Faro is a fantastic holiday destination, and the perfect place to visit if you want to explore the Algarve. There is plenty to see and do no matter what you’re interested in, with cities rich in history and culture, great places to eat and spend a night out, and beautiful beaches with golden sands and clear waters. We’ve put together a list of five of the wonderful places across the Algarve that are easy to reach if you’re staying in Faro.
Ria Formosa Natural Park
The Ria Formosa Natural Park is a beautiful collection of three sandbar islands, canals, islands, swamps and sandbanks that can be seen as you fly to Faro Airport. This incredible destination was voted one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal, and is also home to birds and wildlife including flamingos, cranes and much more.
You can explore the waterways of the Ria Formosa on one of the many boat tours, or discover the beautiful beaches and sandbanks. The boat trips usually leave from Faro harbour. Thanks to its proximity to many towns and cities across the Algarve, the Ria Formosa Natural Park is easy to get to and is approximately 10 minutes away from Olhão.
Ilha Deserta Beach
The Ilha Deserta beach (also known as Ilha da Barreta) is another stunning example of the Algarve’s beaches. As well as being a beautiful place to soak up some sun, the Ilha Deserta has a unique attraction – it is the only uninhabited island close to the Ria Formosa. Nobody lives on the island, and the isolated location means the beach is much quieter than mainland destinations. The name itself (Ilha Deserta) actually translates to “Deserted Island”. Ilha da Barreta is the name of the island, but Ilha Deserta is a popular nickname given to it by the locals.
This does mean that you will need to take a boat to get to the island, but the trip is not a long one. Make sure you keep an eye on the time though, as the last boat from the island leaves at 5.30pm and you’ll be in for a tricky time getting back to the mainland. There is a restaurant that serves food and drinks, but there are no other facilities on the island. If you’re planning a trip to the Ilha Deserta, make sure you come prepared!
Historic Town of Loule
As well as beautiful beaches and great scenery, Faro and the Algarve is home to fantastic towns and cities that are rich in history, culture and traditional architecture. Loule is one of the most popular places to visit in the central Algarve, home to a number of historic monuments including a Moorish-inspired covered market, the Museu Municipal museum, a castle and the beautiful Conceição chapel.
There are also great restaurants, hotels, shops and cobbled streets to explore. Thanks to its compact size, Loule is an ideal place to spend the day and is only 40 minutes from Faro by bus. If you want to see the covered market, make sure to go on a Saturday. If you like to hike, there is also the Nossa Senhora da Piedade church that offers panoramic views when you reach the top.
Tavira is another historic Moorish town close to Faro and is often considered one of the prettiest towns in the Algarve. It is also referred to as “The Venice of the Algarve” thanks to its beautiful waterways and renaissance churches. There is a large Roman bridge and an old castle on a hill that overlooks the town. You can explore the cobbled streets of the old town by foot, or go kayaking on the river.
The town is easily reachable from Faro, making it a perfect destination for a day out. Tavira is approximately three kilometres inland, and takes just half an hour to drive to from Faro. There are also train and bus services available, with some routes taking up to an hour.
Lagos is a popular historic city situated on the western end of the Algarve coastline and known for its picturesque town centre, restaurants, buzzing nightlife, beaches and more. The old town is home to historic churches, cobbled streets and 16th century town walls, as well as a number of other historic sites.
The city is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve, and it is easy to see why. Lagos is just over 90 kilometres from Faro Airport and takes approximately one hour to reach by car. Public transport is available but limited, so it is often suggested that you drive there and hire a car. Buses and trains to Lagos are available, but there are limited daily departures and the journey takes close to two hours.