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General Information about buses in the Algarve

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        andupdated

The information has been obtained from printed timetables and other local sources(like taking the bus)and is given in good faith.
Bus operations in the Algarve are possibly quite different from what you may be used to back home!
In particular, the buses running between various towns sometimes do not show route or line numbers.

Click here for a list of all the timetables on the site; please first read the various notes on this page.
An alphabetical list of all the places included in the timetables is here.
A diagram showing the train and bus routes in the Algarve is here

Operators, route/line numbers

  VamusAlgarve

ALGARVE REGIONAL BUSES ARE NOW OPERATED BY VAMUS


The regional bus service in the Algarve operates under the name - VAMUS full title VIZUR TRANSPORTES UNIPESSOAL LDA. Click a picture to see it full size. I will try to get some better ones!

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vamus_2
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May be an image of outdoors and text that says
              "34 V.R.S.ANTONIO Ovamus 7418 AF63GO TP vamus SAIBA
              MAIS EM VAMUSAL VAMUSALGARVE.PT"

Their buses, as pictured above, are now predominantly white, with no adornments other than the small logo and stripes on the front and side.

Almost every bus driver in Portugal has the radio on during the journey. Too bad if you don’t like their choice of music, but most of the time it’s OK!

Different types of service - Algarve buses

There are different types or operations of bus on rural and interurban services. In the major towns and cities, the local city or urban mini-buses may operate along the same roads and use the same stops as VAMUS buses, but fares are different and tickets are not generally inter-available.

AEROBUS - (Route 56) runs five times daily until 31st October Faro - Faro Airport - Albufeira Bus Station - Lagoa Bus Station - Portimão Rua Abidcada Bus Station - Lagos Bus station. It stops only at these places. Fares are higher than on other buses. From 1st November there will be only two buses each way.

TRANSRÁPIDO (picture below) runs as an express service the length of the coast between Faro and Lagos. It stops only at the places shown in the timetable plus the Algarve Shopping mall near Guia and Portimão Hospital. Transrápido buses carry a sign in the driver’s window and they are identifiable by the paintwork! Download and print the latest timetable.
transrapidobus
TOILETS - or lack of! Transrápido buses do NOT have toilets on board and neither is there sufficient time at any stop to use one. So if you are travelling the whole way, make sure you go before getting on! This may be an issue at Armação de Pera and Guia where there is no bus terminal building and therefore no toilets nearby!

DELAYS - Transrápido buses are frequently delayed by traffic. Anticipate delays of 15 - 20 minutes on all the Transrápido buses and also on the buses between Albufeira and Lagos, even at weekends! These delays are a combination of unrealistic timetables and heavy city traffic.

ALBUFEIRA - LAGOS (Linha Littoral) route 51 runs as a limited-stop service between Lagos and Albufeira. If two buses arrive at the same time to the same destination, you may need to ask the driver which one he or she is!

 Between Faro and Albufeira some buses on weekdays (ie Mondays to Fridays) are labelled ‘DIRECTA’ and miss out some stops, notably in the outskirts of Vilamoura and the outskirts of Faro. The differences in stopping places between the NORMAL and DIRECTA routes are detailed here.  NB - there few bus services at the airport except for a local bus into Faro city centre, three buses each weekday to Loulé and Aerobus 56 to Albufeira, Lagoa, Portimão and Lagos. A new route 55 runs between the airport, Almancil, Quarteira and Vilamoura but during the winter only at weekends!  Details here.

LOCAL BUSES AND MINIBUSES IN THE MAIN TOWNS

Several towns have local city (Urbanas) mini-buses operated or sponsored by the city or town council. I have included details for FaroAlbufeira , Lagos and Portimão in these pages and links on the alphabetical index page to the local council website for the timetables for the Loulé and Quarteira services. I have included brief details of the operations in Olhão and Tavira in the relevant pages. There is also a local bus running between the airport and Faro city centre - details here.

Express buses (coaches) to and from Lisbon etc.

All towns and many villages have express buses (coaches) to and from Lisbon and further afield. Larger places eg Faro, Albufeira have 12 to 15 departures a day. Smaller places might have only two or three.

I have listed some timetables for Rede-Expressos here but check their website for changes also service at other locations. The website is available in English.

These long-distance services are operated REDE EXPRESSOS but you will sometimes see 'borrowed' vehicles in other companies colours. You should reserve a seat in advance for all long-distance buses, especially at weekends and around holidays. Tickets can be bought from the various offices and agents around the Algarve. There is a list of ticket offices and agents, with opening hours, on their website here.

Rede - Expressos stops in larger towns will be the main bus station, but elsewhere it may be just an ordinary bus stop by the side of the road. The Rede Expressos website does have a system of maps showing stop locations and local ticket sales offices and agents. Beware that in Lisbon two different bus stations are used. Some journeys to or from the Algarve use both, but most use one or the other. These are ORIENTE which is out in the north-eastern suburbs near the airport and SETE RIOS which is to the north-west of the city centre.

Both of these are several km from the city centre, but have metro (underground railway) stations adjacent for the final part of your journey. Sete Rios has fairly infrequent but direct bus connection by Aerobus Line 2 to and from the airport - details here.  Aerobus vehicles have a dedicated space for large bags etc. Lisbon Lisbon Aerobus service no longer operates.

The Lisbon metro goes to the airport direct from Oriente train and bus station in about five minutes, trains run every few minutes 6am - 1am. From Jardim Zoológico station (at Sete Rios) it takes about 25 minutes to the airport with one change of train required, at São Sebastião station. The metro is cheaper than the Aerobus.

Ticket offices in Algarve bus stations etc are NOT open 24 hours. If your bus / coach leaves late at night or during the early hours of the morning, you will need to buy a ticket in advance or from the Rede Expressos website. You can get times and buy tickets at  www.rede-expressos.pt. You cannot buy tickets from the driver for long distance trips. These services do not carry local passengers in the Algarve, except on the route out of Lagos towards Aljezur etc where no other services exist.

It will cost about €22 to get to Lisbon from anywhere in the Algarve. A round-trip (return) fare is slightly less than the cost of two singles. The journey is around 3 hourss from Albufeira and obviously more the further afield you are.

FLIXBUS to Lisbon?

Flixbus is a low cost operator running daily services between Lisbon and some of the larger Algarve towns. Internet booking via their app or website www.flixbus.com - they may not use the usual bus stations. In Albufeira their calling point is the 'small' bus station in Avenida da Liberdade in the old town.

Trains run locally along the Algarve coast, also to and from Lisbon - click here for information.

Bus Stops and Bus Stations / Terminals

Stopping places are clearly indicated with signs of various types. old bus stopPARAGEM is the Portuguese word for bus-stop; helpfully many signs also display ‘Bus Stop’ in English. In rural areanew bus stops, 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. In some towns stops used by local buses have their own design. Those pictured to the left are of the former EVA and Frota Azul buses, now VAMUS, that connect the different towns and villages. The bus stop signs are now being changed and, for the first time ever, a list of departures and maps are appearing in some locations! These are at my local stop, but when installing them they have removed the far more useful information about the local GIRO buses. The number below the stop name is the number of the stop on their travel planner. You can therefore find that stop using their website or 'app' and see if there is a bus coming your way. The map looks impressive at first sight, but remember that many routes only run two or three times a day.  CLICK THE MAP TO SEE IT FULL (ENORMOUS) SIZE.

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vamus-map

Most of the larger towns have a bus station or terminal, ranging from the large busy bus stations in Faro, Lagoa and Albufeira, down to simple waiting shelters, for example in Silves. These are usually at the edge of town, as the roads in the town centres are either too narrow or too busy to accommodate buses.

The bus terminal in Albufeira is about a mile/1.6km from the old town centre and major hotel areas.  If arriving from the west, north or on Transrápido from Faro, you will need another bus, a taxi or maybe 15 minutes walk to reach the old town centre and beaches. Local buses from the east (eg Faro, Quarteira, Vilamoura, Olhos D'Agua) pass through town and it’s best to get off near Albufeira Shopping (the stop is officially called Rotunda dos Rélogios - Watches roundabout in English -  before you end up in the middle of nowhere. Click here for more information about the bus terminal and ways to get into town.

The bus terminal in Faro is in the centre of town and 150 yards/metres from the railway station. The bus terminal in Tavira is three minutes walk from the town centre.

The bus terminal in Loulé is about four minutes walk from the main shopping area, indoor market and town centre. Most buses also make a stop in the town centre near the indoor market. The stop at Silves has no office, there is an enquiry office/agency nearby at the municipal market building. Portimão has an outdoor bus station for local and regional services - click here for more information. A separate bus station in Portimão is used by long distance and international bus / coach  services. This is about 1.5km or nearly a mile from the city centre. Information here .At Lagos, the bus terminal is a few minutes walk from the historic town centre and about five minutes walk from the railway station and marina, which are on the other side of the river.

Fares and Tickets

VAMUS regional bus system

IMPORTANT! When boarding at a BUS STATION/BUS TERMINAL you must usually buy your tickets at the ticket office window.

BUS TICKET MACHINES NOW BEING INSTALLED AT BUS STATIONS

VAMUS, the regional bus company, is installing ticket machines at bus stations. These will make it easier to purchase tickets and recharge pre paid passes. They are now up and running at Faro, Lagos, Albufeira and Tavira bus stations, also at the Faro Airport bus stop. Soon to follow at Loulé and Quarteira bus stations, also at Aqua Shopping at Portimão. They have instructions in English and Portuguese, but will not sell tickets and passes for the urban networks such as Vai e Vem in Portimão and Giro in Albufeira. I have read that these will be available at some future date.

BUS COMPANIES DO NOT ACCEPT CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD PAYMENTS ON BOARD THE BUS. AT TICKET OFFICES, DEBIT CARDS ONLY.

Allow a few minutes for buying tickets at the ticket office, especially at Faro! Ticket prices for single journeys are currently not available at the VAMUS website.

There is a list of ticket offices and agents at https://vamusalgarve.pt/#/pt/vamus%20algarve/point-of-sales

If boarding elsewhere or when the ticket office is closed, have small change ready and pay the driver as usual. For our North American readers drivers will make change, but they will not thank you if you hand over a €50 note! Even the longest journey here will cost only about €6.50.

Sample bus fares for adults when paid on board. An increase came into effect on 1st July 2022 but details of specific fares for single journeys are not published. These are my best guesses from the information available. Faro to Lagos - €6.30; Albufeira to Portimão and Praia da Rocha - €4.90,  Albufeira to Alvor - €4.95, Albufeira to Lagos - €5.80; Albufeira - Faro €5,10; Albufeira to Armação de Pera and  Vilamoura €4.50; Portimão - Silves, €3.55; Portimão - Lagos €4.50; Albufeira to Silves, Quarteira or Loulé €4.70; Monte Gordo to Tavira €4.50, Monte Gordo to Vila Real €2.45, Monte Gordo to Faro €5.90, Tavira to Faro €4,70.

Trains are often cheaper than buses where they offer service between the same towns, except Faro - Lagos, but those trains are 30 minutes quicker and more frequent!

Apps for Android and Mac

These can be downloaded from Google Play and https://apps.apple.com and offer all ticket discounts etc and paperless travel for the VAMUS buses.

Pre-paid rechargeable ticket cards - VAMUS buses - save money on fares

If you are staying a while and intend to use Vamus buses more than a couple of times it may be worth investing in a pre-paid ticket card. This rechargeable card stores cash for amounts of €5 or more. It saves money compared to on board tickets (in many cases as much as 50%) and queuing time, but you do have to pay a €2.00 fee for the card. You can buy the cards using the VAMUS website, app or from any bus station or ticket agent.  Also on sale at tourist information offices.

According to the website, they can be recharged on a bus. I have been told that drivers say that this is not possible.

Details here. On boarding, place the card on the ticket machine pad, count three and your ticket is automatically printed.

Monthly Season tickets VAMUS buses

There is now a maximum cost of €40 per month for any journey. That's is primarily aimed at commuters, who would therefore pay an average of €2 a day to get to and from work. For long stayers who may be using their buses frequently, this may be of value. These passes can be obtained from any bus station ticket office. Photo is required.

DISCOUNTS FOR THE YOUNG AND OLD

CHILDREN - those aged between 4 and 12 pay half fare on VAMUS buses, but those aged 13 or over have to pay full fare unless they have a 'school pass', so in effect that's for residents only. Children aged under 4 years travel free. There are however NO child discounts on the city and town bus systems except for residents.

SENIORS - discounts are often available only to residents.  Buses are not free here for seniors as in many European countries. You need to be 65 or over to get senior discount. You will need to ask at a local bus station or ticket agent what senior discounts are available, fill in a form, provide proof of age and sometimes a passport size photo. A typical senior pass costs €5 for the card itself then €11 a month for unlimited travel, for example on Albufeira's local GIRO buses. For the buses between towns and villages operated by VAMUS, all passes and tickets (except the tourist passes) are for travel only between two specific places.

Tickets and passes are not interchangeable between different operator's buses. All the urban buses require a different ticket or pass.

Fares on urban local networks in Faro, Albufeira, Lagos, Portimão etc<

The local bus systems in and around Albufeira, Faro, Lagos, Loulé, Quarteira, Tavira and Vilamoura have different fares and do not accept VAMUS tickets, nor vice-versa. All offer pre paid multi journey passes and monthly season tickets. Those in Loulé, Quarteira and Vilamoura are currently free of charge.

Separate cards are available for these local city buses not operated by VAMUS, for example the GIRO service in Albufeira. You can get your money back for the card if you hand it in at a bus office before leaving. You can of course keep it for next year.

Children using local buses around the main towns (eg GIRO in Albufeira) normally pay full fare - child discounts are again only available to residents

TOURIST PASSES FOR VAMUS BUSES


These are available as three day versions priced at €35 and seven days for €45. Days must be consecutive. They can be bought at any bus station ticket office or using their app. They are valid on ALL buses operated by VAMUS listed in timetables on this site, including Aerobus route 56. They are NOT VALID on Rede-Expressos or other long distance services, international services nor on the local urban buses in Lagos, Portimão, Albufeira, Loulé, Vilamoura, Quarteira, Faro and Tavira. The local buses in those towns have their own day passes, multi-ride tickets and season tickets for frequent or regular users.

Timetables

Timetables are sometimes not displayed at bus stops especially in rural areas. Even at Bus Terminals, you may find only a list of departures to principal destinations. That’s one of the reasons for my making these pages! Printed timetables are usually available at the Enquiry Desk or Ticket Office.  English is spoken at most locations but it is polite to ask first! The  VAMUS bus company website does have a timetable search facility.

Click here for a list of all the timetables on the site; please first read the various notes on this page.
An alphabetical list of all the places included in the timetables is here.

Bus Service Start and Finish Times

Portugal uses the 24 hour clock - all timetables are in the 24hr clock format. 1300hrs = 1pm, 1400hrs = 2pm etc.

Many bus routes are very irregular and infrequent, especially at weekends and on public holidays when many routes have no service at all.

In general, bus services linking the various towns and villages in the Algarve start around 0700hrs on weekdays and finish by 2030hrs, which means that, in most places, last buses are on their way around 1930hrs. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays first buses are generally fairly early, but there are many 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, but the main inter-urban routes do have weekend and holiday service, albeit at reduced levels.

There are often long gaps in service on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays. Buses do not usually run at regular intervals ie at so many minutes past each hour. Buses away from the main coastal tourist areas are mostly few and far between, as they cater for local needs of schools and shopping. You are strongly advised to double-check the times of last buses back if you are off hiking in the hills.

Point-to-point timings, but currently not fares, for VAMUS services from the main towns can be checked and official individual timetables downloaded on their official website here.

The local city buses (GIRO) in Albufeira mostly operate until 2200hrs during the summer (1st June to 30th September) and until 2000hrs for the rest of the year. Buses between Portimão and Alvor, also Portimão and Praia da Rocha run until about 2000hrs all year. There is a late night service between Portimão and Alvor during the summer. The Lagos area has local buses until midnight on some routes during the summer, otherwise service ends around 2000hrs. Weekend and holiday service on the urban routes in and around Lagos and Portimão is sparse, especially in winter. Check carefully. Many routes only operate on weekdays.

In other cities and towns, local buses usually operate between about 0700hrs and 1900hrs on weekdays and between 0700hrs and 1400hrs on Saturdays. They either run very limited schedules or not all on Saturday afternoons, Sundays or holidays. Details and links to timetables are included within the various sections of this website.

What days do the buses run?

Many bus journeys do not run every day. Weekend and holiday buses are very few in some areas. In the various timetable pages, there are column headings, colour highlights and notes to indicate the days a particular bus runs. In one or two timetables, there are separate sections for weekday and weekend services where the times are very different, but on most pages there is one table for the whole service in both directions.

These codes and information en Français, auf deutsch, em Portugues please click here

Daily – runs every day including holidays (NB - buses and trains DO RUN on Christmas Day, New Year's Day etc)
MFO – Mondays to Fridays (weekdays) only; does not run on Saturdays, Sundays or Holidays
SSH – runs on Saturdays,Sundays and Holidays only
SHO – runs on Sundays and Holidays only
SHX – does not run on Sundays or Holidays
SAT – runs on Saturdays only except holidays
SCH – runs on SCHOOLDAYS only ie will not be running in July and August, nor during Christmas and Easter breaks or on Public holidays.
NSC - runs weekdays but during School Holidays only
XXX – used where bus runs only on certain days that do not fit into these headings – look for a special note.

PORTUGUESE HOLIDAYS  including school holidays 2022 / 2023 -  details here.

I have tried to be consistent with these headings in all the pages. Apologies if I fail anywhere.

Operational dates on the official timetables

On the official VAMUS website timetables abbreviations are used to show the different days of the week etc that buses run. Timetables are shown with the times vertically. The downloadable timetables do show the weekday, Saturday and Sunday times in separate boxes, but confusingly for some the winter and summer timetables are put together.

At the TOP of the column you will see either A (Annual) meaning the bus runs all year round, E (Escolar - schooldays) meaning the bus runs only when schools are open. For some routes and times you will also see EA (Época Alta - High Season) meaning that the bus runs only between 1st May and 31st October or EB (Época Baixa - Low Season) meaning the bus runs only during the winter (low) season.

In the next row you will see U (Úteis - weekdays) meaning that the bus runs only on weekdays, S (Sábados - Saturdays) meaning the bus runs only on Saturdays or DF (Domingos e Feriados - Sundays and Holidays) meaning that the bus runs only on Sundays and Public Holidays. In practice, times for almost all routes with weekend and holiday buses are the same on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays but do check just in case.

Finally, for buses that serve very rural areas and that run less than five days a week, you may see the days of the week shown as :

2 = Monday     3 = Tuesday     4= Wednesday    5= Thursday    6= Friday or some combination, for example 35 = bus runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Travelling at school times?

A word of 'warning' - between 0800hrs and 0900hrs also between 1630hrs and 1700hrs on schooldays, buses to/from the main towns are VERY crowded with schoolchildren and older students on their way to and from school/college. In some areas schools operate early and late 'shifts' (because of overcrowding) and you may get an extra 'rush hour' around 1300hrs, for example in Lagos.

I personally have experienced this at Loulé on the afternoon buses to Albufeira and also from Silves to Albufeira. You may have to stand for a while - no they are as unruly as in any other country!

The good news is that schools are closed during the main holiday season of July to early September, for two weeks at Easter and for two weeks over Christmas and New Year.

For a list of all the timetables on the site, click here
For an alphabetical list of places in the Algarve, click here
For some important general notes about buses in the Algarve, click here
Back to the main page

www.algarvebus.info