Faro is a somewhat overlooked destination, often seen as simply the gateway to the south of Portugal rather than a fascinating place to visit in its own right. That oversight means that this beautiful town has not been overly touched by tourism, and thus remains a wonderfully unspoiled location that positively exudes old-world charm and tradition.
Faro is sits close to the beautiful Ria Formosa national park, a peaceful area of mudflats and lagoons that ae home to a huge variety of wildlife. Just beyond the park are Faro’s best kept secret – some of the most pristine beaches in the whole of the Algarve.
The atmosphere in Faro contrasts greatly from the more hectic tourist hubs in the western part of the region. The city is an alluring mix of the old and new, with the walled old-town being central to its great appeal. Faro is packed with historic sites and architecture, and also boasts a leafy shopping area that is dotted with pretty, quintessentially Portuguese open-air eateries.
One of the main advantages of the city is that it is an ideal centre from which to explore this beautiful region and all it has to offer. Faro’s superb public transport system makes it easy (and cheap) to get to key locations right across the Algarve. Hop on a train and you can be in the delightful town of Tavira in under an hour, and even Lagos is only an hour and a half to the west.
Faro is the perfect destination for visitors hoping to immerse themselves in the ‘real’ Portugal, exploring the traditions and history of the country. That being said, it’s perfectly possible to combine a cultural tour with more traditional holiday pursuits – Faro’s beaches are easily reached by bus and even in the height of summer are rarely crowded.
The main airport to serve the Algarve is located around seven kilometres outside Faro. In order to access public transport services to nearby regions, you will need to travel into the centre of the city, a quick journey by cab or bus. Once in Faro city, it is easy to travel out for day trips, the destinations including Vilamoura, Loule, Albufeira, Tavira and Olhao.
Perhaps the most impressive beach in close proximity to Faro is the Praia de Faro. This is a huge stretch of beautiful, clean golden sand that extends along the Ilha de Faro for five kilomtres. This beach has a laid back vibe, with a smattering of family-run cafes and beach bars.
One day trip from the city that should not be missed is visit Estoi, a delightful village that is within easy reach from Faro via the regular bus service. Admire the colourful Estoi Palace (one of the most impressive examples of a Rococo building anywhere on the Algarve) with its extensive grounds parts of which are still paved with stunning Azulejos tiles. Just outside the village you’ll find the ruins of a once epic Roman villa with remains of original mosaics flooring.
All in all, Faro is a wonderful base from which to explore the beautiful Algarve. With its bustling marina, wonderful open spaces, atmospheric old-town and well–established nightlight scene, this is a place that offers something to everyone and is so much more than simply a gateway destination.
Remember to book your airport transfer with Holiday Taxis when you go!