What to do in Faro?

Faro is a historic and culturally rich city that boasts a variety of fascinating tourist attractions. Sadly, Faro is often overlooked, considered purely for its airport, but spend time in Faro, and you will discover a charming and authentic Portuguese city.

The delightful historic center (the Cidade Velha) of Faro is encircled by ancient city walls and contains a Gothic cathedral, the Paço Episcopal palace and pretty cobbled backstreets. Outside of the city wall is a modern city center, with pedestrian shopping streets, scenic plazas and variety of restaurants and bars.

South of Faro is the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a series of saltwater lagoons and mudflats, which are a haven for migratory birds and wildlife. Along the seaward side of the Ria Formosa are three sandbar islands, and these are the location of Faro's pristine beaches.

Faro is a like able city, and will appeal to a wide selection of visitors. This article will provide a tourist guide to Faro, either for a day trip or a holiday.

Faro is one of the most popular day trips of the central Algarve region, and is highly recommended if you are on holiday in Albufeira, Vilamoura or Quarteira. Contained within Faro are numerous historic monuments, while the city has a distinctive Portuguese atmosphere, and is very different to the hectic resort towns.

A typical day trip to Faro would spend half of the day exploring the old quarter and the second half in the city centre, and this would include the Bone Chapel.

The historic centre of Faro, as seen from the water

For an alternative day trip, you could join a boat tour of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, which visits the fishing community of Culatra or the deserted island of Ilha Deserta.

Highlights of Faro city
• The Gothic Se cathedral and view from the tower
• The neoclassical Arco da Vila gate, set within the ancient Moorish city walls
• The macabre bone chapel, lined with the bones of over 1,000 monks
• The peaceful Jardim Manuel Bivar plaza

Highlights of a holiday to Faro
• A boat tour of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
• The deserted beaches of the Ilha Deserta
• The small fishing community on the Ilha da Culatra
• The bustling summer beach resort of Praia de Faro

Faro has no beaches which are within walking distance of the city center, this is not a city for a beach holiday.

Faro offers history and culture, along with a varied selection of cafes, restaurants and bars. Being a major city there is decent nightlife and this tends to be aimed for Portuguese patrons, rather than foreign tourists.

By day Faro has an unhurried and calm ambiance, but by night there is a surprising buzzing and social nightlife.