Located right in the heart of the southern coast, the city of Faro, in Portugal, is the gateway to the Algarve. A popular destination for sun-seekers from northern Europe, Faro has a reputation as being an overrun party beach town for much of the year. Visitors who use it as a base to explore the more remote areas of the Algarve in the off-season will experience much more of what southern Portugal has to offer; but those looking for no more than a tan and cocktails won’t be disappointed. Offering some 200km of stunning golden coastline, protected natural parkland, a whole host of historical, archaeological and architectural gems and some of the best recreational facilities available in Western Europe, it is easy to understand why the Algarve has gained the popularity it enjoys today.
How to get there?
Faro Airport – Many package tour and discount airlines arrive from the UK and Ireland, mainland Europe and Canada. There is a large group of Car hire agencies if you turn right after the main exit.
There is a daily bus service from Lisbon and Porto in the north of Portugal, as well as from Madrid and Seville in Spain. There are also many international buses which stop in Faro.
The Alpha Pendular, a high-speed train, runs at least twice a day to and from Lisbon. The Inter City trains run more frequently but take a little longer, with more stops – about 3.5 to 4 hours. There are also regional trains along the Algarve coast to Lagos.
What to do and see?
- Centro Historico – The Old City, or Cidade Velha, is a well-preserved section of town off the harbor with cobblestone streets and 18th century Portuguese and Moorish-influenced architecture. It is great place for a peaceful and almost private walk back in time in an area that has been virtually untouched by modernity.
Sé (Cathedral) – The Sé was completed in 1251, on what was probably the site of a Roman temple, then a Visigoth cathedral and then a Moorish mosque. Only the tower gate and several chapels remain of the original Romanesque-Gothic exterior – the rest was devoured in 1755.
Capela dos Ossos – it is an ossuary in Faro, Portugal, which belongs to the 18th century Carmelite church Nossa Senhora do Carmo. This small chapel is built of human bones and decorated with a golden skeleton.
Ilha de Faro – Faro’s main beach is a long, narrow sandy bar reached by a road that crosses the lagoon just south of Faro airport. A typical ‘ilha’ beach, Praia de Faro is a long sweep of sand with both a sea-facing side and a sheltered lagoon-facing side.
Museu Arqueológico – There is a small selection of very memorable museums within Faro. The Municipal Museum of Archaeology (Museu Municipal de Faro) is especially worthy of a visit and this attraction is easy to spot, since a prominent statue of King Afonso (Portugal’s king between 1249 and 1279) stands outside, holding a large crucifix.
- Ria Formosa – take a boat trip into the Ria Formosa – a nature reserve that stretches along the tip of Portugal into Spain. There are several options to explore the area and the boat leaves from the Marina.
Cuisine: Faro has restaurants, cafes and bars galore – some overlooking Faro marina, some overlooking Faro beach and some on the ilha beaches, Culatra, Farol and Ilha Deserta, apart from the multitude in the city itself. Obviously prices can vary depending on location and type of restaurant but we have found Faro generally to be very reasonably priced for eating out. It is common practice for Algarvians to enjoy a “proper” meal at lunchtimes and restaurant prices reflect this. The local gastronomy is based around the lovely fresh fish and seafood so readily available but meat is also very popular.
Nightlife: Faro’s nightlife is a reflection of this charming Portuguese city’s mixed heritage, an exciting combination of sedate eateries and lively bars, traditional entertainment and modern upbeat sounds. There are literally dozens of venues to choose from here, catering every musical taste and thanks to the student population prices are exceptionally reasonable for such a major Mediterranean destination. In many Mediterranean countries nightlife begins late and ends late, and Portugal is no exception.
Where to stay?
You can choose between different accommodation. Book here.