The capital of the spectacular Algarve region, Faro boasts endless sunshine, beautiful beaches, a historic old town, delectable seafood, and activities both adventurous and leisurely. Once you touch down you can take Urbanas Bus (€2) #14 or #16 to get into the city centre in just under 20 minutes.
If you’re planning to explore some of Portugal’s other main attractions during your stay, Lisbon is roughly three hours away. Accessible by train (the fast train takes just under three hours or you could while away close to four with the Intercity option), bus (3 hours 45 minutes approx), or car (2 hours 45 minutes approx), there’s miles of breathtaking scenery and captivating stop offs along the way to Portugal’s capital. You also have the option to fly but at roughly €160 one way for a 45-minute flight, going by land is probably the best option.
Image used under Creative Commons from Bert Kaufmann
Surrounded by popular resorts such as Vilamoura, Quarteira and Albufeira (all approximately 30 minutes from Faro Airport), Faro is a city dripping in history. Having begun life as a settlement during the Palaeolithic Age, ownership of the city has changed hands from the Romans to the Moors to the Christians. To get a taste of Faro’s storied past, start your visit in the old part of the city, which is still enclosed by 9th century Roman walls.
From there, it’s a short walk to Freedom Square (Praça da Liberdade), the hub of Faro’s numerous museums including the Algarve Regional Museum, the Ramalho Ortigao Maritime Museum, and the Faro Archaeological Museum. All of these offer a great insight into life on the Algarve, both past and present.
Of course, beautiful beaches are Faro’s primary draw – though they do tend to get very crowded during high season. If you want to find somewhere more tranquil, you can hop on the ferry boat to Praia da Barreta, a very secluded beach on the nearby island of Ilha Deserta.
If golf is your thing, you’re in for a real treat. With almost guaranteed good weather and over 30 quality courses, the Algarve is a golfer’s paradise. Courses designed by Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus are just a stone’s throw away from the centre of Faro and visitors are always welcome.
Visitors with a sense of adventure should hit the local diving centre, Hidroespaco. After teaching you the basics, the centre’s knowledgeable divers can take you on an underwater voyage through Faro’s natural reefs. Highlights include examining shipwrecks and meeting Faro’s famous seahorses.
With all this activity it’s likely that you’ll work up an appetite. Luckily, Faro is packed with fine restaurants and cafés at prices that certainly won’t break the bank. The local cuisine is based around the fresh fish and seafood caught along 200 kilometres of coastline. Sardines, tuna, bream, monkfish, oysters, prawns, octopus and squid are all popular, and are usually grilled over a low charcoal fire. However, Faro is best known for its superior clams so don’t leave the city without sampling Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato (clams in white wine sauce). A glass of wine or beer over dinner is also great value at around €2.
Shopaholics should make tracks for Rua de Santo Antonio, Rua de Francisco Gomes, Rua de Portugal and the Galerias Faro for some unique independent boutiques and real bargains. Party animals tend to congregate around St. Peter’s Cathedral and then disperse into the clubs and bars on Rua Conselheiro Bivar, Rua Do Sao Pedro, Rua Do Compromiso and Rua Do Prior.