local event. Furthermore, you will be able to enjoy more local events throughout the year, including powerboat racing, numerous sports events, exhibitions, and celebrations.
Continue to Lagos - another terrific place that shouldn’t be missed during your Portuguese road trip. Lagos is often featured on ultimate road trip bucket lists, thanks to its terrific diversity – featuring a historical shipyard, gastronomical specialities, and unparalleled charm. The city has recently been investing in sustainable tourism and thus became a top destination for an even wider audience.
Following the business of Faro and Lagos, take a tranquil retreat in nearby Aljezur. This incredibly small municipality and market town along the western coast of the Algarve is known for its cobbled hills and castle ruins. It’s a town that stands out for its peaceful and tourist-free environment, but what makes it additionally attractive to everyone looking for the best scenic routes near Faro are the spectacular beach views.
Travel further north to explore more of the Alentejo and Vicentine natural park – this is one of the 30 natural parks that are officially protected. This absolutely wild western coast is Portugal’s least developed region, which makes it all the more attractive in the eyes of a traveller wanting to see an unknown part of the country. Freshly caught seafood and a number of opportunities for outdoor sporting activities are not the only things making this a terrific destination. You’ll be able to see more of wild greenery, cliffy coastline, and untouched nature.
Offering much more than just heavenly beaches
Putting it all together, it’s obvious to see that even a short road trip along the Algarve coastal region offers much more than just incredible beaches. It’s a place full of historical monuments and culturally-rich sights, as well as terrific cuisine, known for its top-grade, fresh ingredients. Moreover, it allows the visitor to enjoy the local culture on their own terms – whether that’s in busy international nightclubs or peaceful and charming forgotten beaches.
What to see in Faro
Visitors usually start their exploration of Faro with the laid-back plaza, Jardim Manuel Bivar. Here you can spend some time watching locals play a game of chess or cards and take in Faro’s beautiful marina in the background. Just a stone’s throw away from the square is the marvellous gateway, Arco da Vila. This arched monument is the dramatic entrance leading into the charming Old Town, which was encircled by a Roman wall built in the 9th century. Inside the city walls are lovely cafes and narrow cobbled streets, where children still play hide and seek. A Faro tourist information office is conveniently located next to the Arco da Vila gate and is where you’ll find useful information and a free city map. A useful information for everyone with a car rental in Faro is that the Old Town is mainly a pedestrian area, and parking your vehicle on the street (or in the wrong spot) can end with a fine. Avoid the inconveniences and leave the rental car at your hotel or find parking outside the city walls. Once on the inside of the wall you’ll find the City of Faro is peaceful and full of narrow cobbled streets (women with high heels should take special care here) and a line of colourful houses making the sight even prettier.
Our favourite spots
Hotels in Faro
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Where to eat, drink and party in Faro
Given its seaside location, you can definitely find fish and other seafood on any menu in Faro. The specialities of the area are grilled sardines and Bacalhau, cod made in every way imaginable. Other common regional dishes include salads, omelettes, meat dishes, such as Febras, or thin pork slices, and chicken with piri-piri chili pepper. Finish with an order of Medronho, a local spirit, both fruity and strong. In general, Portugal has a great cuisine and there’s someone for everyone, although if you’re a seafood lover, Portugal will turn out to be your favourite destination. You can find everything from fine dining restaurants to fast food restaurants, that are usually opened until 12 o’clock in the night. You can find Jumbo and Pingo Doce supermarkets in Faro and a fantastic Mercado Municipal up in the Faro centre with fish and other fresh produce market. The market is usually open in the mornings.
Below is a short selection of bars, restaurants and clubs, where you can sit and start with a Sagres beer while listening to fado or the Portuguese guitar. With a car rental in Faro you can also drive to some more distant and private places and taste the food in a different environment. Again, don’t miss to try the pasteis de Belem, a delicious custard pastry that originates from Cascais, but you can try their commercial version, called Pasties de Nata, in almost any bar along with some coffee. And as you’re in the Mediterranean, coffee should be a strong espresso, understandably. In Portugal, traditional wines include Moscatel, a sweet desert white wine from the Setúbal peninsula, and of course the famous Port wine, originating from the North of Portugal, specifically from the Douro Region.
Pastries and desserts are a whole chapter of their own in Portugal. Bakeries are found on every corner and are called pastelerias, where you can taste all the different sweets soaked with Portuguese tradition. In the Middle ages nuns and monks where selling dessert, predominantly made of egg yolks. As a strong nautical force, Portuguese cuisine made an influence in many distant places, like Brazil and Japan, where the Portuguese introduced to the Japanese lords the refined sugar (resulting in the colourful and delicious wagashi bites, served with tea).
Major events and festivals
If you’re looking for more entertainment during your visit to Portugal, Faro and Algarve region itself definitely exceed every expectation! Regardless of the time of the year, Faro and its idyllic nearby towns offer a huge variety of events and activities for a wide variety of visitors. Late February is time for the local carnival in Faro, which includes parades, music and fun activities for the whole family. Later on in the year, you can enjoy Faro’s stunning nature week (early to mid-May), celebrating the incredible nature and wildlife with more than 100 different outdoor activities. For all racing enthusiasts, Rally of Portugal in May is one of the best and widely recognized rallies in the world, held for more than 10 consecutive years in the Algarve region – and admission is completely free! In the close proximity of scenic routes in and around Faro are several local and international music festivals all throughout the summer, which is generally a fantastic time to visit this part of Europe.
Exquisite and affordable food, busy nightlife, breath-taking nature, historical buildings and the diverse option of events and activities to take part in – the Faro area offers the ideal opportunity for a holiday you will never forget! It’s a place made for absolutely hedonistic retreats, but at the same time offers incredible vacation options for adventurers, families, and lovers of nature!