Things to do in Faro – Portugal

Must Do

Faro is a beautiful city situated in the heart of the Algarve area. Although the city only has 41,000 citizens, it has all the amenities and facilities required of a large tourist destination, such as a water park, good nightlife, water sports, stunning wildlife and beautiful beaches.

Not only does it provide such a wealth to do but it has a fantastic location. Placed along the coast, it is not far from white sandy beaches and is surrounded by numerous small rustic villages dotted along the seaside. These towns are full of charm and Portuguese culture, and also part of a great natural reserve – Ria Formosa- which is a protected area with wetlands, small lakes and wildlife.

Old Town Faro

A stroll through the streets of Old Town Faro, Portugal, will reveal centuries-old buildings and Roman passages. While the atmosphere in the Old Town is romantic, it’s best to enjoy it from a distance, so you can see everything in its proper perspective. There are also a few shopping areas tucked away among the ancient buildings, but for the best experience, you need to stroll around the whole area. After a while, you’ll find yourself tempted to buy some of the wares on display.

The Old Town is a must-see when visiting Faro. Faro has an array of shops and restaurants, a central square and a beautiful cathedral. The city’s paved streets are lined with characterful plazas, so you’ll have a hard time choosing which one to try first. If you have time, you can also try a Portuguese dinner in one of the numerous restaurants. If you’re on a budget, you can spend a night in one of these restaurants, but you’ll probably want to stay longer.

Palácio de Estoi

The magnificent Palácio de Estoi is a 19th century palace with neoclassical details. Its history is difficult to reconstruct in English. Originally owned by the Viscount of Estoi, Jose Francisco da Silva, the palace fell into disrepair and was purchased by the Faro City Council in 1987. After several renovations, the palace reopened in 2007 as a luxury hotel. It is now part of the Pousadas de Portugal.

There is an excellent public transport system for getting around the town. The main bus stop is just outside the church, while the rest of the town can be reached by foot. From there, you can take a bus to Milreu Roman Ruins. The first bus is at 12:45 on Sunday. Return buses run all day Monday to Saturday with a limited service on Sunday. This hotel also offers free parking.

A visit to Pousada de Estoi is a great way to explore the town. It is located just ten minutes’ walk from the town center. The hotel’s neo-Rococo features and two tea pavilions provide a delightful experience. It also boasts a luxury spa. In addition to the 63 guestrooms, there are 7 meeting rooms. All are equipped to host a successful event, including weddings.

Carmo Church

A visit to the 18th century Carmo Church in Faro, Portugal, is not complete without stopping at its small chapel, made from the bones and skulls of monks. You might be surprised to learn that the bones and skulls came from the monastery that once stood on the site. It’s a truly unique sight! After all, how many places can boast chapels made from skulls and bones?

At the rear of the Igreja do Carmo Church is the Capela dos Ossos Chapel, the final resting place for over 1,250 skeletons. Among the chapel’s decorations are skulls and bones in geometric patterns. This is one of Faro’s strangest attractions. But, once you’ve walked through the chapel, you’ll understand the significance of its name.

The Igreja do Carmo is a magnificent example of baroque architecture, with yellow accents around the upper windows and a bone chapel in the center. The church was completed in the earth 1700s, but its facade was completed following a 1755 earthquake. It’s located in the Old Town of Faro, and you can easily access it from the harbor. If you’re traveling to Faro, take the time to visit the church, and see the beautiful surroundings it offers.

Faro Cathedral

Visiting Faro Cathedral is one of the must-do activities in Faro. Most visitors club this attraction with other attractions in the city, including Museu Arqueologico and Igreja Da Misericordia. However, you can also enjoy a cultural tour of the city by taking a train from Faro to Lisbon. Depending on your interests, you might also be interested in learning more about the history of the Algarve.

You can also enjoy a stroll through Faro’s historic quarter, including the medieval cathedral and the episcopal palace. The cathedral is surrounded by rows of orange trees. The city is also home to the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a nature reserve that includes sheltered waterways and saltwater lagoons. In the summer, you can spend a day at the beach, where the sun sets over a cliff.

The city is also home to the city’s main shopping district, which is located on a pedestrianized street. This section has fewer tourists than the main shopping district, thanks to a new shopping mall that was recently built out of the city center. Several small shops line this street, with curving patterns of tiled pavement and white shades strung like sails. For those who like shopping, the city has a number of high-end shopping malls.

Forum Algarve

Forum Algarve is an open-air shopping mall located at the western entrance of Faro Portugal. It contains 100 stores, 20 restaurants, five cinema screens, and a Hipermarket. In addition to its shopping and dining options, the mall has ample car parking and is a must-visit for thousands of tourists and local consumers. It is a great place to shop for a wide range of fashion, electronics, and food products.

For your convenience, the Forum Algarve also features a train station. It is located just one-quarter mile from Forum Algarve. Moreover, it serves as an excellent base to explore the surrounding areas. The city of Faro is a popular tourist destination during the summer months. A quick trip to Olhao, a fishing port with a population of nearly 40,000, can be made by taking the train from Faro Station to Forum Algarve.

Capela dos Ossos

During your visit to Faro, Portugal, be sure to stop by the Capela dos Ossos, a 19th century bone structure that hangs on a pillar. It was built out of the bones of over one thousand monks. The pillar is one of the city’s most recognizable symbols. Its pious atmosphere and the stunning view from above make this a must-see.

One of the most unique things to see in Faro is the minuscule Bone Chapel. Located inside the stunning 18th century Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo Church, the chapel contains the bones of more than one thousand people. The church is a stunning example of Baroque architecture and is surrounded by a walled garden. While visiting the Capela dos Ossos, be sure to visit the crypt as well.

The Capela dos Ossos chapel is located near the old town of Faro. You can reach it by walking for about 5 minutes. If you’re bringing your children with you, be sure to buy them a ticket and take them in with you. This small chapel houses the bones of over 1200 Carmelite monks. The chapel itself is small and just a few meters long and two meters wide, and is worth seeing regardless of your age.

Muralhas de Faro

When visiting the region, there are many things to do in Faro, Portugal. You can visit the city’s many historic sites, including the city museum. You can also tour the Municipal Museum, which is located in the Old Town. Inside the museum, you can learn about the history of the region and see exhibits from the Roman, Moorish, and medieval periods. The museum also features works of art from the 13th century Islamic period.

Another thing to do in Faro is to explore the city’s natural wonders, including the Ria Formosa Natural Park. This park spans 18 000 hectares and is home to five barrier islands and two peninsulas. If you’re a birdwatcher, this is the perfect place to visit, with its diverse ecosystem and pristine beaches. If you’re looking for a bit of culture, Faro also has a museum dedicated to the area’s history with the sea.

The nightlife in Faro is amazing. The city has late-night bars where you can sample local beer and specialty cocktails. You can also take a bus from Faro to Albufeira to visit some of the city’s famous nightclubs, like Kiss and Kadoc. The local treasure, Sagres, is another city worth visiting. Its picturesque beaches and medieval castles make it an ideal destination for an extended stay.

One day in Faro thanks to Greg Snell

What do you like best about Faro?

As for Faro itself, the best way to get your bearings is to take the yellow train tour around the city centre. This enables you to get a great overview of the layout of the city, and to explore the winding picturesque streets of the old town.

You can also hop-off and hop-on the train so you can also use it as a means to travel too. The old town is one of the most beautiful parts of the city and another is the harbour which although has modern restaurants alongside, still retains some of the traditional Portuguese fishing boats and houses.

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Lighthouse in Faro

Best Restaurants in Faro

The city is also home to some fantastic Portuguese restaurants. They offer locally sourced seafood and poultry.

Although many restaurants do not have the same kind of exterior as we would expect from a great establishment in the UK, the standard of cooking is incredibly high. One particularly commendable and friendly restaurant is located in neighbouring Olhao and is called O Franguinho, it specialises in chicken dishes.

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Best Music/Festival

Faro is known for watersports, beaches and local monuments. The town is also known for hosting a variety of music and cultural festivals.

One remarkable festival in particular is the Faro Motorbike Rally. This comes to town every July. It’s fantastic event for bikers and non bikers alike, as the whole town is filled with vitality and life. The event includes concerts, 24 hour bars, dancing sessions, a biker fair, mobile tattoo artists and more.

Festivals happen in the region happen once every few months. So whether you are going in spring or winter there is guaranteed to be a cultural event happening in the region.

Best Nightlife in Faro

The nightlife is also fantastic in Faro. There are  lots of late night bars offering specialist cocktails and local beers. There are also direct buses running through the night to Albufeira. This is where the popular Kadoc and Kiss nightclubs are situated.

Best Day Trip Out of Faro

If going on a family holiday or a quiet getaway then the Algarve is the ideal place for a vacation. Local treasures like Sagres at the tip of the Algarve is famous for its fantastic lighthouse and scenic beaches. It’s an ideal place for a picnic!

Faro is also only three hours away from Lisbon. And its half an hour away from Spain so renting a car and venturing to other parts of the Iberian peninsula is also a possibility. Whether you want a quiet week at the beach or a crazy week of food and drink indulgence then Faro has everything to offer.

David Cronk - Editor

David Cronk is the editor of online travel magazine Travelodium Travel Magazine. David has travelled to over 30 countries of the world and his writing has been published by enRoute magazine - Air Canada's inflight magazine and by Hotel & Accommodation Management Magazine. David has worked as a Sales Executive for Sheraton and Hilton Hotels and for Hotelbookers in London. He has worked also as a Hotel Night Manager and in bars throughout Europe. David eventually settled into a position working as a croupier for several years before changing careers to become a Data, Sales and Statistical Analyst.

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