If you’re planning a trip to Portugal’s fabulous Faro but are lacking in inspiration, worry not! We have the perfect suggestions to satisfy everyone from the most die-hard sun seeker to the art-loving culture vulture.
As the capital of Portugal’s ever popular Algarve region, Faro is overflowing with things to see and do. With temperatures reaching the high teens through the winter and average temperatures regularly exceeding a scorching 30 degrees from June to September, Faro’s Mediterranean climate is ideal for anyone wanting to escape the British winter chill or to take advantage of continental Europe’s great summer weather.
Praia de Faro is Faro’s most easily accessible beach, and is a short bus ride from the centre of Faro. Other beaches are situated on the sand spits (‘ilhas’) in the area, and can be reached by ferry, which leave regularly from the pier in Porta Nova. These beaches feature idyllic stretches of white sand, and are great for a peaceful few hours of relaxation. The Ilha de Barreta is a particularly beautiful beach which doesn’t get too busy.
For anyone wanting to explore Portugal’s great outdoors, Faro is conveniently situated beside the Ria Formosa lagoon. It is a Portuguese Natural Park, and is visited by around 30,000 birds each year, so is a prime spot for birdwatchers. There are also bars and restaurants in the area if you want to get out of the city centre.
The old town is brimming with winding streets and outdoor cafes for a pitstop from the sun, where all sorts of traditional Portuguese dishes can be picked up. Food in Faro is reasonably priced, and it isn’t unusual for Faro’s residents to enjoy a full sit-down meal for lunch. People in Faro tend to be very laid-back, and there is a strong focus on fun and socialising. Cities in the Algarve are also known for serving up a variety of top quality Portuguese wines , so wine buffs can take advantage of the relatively cheap prices to try a tipple or two.
As for those looking for a spot of Portuguese culture or to learn a little more about the history of the area, there are some fascinating museums documenting the Algarve’s archaeological findings, cultural heritage and maritime history. These are a winner for curious kids and history-loving adults alike, and are a brilliant way to while away a few hours.
If you want to see some of the lesser-known parts of Faro, you might want to head to the forest close to the Praia de Faro. Here you can spot birds, butterflies and lizards, and is a secluded, serene place to go for a walk. If you hire a car in Faro you can explore the attractive whitewashed hillside town of Alte, which is around a 45 minute drive from Faro Airport. It’s surrounded by trees and feels authentically Portuguese, and is just 20 minutes from the beaches of Albufeira.
Faro Cathedral, in its Renaissance and Baroque style, is located in the heart of Faro’s medieval quarter, and is a must-see. The sprawling vistas of the Algarve can be observed by climbing the cathedral’s tower. Another rather more macabre experience is a trip to the Capela dos Ossos, decorated with the skulls and bones of more than 1,000 monks.
There are so many options in Faro that your only problem might be fitting it all in!