While a relatively provincial city, Faro is the capital of the Algarve, a modern and lively city, featuring many shopping opportunities, great food as well as a vibrant nightlife, all in all it’s a very exciting holiday destination.
A large majority of travelers to the Algarve will pass through Faro because this is where the local airport is situated, and Faro transfers from Faro Airport are available to reach a wide number of Algarve locations.
There are however those who choose to stay awhile around Faro and they are rewarded with the discovery of a charmful town, with an interesting history, and the feel of an actual Portuguese fishing port.
While the city definitely has an industrial feel to it, keep in mind this is a working city, not an Algarve resort, there are definitely sightseeing opportunities to be had here, especially in the Old Town or Cidade Velha.
One enters this part of Faro through an 18th century gate, which sets the mood for the area which is still enclosed by the remnants of the medieval walls which protected it in centuries past from attackers and raiders. Within the Old Town you will find possible the city’s most famous and by far its most macabre attraction, the Chapel of Bones, which can be found at the Igreja do Carmo. The chapel here decorated with the bones of more than 1,200 monks who lived here throughout the centuries, it is macabre and intriguing at the same time.
One other major sight that you must not miss if you stay in Faro for a few days, is the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which is near the city and also located a short distance away you can find the peaceful village of Estoi which features a strikingly pink Roccoco palace and Roman ruins which date from the 1st century.
Of course considering the fact that this is the Algarve, a wonderful beach won’t be far away, in fact only a few miles away a long sandy spit of beach awaits for you, across the bridge close to the airport. Reaching all of these places will be considerably easier if you choose to employ some Faro car hire services.
The city’s main shopping area is located right in the heart of town, better said it is located along the Rua Santo Antonia and the Rua Francisco Gomes. If you’re interested in mingling with the locals and trying out some of the local fresh produce, there’s a produce market on the Largo do Mercado open every day. Faro is also the place where you can get plenty of holiday buys such a traditional clothing, various handcrafts and local wines.
There’s a huge variety of restaurants and good food in Faro, the pedestrianized Rua de Santo Antonio which features a large number of eating establishments caters to all tastes and more importantly to all budgets. But you can’t stay in Faro without tasting the local seafood, especially since this is a port town; you should head for the Dois Irmaos, the city’s oldest seafood eatery where they only use the fresh catch of the day for their products.
Considering the fact that we are dealing with a university city, Faro has an extremely frenetic nightlife, fueled by the student population. The place to be at night is along the Rua do Prior and in the narrow alleys around Rua Conselheiro Bivar and Rua Infante Dom Henrique. The dance clubs here start around 11PM or even midnight and they will be open till morning. The bars on the other hand are open from about noon until the early hours.
When talking about visiting Faro it’s impossible to create a complete Faro guide because there are many things to talk about, and many more that will get left out.
In a nut-shell, the main tourist attractions of the town can be found in its old town, where holidaymakers interested in architecture and history can brush up on those notions. On the other hand there are quite a few solid museums in town as well, ideal for the culture vultures. However what has to be taken into consideration is that Faro Portugal isn’t an Algarve resort, it’s a working, bustling city, and thanks to the presence of the airport here, it is the gateway to the Algarve.
While a good beach is accessible, for more specified fun with sea and sand activities you have to travel to the more touristy coastal resorts.