For millions of tourists each year, the Algarve in Portugal is a highly sought-after holiday destination. Its capital, Faro, is a city rich in culture and history and is also ideal for those seeking relaxation on the beach.
Faro feels slightly more Portuguese than the other resort towns and is often just passed through by tourists, which is a shame as it has so much to offer to holiday-goers. Here we’ve provided our complete Faro Portugal travel guide to the city to help you organise your well-deserved trip.
One of the more popular destinations to stay for tourists is Downtown Faro. The area is well known for its thriving nightlife scene and abundance of bars, restaurants and cafes. If you get the chance to visit here, you should most definitely try some of the local products, including the freshly made croissants at Pastelaria Gardy.
Cidade Velha, or the Old Town in English, is the historical hub of the city, protected by imperial walls from the 9th Century. The area is host to a number of hostels and hotels, small streets and classic regional houses.
For those wishing to stay close to the local fishermen’s boats or stunning summer yachts on the sea, the Marina de Faro is a beautiful location with plenty of things to do. There are typically lots of free shows and music concerts in the summer and an abundance of ice cream shops and cafes.
Top Attractions in Faro
In Faro, the main sights are all within walking distance of each other, meaning you can pack lots of activities into each day. At the top of the list is the Old Town, a beautiful location with great architecture, ancient cathedrals and delicious food. An ideal starting point is the Jardim Manuel Bivar which is close to the marina. From there, you can visit the Arco da Vila, which is home to the statue of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Patron Saint of Faro.
Not far from the Largo da Sé, the Cathedral of Faro offers breath-taking views of the Ria Formosa and surrounding areas. The cathedral was built in the 13th century and is an iconic piece of architecture in the city. If you can hack the 68 steps to the top, you won’t be disappointed.
Porta Nova is a tiny gate in the city wall that connects the old town to the waterfront, where you can see the boat tours and ferries depart. The oldest part of Faro’s old town, the gate makes for the perfect holiday photo before heading off on a ferry to one of the nearby islands.
Transportation in Faro
Faro airport is relatively small and easy to navigate, with the journey to most resorts usually lasting around 15 minutes. Do note that public transport from the airport can be infrequent, so it is recommended that you pre-book your Faro airport transfers to guarantee you get to your accommodation with ease.
Hiring a car will allow you to reach some of the more isolated and remote parts of the Algarve but is not necessary to make your way around Faro. The city has one bus station and one train station, which are both located in the centre. A lot of the sites here can be accessed easily by foot from either station, therefore getting around is relatively straightforward.
The Best Beaches in Faro
Faro is not typically considered a beach holiday destination but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its fair share of golden coastlines. The best beaches here are on found on the southern side of the three sandbar islands and cannot be accessed via walking.
The Ilha Deserta is an uninhabited island that can only be reached by boat. The beach here, Praia Da Ilha Deserta, stretches over 6km and is widely known for its crystal-clear water and pristine sandy coastline. There is also a wooden boardwalk that runs up the north part of the island, passing through beach shrubs.
On the northern side of Ilha da Culatra is a traditional fishing village and its two main beaches, Praia da Ilha da Culatra and Praia da Ilha do Farol. Farol beach is situated close to a spectacular lighthouse and is ideal for a family day trip. There are residents who live here permanently and several holiday homes, meaning it has a slightly higher tourist population than Culatra.
Culatra beach is sparsely developed and is essentially an empty beach, making it a great escape for those seeking a relaxing day out. However, a ferry ride from the mainland is required to reach these beaches, although this is usually only short.
The final beach, the Praia de Faro, is located on the Ilha de Faro and spans 5km of golden sands. It is only a mere five-minute drive from the airport and there is also a direct bus here. The area is home to several relaxed cafes and a few beach bars. This beach is often favoured by visitors due to its easy accessibility, particularly if it is a day trip.
We hope you have enjoyed this travel guide for Faro Portugal and that you enjoy your vacation!