Faro, the capital of Portugal’s southernmost region - Algarve, is an eclectic blend of rich cultural wealth, eternal bliss of beaches and seafood, and stunning natural views that will keep you coming back for more. This versatile city rests on the coast with a commanding view of the shallow lagoon and offers its fascinating history to the explorers.
Although tourists love Faro for diverse reasons spanning from inexpensive shopping to enthralling natural parks, one thing that holds them together is the immersive adventure that it renders. Below are the top tourist attractions in Faro without which you simply can’t conclude your trip.
Let's explore Faro points of interest and the 15 best things to do in Faro:
1. Visit the Wonder of Portugal - Ria Formosa Natural Park
Faro houses one of the most impeccable places of Algarve - Ria Formosa, a protected natural reserve featuring lush landscape; which is elected as one of the seven wonders of Portugal. If this isn’t a reason compelling enough for you to visit this natural reserve, then here are some more - this 18,000-hectare natural park is composed of salted pans, shallow lagoons, and the barrier island, which allows you to hike, kayak or cycle.
The park is often denoted as a haven for wetland wildlife and a paradise for bird watchers. As you stroll around, look out for the rare creatures like chameleon, seahorses and purple swamphen bird and other protected species.
2. Explore the Artifacts at Municipal Museum of Faro
Rated as the second largest museum of Algarve, Municipal Museum was opened in 1894 marking the 500th birth anniversary of Henry the Navigator. Not only is it located in the beautiful Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção building but also acquaints you with the history of Faro till the present.
The pair of marble busts of Emperor Hadrian and Agrippina and third-century mosaic make for the main attraction in the museum. It also features a range of Roman inscriptions and plenty of twentieth-century artworks.
3. Scout Out the Old Walled Town - Cidade Velha
Get to know Algarve a little better in this old walled town, considered to be one of the most popular things to do in Faro. This sequestered place has a fascinating architect catalyzed by the earthquakes and British bombardments. With its handful of solitary restaurants, cafes, and bars, which often host entertaining cultural events, a visitor can simply enjoy the program or sit back and relax overlooking the beautiful lagoon.
Definitely an unforgettable experience!
4. See the Royal Architect of Arco da Vila
Guarding the Faro’s circular old town is a grand gateway - Arco da Vila, which was rebuilt and given an impressive neo-classical design in 1812 by the Italian architect. It replaced the original Moorish entrance, the remnants of which can still be seen as you go beyond the gate. Don’t miss out on watching the permanent stork’s nest on the top.
5. Beach it Up at Praia de Faro
Get the Faro vibes right after you land. Praia de Faro is located at a very close proximity to the airport. Follow the stretch of the road behind the airport and Voila! There you are. Switch to relax mode at this pristine golden-sand beach and head back to your lodging place with the clear mind and beach vibes.
6. Sit in Serenity at Ilha Deserta
Even if you are short on time, you shouldn’t miss this peaceful, secluded beach. As the beach is accessible only through boats, it is less crowded and unspoiled. And on some days, there is no sign of human existence on this beach, which makes it a go-to choice for the ones who are looking for solitary walks on the swathes of sandy beach or spend some me time.
The beach houses a single restaurant encircled by the beach ensuring you have a memorable meal. While you are there, watch out for flamingo, and spoonbill, which are regular sights.
7. Museu do Marítimo Almirante Ramalho Ortigão
Showcasing the Algarve’s seafaring heritage, this Maritime Museum of Faro is established in the port authority of the city. The museum gives you the taste of ancient Algarve before it became a popular tourist destination.
It comprises of 3 divisions and its cynosures include the portrayal of a vast line of compartment fishing nets, which compels visitors to think how peculiar can sea fishing methods be; and the painting of Carlos Porfírio depicting the crew being gathered around the thrashed tuna.
8. Bring Out the Inner Scientist at Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve
This hands-on science center will prove to be an ideal destination if you are traveling with kids, especially the impatient ones. With the aim of promoting the technological and scientific awareness in the kids, this center has a lot of easy and interactive games, exhibits simple yet effective experiments and a touch pool to engage your little one.
The kids can also hold the scorpion and tarantula, only to find out how much braver they are than many grown-ups!
9. Stare in Wonder at Cathedral of Faro
The most charming and historically-rich monument of Faro, also called Sé da Faro, was established on an Old Roman temple site which was later turned into a Moorish mosque. The continual modifications in the facade of structure added the Gothic, Renaissance and Gothic features which give it an eerie appearance. The interiors, however, were considered to be more attractive by the 16th century.
Once inside the cathedral, climb over to the top viewing point to observe the Faro’s beauty below and remember that had you been up here in 1596, you would have seen the earl of Essex en route to sacking the cathedral.
10. Wander Around Exploring Churches in Faro
Faro features an array of azulejo buildings of which churches are the most splendid ones. Go around and explore some of the popular churches which include - 16th century, earthquake survivor Igreja de Misericordia church; an 18th century, twin tower Nossa Senhora do Carmo church; and Capela dos Ossos church, constructed using bones and skulls.
11. Milreu Roman Remains
Traverse back in time and unfurl the ancient tales of an important Roman villa at Milreu Roman Remains, which is a hillside climb of fewer than ten minutes from Faro. On excavation, the ruins of mosaic works and wine facilities were found. The ruins were given the tag of National Monument in the year 1910.
12. Palácio de Estói
Built in the 18th century, Palácio de Estói is an awe-inspiring vision in its present royal state. The site remained in ruins for some years and was restored only recently as a heritage hotel. The place is to open to day-trippers along with a guided tour of palace and garden. It is a must-see if you want to see an amazing Rococo architect.
13. Devour the local cuisine
Taste some of the most scrumptious seafood delicacies with the availability of fresh catches at Faro’s restaurants. Shellfish beds are one of the many specialties available at Rio Formosa which comprise of Caldeirada, whitefish, oily tuna, squid and locally-produced shellfish or to savor the Algarvian taste choose lobster cataplana which consists of steamed rice, seafood, and herbs, making for a gustatory delight.
14. Shopping at Forum Algarve
Want to take a break from all the adventure and exploration for a while or simply wish explore the shopping area? Elope to Forum Algarve - an amazing shopping mall, located in the western outskirts of Faro.
From shopping from international brands like Zara to Bershka and Pull & Bear to tempting food court and a movie theatre that has movies in the English language in nexus with Portuguese subtitles. There’s so much more to do!
15. Ride in a Land Train
A tourist train is an ideal and hassle-free way to get familiar with the Algarve's capital city - Faro, especially if you are traveling with kids or have tired feet. The circular route of the train takes approximately 45 minutes of time and shows you around all the attraction spots and important landmarks including São Pedro churches and more.