June 18, 2024
Faro Travel Guide: Journey to the Capital of the Algarve, Portugal

Nestled in Portugal’s Algarve region, Faro is a charming city with a rich history, culture, and natural beauty. As the gateway to the Algarve, Faro makes a fantastic base to explore the region. It’s one of the most popular holiday destinations in Portugal.

Here is your essential Faro travel guide to discovering this captivating city.

Getting into Faro City Center from the Airport

Faro Airport is just 3 miles from the city centre, making it easily accessible. You can take a bus (lines 14 and 16), taxi or rent a car to get into the city. The bus stops at the Faro bus station and the trip takes about 20 minutes. Faro airport taxi is also available 24 hours and takes around 10 minutes to the city centre.

Exploring Faro’s Historical Center

Faro’s historic centre, called Cidade Velha, is encircled by medieval walls that date back to the 9th century. One of the main entrances to the old town is Arco da Vila, a gate built in the 18th century. Inside the walls, you’ll find charming cobblestone streets, restaurants, shops and historic attractions like the Faro Cathedral.

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Discover Faro Cathedral and Its History

The centrepiece of Faro’s Cidade Velha is the Faro Cathedral, also known as Sé Cathedral. Built-in the 13th century, the cathedral has gone through many architectural changes over time with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. Climb the cathedral’s bell tower for panoramic views of the old town.

Cruise Through the Natural Scenery of Ria Formosa

Just a 15-minute drive from Faro city centre lies the Ria Formosa Natural Park, an estuarine system that stretches along the coast. The best way to explore the scenic lagoons and marshes is on a boat tour. You’ll spot a variety of birds, from herons to flamingos, and get to visit some of the park’s barrier islands.

Discover Faro’s Hidden Beach Gems

While Faro Beach right in the city is widespread, head to the nearby barrier islands in Ria Formosa for a more secluded beach getaway. Ilha da Barreta, also known as Desert Island, has miles of undeveloped beaches and dunes. Ilha de Faro, only a short ferry ride from Faro, also offers scenic beaches without the big crowds.

Learn About Algarve’s History at Faro Municipal Museum

Faro Municipal Museum houses artworks, archaeological artefacts, and ecclesiastical pieces representing the region’s history. You’ll find everything from Roman-era sculptures to Renaissance art. The museum is set within Faro’s old convent of Nossa Senhora da Assunção.

Stroll Along Faro’s Medieval Walls

For panoramic views of the city, walk along Muralhas de Faro, the ramparts that surround Faro’s Cidade Velha. The medieval walls were built between the 10th to 14th centuries to protect the town. You can walk or bike the mile-long cobblestone path along the top of the walls.

Discover the appeal of Praia de Faro Beach

The long stretch of golden sand at Praia de Faro offers an enjoyable beach escape right in the city. Backed by scenic sandstone cliffs, the beach has food stands, bars, and watersports during the summer. The beach gets especially vibrant during beach parties where you can dance to music and enjoy beach bonfires. Praia de Faro is a popular spot to watch the sunset in Faro.

Indulge in Fresh Seafood and Local Cuisine

As a coastal city, Faro offers amazing seafood like fresh grilled fish, cataplana (seafood stew), and amêijoas (clams). For a classic Portuguese meal, try bacalhau (salted cod), porco preto (Iberian black pork), or frango piri piri (spicy chicken). Wash it all down with a glass of local Algarve wine.

Some recommended restaurants in Faro include:

  • Adega Alvarinho: Casual space is known for delicious seafood, meats and homemade desserts. They have a great value lunch menu.
  • Faz Gostos: Upscale restaurant featuring creative takes on traditional Algarve cuisine with local market-fresh ingredients. Amazing wine list.
  • Tertúlia Algarvia: Traditional space where locals go. Seafood rice, fish stew, pork with clams, and another homestyle fare. Very budget-friendly.
  • Chef Oliveira: Highly-rated seafood and traditional Portuguese restaurant. Fresh seafood and meats are grilled in their wood-burning oven. Space fills up quickly so go early.

Where to Stay in Faro

Faro has hotels for all budgets, from upscale beach resorts to budget guesthouses. For a central location in the historic centre, check out:

  • Hotel Mónaco: Stylish boutique hotel set within restored historic buildings. The rooftop lounge bar offers views of the old town.
  • Hotel Eva: Popular 3-star hotel with curb appeal just a few minutes walk from Arco da Vila. Outdoor pool, lounge areas and garden courtyard.
  • Albergaria Catedral: Charming guesthouse in a renovated building from the 1930s. Some rooms offer views of Faro Cathedral. Excellent value and walkable to major attractions.

For a beach escape, stay along Praia de Faro or one of the barrier islands in Ria Formosa, such as:

  • Porto de Mós Apartments: Beachfront apartments with contemporary design, outdoor pool and direct access to Praia de Mós beach. For a relaxing self-catering holiday.
  • Ria Hostel Algarve: Backpacker hostel on Ilha da Cuada, a car-free barrier island. Private rooms and shared dorms. Surrounded by scenic beaches and nature trails. Need to take a short ferry ride from Faro. Budget-friendly spot for an island getaway.

Faro captivates visitors with its rich history, natural scenery and authentic Algarve cuisine. Use this Faro travel guide to discover why this charming capital city of the Algarve is worth adding to your Portugal itinerary. We recommended a Faro airport taxi for the transport from the airport to the city centre.