The Algarve Region is located in Southern Portugal and is a favorite beach vacation area for locals and travelers. It incorporates sixteen municipalities, and the Faro District is central to this region, where there is an international airport. For someone traveling with a wheelchair, the beautiful coastline of the Algarve Region has many opportunities for exploration and enjoyment, and these tips will help you plan for accessibility.

Transportation and Getting Around

Airport Transfers: Faro Airport offers accessible services, including assistance from the aircraft to the airport exit. Several companies provide accessible airport transfers with vehicles equipped with ramps or lifts, ensuring that travelers with mobility needs can move around the Algarve region comfortably and conveniently:

  • Yellowfish Transfers: Offers accessible airport transfers, private transfers, and tours.
  • ALGARVEWHEELER Accessible Transport: Provides accessible airport transfers and local transportation.
  • Blue Label Transfers: Provides accessible airport transfers and private transfers.
  • A2B Transfers: Offers accessible transfer services throughout the Algarve region, including airport transfers and local transportation.

Public Transportation: Many cities and towns in the Algarve have accessible buses with low floors and designated spaces for wheelchairs. It’s advisable to check the specific bus routes and schedules for accessibility.

Taxis: Accessible taxis are available in larger towns and cities. These vehicles are equipped with ramps or lifts and can be booked in advance. Companies providing accessible taxi services include:

  • Faro Taxi: Provides accessible taxi services with vehicles equipped with ramps.
  • Almancil Taxis: Offers accessible taxis with ramps and spacious interiors.
  • Taxiin Algarve: Specializes in accessible transportation with vehicles equipped with ramps or lifts.

Rental Cars: A few car rental companies offer accessible vehicles with hand controls and ramps, ensuring that travelers with mobility needs can explore the Algarve region independently:

  • Auto Rent Algarve: Offers rental cars equipped with hand controls and ramps.
  • Adapted & Senior Tours Portugal: Provides accessible rental vehicles and tours with vehicles equipped with ramps and lifts.
  • Europcar: Offers accessible vehicle rentals with hand controls and other modifications.

Trains: Portugal’s train system has improved accessibility. Faro station is equipped with ramps and lifts, and many trains have accessible carriages. It’s best to inform the train company in advance to ensure assistance is available.

Attractions and Activities

Faro Municipality

Faro City

  • Village Arch: Monumental neo-classical archway leading to the old town, with remains of the original Moorish wall. The area around the arch has paved pathways that are mostly level, making it accessible for wheelchair users.
  • Church of Carmo and Shrine to Lady of Carmo: Built out of the skulls and bones of monks. The church has a ramped entrance, and while the interior has some steps, parts of the main floor are accessible.

Olhão: Fishing Town

  • Mercados de Olhão: Market with Arab design and influences. The market area is spacious with wide aisles, allowing easy maneuverability for wheelchairs. The main entrances are ramped.
  • Natural Park of Ria Formosa: A protected area with beautiful scenery and accessible walking paths. There are dedicated accessible trails with compacted surfaces suitable for wheelchairs.

Portimão Municipality

Portimão Town

  • Praia da Rocha: Perhaps the biggest beach in the area with accessible boardwalks and designated wheelchair access points. There are beach wheelchairs available for rent.
  • Megalithic Monuments of Alcalar and Interpretation Center: Not every area is accessible, but it is possible for some to wheel on the cobblestone path and get closer to some areas. The interpretation center has ramps and accessible exhibits.
  • Museum of Portimão: Features archeology and underwater findings in the region of Portimão, Portugal. The museum is fully accessible with ramps and elevators.
  • Fortress of Santa Catarina de Ribamar: A medieval-style fort with some barrier-free access for travelers with wheelchairs. The entrance and main viewing areas are accessible.
  • Tempo Theatre: A modern venue with seasonal performances. The theater has wheelchair-accessible seating and restrooms.

Alvor Beach Parish

Lagoa Municipality

Lagoa City

  • Benagil Caves: One of the most famous sites in Portugal. For some traveling with a wheelchair, the best chance of seeing this attraction is on a boat tour. A manual wheelchair is required as crew members have to physically pick up and lift someone into the boat. While I was there, I tried the boat tour with Emotions.
  • Church of Our Lady of the Light (Lagoa Igreja Matriz): A beautiful historic church with a level entrance.
  • Centro Cultural Convento de San José: Has barrier-free pathways that may be accessed by wheelchair using ramps and lifts, but not all areas are accessible. A wheelchair accessible toilet with grab-bars is available onsite, though the location of the toilet may be a tight transfer for some.

Estômbar Parish

  • Church of Saint James: A historic church with a ramped entrance and accessible interior areas.

Porches Parish

  • Fort of Nossa Senhora da Rocha: A historic fort with scenic views. The pathway to the fort is accessible, though some areas may have uneven surfaces.
  • Pottery Algarve: Known for its traditional pottery and ceramics, the shop has a ramped entrance and spacious interior for easy access.

Lagos (Municipality)

Lagos City

  • Wall of Lagos: Historic walls surrounding the old town with accessible pathways leading to the top for panoramic views.
  • Igreja de São Sebastião: National Monument with a ramped entrance and accessible interior.
  • Church of Santo António: A beautiful baroque church with some accessible areas.
  • Statue of Prince Henrique the Navigator: A tribute to the famous explorer with accessible paths around the statue.
  • Luz de Lagos: A scenic area with accessible pathways.
  • Monte da Casteleja: Offers organic wine tasting with accessible facilities, including ramps and accessible restrooms. The tasting area is spacious, and staff are available to assist as needed.

Loulé (Municipality)

Loulé City

  • Castle of Loulé: A national monument with accessible areas and a ramped entrance.
  • Loulé Market: A bustling market with a variety of goods, accessible via wide aisles and ramps.

Vilamoura Town: Scenic Tourist Area

  • Roman Ruins at Cerro da Vila: Also has a museum with accessible pathways and ramps.
  • Vilamoura Marina: With accessible facilities, including ramps and accessible restrooms. Several waterfront restaurants offer accessible dining options, with outdoor seating and spacious interiors.

Almancil Town

  • Church of São Lourenço: Known for its beautiful artistic tiles and accessible entrance.

Alte Town

  • Igreja Matriz de Alte: Small Catholic church with a barrier-free front entrance. Gold shrines inside.

Monchique (Municipality)

Monchique Parish

  • Caldas de Monchique: Known for its thermal springs and accessible areas. The main pathways and some of the pools have ramps and handrails.
  • Mount Fóia: The highest point in the Algarve with accessible viewing points.
  • Parque da Mina: A park with accessible pathways and beautiful scenery.

Silves (Municipality)

Silves City

  • Silves Castle: An example of Arab military architecture with some accessible areas. There are ramps leading to the main parts of the castle.
  • Silves Cathedral: A historic cathedral with accessible pathways.
  • Council Museum of Archeology and the Cross of Portugal: Accessible museum with historical artifacts and ramps.
  • Quinta do Francês Winery: Offers wine tasting with accessible facilities and pathways. The winery has ramps and accessible restrooms, and staff are available to assist with tastings and tours.

Tavira (Municipality)

Tavira Town

  • Castle of Tavira: A historic castle with accessible pathways and ramps.
  • Church of Santa Maria do Castelo and Santiago: Beautiful churches with some accessible areas.
  • Roman Bridge from the 14th century: Scenic views with accessible pathways.

Vila do Bispo (Municipality)

  • Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Conceição: A historic church with accessible pathways.
  • Lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente: A fortress on Sagres Point and the most southwesterly point of Europe, though Cabo da Roca is officially the most western point of all of Europe. Nonetheless, up until the 14th century, Cabo de São Vicente was thought to be the end of the known world. The lighthouse area has accessible pathways, ramps, and an accessible toilet (ask the nearby cafe for the key).

Vila Real de Santa António (Municipality)

  • Vila Nova de Cacela (Parish): Scenic parish with accessible pathways and ramps.
  • Cacela Velha Village: Beautiful panoramic view of Ria Formosa and the sea. Visit local shops for crafts, artifacts, etc. The village has accessible paths and ramps.
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