Best things to do in Faro, Portugal

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Faro is the capital of Portugal’s Algarve region, situated at the southernmost tip of the country. Known for their ancient architecture and charming cobblestone streets, time spent in Faro is never wasted. Although Faro has fascinating tourist attractions, it tends to be overlooked by many visitors who opt for more popular resort towns like Albufeira and Lagos.

From wandering around the Old Town to visiting an old Portuguese palace and a fantastic Bone Chapel, learning about Faro’s history, enjoying the buzzing nightlife, and relaxing on deserted islands, here’s a list of the best attractions in Faro and the best Algarve wine tours.

What are the best things to do in Faro?

Get lost in Faro’s old town

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Portugal boasts numerous ‘old towns,’ neighborhoods where the collective history typically spans over 2000 years. Given Faro’s history of occupation by the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines, and Moors, there is much to discover within its streets.

With its charming cobblestone streets, significant landmark buildings, museums, Roman passages, captivating churches, distinguished tiled houses, lively squares, and cozy cafes, Faro’s Old Town is a city within a city.

And there are many things to do in Faro Old Town (Cidade Velha).

Make your way to the Arco da Vila in Faro

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During the 1755 earthquake, the Old City of Faro suffered partial destruction. What remains is the glorious arch—a structure that replaced the Arabic gateway that once stood in the same spot. The arch was designed and built by an Italian architect named Francisco Xavier Fabri, and it was inaugurated in 1812. Atop the arch stands a statue of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of Faro, with a charming bell tower just above. When visiting the Old Town, don’t miss the opportunity to admire and walk through Arco da Vila, as it’s one of the best free attractions in Faro.

Say a little prayer at Se Cathedral in Faro

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Situated in Largo da Sé, this church was constructed in the 13th century, making it as ancient as the surrounding hills. However, today it is predominantly adorned with artifacts from the 17th century.

Remarkably, this structure has endured two earthquakes and a massive fire that nearly compromised its foundation. The original tower and main doorways remain intact. Inside, the church features three naves separated by columns of the Tuscan order, along with chapels showcasing Gothic, Baroque, and Mannerism styles. The interiors are luxuriously adorned with elaborate gilded wood altars and intricate azulejos (Portuguese tiles).

Additionally, you will be able to explore the cloister with its quaint garden and chapels, as well as the upper choir and the Museum of the Cathedral located on the upper floor. For a panoramic view of the surrounding area, don’t miss the opportunity to climb the bell tower

Find the Bone Chapel in Faro

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The Algarve boasts exquisite churches open to the public for visits. One of the finest examples is Carmo Church, constructed in 1719, though it suffered damage during the earthquake.

Carmo Church offers something truly unique: the iconic Bone Chapel. This prayer space is adorned with the bones and skulls of over 1000 monks arranged in geometric patterns along the walls and ceiling. While the Capela do Ossos may be considered macabre and unsettling, its beauty is undeniable, making it one of Faro’s top tourist attractions. Open from Monday to Saturday, admission is only 2€.

Learn about Faro’s history at the Museu Municipal

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If you’re keen on history and ancient civilizations, one of the top attractions to visit in Faro is the Municipal Museum.

Located in the Old Town, within walking distance of Largo da Sé, the Museu Municipal, also known as the Faro Archaeological Museum, is housed within the captivating 16th-century Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Convent of Our Lady of Assumption). The Faro Archaeological Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, with an admission fee of only €2, and the remarkable building itself makes the visit worthwhile.

Wander in the Manuel Bivar gardens

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This small garden sits in front of the entrance to the Old Town, adjacent to the marina in Faro. It resembles more of a spacious, tree-lined square, offering a very pleasant ambiance. During the summer, various fairs or events are often hosted here, adding to its charm and friendly atmosphere.

Get to discover La Ria Formosa

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During your visit to Faro, be sure to explore the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, the original lagoon of the Algarve. Situated near Praia de Faro, just a 20-minute drive from the city center, this protected natural park is conveniently located close to the Marina. If you arrive in Faro by plane, you’ll have the opportunity to admire this natural park from the sky. Additionally, if you climb to the top of the Sé Cathedral, you’ll also get a stunning view of this protected marine area.

The Ria Formosa encompasses approximately 18,400 hectares, predominantly consisting of marshes, salt pans, canals, and dunes. This diverse ecosystem serves as a sanctuary for numerous species, including birds, mammals, fish, and plants, providing habitats, breeding grounds, and migration spots for various bird species. For those seeking adventure, embarking on a kayak excursion through the canals of Ria Formosa offers a unique and immersive perspective on this natural wonder.

Don’t miss the nightlife in Faro

When the sun sets in Faro, the city comes alive with vibrant nightlife. Faro boasts a diverse scene, offering everything from rooftop bars and restaurants to bustling clubs and cozy pubs. While many establishments are concentrated in the Baixa (city center), you can also discover hidden gems tucked away in the charming streets of the Old Town.

The main strip is located along Conselheiro Bivar, a vibrant street in the city center. In the Old Town, you’ll discover fantastic venues for dancing and live music. If you’re in the mood to dance, consider visiting Columbus, an elegant cocktail bar boasting excellent drinks, great music, and a stunning view of the Old Town; Castelo Bar, known for its live entertainment; Associação Recreativa e Cultural de Músicos de Faro, an alternative space offering live music, parties, and DJ sets; and Prestige Dance Club, a welcoming and lively option for those looking to dance the night away in a lgbt-friendly atmosphere.

What to do around Faro?

Albufeira, Lagos, Vilamoura, Carvoeiro, and Portimão are often regarded as some of the best places to visit in the Algarve. However, the Golden Coast, spanning an area of 4,997 km² (1,929 sq mi), boasts numerous other attractions worth exploring.

That’s why when you’re in Faro, it’s worth taking the opportunity to explore the nearby towns and beaches.

If you’re a history buff, consider visiting Loulé or Silves. For those seeking unique beach experiences, don’t miss out on Lagos, Lagoa, and Portimão; some of the Algarve’s most renowned beaches are located in these municipalities.

If you’re more inclined towards off-the-beaten-path experiences, I highly recommend exploring Tavira and the Costa Vicentina Natural Park. Here, you’ll discover a blend of intriguing history and stunning beaches that are sure to captivate you.

Visit Tavira

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Tavira, situated 40 minutes east of Faro by car, is widely regarded as one of the most picturesque towns in the Algarve. Its charm lies in its Roman bridges, whitewashed houses, and historic churches, making Tavira a true gem to explore. Be sure not to overlook Tavira Castle and the covered market for an authentic and enriching experience.

Visit Loulé

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Loulé, a charming town situated north of Faro, approximately a 20-minute drive away, is renowned for its vibrant market, medieval castle, and picturesque streets. The Saturday market is a must-visit, offering the opportunity to taste local products and explore the region’s craftsmanship.

Discover the secret of the Algar de Benagil cave

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Accessible only by sea, the Algar de Benagil is a marine cave located near the town of Portimão. Boat excursions to behold this natural wonder and discover other coastal rock formations are highly sought after. It’s an unparalleled experience that you won’t want to overlook.

Discover the quintas of the Algarve

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Make the most of your stay in the Algarve by embarking on one of the best wineries tours and tastings in Portugal! Whether with your partner, family, or friends, blend sun-soaked days with exploring the local terroir for unforgettable moments. Start your day with a wine cellar tour and cap it off with a relaxing beach visit. Discover the finest options now with Winalist’s curated selection.

Quinta da Tor

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Experience the flavors and authentic traditions of the Algarve at Quinta da Tôr, a local family-owned winery just 30 minutes from Faro. Delve into the story behind their exceptional wines and discover what makes them so unique to the Algarve region. Indulge in a tasting of four distinct wines from the cellar, accompanied by traditional bread and olive oil sourced from the region, all enjoyed poolside on the estate. What more could you dream of?

Quinta Dos Capinhas

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Quinta dos Capinhas is a stunning family vineyard nestled in Porches, at the heart of the Algarve, just 45 minutes west of Faro. Situated in a picturesque valley with panoramic views of the Monchique mountains and the sea, it’s an ideal setting for creating unforgettable memories with family or friends. Immerse yourself in a private tour of our family vineyard in the Algarve and indulge in tasting the finest wines our property has to offer.

Morgado Do Quintão

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Morgado do Quintão is a sprawling family estate, originally restored in the early 1800s. Situated between Silves, Monchique, and Lagoa in the Algarve, Portugal, it embodies a rich family history. Here, a profound passion for the countryside, gastronomy, and artistic creation converges with a deep love for local heritage, beauty, and conservation. Don’t hesitate any longer; join the estate team for an unforgettable meal at the farmers’ table, where you can savor the estate’s bountiful harvests.

Cabrita wines

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Cabrita wines is a family project situated in the town of Silves, just a 50-minute drive from Faro. With a legacy spanning half a century, our philosophy is rooted in the promotion of Portuguese grape varieties, particularly those indigenous to the Algarve region. We are dedicated to unlocking the full qualitative potential of these grapes to craft exceptional wines.

Day-trip to Silves

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A bit further west lies Silves, the former capital of the Algarve, celebrated for its magnificent Moorish castle and cathedral. Situated just 50 minutes by car from the heart of Faro, this city invites visitors on a journey through time with its charming cobbled streets and well-preserved historical remnants. It’s an ideal destination for history enthusiasts.

Explore Sagres and Saint-Vincent cap

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Sagres and Cape St. Vincent, situated at the westernmost tip of the Algarve (approximately 1.5 hours by car from Faro), boast spectacular coastal landscapes. Cape St. Vincent, Europe’s southwesternmost point, is famed for its iconic lighthouse and awe-inspiring cliffs. Meanwhile, Sagres, with its historic fortress and pristine, untamed beaches, is a haven for surfers.

Where’s Faro located?

Faro is the capital of southern Portugal’s Algarve region accessible by train from Lisbon or Porto or directly by plane.

Is Faro worth visiting?

Although most tourists just arrive and depart from Faro, there are many things to do and see, and the visit is totally worthwhile. If you have an early morning flight, you should definitely spend some time exploring the city before leaving the Algarve.

How to get to Faro?

There’s an international airport in Faro and some of the airlines that fly to Faro are EasyJet, Ryanair, TAP Portugal and British Airways.

Best time to visit Faro?

You can visit Faro any time of the year, but the best time to visit it is definitely during the summer and particularly in July and August.
If you don’t like crowds and heat, our suggestion is to go in June or September.

How many days to spend in Faro?

At least a full day. There are many things to do in Faro and if you stay longer, you can enjoy the nearby islands and also take a day trip to Lagos/Portimão/Tavira or Costa Vicentina, which are some of the best places to visit in the Algarve.

How to get around?

If you’re visiting only Faro, you don’t need a car.
But if you want to explore the nearby towns and beaches, you can do it by bus or train, however, it’s easier and much more convenient with a car.
You can hire a car with Rental Cars here at no extra cost to you.

Wine Tours in the Algarve

Quinta Da Tôr
– Winery Convento do Paraiso
– Quinta Morgado Da Torre Sitio Da Penina
– Quinta dos Vales
– Monte da casteleja
Quinta da Tor
– Morgado do Quintao
– Adega do Cantor
– Cabrita wines, Quinta da Vinha