It is an almost obligatory stopover when you arrive in Algarve
, the town of Faro is best known for being the starting point to the nearby seaside resorts. However, it would be a mistake not to stop there, at least for a day, to visit this magnificent city that is the capital of the Algarve. Here is a list of the must-do's when visiting the town of Faro.
>>> What to take with you on a trip to Algarve
The old town of Faro is surrounded by a medieval walled area, with cobbled streets and pretty buildings with colourful facades. You can reach it through the various gates located all around the town.
L'Arco da Vila
This is one of the gates leading to the entrance of the old town of Faro, where the remains of the original gate, built in the Middle Ages by Bishop Francisco Gomes do Avela, can still be seen. It was the entrance door for people arriving by sea.
Before you go inside the old town, don't hesitate to raise your head to admire the many storks nesting on the roofs of the building.
The cathédrale of Faro
Built-in 1251 by the Christians after having reconquered the city from the Moors, the cathedral was heavily damaged first by looting and fire by English privateers in 1596, then by the 1755 earthquake. You can climb to the top of the tower to enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the Ria Formosa. The cathedral is in the middle of a pretty square, surrounded by paths of orange trees.
Other churches in Faro are also worth a visit, including the unmissable Capela dos Ossos, decorated with the skeletons of over 1200 monks who served in the nearby Church of the Carmo. Also, visit the Igreja de Misericordia, built in the 16th century. It has the peculiarity of being one of the only buildings in the Algarve to be built in the shape of a Greek cross.
>>> The Capela Dos Ossos, the macabre and fascinating chapel of Faro
The Palacete Belmarço and the Arco do Repouso
Probably one of the most beautiful buildings in Faro, the Palacete Belmarço was a house built by a very rich merchant of the same name. Today it houses part of the town's administration. Continuing on to the Arco do Repouso, this is where you will find the oldest sections of the city wall. Around it, you can stroll through the small streets, especially in the Rua do Albergue with its slightly dilapidated façades, which are a testament to the charm of the city.
Stroll around the port of Faro
Leaving the old town through the Porta Nova, you can reach the promenade that runs along the railway and the city walls. This is where you will find many boats offering excursions to Ria Formosa. At sunset you will have a beautiful view of the lagoon and the small boats that have run aground due to the tide.
Praia de Faro
The beach is several kilometres long and is located next to the Ria Formosa Natural Park. It is easily accessible from the city thanks to the numerous buses in the surrounding area. You will be charmed by its relaxed and lively atmosphere, which is very popular with Portuguese tourists. Indeed, the beach has managed to preserve its authenticity by avoiding mass seaside constructions, nevertheless, you will find all the necessary services in terms of restaurants and nautical activities.
Don't be surprised by the water temperature, even at the height of summer, the water is colder than elsewhere, but it is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet break close to the city.
>>> The most beautiful beaches of Algarve
Things to do around Faro
After discovering the pretty town of Faro, you are now ready to discover the beautiful places that the Algarve region has to offer.
The Ria Formosa
Recently voted as one of Portugal's 7 natural wonders, it is a protected area of saltwater lagoons covering approximately 18,000 hectares. A true paradise for amateur ornithologists, it is an important living and feeding area for migratory birds and marine life. There are several possibilities to discover this beautiful place, you can take a guided walk, a boat trip, a kayak trip or a bicycle tour.
>>> Excursion to Ria Formosa
Picturesque villages around Faro
There are many typical and charming villages around Faro.
It is one of the most beautiful towns in the Algarve, situated along the River Gilao, offering a mixture of traditional Portuguese and Moorish heritage. You can stroll through the cobbled streets surrounded by traditional houses decorated with earthenware tiles. Located about 30km east of Faro, Tavira also boasts beautiful sandy beaches (Ilha de Tavira) and offers a quieter and more authentic setting than the towns to the west.
Located only 10km east of Faro, the coastal town of Olhao developed thanks to the fishing industry in the 17th century. Today it has kept its old-fashioned soul and is known for its fresh produce market. The old quarter of Olhao is typical of Moorish influence with its whitewashed houses. Nearby you will find the large and quiet sandy beaches of Ilha da Cultura and Ilha da Armona.
>>> Discover the charming city of Olhao