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Faro Guide

Most visitors to the Algarve may swing through its sun-splashed capital without a second glance, but this actually works to the city’s advantage. Faro has an authentic, untouristed feel, with a picturesque historic centre, interesting sights and some splendid sandy beaches.

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As most visitors to the Algarve pass through Faro, there are plenty of hotel options for all budgets. A central, comfortable choice, with simple rooms, is the Best Western Dom Bernardo (Rua General Teofilo da Trindade 20), which is welcoming, attractive and moderately priced. It’s a short walk from the marina and the Old Town. 
Up a few notches in style and quality, Hotel Eva (Avenida da República 1) is a four-star option with great views over the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Hotel Faro (Praça D Francisco Gomes 2) is another four-star, which has the town’s best setting, overlooking the marina. But for somewhere even more atmospheric, head out of town to Pousada Pálacio de Estoi (Rua São José, Estoi), a sumptuous example of Portugal’s famous pousadas – grand country houses converted into hotels.
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Getting around

Faro’s international airport is located six kilometres west of town. A taxi into the centre takes only about 15 minutes, and several local buses also run between the airport and the city. The city centre is walkable, though you’ll need to hire a car or hop on a local bus to get to the beach, the Ria Formosa or further afield. 
Buses and trains connect with other destinations in the Algarve and beyond. Regular buses run to and from the Praia de Faro, and in summer there are ferries to the sandy islands of Ria Formosa, such as Ilha Deserta (Ilha da Barreta).
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Top 10 sights

Top 5 sights for first-timers
Faro Cathedral
Sé de Faro was built in 1251, but mostly destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. The tower gate is original but most of the rest is a reconstructed mishmash of styles: Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. There are some fine azulejo tiles and you can climb the bell tower for views. 
Largo da Sé
Faro Municipal Museum
This interesting museum is housed in the beautiful Renaissance Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Exhibits of particular note include a Roman mosaic of Neptune as well as Roman statues excavated from the site nearby in Estoi. 
Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção 
Igreja do Carmo & Capela dos Ossos
The baroque church of Igreja do Carmo leads to the sinister Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), which is cheerfully decorated in monks’ bones acting as a ‘memento mori’ (reminder of the inevitability of death). These gruesome building materials were disinterred from a nearby cemetery. 
Largo do Carmo
Arco da Vila
Built by an Italian architect, this 19th-century arch was built over one of the city’s medieval gates. The statue of St Thomas Aquinas is also Italian. Inside retains the horseshoe gate that was part of the Moorish walls. 
Rua da Misericórdia
Farol Beach
This is a long spit of white sand, edged by turquoise-blue lagoon on one side and sparkling Atlantic Ocean on the other. 
Ilha da Culatra
Top 5 sights for old hands
Ria Formosa Natural Park
This beautiful protected area covers 18,000 hectares, a seaside landscape that encompasses lagoons, sandbanks, saltpans, dunes and islets. It’s a great place for cycling, walking, boating and birdwatching. 
Ilha Deserta
Part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, this 10-kilometre, white-sand beach is one of the most remote-feeling along the coast. The sandy island is the most southerly point of Portugal, and is accessible via boat from Faro during the summer months. 
Faro Jewish Heritage Centre
The Jewish Cemetery has beautiful marble gravestones and a small museum that houses a recreated synagogue.
Museu Regional do Algarve
With implements and artefacts from peasant life, this museum illustrates how life used to be in the area, with evocative exhibits such as an old wooden milk cart.
Praça da Liberdade 2
Moorish Quarter
Faro’s Mouraria (old Moorish quarter) is an interesting place to wander, with decorated facades adorning mainly 16th- to 18th-century buildings.  Examples include Palacete Belmarço, Casa da Antiga Rua do Pestana and the oldest café in the city, Café Aliança.
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Top 5 activities

In the city centre, it’s possible to hire a bike and an audio guide to explore the sights of Faro at your own pace. Bike tours are also a recommended way to explore the lovely Ria Formosa Natural Park. 
Boat tours
It’s also great fun to discover the Ria Formosa Natural Park via its waterways, and you can take a two-hour boat tour through the channels and lagoons of the park. 
If you prefer a more active excursion, there is also the opportunity to go kayaking in the area. 
The huge Ria Formosa Natural Park is a birdwatching haven, and twitchers will be in their element spotting the myriad species that inhabit or pass through the area.
Walking / trekking
Guided walks are another possibility, allowing visitors to enjoy the highlights of their natural surroundings, including the pine forests, salt marshes and saltpans of the Ria Formosa 
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Top 5 events

Festa da Ria Formosa
This festival celebrates the gastronomy of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, and features live music, food stalls and more. 
Date: July-August
Venue: Largo da Sé
This five-day festival is an explosion of colour and music, featuring live music, dance and traditional costume in concerts and performances in the city centre. 
Date: August
Venue: City centre
Feira dos Doces, Frutos Secos e Bebidas Regionais
This evening food fair in a central Faro park celebrates local sweets, dried fruits and drinks.
Date: August
Venue: Jardim Manuel Bívar
Festas do Concelho
This festival commemorates the inauguration of Faro as a city and pulls out all the stops with sports events, concerts and exhibitions to mark the day.
Date: September
Venue: Faro
Feira de Santa Iria
Faro’s largest festival, and one of the most popular and oldest in the region, features carousels, bumper cars and other fairground entertainments, as well as food, arts and crafts stalls and live music. 
Date: October
Venue: Largo de São Francisco
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In the centre of town, the best shopping streets to head for are Rua de Santo Antonio and Rua Vasco da Gama, which have a mix of boutiques and souvenir shops. Forum Algarve (Estrada Nacional 125) is a large shopping mall that offers plenty of shops selling clothing, accessories, cosmetics and electronic goods, as well as a huge supermarket that’s good for picking up local foodstuffs. 
Every second Sunday of the month, there’s a general market in Estoi, while Faro holds a flea market (Algarve Stadium car park) every first and third Sunday. For local ceramics and basketware, head to the famous Saturday morning local market at Loulé (Rua Nossa Senhora da Piedade), 17 kilometres northwest of Faro.
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Faro’s eating experiences range from tasty food served under neon strip lighting to more sophisticated cuisine served in grand traditional interiors. Seafood is a highlight in town, as you might expect. Open since 1925, Adega Dois Irmãos (Praça Ferreira de Almeida 15) is a tiled restaurant housed in what was once a welding workshop offering excellent fish dishes. Adega Nova (Rua Francisco Barreto 24) is pleasingly rustic, with long shared benches and beamed ceilings, and offers traditional Portuguese dishes and carafes of local wine. 
For something lighter, there’s Sushi Ya (Rua Cruz das Mestras 36), serving up sushi, sashimi and noodles. If you’re looking for somewhere particularly special, the whitewashed arches of Le Marquis (Monte da Palhagueira) make for an atmospheric, romantic place to dine on exquisitely presented, French-influenced cuisine.
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As a student town and tourism hub, Faro has a lively nightlife, with bars clustering along Rua de São Pedro, Rua Infante Dom Henrique, Rua Conselheiro Bívar and Rua do Prior. In the summer months, the marina is also a great place to go for a drink, with views overlooking the glittering water and bobbing yachts. In the Old Town, O Castelo (Rua do Castelo 11) has a fantastic setting with views over the Ria Formosa. 
Another great choice for drinks is Columbus (Praça Dom Francisco Gomes 13), a perennially fashionable spot, serving up cocktails under the arched arcades opposite the marina. The First Floor Club (Rua do Prior 39) is a popular choice to get the party started, while to catch live music and dance till dawn, the Cidade da Música (Rua do Prior 21) is a good bet.

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