Faro is the capital of the Algarve. I’ve flown in and out of this city hundreds of times over the last thirty years as my family’s home in the Algarve has made Portugal, quite literally, my second home. Faro itself is rarely disturbed by tourists (except the French), as nearly everyone flies into the airport and drives East to other resorts along the sea, which, I think, is a shame.

Whilst Faro might not be the most quaint Portuguese town – some of the buildings are stunning, but a lot of them are modern with large AC units stuck on the facade; nor does it have a particularly buzzing food scene – although there are some very charming tapas restaurants in the Old town; and it’s shopping is more miss than hit; but it is beautiful in it’s own way and definitely worth a visit.

It has a national park and beautiful beaches nearby, including Ilha Deserta (which is a tourist trap during the summer). So if you’re headed to the Algarve, make sure you save a day trip to the capital.


Places: Igreja do Carmo is an 18th century church with the earliest examples of Rococo architecture in the Algarve. In the back garden, enter the eerily captivating Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), a chapel made of 1,245 human skulls and other bones belonging to the monks once buried in the cemetery nearby. Head to Jardim Manuel Bívar and step into the Vila Adentro (the old town) through the monumental Arco da Vila, a neo-classical archway leading into the city’s old town. Check out the medieval Se Cathedral, with its gloriously ornamented golden altar from the 17th and 18th centuries and a grand pipe organ. The building was partially burned down in 1596, during the invasion of the English troops under the Earl of Essex, and rebuilt in the 18th century. Hit the chic boutiques and shops along Rua de Santo António. Take a boat from the Porta Nova Pier to Ilha Deserta, a deserted island forming part of the Ria Formosa. Jardim da Alameda João de Deus is a peaceful park with peacocks.


Faro e Benfica Awesome, casual seafood spot

Neither tried nor tested, but researched & recommended…

Faz Gostos Modern looking and a very popular choice

Dos Irmãos Faro’s oldest restaurant serving regional dishes including a seafood cataplana, a popular dish in the Algarve named after the deep, belly-shaped copper dish the meal is cooked in

Aqui d’el Rei Super cosy and homely café that also serves tapas

Se7e Pedras A characterful, candlelit wine bar/restaurant

Bijou A low-key café

Mercado Municipal Indoor food market specialising in seafood

O Murta Rustic setting and menu

A Venda Quiet and cosy taverna

Vila Adentro Traditional Portuguese menu in a beautiful setting

Restaurante Estaminé In Ilha Deserta

11 Tapas Cute spot in a beautiful back street

Taberna Modesto Hostel with a large outdoor restaurant


O Castelo Literally inside the walls of an old castle. Busiest during the summer months with live music and outdoor bars. Definitely worth going for a coffee along the water front when the weather is beautiful

Neither tried nor tested, but researched & recommended…

Columbus Cocktail and Wine Bar A lounge is housed in the arcade of a 16th-century hospital



Neither tried nor tested, but researched & recommended…

Hotel Eva An elegant, good-value hotel with an all-white, chandeliered lobby, a lounge with a grand piano and understated rooms with scenic marina views

Hotel Faro Offer the best view of the main square and marina as well as the Ria Formosa Natural Park

Hotel Sol Algarve An unassuming budget hotel


I visited Faro many times. Most recently in October 2017

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