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Algarve

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Alentejo photo

ABOVE: A sunflower field in the Alentejo. You'll see scenery like this if you follow the recommended driving itinerary below.

How to reach the Algarve

By air

Faro International Airport has scheduled air service from Lisbon and London. TAP Air Portugal and other international airlines serve Faro either directly or via connecting flights in Lisbon. The airport is located 7 km (4 miles) from the city center.

By train

The Algarve has excellent train service from Lisbon. From the Terreiro do Paço station on Lisbon's waterfront, you catch a ferry across the Tagus River and board a waiting train at the station on the opposite bank. Two to three intercity trains a day connect Lisbon to Faro; an interregional train offers service to Lagos via Tunes. Other trains connect Lagos to the Spanish border town of Vila Real de Santo António with various stops along the way. For more information, see the bilingual Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses (Portuguese Railways) Web site.

By bus

Several companies offer scheduled service from Lisbon to Faro and other cities in the Algarve. Portuguese travel agencies can book tickets for you.

By car

You can drive from Lisbon to Faro in about five hours. However, we'd like to suggest a different itinerary that will require up to three days, depending on where and how often you stop for the night.

Lisbon to Marvăo. Head northeast toward the spa town of Castelo de Vide, with its ancient Jewish quarter, then continue to Marvăo near the Spanish border. This ancient fortified hilltop town has only 1,000 inhabitants, but it was once an important military stronghold. The comfortable Pousada de Santa Maria offers fairly expensive rooms; other inns are cheaper, and you can arrange for private accommodations through the tourist office.

Marvăo to Évora. It may take you the better part of a day to reach Évora if you stop at Estremoz, as you should. Évora is the capital of the Alentejo, and it's a delightful provincial town with Moorish walls, a handsome cathedral, the Roman temple of Diana, and other attractions. The Pousada dos Lóios offers attractive if expensive rooms in a former convent. If you're on a budget, see the tourist office or a guidebook for a list of more reasonable hotels.

Évora to Faro. Zigzag south to Beja, then jog over to Ferreira do Alentejo and drive south to Faro, where you'll head east or west to your final destination.

Next page: Activities, food, and drink



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