Faro is often overlooked by visitors to the Algarve, assuming that this is purely the location of the airport and not much more. However, the cobbled streets of Faro’s town centre actually offer far more allure and culture that many of the more well-known resort towns in the region.
The oldest parts of the city, known to the locals as Vila Adentro, can be reached by passing through the towering Arco da Vila gate.
This area has an authentic Portuguese ambience. In addition to tranquil parks and charming plazas there are plenty of other attractions, ranging from museums and churches to outdoor cafés and restaurants, many specialising in seafood and local cuisine.
You can even see the remains of the ancient walls that once enclosed the whole of the city.
Some of the most interesting attractions include…
Capela dos Ossos
Translated literally as “Chapel of Bones”, the building was created using 1,245 human skulls and other bones taken from monks who were buried in a nearby cemetery.
It can be found at Igreja do Carmo, an 18th century church showcasing Rococo architecture and twin bell towers. The chapel itself is morbidly fascinating and the church is stunning.
Paco Episcopal Palace
The Episcopal Palace is one of the most memorable buildings – a grand white structure that remains the official residence of the Bishop.
Museu Municipal de Faro
Faro’s Municipal Museum showcases the history and cultural past of the city, set across three rooms detailing life under Roman rule, then Muslim occupation and finally Christian conquest in the 16th century.
Se de Faro
Faro Cathedral is one of the National Monuments of Portugal, having been constructed in the 13th century.
During an invasion by English troops in 1596, the cathedral was partially burned down – and it was re-built during the 18th century.
Today, it houses an impressive golden altar and a large pipe organ.
For a little retail therapy, The Forum is an open-air shopping centre with a range of international brands as well as local boutiques.
The centre also offers a cinema complex and a food court.
A charmingly petite theatre in the centre of the city, this was a 17th century Jesuit college that was converted and now hosts regular performances including classical groups and other traditional Portuguese music.
If there are no performances programmed you can enter without a ticket to take a look around.
Need to know more about Faro nightlife? Check out our guide here.