Faro, Algarve, Portugal
The historic town of Faro is the capital of the Algarve and offers lots to see, from the many historic buildings to the shops and markets located at the harbour. There is plenty of street entertainment and lively nightlife in Faro but if you are looking for lazy days on beaches a trip to nearby resorts would be advisable.
The beaches round Faro are known as ilhas and Faro's main beach, Ilha de Faro is accessible by road or by ferry so you really can make a day of it. It is a very long stretch of golden sand with plenty of cafes and restaurants for refreshments throughout the day. A range of watersports such as windsurfing, jet skiing and sailing is also available from here.
Another one of Faro's beaches, the Ilha da Barreta is only accessible by a 30 minute ferry ride which passes through the Ria Formosa nature park. There are sunbeds for hire and you can buy drinks at the restaurant. As it is the only restaurant here, you may want to book if you are planning to have a meal.
Curving round the coastline, you will find the Ilha Deserta, directly in front of Faro city, which is accessible from several points by ferry or water taxi. As it is part of the National Park, you can explore the nature trail which is accessible from the beach. There are flamingos and a whole host of other things to see. The beach is large and there are plenty of umbrellas for sheltering from the sun and snacks are available too.
Things to Do
There is so much going on in the capital city, there are many great shops, tons of cafes, bars and restaurants, lots of historical attractions and of course, the Ria Formosa nature reserve.
For those interested in history, there is plenty to see here and with the city being quite compact, everything is generally within easy walking distance. Check out Faro Cathedral and its beautiful gilded carvings and 13th century tile work. Although a little creepy, you must visit the Chapel of Bones. The chapel is decorated with the skulls of over 1000 deceased monks and sometimes, if the temperature is right, the skulls can look as though they are sweating.
The 30,000 seater stadium is home to many sporting events and music concerts, you may just be lucky enough to attend one of many concerts during your stay.
Faro is very important in the sporting world and plays host to many different events and tournaments throughout the year, including sailing, surfing, kitesurfing, golf, tennis and cycling.
As well as many sporting events, there are also many festivals going on, such as Carnival which is usually around February/March and then there is the International Music Festival which takes place in late April or early May. No matter what time of year you choose to visit Faro, the chances are there will be lots going on.
Out and About
With such a great variety of bars, cafes and restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice. Enjoy a drink down at the marina whilst enjoying the view or venture into the town centre for refreshments at one of the many pavement cafes. If you like seafood, you may want to visit Dois Irmaos, the oldest restaurant in Faro. It opened in 1925 and has been serving some great seafood dishes ever since. There are some more expensive restaurants to be found overlooking the beach but in the centre of town you will find a variety of restaurants to suit a variety of prices.
There are lots of traditional, quiet bars but also plenty of lively bars on offer and with Faro being a university town, there are lots of nightclubs on offer so whatever you are looking for, it will no doubt be here.
Shops are great here too, there is a good sized shopping mall on the main road or if you prefer smaller, traditional shops then head into the town centre and you will find a good variety.
There are lots of places worth visiting while you are staying in Faro and Quarteira is one of them. Quarteira is a lively town with busy fish market and pretty seafront. You may even enjoy haggling at the gypsy market for clothes, shoes and various handicrafts.
Tavira is also worth a visit, famous for its Roman Bridge over the River Gilao, you can enjoy spending time just wandering round and admiring the old Algarve architecture. You can also take a short ferry ride to the beach here which may be a little quieter than the beaches in Faro.
For keen golfers, there are around 6 great golf courses within 30 minutes of the centre of Faro. The courses are among the best in Europe so not only can you enjoy the great weather whilst playing, you can also enjoy the great views of the ocean and the surrounding countryside.
Not far from Faro, you will find Atlantic Park with huge water coasters and various other water rides. The park is set in subtropical gardens so you can enjoy the surroundings whilst enjoying the rides. It's a great day out for everyone and you will be able to grab lunch there too.
Zoo Marine in Guia is also a great day out, offering many different attractions and activities and even the opportunity to swim with dolphins. The park can get busy so it is advisable to pre book the dolphin experience.
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