The best guide to Faro

by Giddioso Travel Guides

How about: Faro Intro > Faro Sights > Faro Beach > Airport to Faro > Faro in 3 days > Day trip to Faro

Faro sightseeing, sights, activities and things to do and see

Faro is often overlooked and underrated as a holiday destination but there is a lot to love about this ancient and vibrant city. Faro has a delightful walled old town, it was historically the religious centre for the Algarve and is the gateway to the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa and its pristine beaches.

There is a surprising amount to do and see in Faro and this guide will detail the most popular activities for a holiday or short stay within Faro. For those tourists who are visiting Faro as a day and wish information about main sights of the city should view this guide – A day trip to Faro.

Faro city walls

The city walls of Faro

Popular activities for a holiday to Faro

Exploring the old Town

Faro’s extensive history is reflected in the varied sights and monuments of the old town and a half day can be easily filled exploring this delightful section of the city. The historic centre is encircled by ancient city walls, and once entered via decorative Arco do Vila gate cobbled streets lead up to the gothic Se cathedral, Paco Episcopal palace and the Nossa Senhora convent.

Se Plaza in Faro

The historic centre of Faro

Visit the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa

The Ria Formosa nature park protects the mud flats and salt waters lagoons between the sand bar islands and the mainland. These sheltered waterways are a haven for migratory birds, small marine life and supports tradition means of fishing for clams. There are many different options to explore the Ria Formosa, the most popular is via tour boats which depart from Faro harbour, other options include kayak tours or on foot (from Olhao or Praia de Faro).

Ria Formosa

The Ria Formosa tidal flats

Don’t forget the beaches

Faro is not renowned for its beaches as they are not within walking distance of the city centre but the Praia de Faro is a wonderful sandy beach and served by a direct bus service. Praia de Faro is on the opposite side of the airport and is surprisingly quiet outside of the short Portuguese summer season as it is virtually unknown by foreign tourists. For a guide to the beach please click here.

Praia de Faro

Praia de Faro is a great sandy beach very close to the airport

The deserted islands

The two sand bar islands south of Faro offer some of the most pristine and unspoilt beaches found in the Algarve. One of the islands is referred to as the Ilha Deserta (the deserted island) as there is no development apart from a single restaurant. Both islands provide beautiful beaches, undisturbed beach walks and a chance to completely escape the crowds of the Algarve. To reach the islands ferries (and tour boats) depart from the harbour in Faro.

Faro ferry

A Faro ferry on the way to the Ilha da Culatra

The Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones)

The most macabre but truly unique sight of Faro is the Capela dos Ossos, the chapel of the bones. This small chapel is lined with the bones of monks that were exhumed from Faro’s graves and their skulls look down and tourists from the walls and ceilings. The chapel has the bones of more than one thousand monks who were buried in the graveyard.

Capela dos Ossos in Faro

A skull in the Capela dos Ossos

Excursion to Estoi

Estoi is a delightful village 10km north of Faro which is famed for its beautiful pink palace (Palacio de Estoi) and the Roman ruins. The Palace of Estoi dates from 1909 and was a sumptuous private residence with beautiful gardens filled with classical azulejos tiles. The palace has been returned to it’s former glory, after years of neglect, by converting it into an exclusive hotel but it can be stilled visited.

Palácio de Estoi

The beautiful azulejos tiles of the Palácio de Estoi gardens

The Roman ruins include a mansion (Villa of Milreu) and a small temple, within the complex are wonderfully preserved mosaics, partial due to house be built over the original Roman building! For a guide to day trip to Estoi please click here.

Roman villa of Milreu

A traditional Portuguese house was built on top of the Roman Villa

Day trips from Faro

Faro has excellent public transport and from the city it is possible to visit almost the entire Algarve. Interesting day trips to the east include the historic city of Tavira and the fishing port of Olhão, both of which can be reach via train. To the west is the exclusive resort town of Vilamoura and the modest resort of Quarteira, these are connected to Faro by bus. Inland is the market town of Loule, which is again reached via bus. The number of varied day trips from Faro means that it could be used as a central base from which to explore the region and fill an extended holiday.

town hall of Loule

The town hall of Loule

Faro Shopping and Café culture

Faro is a large cosmopolitan city with shops, cafes and restaurants designed for Portuguese clientele, not tourists on holiday. The best place to embrace the café culture, and also do a bit of shopping is along the pedestrianised Rua de Santo António.

Cataplana stew

Cataplana is a declious sea food stew

The Best Guide to Faro