To reach the Algarve from Lisbon—an easy 240-km (150-mile) drive south—cross the Ponte 25 de Abril and take the toll road to Setúbal. The A2 motorway runs directly south, eventually joining the A22, the Algarve’s main east–west route. To reach Portimão, Lagos, and the western Algarve, turn right; turn left for Faro and the eastern Algarve. The drive from Lisbon to Faro, Lagos, or Albufeira takes about three hours–-longer in summer, on weekends, and on holidays.

In the east, a suspension bridge crosses the Guadiana River between Ayamonte in Spain and Vila Real de Santo António in Portugal. The secondary east–west road, the N125, extends 165 km (102 miles) from the Spanish border all the way west to Sagres. It runs parallel to the coast and the A22, but slightly inland, with clearly marked turnoffs to the beach towns. Be very careful on this route, as it's one of Portugal’s most hazardous. In summer expect traffic jams in several places along it.

In inland areas, minor country roads aren't always well maintained. When driving at night in rural areas, look out for mopeds without lights. Signage throughout the region has, in recent years, been renewed and replaced.

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