Make Faro your destination
Centrally located on Portugal’s popular south coast, Faro more than merits its position as the region’s hub, with well-preserved medieval neighborhoods and a variety of museums and churches ranking among the city’s many attractions.
For too many travelers, though, Faro is merely an airport through which they pass on their way to another destination, and they are seemingly unaware of the multitude of treasures on offer.
Here is what is in store for you when you plan a few days in this captivating city: the old port marina, leafy green parks, buzzing squares, astounding museums, and the historic city center, which features cobbled streets that seem to have been made not just for walking but also for taking in the incredible sights and sounds of this vibrant city.
Of all the churches in Faro, Igreja do Carmo is said to be the most visited, although probably not for its grandiose, heavily gold-leafed baroque interior. Rather, the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is an ossuary decorated with the bones of monks. It’s a somewhat macabre attraction, inaugurated almost 200 years ago, and is as interesting today as it probably was back then.
Immediately adjacent to the port is Jardim Manuel Bivar Park, a good place to start your walking tour of the city. At its upper end lies Faro’s main shopping district, which boasts a number of pedestrian streets lined with boutiques, bars, and cafes.
The city’s nightlife and shopping are top rate, attracting city residents, students from the University of the Algarve, and visitors from much further afield. And don’t forget the seafood! In Faro, you can gorge yourself on fish and shellfish, with the nearby Ria Formosa lagoon awash with oyster and mussel beds. If you prefer pork, black pig (porco preto) is also a local delicacy.
Because the city is so close to the coast, it is extremely easy to get out onto the water and explore the inlets and lagoons that form part of the Ria Formosa nature reserve.
There is also an impressive coastline close to the city, including sandy beaches on nearby islands such as Ilha de Faro and Ilha da Barreta.
And last, but by no means least, Faro is to golfers what Milan, Paris and London are to fashionistas – the center of the universe. There are seven golf courses in the immediate vicinity: five at the Quinta do Lago resort (Quinta do Lago North, Quinta do Lago South, San Lorenzo, Laranjal and Pinheiros), and two at the Vale do Lobo resort (Vale do Lobo Ocean and Royal).
So if it’s shopping, culture, food, golf or even a bit of a scare that makes your holiday exciting, Faro has got you more than covered.
Text: Anders Ellqvist
Published: April 13, 2015