What to do in Faro, Portugal


Faro is a culturally and historically rich city that is often overlooked. Despite of being the largest city of Algarve, the south of Portugal, and being in the close proximity to the airport that connects many local and international flights, many tourists tend to immediately drive off to the coast and beaches.

However, let me show you that it is worth to include to spend some days in Faro and explore the beautiful city, the natural lagoons around, and other places in the close proximity of the city. The municipality of Faro is divided into two distinct areas, the coastline, part of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa (Nature Park of Ria Forma), and the barrocal, characterized by hills and valleys, populated with typical Algarvan vegetation.

What to do in Faro, Portugal

Highlights of Faro city - What to see

Faro is a city in Algarve where you can still experience the true Portuguese style buildings and streets. Apart from the vibrant dining scene of local food, you can visit the historic centre (the Cidade Velha) of Faro which is encircled by ancient city walls and cobbled streets, whereas outside of the walls, you'll enter to a vibrant modern city with scenic plazas and shopping streets. Here are things you should not miss whilst in Faro:

Paço Episcopal 

The whitewashed building of the Bishop’s Palace (Paço Episcopal), with its distinctive red-tiled roof, dominates the tranquil square of Largo da Sé in Faro's Old Town quarter. Today the building is still in use and is generally not open to the public.  There are occasional exhibitions of religious art held here, and the interior is worth visiting to see the excellent 18th century azulejo tilework.

Arco da Vila

Faro's fine neo-classical archway is the entrance to the Algarve city's old quarter (Cidade Velha). It was built on the site of a much older medieval gateway in the city walls by order of Bishop Francisco Gomes do Avelar in 1812. 

What to do in Faro, Portugal

Faro Cathedral (Se Cathedral)

The Cathedral of Faro is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Faro built in Gothic style. The cathedral was consecrated in the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the late 13th century by the Archbishop of Braga. It has been the seat of the Diocese of Faro since 1540, replacing Silves Cathedral on the orders of King John III of Portugal.

Faro Marina

Scenic marina with large plaze and a sculptural “Faro” sign popular with tourists.

What to do in Faro, Portugal

What to do in Faro, Portugal

Pier de Faro

Just walking pass the dock and railway trail, you'll come to a small pier where many smaller boat tours can depart and arrtive from/to. Take a sunset walk around here and admire the view of the Faro City with the Marina as well as the glimpse of the wetland and delta.

What to do in Faro, Portugal

What to do in Faro, Portugal

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo might be the famous churches of Faro because of its bone chapel (The Capela Dos Ossos), lined with the bones of over 1,000 monks. 

What to do in Faro, Portugal

What to do in Faro, Portugal

What to do in Faro, Portugal

Arco do Repouso

If you are visiting the city's oldest quarter, make sure to pass through a gateway leading into the Cidade Velha, one of the three gates leading inside.

Faro Municipal Museum

Faro Municipal Museum is home to the region's diverse archaeological finds. Located in a former monastery, its gardens date back to 1540.

Parque Natural da Ria Formosa

The Ria Formosa wetlands area was declared a protected natural area in 1987, and is a protected breeding place for wetland birds, threatened by the expansion of tourism. This way, the entire coast from Faro to Cacela Velha was able to avoid any urbanisation. It is a definitely unique place to see for yourself via a boat trip to one of Faro’s islands.Take a boat from the Porta Nova Pier (€10/£8.50 return; ilha-deserta.com) Ilha Deserta, a deserted island forming part of the Ria Formosa. Do an easy walking trail across the island, stopping for a seaside picnic at Santa Maria Cape, the southernmost point of Portugal

Faro Beach

If you can't wait to get on some relaxing days on the beach, Faro has its own beach as well. Just take a bus number 14 or 16 at Avenida da Republica and head to the city's main beach - Praia de Faro.

Culatra Island, Barreta Island, Tavira Island

These are some of the more isolated islands with sandy beaches and only acessible via a ferry in Algarve. There is a public ferry line reaching the island everyday, all year round or you go there by renting or owning a boat. Definitely a great experience to get to one of these islands for a day or half a day trip and enjoying the scenic ferry views.

What to do in Faro, Portugal

What to do in Faro, Portugal

Highlights of Faro region - What else is there to see

If you are spending a bit more time travelling around Algarve, or even Faro region, make sure to save these locations to your list:

A boat tour of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa

As described above, the amazing and unique views of the nature life and wetlands in Algarve is something you should see!

The deserted beaches of the Ilha Deserta

Again, as listed above, Algarve has few self-isolated islands with sandy beaches which are accessible only via a ferry. Definitely a unique place and experience to go to visit and see.

Palácio de Estói

The Palácio de Estói, situated in the town of Estói (just north of Faro) is a Rococo style private palace built in the second half of the 19th-century. This miniature version of the King’s palace in Queluz, on the outskirts of Lisbon, is surrounded by relaxing public gardens. In Milreu – just outside the palace – you will come across the Algarve Roman remains.

What to do in Faro, Portugal

What to do in Faro, Portugal

What to do in Faro, Portugal

Church of Sao Lourenco

The Church of São Lourenço is a Church in the civil parish of Almancil, in the municipality of Loulé in the Portuguese Algarve. A very tiny church which is unique by its decorated white-blue story telling tiles inside. 


Described as one of the charming cities in Algarve. Tavira is a small city on Portugal’s Algarve coast. It straddles the Gilão River, which reaches the sea through the inlets and lagoons of Ria Formosa Natural Park. Tavira Island has a long, sandy beach, plus salt pans that attract flamingos, spoonbills and other wading birds. In the center, medieval Tavira Castle has city views. The Santa María do Castelo Church houses the tombs of 7 knights killed by the Moors.

Cascata Queda do Vigari

A little natural waterfalls found in Alte, in the municipality of Loule. The Cascata de Alte is the terminal part of a sequence of cscades formed in limestone tufts on the Alte stream. Calcareous tuff is a type of rock formed in waters of karst origin that after losing carbon dioxide become superseded in calcium carbonate that accumulates at the bottom of water courses, in waterfalls, lakes or any other aquatic environment. A great place to diverse your usual Algarve tourist spots.

Where to eat & drink

Faro has so many places where you can endure the taste of Southern Portuguese dishes. Portuguese love tapas, so you'll find many places where it is common to have small sharing plates. Algarve is the southern place of Portugal, so no surprise that seafood is the main thing you should be having here, from anything like fish, oyster, clams or sardines.

The famous dish of Algarve is Cataplana. Cataplana is both the name of the dish and the pot that it is cooked in.   There are two types of cataplana: either seafood packed with both fish and seafood, or a pork and clam version. Other famous dish is Piri Piri chicken! (the original version of Nando's) Guia, a small town near Albufeira, is the town that’s most famous for this dish, but you'll find it anywhere! As other regions in Portugal, Algarve has also some winery regions, so make sure to taste some of the local wines!

Here are some suggestions of great places to dine out for Portuguese food. Make sure to make reservations online or on the phone prior, as they get book out quickly!

  • A do Pinto - Great for Portuguese dishes and wine
  • Portas de Sao Pedro - Cozy restaurant with tapas food
  • Restaurante Travessa - Fine Portuguese & international cuisine in historic convent with tables spilling into the courtyard.
  • Old Tavern - Cozy restaurant with tapas food
  • Tertulia Algarvia - Provides to its visitors traditional meals, showcookings, culinary and craft workshops, exhibitions, among other experiences

What to do in Faro, Portugal