Faroooooo; I’ll never forget Faro because of the missed train, wrong bus and finally getting there at 4am. The train I had to take from Lisbon to Faro was the last one for the day and I missed it, took a bus which I was supposed to change somewhere and ended up stranded at 11pm in Lagoa and had to take a taxi from Lagoa to Faro paying €90, an eventful evening overall!!!
This beautiful little city is at the capital of Algarve and while it doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto it has its own serenity and calm charm which is perfect if you want to relax between two city trips which is exactly what I did.
Faro has its own airport which is extremely convenient and in terms of size even though it is a regional capital it is quite small with the city divided into the old city which has the Faro Cathedral and museum as well as restaurants with cobbled narrow streets and beautiful houses. Then there is city centre with more touristy stuff but the small pockets within city centre are really beautiful and calm and finally the new part of the city which has a lot of students due to university and local residents. The beaches in Faro are golden sand and the water is generally colder due to Pacific but since I went in June it was quite cosy. The beaches also lie at a little distance from the city whether you want to head to Faro beach or the deserted Island beach.
I would recommend staying in the city centre because it is not only convenient it is also functional and you will can easily walk to the old city, bus station (next to hotel Eva on the marina) for the beach and airport and the Harbour area for ferry to deserted island and other tours and trips. If you plan to head to Algarve the buses and trains go from city centre..
Food – Food in Faro is really good with a lot of options and the best part is the price, it is simply amazing. You can try traditional dishes and some contemporary food along with fast food and not to forget bar food. I would recommend trying a few of the places for sure, the link is here.
The Gay side of Faro – While there is no specific Gay bars and clubs in Faro the gay scene is quite small but the guys are generally good looking and very friendly. Grindr is teeming with guys but most locals still don’t like showing their face openly and you will find it a little more frustrating than big cities but I generally loved the atmosphere and met a few guys who showed me around…
Faro City Centre –> Igreja da Misericórdia –> Old Town –> Faro Cathedral –> Municipal Museum
Faro City Centre – The city centre is small and you can see it all in an hour or two easily but it is still very functional and no matter what you need from beach towels, sunscreen, electricity adapters, sim cards to branded shoes and jewelry, you name it they have it..
Walk around and you will find a lot of small enclosed squares with loads of trees which are especially fun in the evenings when sun is going down and the heat is dissipating. The city centre has a lot of restaurants, bars and cafes and if you are looking for tours and excursions you will conveniently find a few travel agents.
I just loved the older part of it with abandoned old houses and graffiti that looks eccentric and different in white washed houses and cobbled streets..
Igreja da Misericórdia – Walking from the City centre to the Old town you will come across this beautiful church. Like most buildings in Faro it is relatively simple when it comes to facade and surprisingly small and simple indoors but the real beauty lies in how it changes colour with different types of light throughout the day. While the day light makes it look rather dull, the vening light has the completely opposite effect and at night the glow is completely different..
Old Town – The Old town of Faro is old in every sense of the word. It isn’t actively used anymore other than the cathedral, museum and restaurants and of course a few houses. The entrance is not very far from the City Centre and comes from Roman times especially the arch is really beautiful..
You can roam around and see the whole Old Town in an hour after which it gets a bit mundane but I just loved roaming around because I love getting lost in narrow streets and also because my obsession with beautiful doors was deeply satisfied with some doors so beautiful I just wanted to take them with me..
Igreja Da Sa De Faro – The main cathedral of Faro is located at the edge of City centre and at the start of Old Town. The cathedral is quite simple from outside and though the facade is supposed to look grand it has a sense of laziness about it. the interior however, is just stunning. It has been beautifully decorated and well worth a visit.
After spending some time inside the next step id to climb the bell tower which has access through narrow stairs but the view on top is totally worth it. You can see a tree top view of the whole old town and it is stunning with the sea in the back ground..
The Bell Tower and Views from Top..
The Interior of the church..
Municipal Museum of Faro – While the museum located right next door to the Faro cathedral is not world famous, the courtyard of this beautiful building is very soothing. The roof is made with clay tiles and when wet with water, it gives a beautiful smell like the scent of wet earth after a long dry period. I didn’t bother with much of the exhibits but there is a recital that happens a few times a day which is absolutely amazing and highly recommended. The beautiful arches will just make you fall in love with this simple museum..
Faro City Centre –> Faro Beach
Bus station – You can take a bus from the city centre to the beach which runs pretty much every hour but the schedule varies throughout the day and the first thing to get hold of is the bus time table. I arrived quite late after a heavy breakfast only to find out the next bus was in 90 minutes…
Faro Beach – The beach is roughly 30 minutes on the bus from the city centre and is quite big. There are plenty of options to eat and chill with a few restaurants and bars blurting loud music and drinks but a little further down the area is quieter and with umbrellas already there you just need a beach towel, sun screen and music.
There is a centre where you can get kayaks on really cheap rates but those are not for the open sea and the sports centre also offers other activites and excursions ut I think you need to book in advance. The beach area is quite well developed with most facilities and good food options. I spend most of the day there and in the evening headed back to the town to get some food and head to some bar to enjopy the vibe.
Faro City Centre –> Deserted Island –> Faro City Centre –> Airport
Ilha Deserta (Ilha da Barreta) and Beach – Barreta island or Ilha Baretta or Ilha Deserta is an island not so far from Faro city centre and you can take a ferry or speed boat a few times a day to get there. According to the ferry website “Faro departures are at 10:00, 13:15 and 16:45 and the return from Ilha Deserta are at 12:45, 14:30, 16:00 and 17:30 (always check local listing for seasonal variations).“
As the name suggests, it actually is deserted and no one lives on the island which makes it amazing. The day I went there we were only 4 people on the beach with a few more in the only restaurant on the island.
While a few different tours are available I would recommend taking a ferry from Porta Nova Pier to the island and spend time relaxing or walking around. the water here is quite calm and the beach is perfectly golden. I just put some music on and went to sleep, a perfectly relaxing day with no one around with a few tripsto the restaurant to get drinks etc.
Airport – The Airport is roughly 20 minutes from the city and the busses are the same as the one’s that take you from City Centre to Faro beach. The airport is modern and surprisingly big compared to the size of town but it serves the whole Algarve region and the tourist traffic is ever growing.