Faro, located in the extreme southwest corner of Portugal, is a sun-soaked town of approximately 46,000 residents. The city makes a good base for exploring the Algarve region of southern Portugal and is a popular beach destination with northern European and British travelers.
What to See in Faro
One of the prime attractions in Faro is the beach, Praia de Faro, which stretches for more than a mile and is rarely over-crowded. Facilities at the beach include sports operators, restaurants and showers. In addition to the beach, the city boasts a charming old town, with cobblestone streets, shopping and Moorish and Portuguese-style buildings dating back to the 18th century.
The Faro Jewish Heritage Center and the adjacent cemetery tell the story of the thriving Jewish community in the time before the inquisition. Just south of town is the Rio Formosa, a nature preserve that extends from the southernmost tip of Portugal into Spain. This attraction is best accessed by boat and trips depart several times a day from the marina Faro.
Getting to Faro
Getting to Faro is relatively easy. The Faro Airport is located just west of the city center and offers daily non-stop flights to Lisbon with connecting service to points beyond as well as service to London, Amsterdam, Brussels and other cities throughout Western Europe. In addition, a high-speed train runs twice daily between Lisbon and Faro. The train journey takes approximately two-and-a-half hours. There is also daily bus service between Faro and Lisbon and Faro and Madrid and Seville, Spain. The bus trip takes approximately four hours from Lisbon.
Where to Stay
Faro has a good selection of beachfront resorts and condominium complexes that you can stay in during your visit. Among the best of Faro’s accommodations are the four-star Hotel Eva, the Hotel Faro near the marina, the Hotel Sol Algarve in the Old City, and the charming Pousada de São Brás de Alportel, located along the coast about a half-hour from the Faro city center.
Getting Around Faro
Unless you are planning to spend most of your time at the beach, it’s a good idea to rent a car while in Faro. If you don’t want to do this, there are local buses that connect the airport and the city center.
What and Where to Eat
Fresh fish and seafood abound in this coastal city and the restaurants that surround the marina offer some of the best. Two particular standouts are Pastelaria Versailles and Restaurante Faro, both located at the marina. In addition, try Fim de Mundo in the heart of the city for fun and affordable Portuguese fare, and Gardy’s north of the city center for homemade pastry and ice cream.
Shopping in Faro
Shopping is a delight in Faro. In addition to the predictable resort shops, the area offers an excellent selection of Portuguese leather goods, Sherry and other spirits, and embroidered table cloths and clothing. Prime shopping areas include the Old City and the Forum Algarve, a modern shopping plaza located north of the city center with more than 100 shops and 23 restaurants.
Though less well-known in North America than other European beach destinations, Faro is affordable, easy to get to, has an un-crowded beach and offers a vibrant, international flair. Perhaps it’s time to consider this Portuguese beach resort for your next vacation.
Andy Johnson is a lifelong adventurer. When he isn’t working on his adventure magazine, Rock-Runner.com, he can be found looking for another adventure destination. He is at home in the deserts of the American Southwest and is often in the company of his dog Disco or daughter Marina.