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A Guide to Faro: the Algarve’s capital city

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Although Faro is just a 15 minute drive from Faro Airport, most people visiting the Algarve drive right past and head to resort towns on the Central Algarve like Albufeira and Carvoreiro instead.

Faro is definitely worth visiting, though. It’s the capital of the Algarve, and also the largest city on the Algarve as well (although the population isn’t huge: around 65,000 people). That doesn’t mean you should expect high rises and commercial skyscrapers: Faro’s architecture is characterised by fishermen’s cottages and other small buildings with a faded glamour feel.

The city centre is walkable and many parts have been pedestrianised, although many of the narrow streets have equally narrow pavements. Along these streets you’ll find plenty of cafés, restaurants, and bars to whittle away an afternoon in. If you’d prefer to actually get out and see and to do things, Faro has plenty to offer from cathedrals and historical buildings to boat trips along the Ria Formosa.

Although Faro is overlooked by most tourists visiting the Algarve, this is another good reason to visit. There are a few streets with eager waiters standing outside with menus, but otherwise Faro is a lot less affected by tourism than many other Algarve towns. In fact, the whole of the Eastern Algarve is less popular than many of the more central towns on the Algarve.

What Faro lacks, and probably what puts many tourists off staying there, is a beach that you can easily walk to. Praia de Faro is easily accessible by car, around 15 minutes drive, but otherwise you have to take a bus or ferry to get there. The bus takes less than half an hour, and there are regular services throughout the day, but not being able to stroll down to the beach makes this town less attractive to many tourists.

Praia de Faro isn’t the only beach near Faro and, if you’re willing to take a boat, you can easily get to less touristic beaches like Praia de Farol and the very deserted beaches on Ilha Deserta. Taking a boat isn’t actually a chore: a boat trip through the islands near Faro is one of the top things to do in Faro.

Ria formosa

Putting Faro on the Map

Faro is situated in the Central Algarve, although only just: it pretty much sits on the invisible border between what’s considered the “Central Algarve” and what’s considered the “Eastern Algarve.”

It’s not really that far from Spain, and a day trip to Spain is definitely recommended: you can easily get to Seville and back in a day. Faro Airport is around 15 minutes by car from Faro, making it one of the most convenient Algarve towns to stay in. Praia de Faro, the nearest beach, is around 15 minutes by car or 30 on a bus.

Hotels & Accomodation in Faro

Budget

  • Rialgarve – Situated 3km from Faro, this budget hotel offers a swimming pool and several great options for keeping fit including tennis and basketball courts, a gym, and a football pitch.
  • Hotel Aeromar – The only Faro hotel that’s situated directly near the beach. Accommodation is slightly dated, but otherwise good.
  • Sunlight House – Just 2 minutes from Faro’s Old Town, and 500m from Faro Marina, Sunlight House offers affordable accommodation in a great central location. Amenities include free Wi-Fi in all the rooms and a terrace that looks out over the coast.
  • Baixa Terrace Hostel – One of Faro’s most popular and best-rated hostels, Baixa Terrace Hostel is ideally-located in the heart of Faro.

Mid-range

  • Hotel Dom Bernardo – Simple hotel accommodation in the heart of Faro. Rooms have flat-screen TVs and Wi-Fi access.
  • Casa de Estoi Faro – Located outside of Faro (in Estoi), this charming guesthouse offers beautiful stylish accommodation that blends traditional Portuguese and modern designs.

Splurge

  • Eva Hotel – Situated in Central Faro, this spa hotel offers relaxing amenities like Turkish baths, massages, spa treatments, and a rooftop swimming pool.
  • Opus One – A boutique guesthouse offering luxury B&B accommodation in the centre of Faro.
  • Pousada Palacio de Estoi – A luxurious hotel situated 10km outside of Faro, Pousada Palacio de Estoi is a member of the ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World’ group.

Want more options? Take a look at these handpicked hotels in Faro

Things to do in Faro

  • Explore the Ria Formosa – Take a boat or a paddleboard and explore the beautiful Ria Formosa, an area of outstanding beauty and one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal.
  • Go island hopping – The islands near Faro are beautiful, and worth taking the time to explore. You can get a ferry out to most of them, and several have beaches where you can spend the day.
  • Capela dos Ossos – A chapel where the walls and features are made from bones. This isn’t everyone’s taste, but it’s definitely a change from many of the other churches that you can visit.

Nearby Towns & Cities

Nearby Beaches

  • Praia de Faro (10km)
  • Ilha da Barreta (also known as Ilha Deserta) and Ilha da Culatra are both accessible by ferry.
  • Praia de Farol is only accessible by ferry.

Events in Faro

  • Alameda Beer Festival in Faro – A beer festival, which takes places annually in July, and has more than 100 different types of beer to sample.
  • Festa da Ria Formosa – Faro’s main seafood festival, which celebrates all of the great seafood that comes from the Ria Formosa, takes place every year in July (often spilling over into August).
  • FolkFaro – A lively cultural festival that celebrates traditional music and dance. FolkFaro takes place during the beginning of August.
  • Feira dos Doces, Frutos Secos e Bebidas Regionais – Taking place at the end of August, this festival showcases the regional dried fruits, regional drinks, and desserts.
  • Feira de Santa Iria – A 400-year old festival with religious origins, today this festival is characterised by ferris wheels, rides, and craft and food stalls. Feira de Santa Iria takes place every year in October.

Last updated in August 2019.
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3 thoughts on “A Guide to Faro: the Algarve’s capital city”

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  1. Faro sounds charming with all the fisherman homes. It is in the region of Portugal we missed, driving north from Seville (Spain) and entering Portugal near Evora. From there we went to the coast, then all the way north to Spain again.

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