Most visitors to Faro simply pass through on their way to the resorts of the Algarve – which is excellent news if you do stop over.
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You get this atmospheric town with its beautiful medieval architecture and stand-out seafood to yourself. Come for the beaches, of course, but stay for this enjoyably unpretentious, pretty historic town and its natural surroundings.
Faro is a small city, and it's easy to traverse on foot – particularly the city centre. You can also get around by bus and car though.
The only public transport in Faro is the bus network, run by the company Proximo. There are bus stops all over the city, and the main hub is the city centre bus station on the Avenida. Buses are comfortable and even have on-board Wi-Fi. You don’t need to buy tickets in advance, and can just pay the driver when you get on.
Another convenient way to get around Faro is to take one of the taxis found almost everywhere, easily recognisable by their unique colours. Most are black and green, and some are white and beige; Portuguese law dictates that only taxis are allowed to use these colour schemes, so taxis are easy to spot.
Hiring a car gives you the freedom to explore on your own terms, and can also be a cost-effective way of getting around if you’re planning on doing a lot of travelling while here. Book in advance to have your car ready on arrival.
The Old Town: for history
Faro’s Old Town – variously known locally as the Centro Historico and Cidade Velha – is the place to go to get a feel for the city’s history. Much of the architecture is hundreds of years old and beautifully preserved; most of the old buildings that survive today date from medieval times, with some relics of the long period of Moorish rule. Highlights include the Sé, the city’s cathedral, which originally dates to 1251 but was largely rebuilt in the 1750s, and the Igreja de São Francisco, an 18th-century baroque church.
Praia de Faro: for relaxing on the beach
For most, the Algarve means one thing: the beach. And while there’s much more to this beautiful region than sun, sea and sand, it does have some of the finest beaches in the Mediterranean, and Faro itself is no exception. The Praia de Faro is always popular, especially with domestic tourists, but at three miles (5km) long, its size means it is rarely overrun in the way that many beaches can be in this part of the world. You'll find wide variety of water sports companies on the beach.
Jardim Manuel Bivar: for shopping
Faro has a few glitzy modern shopping malls, such as the Forum Algarve, but for the most enjoyable atmosphere and prettiest setting, head to the area around the Jardim Manuel Bivar, a fully pedestrianised shopping precinct. While you will find some international chains here, it’s a great place to pick up local gifts and souvenirs, with streets like the Rua de Santo Antonio home to many boutique handicrafts stores.
Time zone: Western European Time (UTC +0)
Languages: Portuguese, but English is widely spoken