Whether you are interested in heading to the beach for surfing and watersports or learning more about the cultural history of the Algarve, Faro has a fascinating and diverse range of things to do.
Here is our guide to some of the top sights and attractions, to help keep you well-entertained during your holiday.
Without doubt one of Faro’s most stunning attractions is the Ria Formosa Natural Park. It is a beautiful coastal lagoon with several islands, and it has been voted one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.
You can explore the lagoon on boat tours with the opportunity for fantastic wildlife watching – or simply enjoying the view. Flamingos and purple swamphen are plentiful here, making Ria Formosa a paradise for birdwatchers.
Head to the beaches
Faro is close to three large beaches, set across the barrier islands of Ria Formosa. The most well-known and popular is Praia de Faro, which is the closest to the city and the only one of the three that is accessible by land.
This means it is the most developed and also the busiest – you can enjoy everything from sunbathing to watersports.
If you are looking for something a little different, you can catch a boat out to Ilha da Barretta, also known as Ilha Deserta. Here you will find a nine-kilometre stretch of virtually deserted beach.
Similarly, Ilha da Culatra has two tiny villages with no roads or cars, meaning the beaches are even quieter than Ilha Deserta.
Visit the museums
Faro has several museums and exhibitions showcasing different aspects of the history and culture of the city and the whole of the Algarve.
At the heart of the city is Museu Municipal, which charts the history of Faro including periods under Roman, Muslim and Christian rule, and how the area has evolved over time.
A little way outside the town centre is the Faro Jewish Heritage Centre. This is a cemetery that has 76 beautiful marble gravestones, as well as a tiny museum featuring artifacts and original furniture from an 1820 synagogue.
Explore the churches
Other major points of interest in the town are centred on the churches. Unquestionably worth a visit is Igreja do Carmo. It is pretty but unassuming from the outside, with a white façade and twin bell towers, and dates to 1719.
Nevertheless, the main reason to visit here is to see the rather macabre but captivating Capela dos Ossos – or Chapel of Bones.
Built using the bones and skulls of 1,245 monks buried in a nearby cemetery, the chapel was constructed in 1816 and is one of the city’s exceptional features.
For more cultural heritage you can visit the cathedral, known locally as Se de Faro. An impressive piece of 13th century architecture, it is one of the National Monuments of Portugal.
Excursions and day trips
Faro is also one of the Algarve’s major transport hubs, and makes for a fantastic base for day trips and excursions to other towns and attractions in the region.
Alternatively, if you head to the north you can find the village of Estoi, which is known for its eye-catching pink palace constructed in 1909.