Guest Post by Thomas Allen
There is no single official source of information for public transport in the Algarve however below is a guide to help you get started. For more detailed information you can also visit Algarve Bus Info a private website maintained by a British resident of the Algarve which includes train and bus timetables, plus links to official websites.
There is a local bus once or twice an hour every day between the airport and the railway and bus stations in Faro city centre. The fare is €2.25 and it takes about 20 minutes. For more information and times see here .
A railway line runs between Lagos in the west and Vila Real de Santo António in the east. Click to see larger size.
Some stations such as Albufeira and Loulé are several miles from the town itself. Train times are irregular and on the Faro – Lagos section trains are rather infrequent. The current official timetable (in English) can be downloaded here.
Unfortunately tickets cannot be purchased online, with an app or in advance. You buy tickets at the station ticket office (if there is one) or if there isn’t from the train conductor when you get on. Train conductors accept only cash. Over 65’s travel half price however ID is required. Children aged 4 -12 also travel half price.
Those with mobility issues should note that the trains currently used in the Algarve have steps up into the carriages and therefore this may cause problems especially if travelling alone.
If needed, this page at Algarve Bus Info has further information about trains, including those that run to and from Lisbon.
LOCAL BUSES BETWEEN TOWNS AND VILLAGES
Most buses used are suitable for those of reduced mobility, but some are not. Unfortunately on some routes it not possible to predict what type of bus will come along!
These buses do not carry route/line numbers as they do in most other parts of the world. You must check the destination display on the front of the bus, which is often just a paper sign pinned in the driver’s window.
All timetables are in the 24hr clock format. 13.00hrs = 1pm, 14.00hrs = 2pm etc.
In general, bus services linking the various towns and villages in the Algarve start around 07.00hrs on weekdays and finish by 20.30hrs, which means that, in most places, last buses are on their way around 19.30hrs. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays first buses are fairly early, but there are, on many routes, a lot fewer buses than on weekdays. Last buses are often earlier than weekdays. Many villages out in the countryside have no buses at all at weekends or on public holidays. The main inter-urban routes do have weekend and holiday service, at reduced levels. Buses do not usually run at regular intervals (ie. at so many minutes past each hour).
This diagram shows the main routes in the western part of the Algarve.
Go to Algarve Bus Info for a more detailed background on buses.
The EVA bus company operates most inter-urban bus services in the Algarve. Their official website is www.eva-bus.com
Around Portimão, some buses are operated by Frota Azul (Algarve). Their official website is www.frotazul-algarve.pt/
Fares and tickets – interurban buses
When boarding at a BUS STATION/BUS TERMINAL you must usually buy tickets at the ticket office window. Tickets cannot be purchased online and there are no ‘apps’, so yoou pay the old fashioned way, using money!
If boarding at a stop, or when the ticket office is closed, have small change ready and pay the driver as usual. Drivers will give change, but they will not thank you if you hand over a €50 note!
Sample bus fares for adults :
- Faro to Lagos – €6.05
- Albufeira to Portimão and Praia da Rocha – €4.75
- Albufeira to Alvor – €4.85
- Albufeira to Lagos – €5.70
- Albufeira – Faro €4.85
- Albufeira to Armação de Pera and Vilamoura €4.25
- Silves – Portimão €3.35
- Silves – S.B Messines €4.25
- Albufeira to Silves, Quarteira or Loulé €4.45
- Monte Gordo to Tavira €4.25
- Monte Gordo to Vila Real €2.35
- Monte Gordo to Faro €5.70.
Both bus companies offer pre-paid smart card tickets for 5, 10 or 20 journeys between the same two places. These can reduce the fare by 40 or 50% but are only available at bus station ticket offices. The cards themselves cost €3 which is refunded if you give it back, but unused fares are not refunded.
A tourist pass is available for either three days or seven days consecutive and unlimited travel. Ask at bus stations for prices and conditions. One day tickets are not sold.
Bus Stops and Bus Stations / Terminals
Stopping places are indicated with signs. PARAGEM is the Portuguese word for bus-stop; helpfully many signs also display ‘Bus Stop’ in English. In rural areas, the bus stop sign may be only on one side of the road. The bus will stop on the opposite side if you are waiting. All bus stops are REQUEST stops. If you are waiting at a stop, give the bus driver a clear signal as the bus approaches. If you are on the bus and wish to get off, ring the bell in good time before your stop.
There are NO timetables shown at most bus stops. Make sure you know the bus times or where to find them online.
The larger towns have bus stations of various size and quality. If you are going to or from Albufeira, the main bus station is a mile (1.6km) from the town centre. Many buses stop nowhere else.
BUSES AROUND THE LARGER TOWNS
The larger towns in the Algarve have separate ‘urban’ bus operations. Tickets are different, the tourist pass mentioned above cannot be used on these. All ‘urban’ systems offer 1 day tourist tickets which you buy from the driver, who will also issue normal cash tickets. There are various pre-paid passes which reduce fares considerably. Passes are generally only available at bus stations. The Lagos and Portimão systems do have sales agents elsewhere.
There are NO discounts for children or seniors except for residents. Fares are as low as €1 on some systems, but €1,40 in Albufeira (80 cents with a pre-pay card) and €1,50 around Portimão, Alvor and Praia da Rocha.
A single fare in Albufeira, Lagos and Portimão is valid for 1 hour, allowing you to change buses to complete your journey without paying again.
These are towns with local bus systems. Click the name to go the relevant website. Some websites are only in Portuguese. You can also ask for information at the town’s bus station, tourist offices or visit www.algarvebus.info/alpha.htm and search by location. Most of the staff in the bus stations will speak some English, however it’s polite to ask rather than assume. Most of the buses on these local systems have wheelchair ramps.
COACHES (LONG DISTANCE BUS) TO LISBON AND FURTHER
All the large towns and many smaller ones have several coaches every day to Lisbon and beyond. Website is www.rede-expressos.pt where times can be checked and tickets purchased up to 30 days before travel. You can also buy tickets at bus stations, but for journeys starting between about 2000 and 0600 the ticket office will not be open. Go there a day or two before or buy online.
COACHES (LONG DISTANCE BUSES) TO SEVILLE AND SPAIN
Two different companies run from the major coastal towns to Seville and beyond. Go to www.alsa.es or www.rede-expressos.pt for times and tickets. At most times of the year a day trip to Seville is impossible unless you start very early and wait until midnight to return! Day excursions run from most of the major tourist resorts.
HOP ON HOP OFF TOURIST SIGHTSEEING BUSES AND ‘TRAINS’
Most of the large towns have these. Some run all year, some in summer only. Hotels and tourist information offices will have information.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS – these are always held on the day they fall (instead of always on Monday’s like in the UK), so don’t be caught out by a surprise Wednesday holiday when trains and buses run to Sunday times. Trains and buses do run on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Check holiday dates at www.algarvebus.info/hols.htm