Faro is the capital and hub of the Algarve, the sunny southern region of mainland Portugal, influenced by the Mediterranean! Faro is encompassed around an oceanic community and offers a mix of historic, and modern points of interest as well as interesting nature at its boundaries.
Faro has been an important town since pre-Roman times. From the 3rd century it was the home of the Episcopal Sé, or Bishop’s Seat. After the 8th century Faro, or Ossonoba as it was then known, came under Moorish rule and traces of Moorish architecture can still be seen in doorways around the old town, along with the remains of the defensive city walls. One of the events which had the greatest effect upon the city was the 1755 earthquake which destroyed much of the town. However Faro was saved from the ensuing tsunami by the sandbanks which form the Ria Formosa lagoon.
Most of the whitewashed colonial-style buildings in Old Faro date back to the 18th century and are set along narrow cobbled streets which are charming to explore on foot. The old church and hospital, the Government building and the City Hall are all worth a visit. The tiled chimneys often have huge storks nesting on the top – a strange sight in a busy city!
Modern day Faro has a seaport with a marina and a beach which is approximately 7km from the city. It is across the bridge on the barrier island and is rarely crowded. The 170 square km nature reserve around the Ria Formosa Lagoon is a haven for migratory birds and wildlife and makes a quiet place for beach walks and bird watching.
Things to Do in Faro
The city of Faro is very easy to explore on foot and there are plenty of attractions and things to do. At the heart of the city is the Largo da Sé which is the site of the beautiful Bishop’s Palace, the Paco Episcopal, which is still in use today. The 18th century Se or Cathedral is built in a mixture of ornate baroque and Renaissance styles. The Archaeological Museum can also be found here which has a host of Roman and Manueline exhibits.
On the other side of the old city wall is the Church of St Francis which is also worth a visit. The interior of the church is decorated with panels of colorful Portuguese tiles, each depicting religious scenes. Visitors can also see the statues which are dressed and used in religious processions for the Cinzas (Ashes) and Dores (Pains) festivals.
In contrast to the Old Town, the modern centre of Faro is a stylish collection of shops, bars and restaurants along the Rua de Santo Antonio. More things to do can be found around the port. Boat trips are an excellent way to enjoy the coastal scenery, including viewing the caves in the cliffs.
More activities and things to do can be found just outside Faro. The San Lorenzo Golf Club is one of several golf clubs in the area which welcome visitors. Cycling, touring, horse riding, surfing, tennis, water parks and kayaking are just some of the things to do in Faro’s gorgeous sunshine.
The area around Faro is famous for its pottery, “azulejos” tiles and ceramics. A visit to a working pottery makes an interesting visit and is the ideal place to pick up some souvenirs.
Faro Food and Drink
Fresh fish and seafood are the focal point of most menus in Faro. Fresh sardines, tuna, swordfish, red mullet, clams, oysters and squid are all freshly caught and used in local dishes. Oranges, carob beans, figs and almonds are also locally grown and can be bought fresh on the local markets. For dessert, Pasteis de Nata are delicious Portuguese custards. Alcohol is reasonably priced in the Algarve, whether you prefer locally produced wines or beers such as Sagres, Cristal and Super Bock. Of course, Portugal is best known for its fortified port wines which are usually served as dessert wines.
Travel in Faro Portugal
Faro is worth checking out! Outside of its great offerings, Faro plays an important part to the history and culture of other destination areas throughout the Algarve region.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook