The lovely old city of Faro sits on the south coast of Portugal, on the Algarve - it’s the southernmost city in the country, and with a population of only 50,000 is a great place to take a relaxing break. White, sun-bleached apartment buildings and winding cobbled streets lead down to a working harbour, and the sparkling waters of the Atlantic. In the evenings, the town comes alive, with pavement cafes and bars serving until late - although Faro doesn’t have quite the same party reputation as other Algarve towns such as Lagos or Albufeira, you will still have a great night out here!
Where to Stay in Faro
Faro is not a big place, and is easily navigable by foot, or by short taxi journeys, so don’t worry too much about where you are staying - you will be able to get around easily. However, from an aesthetic perspective, we recommend that you look for holiday accommodation in the Cidade Velha or Old City - this is the loveliest part of the town and a gorgeous place to rent an apartment - imagine flinging open the shutters to your private balcony each morning and waking yourself up with a strong Portuguese coffee while taking in the beautiful views over the harbour! Booking through Wimdu means that you can tailor your accommodation search to find exactly what you need - whether that’s self-catering villa with a swimming pool, suitable for a family holiday, or a cosy bed and breakfast for a romantic getaway.
Fun Facts about Faro and the Algarve
- The Algarve is one of the earliest settled regions in Europe! The Phoenicians were trading here in 1000 BC!
- It is one of the least densely populated regions in Europe, with (on average) only about 76 people in each square kilometre!
- Over a million tourists book accommodation in Faro and the Algarve each year - the native population is less than half that!
Things to Do and See
If you are visiting Faro over the summer, try and coincide your trip with one of the fun annual events held in the city. The Faro Music Festival takes place every June, and July’s Faro International Motorcycle Rally is one of the most popular festivals in the whole of the Algarve! Don’t worry if you’re not interested in motorbikes - there is also loads of live music as well as fun events and food markets to enjoy. Later in the year the Feira de Santa Iria fills the city with music, markets and fun activities for kids.
You should also take the chance to head out of the city for a daytrip to Ria Formosa National Park which lies just a few km out of Faro. The best way to get there is by boat - there are various trip operators and you will get the chance to explore one or two of the islands that lie in the national park’s estuaries.
Faro’s local beach is called Praia de Faro and it slopes gently into the (surprisingly cold) sea. It has the usual stalls selling food and drink, so you can happily spend a day there baking under the scorching Portuguese sun! Check with your Wimdu host, as they may have some water sports equipment in your rental villa that you can borrow.
Eating and Drinking
Seafood, seafood and more seafood! Fish is an everyday meal all over the Algarve, and it is fresh, local and delicious! For a real taste of the area, order the ubiquitous grilled sardines, which normally come with a simple side dish of boiled potatoes and salad. Absolutely delicious with a glass of the local white wine - and don’t be worried about ordering the house wine, it is generally made locally and excellent value for money. Have a glass of local port to finish your meal off then head back to your apartment to relax for a few hours before heading out again for the night!
In the evenings, head to Sao Pedro Igreja (St Peter’s cathedral), where there are clusters of lively bars and clubs on the surrounding streets. Alcohol is cheap in Portugal compared to elsewhere in western Europe, so don’t be put off by seemingly cheap wine - you can get a bottle of local wine for a few euros in the supermarket that is totally drinkable! The Algarve is famous for two particular spirits - Aguardente and Medronho - they’re both a rather “particular” taste, but worth a try if you’re interested in what the locals drink!
You can fly straight into Faro Airport from most major airports in Europe. If you want to explore the Algarve, then car rental might be an option to consider - there are rental places at the airport. Alternatively you can just jump onto the airport bus to get whisked into Faro in twenty minutes. If you want to explore a bit more of the coast by public transport, you can take a bus to Lisbon - it takes four hours, and stops in Albufeira, Vilamoura and Quarteira - or the Alfa Pendular high speed train takes two and a half hours to get to Lisbon.