Faro Might Be Your Summer Travel Antidote in 2024

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In all honesty, Faro likely isn’t going to be top of many travelers’ must-visit Portuguese destinations in summer. Lisbon and Porto are far more popular choices, and that’s fine for the most part.

But these bigger cities lack a little bit of something – a tranquil summer experience, if you may. Due to their popularity, their beaches may get crowded more quickly, and tour times may be more strictly rationed. 

That’s not to knock on any of them, but wouldn’t you rather have a summer experience that’s… uniquely yours?

Faro might just get you that this year. In this article, we’ll show you why Faro is the place to be in Portugal for summer, and how this captivating city can leave you impressed.

About Faro

Faro is nestled in the Algarve region of Portugal. If you look beyond its airport, the city does have a lot of other attractions as well. Its historic quarter, Cidade Velha, is a treasure trove of architectural gems – true to the quintessential Portuguese essence. You could find the stunning Gothic cathedral, the impressive Paço Episcopal palace, and the beautifully decorated Arco da Vila gateway.

What sets Faro apart as a true summer destination is that it’s lively and pedestrian-friendly. Everywhere you turn, bustling shopping streets, picturesque plazas, and a diverse range of restaurants and bars are serving up local delicacies and drinks. To the south of the city, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a protected ecosystem of saltwater lagoons and waterways, is a haven for migratory birds and marine life.

Just offshore, three sandbar islands carry Faro’s pristine beaches, perfect for soaking up the sun and relaxing in style.

Exploring Faro

Faro has the sights and sounds worth exploring, and it helps that it fits snugly into any day trip itinerary you might have. Between the bustling fishing port of Olhão and the vibrant market town of Loule, four hours can get you a lifetime of memorable sightseeing.

It’s best to begin your day on the historic Cidade Velha, exploring its narrow streets and uncovering the secrets of this ancient quarter. Best in the afternoon, venture into the modern area of Faro, where you’ll discover the fascinating Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel) and other hidden gems.

Feeling eager to immerse yourself in nature, take a boat tour of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a protected ecosystem teeming with marine life and migratory birds. While full-day tours are available, shorter trips to the picturesque Ilha Deserta offer a glimpse into this stunning nature park.

All through these, you don’t have to worry about transportation. As the largest city in the Algarve, Faro is easily accessible by public transport from surrounding Algarve regions. If you’re driving, a spacious car park to the southeast of the city awaits, making it easy to explore this captivating destination.

Other Attractions

1. Visit Largo da Se

    Largo da Sé stands as a serene square graced by the presence of the exquisite Church of Santa Maria. This square holds profound significance within the city, serving as the site of one of Faro’s renowned historical landmarks. 

    On the southern edge of this square rests a modest town gate, dating back to the 15th century. This gate serves as a vital link between the ancient town and the bustling waterfront, from where numerous boats set sail.

    2. Shop at Rua de Santo Antônio

      Rua de Santo António is one of Faro’s bustling shopping hubs, among its trio of primary thoroughfares. Here, an array of establishments caters to diverse tastes, offering a spectrum of goods ranging from luxurious items to locally crafted treasures. 

      The street derives its name from a chapel honoring Saint Anthony, dating back to the 15th century. Here’s a lunch idea for you: stop by the Gardy Patisserie for a slice – their “chicken sandwich special baguette” is quite the culinary bomb.

      3. Visit the Igreja do Carmo

        Want to hit a two-for-one as you tour around Faro? You’ve got to see the Igreja do Carmo. Constructed between 1713 and 1719, Faro’s most stunning church was commissioned by King João V, a wealthy benefactor. He generously funded the lavish gilded interior using gold sourced from Brazil, which was then a Portuguese colony. 

        Sadly the catastrophic 1755 earthquake devastated much of Faro, but this church miraculously retained much of its original splendor, albeit with alterations made to its twin-towered façade in the aftermath of the disaster.

        Then you’d find a second attraction, just behind the church. The macabre yet mesmerizing Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). This eerie chapel serves as the final resting place for over 1,250 skeletons, whose bones adorn every available surface in intricate geometric patterns. The skeletal remains, exhumed from Faro’s overcrowded cemeteries in 1816, belong to the Carmelite monks who once served in the adjacent Carmo church.

        As you venture into the chapel, you’ll be met with the unsettling gaze of the long-dead monks, whose bones seem to stare down at you from every surface. It’s not half as creepy as it sounds, but memorable nonetheless.

        Lisbon, Braga, and Porto are nice Portuguese destinations, but why stop there? Certainly, you wouldn’t want to come away from the trip feeling the summer could have been better spent! Faro is the hidden gem destination cure to travelers’ summer travel blues. 

        You’ve got to see this place, which is why we highlighted the best bits about the city. It’s all in a day’s trip, so your itinerary doesn’t have to suffer for it – a win-win you most certainly deserve.

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