Faro is often overlooked by visitors to the Algarve, assuming that this is purely the location of the airport and nothing more. But the cobbled streets of Faro’s town centre actually offer far more intrigue and culture that many of the more famous 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.
The place has a truly Portuguese feel, and on top of quiet parks and charming plazas there are plenty of attractions ranging from museums and churches to outdoor cafes 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 The Chapel of Bones, this is a chapel made using 1,245 human skulls and other bones taken from monks who were buried in a nearby cemetery.
The chapel can be found at the Igreja do Carmo, an 18th century church showcasing Rococo architecture and twin bell towers. The chapel itself is morbidly fascinating and the church is beautiful.
Paco Episcopal Palace
The Episcopal Palace is one of the most memorable buildings – a grand white building 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 the Christian conquest in the 16th century with fascinating results.
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 was re-built through 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 features a cinema complex and a food court.
A charmingly petite theatre in the centre of the city – it’s well worth a visit. This was a 17th century Jesuit college that was converted and now hosts regular performances from classical groups and other traditional Portuguese music.
If there are no performances going on you can go in without a ticket to take a look around.
Need to know more about Faro nightlife? Check out our guide here.