While Lisbon is probably the most popular destination in Portugal, the city of Faro is starting to increase in popularity. It used to be mostly a winter-sun destination for Brits, but with the many direct flights to Faro and Ryanair calling it a hub now, you can very easily and cheaply get here to enjoy the traditional Portugese culture alongside modern attractions.
In today’s trip report, let’s explore the best things to do in Faro, Portugal.
Faro’s old town (Cidade Velha or Centro Historico) is a must see and without a doubt the most popular attraction. Note the architecture, which is 18th century Portugese with Moorish-influence. Despite the popularity of the area, this district still has a relaxed feel.
Check out the Se, a museum that was a former templte, then cathedral, then mosque. Head up to the roof for great views. The Municipal Museum is another favorite, with some wonderful mosaics, paintings, and other priceless works. And one spot you’ll never forget is the Igreja do Carmo church – the bone and skull chapel is chilling but a must-experience.
But if you’re here for the beach, that’s the Praia de Faro. It’s just a quick bus trip away, and the beach has plenty of amenities, like windsufing shops, bars and coffee shops.
Day Trips from Faro
While Faro is great, there are tons of great things to see in the area. A couple of ideas for day trips from Faro:
- I’d suggest you start with any day trips from Faro by catching a boat tour from the Cais da Porta Nova. There are several which leave in the morning and spend a couple of hours exploring the shore. Great photo opportunities and time to enjoy some fun in the sun. The best tours head out to Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a wonderful marshland area.
- A quick train ride will also take you to the lovely medieval town of Tavira. It’s home to large town squares, a castsle, wonderful churches, and several historic museums. I love the architecture in Tavria – so beautiful.
If you rent a car and head towards the Atlantic, or north, you’ll find hundreds of small towns and villages, all quiet and peaceful, and empty beaches. You don’t have to go far to get off the beaten track.
The Algarve is known for cuisine – not only tasty fish dishes as well as yummy comfot fords. There are lots of markets around, the most famous being the indoor market in Loule. You’ll probably be near tired of fish by the end of your trip, because it is so yummy and so prevalent – ask what’s on special that day. A few things to try:
- Bean soup: Simple but yummy. I love it when they include a slice of pumpkin as well as some fresh mint on top.
- Sonhos de cenoura: The only way to describe this is carrot cake meets cinnamon & sugar doughnut. It’s so yummy – it’s a traditionally a Christmas dish. Pictured above.
- Tarte de frutos secos Algarvia: The algarve is known for cakes, and this nutty temptation is a must to perk up your afternoon.
- Molotofe: similar to flan, it’s an egg-white custard covered in caramel.
Where to Stay in Faro
Faro has accommodations that range from all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and beach bungalows, with far-ranging budgets to match. Here are a few suggested recommendations:
- Hotel Eva: This hotel was recently renovated and it is a charming hotel, planted right next to the harbor, giving you great views over the ocean and the city. Guests can enjoy the well-equipped gym on site or perhaps instead just relax on the rooftop swimming pool. The on site Piano Bar is great for cocktails, and enjoy some tasty food at the Rooftop Restaurant.
- Hotel Faro: Widely known for its panroamic restaurant Ria Formosa, the Hotel Faro has a great central location for exploring the city. In addition the clean rooms and good wifi connection, the hotel offers a free shuttle boat to Desert Island in the summer (Jun-Sept).
- Pousada Palacio De Estoi Hotel Faro: Pictured above, this very special hotel has many modern features in the ambience of an old world building. This was the former home of the Viscount of Estoi, and the building took 20 years to complete – finished in 1909. The location is superb, as you can imagine, with many on site features such as a spa, swimming pools, restaurant, and bar. All the rooms have balconies overlooking the lush gardens.