We compare a huge range of one-way and return car hire deals from over 20 leading rental companies
With golden sands and dramatic cliffs, you may never want to leave the beaches of the Algarve. But there's much more to Portugal’s southernmost region than sunbathing. Rent a car at Faro Airport and head inland to discover traditional whitewashed villages, dramatic Moorish castles, excellent golf courses and wild mountain scenery.
There is a range of well-known car rental firms at Faro Airport (FAO), including Sixt, Hertz, Europcar and Avis-Budget. Compare and book online in advance for a cheap deal and collect your rental car just outside the terminal. You’ll be in Vilamoura in around 25 minutes, and Albufeira in 35 minutes.
Alternatively, if you plan to relax for a few days before exploring, try picking up a hire car in your resort. Hertz, Avis, Europcar and several local rental firms have sites in the centre of Albufeira and close to the marina in Lagos. However, the further west you travel, the fewer rental firms you'll find.
Most tourists leave Faro Airport and head west to the popular Algarve resorts. For Vilamoura, go north on the N125-10. After 15 minutes, join the IC4 Variante do Troto and then the N396 before continuing south to the resort. For other Algarve destinations, join the A22 toll road westbound.
At Faro Airport, the big car rental firms have desks in the arrivals hall, after baggage reclaim and customs. Smaller local firms tend to be based outside the terminal in the P4 parking area.
Car rental companies with desks at Faro Airport include:
Sixt (Tel: +351 289 247 595)
Hertz (Tel: +351 219 426 300)
Goldcar-Rhodium (Tel: +351 289 800 670)
Europcar (Tel: +351 289 889 447)
Avis-Budget (Tel: +351 289 810 120)
Enterprise (Tel: +351 289 800 883)
You could head straight for the Serra de Monchique mountains, where the forests provide welcome shade and village life goes on more or less as it has for hundreds of years. Or explore coastal villages for colourful markets and fish restaurants. Wherever you head, bear in mind that the Portuguese can be impatient drivers. You may find the car behind tries to overtake on corners or on a hill.
Roads in the centre of towns and villages can be narrow. It might seem that locals park anywhere, but try to find an official parking space or you’ll risk a fine. You might see parking ‘helpers’ in busy towns, who’ll direct you to a space in return for a tip. Don’t feel obliged to follow their directions.
Outside of the towns, many of Portugal’s major arteries are toll roads. To pay, rent a Via Verde transponder from your car hire company; it’s usually preloaded with a few trips to get you started. It’s linked to your credit card, so you can pay as you go.
If you prefer, pay after your journey at a Payshop or post office – but bear in mind there's a very specific payment window. You can make payment from two days after your journey, and have to pay within five days.
Alternatively, use the Easy Toll system, which can be activated at a toll machine and links your credit card to the car's registration number. It's convenient, but make sure you cancel it when you return your car.
Driving time: 45 mins
Drive east from Faro to the traditional fishing village of Saint Luzia, known for its octopus, which is caught using traditional methods. The village is close to the lagoons of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Salir, Serra do Caldeirão
Driving time: 45 mins
A charming whitewashed village in the heart of the rolling Serra do Caldeirão hills. The area is known for its natural beauty, birdlife, and traditional way of life. Look out for ‘fontes’, traditional water fountains found in local villages.
Driving time: One hour 20 mins
Head west and you’ll eventually reach Sagres, a remote and relaxed beach town whose crashing waves have made it something of a surfing hotspot. Look for daredevil local anglers perched on the cliffs.
Avoid the green lanes on toll roads unless you have an automatic Via Verde transponder. You could end up being overcharge.
Want to avoid tolls altogether? Use the N125, which mostly runs parallel to the A22. It gets busy and there can be delays, so you might need to give yourself extra time.
Flashing your lights doesn't mean "go ahead" or "thanks" as it does in the UK – it means "here I come." The driver wants you to give way and let them through.
All rental deals compared on TravelSupermarket include mandatory fees (for example, one-way and young driver surcharges) in your rental quote at the time of booking, meaning you’ll know the full price of your car hire upfront.
What age do I need to be to hire a vehicle in Faro?
You need to be at least 18 years old to hire a car in Faro. However, each car hire company sets its own minimum age limit, so you may find some only rent cars to those over 21. You usually also need to have held a full driving licence for at least a year.
What do I need so I can hire a vehicle in Faro?
You need a valid driving licence, a credit or debit card and valid ID, such as a passport or ID card. Some rental companies also ask for proof of address, proof of insurance or a DVLA check code. Make sure you check with your car hire company before you travel.
Do I need car hire excess insurance in Faro?
No, you don’t need excess insurance to hire a car in Faro, but it could be worthwhile. Having excess cover means you don’t have to pay a high excess fee if you damage the vehicle or get into an accident. You can buy excess cover from the rental desk or from a standalone third-party insurer, which is usually cheaper.
Can I rent a car with a debit card in Faro?
Yes, many car hire companies in Faro accept debit cards, but some may require a credit card – check before you travel. Make sure you have enough funds on your debit or credit card to cover the booking and your deposit.
Which rental companies are available at Faro Airport?
Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar, Firefly, Goldcar, Guerin, Hertz, InterRent, National, Sixt and Thrifty all operate at Faro Airport. The major car hire firms have desks in the arrivals hall; smaller local companies are in the P4 car park just outside the terminal.
Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or off site in Faro?
Car hire companies inside the airport often have additional charges and taxes, so it’s usually cheaper to rent a car off site. There are still great car rental deals available at Faro airport though, so it’s worth comparing prices online and in advance.
Can you rent a car in Faro and drop it off in another city?
Yes. Many providers offer one-way rental between cities in Portugal. You may need to pay an additional charge or higher base rate if you’re not returning your vehicle to the original pickup location.
Can you rent a car on the same day in Faro?
Absolutely. You can rent a car on the same day by booking online or directly at the rental desk. Be aware that there may be limited availability and rental offices aren’t open 24/7, even in airports.
Can I hire a vehicle at 21 years of age in Faro?
Yes. You can hire a car in Faro if you’re 21 years old, but some companies may set a higher minimum age limit. Check with the car hire company before you book. Expect to pay an additional ‘young driver surcharge ’ if you’re 25 or under.