Visiting Faro - What to See and Do
(Faro Airport FAO, Portugal)
Renowned for its surf, sun and party atmosphere, Faro
is the beating heart of the Algarve. The southern coast of Portugal
is blessed with an inspiring sub-tropical climate that simmers year round, and this city acts as its gateway. Despite the fact that many visitors use Faro as a base hub for exploring the Algarve's most important tourist treasures, the city itself is a fascinating holiday destination just waiting to impress.
The Old City is a worthwhile experience, boasting plenty of important historical attractions that add intrigue to a Faro sightseeing tour. Including Portuguese-derived architecture and Moorish-influenced structures, the downtown area is a location not to be missed.
Of course, most tourists head straight to the beachfront districts to bask in the glorious sunshine that radiates onto the city. The main beach, Praia de Faro, welcomes swimmers and sunbathers throughout the year. The sights of wild fauna, beautiful floral species and a unique natural landscape are the Rio Formosa's primary features. Boat trips can expediently reach these sites in a safe and friendly manner.
Ten things you must do in Faro
- Visitors can explore the Faro Jewish Heritage Centre attraction, which is the city's last remaining evidence of such communities in Portugal, post-Jewish Inquisition that is. During the 15th century, Jewish Portuguese fled the country to escape the inquisition and settled in Northern Africa. On their return, the community thrived once more. Even though local Jewish culture has diminished somewhat, this cemetery and its museum holds great significance for the faith in this part of Portugal.
- The city's great asset is its historical beauty. Tourists should take some time to stroll through the heart of the city and explore the marvellous streets of the Cidade Velha (Old Town). The cobblestone alleyways, lanes and streets are dotted with picturesque, medieval architecture. Visitors will feel as though they have soared back in time when they reach these central districts of Old Faro.
- Cool down in the Algarve's largest city by swimming at the Praia de Faro - the longest beach in the city. Despite its popularity, the beach is never really crowded, even at the weekend or on holidays. Toilets dot the top of the beach, but showers are non-existent. The beach is located close to the airport, so if tourists have to wait a long time for a flight, head to the Praia de Faro for a few hours.
- The Rio Formosa lagoon rests close to the city. Visitors need to take a ferry from the docks near the city centre. Journeys to the Rio Formosa, complete with stopovers, explorations and return trips, take somewhere between three and four hours. The lagoon is home to hundreds of different bird species and other forms of wildlife. It is only 10 km / 6 miles from downtown Faro.
- The Igreja do Carmo is not an overly famous church from the outside. However, on the inside, there are plenty of attractions to lure tourists. Despite the small entry fee, the Igreja do Carmo is worth the trip, as visitors will be enticed by the decorations. These consist mainly of skeletal remnants from the 1,200 monks that were once buried here.
- Enjoying the sights and sounds of the International Motorcycle Rally (late June or early July) is an ideal way to spend part of a holiday in the city. This is one of the largest events of its kind in Europe, so attracts plenty of participants and rally enthusiasts annually. It is best to book a hotel well in advance during this event.
- The annual Student's Festival in the middle of each May is a major attraction. With thousands of university students found throughout the city, Faro is the perfect place to host such a popular event. Tourists can also chime in on the festival. Music, food, performances and more are displayed for visitors to this important student-led event.
- Go shopping for just about anything at the Olhao Marketplace. Located just minutes to the east of downtown, this marketplace is a great spot to find a bargain and enjoy a local bite to eat. Bargaining is part of the market's culture, so visitors shouldn't feel uncomfortable when asking for a discount. It actually makes the experience even more enjoyable.
- The Marina of Faro is where many of the daily fishing and yachting activities launch, meaning that visitors will feel as though the marina is constantly on the go. Several fine restaurants are spotted along the waterfront, and plenty of fishing, cruises and sailing tours can be found within the area.
- Dance or simply drink through the night, as Faro has a relatively decent nightlife. Streets like the Rua do Prior are home to a magnificent array of relaxing, pumping or secluded bars and lounges where tourists can enjoy a drink, dance or both. Even though some of the clubs are more popular for university students and younger crowds, tourists of all ages are welcome to join.