We recommend hiring a car when you visit our Villa, so this blog gives a few ideas on which car hire companies are available and some tips when you're renting.
The major companies (Hertz, Budget, Avis, Sixt, Europcar) are all present at Faro Airport and are located to the right as you exit the arrival hall. When we're booking with a major hire company we generally use Autoeurope to find the best deals. Skyscanner and Kayak also provide a similar car hire search engine.
The smaller independent companies are located to the left of the terminal as you exit (in Car Park 4). A good summary of the independents can be found here:
When we first started visiting the Algarve we always booked a known big brand, but after a disagreement about the size of the car we'd hired we switched to a smaller independent. We did some searching on Tripadvisor before settling on a company called Drive4Fun. You e-mail them with your dates and car needs, they then respond with a price. If you are happy to accept, just e-mail your confirmation.
When choosing a company be sure to check if they are located on the airport or at an off-site location. There's nothing worse than arriving at the start of your holiday expecting to jump straight into your car only to be bussed to a different location (and then having to repeat at the end of the vacation). Offsite companies may be cheaper but weigh-up whether it's worth the additional hassle!
One of the largest costs associated with hiring a car is the fee charged to remove the collision damage excess, depending on the size of the car this could add €7-10 per day. If you hire a car a couple of times a year I'd highly recommend taking out a separate excess insurance policy. We use a company called Car Hire Excess which charges €50 for annual cover in Europe and covers Tyres, Windscreen and the excess in the event of an accident. A little googling will turn up others offering the same service.
The main motorway route running West-East along the Algarve is the A22. This is a toll road and I would recommend a car hire company that provides an electronic transponder that can be pre or post paid. Some companies don't have transponders and in this case the toll is calculated by number plate recognition and must be paid at the post office with 48 hours (fine when you start the holiday but not an option when returning the car at the end).
Fuel is much cheaper in Spain (by about 20%), so if you happen to be there for a day trip, think about filling the car at the same time.
Always carry your car documents and driving license as they must be shown at police checks.
Nuala & Matthew
We fell in love with the Eastern Algarve a few years back. We'll try and impart our knowledge of the area and other travel tips via these blog posts.