Portugal’s mesmerising city of Faro is often overlooked, compared to its bustling capital Lisbon or second-largest city of Porto. However, spend just a few days in this stunning city and you’ll find that it has so much more to offer than simply its port.
With this in mind, if you’re considering a trip to Faro, here are our top tips to enhance your stay and make this a trip you won’t forget.
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Hire a car for ease
Faro is relatively easy to drive around, and with car hire in Faro available from the airport you can start exploring almost immediately. Faro itself is situated on Portugal’s southern coast with stunning routes to discover up to Lisbon, which can be reached in around two hours and Lagos to the west which is just over an hour away by car. Designate a couple of days to exploring Faro itself and then perhaps venture further afield to see more of the country.
Wander the old town
Faro is a perfect blend of historic architecture, melded with modern life. The streets of its Old Town are a joy to explore with cobbled paths and stone structures offering a glimpse of how the residents once lived. It’s the ideal location if you’re looking to get away from your typical European beach holiday, offering a little culture to immerse yourself in. Stop off at one of the many cafes and bars to refuel, tuck into delicious pastel de nata (delicious custard tarts that are perfectly baked) and strong coffee.
Head to the beach
Spend a day soaking up the sunshine on one of the three beaches near Faro. These sandy spots will require a little more forethought and effort to reach than your typical beach, as they are not located within walking distance of the city. Instead, they can be found on three sandbar islands close to the city’s coastline.
Faro’s beaches are much quieter than many you’ll find in the Algarve, offering you the chance to take a dip in the sea and nap in the sun unbothered. Praia de Faro is a popular choice for many and is accessible by road – ideal if you’ve hired a car. You’ll find watersports to try, plus a selection of cafes and bars along this 10km beach, making it the perfect spot to spend a day relaxing.
See the stunning Igreja do Carmo church
This impressive Baroque structure never fails to amaze both locals and tourists alike with its magnificent twin bell towers and grand gold-gilded interior. But what makes this church perhaps the most interesting is the Chapel of Bones, which can be entered through the back of the church and was constructed using thousands of bones and skulls exhumed from the church’s graveyard in the 16th Century. Inside, it is reminiscent of Paris’s catacombs, with an eerie but fascinating atmosphere that has to be experienced to be believed.
Visit Ria Formosa nature reserve
For those who love nothing more than to immerse themselves in natural beauty and enjoy long walks in stunning scenery, a trip to Ria Formosa is a must. This sprawling nature reserve is made up of 18,000 hectares of marshland, lagoons and islets and channels. You’ll spot a myriad of wildlife during your visit including flamingoes and in the waters one of the largest seahorse populations in the world. If you don’t fancy walking, there are also boat rides available to book onto or you could hire a kayak to get up close and personal with the wonders of this stunning reserve.
Discover Roman ruins
Just ten minutes away from Faro by car, take a trip to Milreu Roman remains where you can walk through hundreds of years of history laid out before you. See almost intact mosaics, created in Roman times and stop by impressive ruined temples and the foundations of a villa that once stood on the site. It’s an incredible location to take a moment and remember what came before us and what we have to thank the Roman innovators for still today.
Sample the local cuisine
While in Faro you have to visit the local eateries to sample some of the city’s very best dishes. Expect sumptuous, fresh seafood every day of the week from clams to shellfish. Caldeirada is a popular dish, it is a warming fish and seafood stew featuring everything from cod and hake to squid, mussels and tuna. It’s delicious when served with warm bread and a glass of white wine.