Charming Faro is the colourful capital of Portugal’s Algarve region. Many of the area’s visitors fly in and out of this city without stopping in to see its eclectic treasures – and they’re missing out. Among the tangle of cobbled streets, there are enchanting eateries, fascinating time-worn sights and bags of Portuguese charm added in for good measure.
Whether it’s laid-back days soaking up the culture in the sun or history-filled adventures, this multi-cultural hub has a little something for everyone. Plan your days and squeeze in as many attractions as possible or simply get lost in the winding alleyways and discover hidden gems at your own pace.
Here’s just a handful of the best things to do in Faro
Step back in time through Arco da Vila
Just next to the harbour, you’ll find the grand entrance to the Old Town. Stroll up to this neo-classical archway, passing groups of locals catching up over a game of cards on the park benches. It was built at the start of the 19th century but remains of the original Moorish walls can also be seen.
Wander Cidade de Velha
Once through the archway, you’re into the Cidade de Velha – the Old Town. The cobbled streets are lined with quaint cafés and shops selling souvenirs and traditional, hand-painted ceramic tiles. You can also expect live music and various cultural events taking place in open-air courtyards. Remember to look up above the tall buildings and you’ll be amazed by the huge bird’s nests that have been built by storks.
Discover the Sé
The charming cathedral dominates the Old Town, standing tall against the other buildings with its huge green iron gates and pretty yellow arches that lead to leafy gardens. Inside, the walls are clad in traditional azulejos and the altar is a glimmering gold. If you’ve got time, climb the steep stairs up to the roof for unmissable views across Faro. Don’t be disheartened if you’re visiting while a service is taking place though, the faint tones of the baroque pipe organ can be heard from outside.
Have a pastel de nata pit-stop
These dense custard tarts are a Portuguese staple, so stop by a casual café and blend in with the locals. A pastel de nata is a small cup of flaky pastry filled with creamy custard and a hint of cinnamon, finished off with a crispy, caramelised top. Enjoy with a fresh coffee and grab a seat by the window so you can people-watch until your heart’s content.
Explore Ria Formosa Natural Park
Snaking down towards the coast, the vast Ria Formosa Natural Park is prime for adventures. This marshland of saltwater lagoons and mudflats stretches as far as the eye can see, 18,000 hectares to be exact, and it’s a stark contrast from the city’s bustling streets. These unusual islands are home to a huge variety of colourful creatures, including rare species of chameleons and seahorses as well as thousands of birds. Why not hop on a boat to see them up-close?
Get snap happy at the Faro sign
Love capturing that unique photo that’s guaranteed to wow on Instagram? Head down to the marina and pose with the ‘I Heart Faro’ sign. With yachts and fishing boats as the backdrop, it’s the perfect place to commemorate your trip. Lean against the giant heart, sit on top of the letter ‘F’ or climb inside the letter ‘O’ - the more creative the better! It’s especially pretty if you time it right and catch the deep red and orangey hues of the sunset behind it.
This truly unique city is ideal if you’re looking to do a bit of everything during your Portuguese getaway. Now you’re clued up on the best things to do in Faro, what are you waiting for?
Posted: 1st Apr 2019.