The city of Faro charms visitors with its historic old town, vibrant food scene, and miles of golden beaches. It’s one of the most visited holiday destinations in Portugal. Whether you want to immerse yourself in culture, enjoy the lively nightlife, or simply relax in the sun, Faro has something for everyone.
In this ultimate guide to Faro, Portugal, I’ll share essential tips for making the most of your trip. You’ll learn the best ways to get around, where to stay to suit your interests, details on the stunning beaches and natural scenery nearby, recommendations for dining and nightlife, the optimal times to visit each season, and top things to see and do in the city.
Is a Taxi from the Airport a Good Option?
If you’re flying into Faro, the easiest way to get into the city centre is by taxi. The Faro airport taxi stand is located just outside the airport terminal, and the fare into central Faro is around €10-15, depending on traffic. Public buses are also available, but taxis will get you into town faster without having to worry about your luggage. Taxis are a convenient transportation option for your arrival in Faro.
Public Transport in Faro
Once in Faro, the best way to get around is on foot, by bike, or by using the public bus system. The historic city centre is very walkable, and most of the major attractions like the Old Town, marina, and beach are within a mile of each other. Bike rentals are also available if you want to cover more ground.
Faro’s bus system offers frequent service around the city as well as routes to nearby beach towns like Olhão, Tavira and Monte Gordo. A single bus ticket costs €1.40. It’s also possible to purchase a 24-hour tourist bus pass for €5 which allows unlimited use of the bus network.
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Where to Stay in Faro
For the best experience in Faro, I would recommend staying within the cobblestone streets of the Cidade Velha, or Old Town.
This charming historic district is filled with traditional Portuguese architecture, cafes, and shops.
Some top-rated hotel options in the Old Town include Hotel Eva, Hotel Sol Algarve, and Hotel Faro & Beach Club.
Outside of the Old Town, other nice areas to base yourself include the marina, with upscale hotels like the Luna Alvor Village, and Praia de Faro, for beachfront accommodation. The main advantage of staying outside the Old Town is lower hotel rates, more space, and parking availability. However, you’ll need to take a short bus ride to the city centre.
The ideal location depends on your priorities. If you want an authentic experience surrounded by culture and nightlife, the Old Town can’t be beaten. For a more relaxed beach getaway, staying near Praia de Faro may better suit your needs. With Faro’s efficient bus system, the city highlights are easily accessible no matter where you choose to stay.
What are the Beaches Like in Faro?
Faro has some of the best beaches in Portugal, with miles of golden sand and an island feel. The main beach right in town is Praia de Faro (also called Ilha de Faro), which sits on a picturesque sandbar that you can walk to from the mainland at low tide. This beach is popular but offers amenities like lifeguards, restaurants, and activities for families.
Just a short bus ride from Faro, you’ll find more natural and secluded beaches like Praia da Ilha de Tavira, Praia do Barril and Praia da Ilha da Armona.
Most beaches near Faro have basic facilities, lounge chairs, and watersports rentals during the summer season from June through September. The calm, azure waters of the Gulf of Cadiz make swimming and sunbathing ideal from May through October.
Beyond the beaches, the Ria Formosa Natural Park, located just south of Faro, is a must-see. This coastal lagoon system contains beaches, wetlands, dunes and salt pans. You can view native birds and go hiking, biking or kayaking along the park’s trails. Whether you want an active beach escape or a peaceful retreat surrounded by nature, the coastal areas around Faro have you covered.
Which Beaches have a Blue Flag?
Several beaches near Faro have been awarded a Blue Flag, indicating high standards of water quality, safety, and environmental management. Some of the Blue Flag beaches close to Faro include:
- Praia de Faro (Ilha de Faro): The main town beach, popular and easily accessible. It has lifeguards, restaurants and facilities.
- Praia do Barril: A small, picturesque beach on Ilha de Tavira, accessed by a charming anchor beach train. More natural surroundings with limited development.
- Praia da Armona: A long, sandy beach on Ilha da Armona. Requires a short ferry ride, so it stays less crowded. Basic facilities and beach activities are available in summer.
- Praia da Ilha de Tavira: A peaceful, scenic beach with dune vegetation and walking trails. It’s located on Ilha de Tavira, accessed by ferry. Limited facilities, but offers a back-to-nature vibe.
- Praia Verde: A 3-mile-long beach in Castro Marim, located just east of Faro near the Spanish border. This Blue Flag beach offers an unspoiled stretch of sand with stunning views of the coastline. Limited facilities, so more suited for walking and solitude.
- Monte Gordo Beach: One of the Algarve’s finest beaches, located about a 30-minute drive east of Faro. It features a long promenade, high-quality facilities, accommodation and dining options. A popular yet charming beach resort town.
What is there to do in Faro?
Faro has an abundance of activities to keep visitors entertained. Some of the top things to do include:
- Exploring the Old Town, including the Arco da Vila, Faro Cathedral, and cobblestone streets. This is the cultural heart of Faro, with shopping, dining, and nightlife.
- Visiting the Municipal Museum to learn about the history and archaeology of Faro. It is located in a 16th-century convent.
- Taking a boat tour of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and going bird watching or hiking in this ecologically diverse area.
- Strolling through the lively Faro Marina, filled with restaurants, cafes, and nautical activities.
- Shopping at the traditional Mercado Municipal de Faro, an open-air market selling local produce, seafood, bread, and handicrafts.
- Touring the Igreja do Carmo church, featuring Baroque architecture and Azulejo tilework.
- Seeing a show at the Teatro Lethes, Faro’s historic theatre. They offer theatre, dance, and music performances.
- Making a day trip to nearby beach towns like Olhão, Tavira, and Castro Marim. Each has a charming old town, cultural landmarks, and natural scenery to explore.
- Taking part in outdoor activities like boating, biking, fishing, golfing or bird watching around the Ria Formosa estuary.
- Relaxing on Praia de Faro or one of the other scenic beaches, with golden sand and warm, calm waters.
- Dining on fresh seafood, regional meat dishes, and delectable pastries. Faro offers diverse culinary options to suit every taste.
Whether you want an active, cultural or nature-based trip, Faro and its surroundings have something for everyone. You certainly won’t run out of things to do in this charming Algarve destination.
What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Faro?
The best times to visit Faro are typically from April to June and September to October, during the shoulder months. July and August are the hottest summer months and also the busiest tourist season, so prices are the highest and crowds are the largest. Spring and fall offer warm, sunny weather that’s ideal for exploring and outdoor recreation, without the big crowds and heat of summer.
If budget is a concern, the winter months from December to February are the off-season, with lower prices and smaller crowds. However, the weather is colder, with a higher chance of rain. The winter months are better suited for cultural activities and dining indoors. No matter the season, coastal areas like Faro have mild weather throughout much of the year, making it an appealing year-round destination.
What is the Weather Like in Faro?
Faro has a Mediterranean climate with long, hot, dry summers and mild rainy winters. Summers are warm and last from June to September, with average highs around 82 F and 12 hours of sunlight per day. The winter months from December to February are cooler, ranging from 51 to 59 F, and there is more chance of rain.
Spring and fall offer temperate weather, minimal chance of rain, and smaller crowds. The ocean remains warm enough for swimming from June through October. Keep in mind the Algarve gets the most rainfall between November and March, though showers tend to pass quickly.
Pack light, breathable clothing for summer, with a cover-up for cool evenings. Bring layers for spring and fall, and a raincoat for winter. And of course, don’t forget your swimsuit – the beaches around Faro are inviting year-round!
Where are the Best Places to Eat in Faro?
Some of the top restaurants in Faro include:
•A Venda – A casual seafood spot featuring fresh-caught fish, shellfish and homemade bread. They have a lovely patio and affordable prices.
•Churrasqueira Mercado de Faro – This traditional grillhouse is located in the municipal market hall. They offer quality meat, sausage and side dishes in a no-frills setting. Great for lunch.
•Restaurante Oceano – An upscale seafood restaurant with a contemporary vibe. They offer creative dishes made from the daily catch as well as classic grilled fish and rice. Reservations recommended.
•Faz Gostos – A stylish bistro using locally-sourced organic ingredients. Their menu includes creative salads, fresh pasta, meat dishes and cheese boards. A favourite for a special night out.
•Pastelaria Aliança – No trip to Portugal is complete without custard tarts! This popular bakery has been making delicious pastries like egg tarts, almond cakes and cheesecakes since the 1930s. A must for any foodie.
•Doca da Sardinha – This food court-style eatery near the marina contains several small vendors offering cuisine like sardines, pizza, burgers, Brazilian BBQ and Thai food. Casual, budget-friendly and perfect for a group. Pull up a seat anywhere along the scenic harborfront.
•Tasca da Fazenda – For traditional Algarvean dining, head to Tasca da Fazenda. They feature hearty country fares like wild boar stew, lamb chops, and stuffed chicken in a cosy stone house. An off-beat favourite run by a local family.
From gourmet seafood to cheap and cheerful street eats, Faro has a diverse food scene to satisfy every appetite and budget. Be sure to try the local specialities like grilled fish, amêijoas à Algarvia (garlic clams), and almond or egg custard pastries. And of course, no trip to Portugal is complete without a glass of Algarve wine to pair with your meal!
Where are the Best Places for a Night Out in Faro?
Some popular spots for a night out in Faro include:
•Cheer’s Irish Bar – For a fun pub atmosphere, head to Cheer’s Irish Bar. They offer live music, sports on TV, beers on tap and bar snacks. Open late, always a lively spot for a casual drink.
•Boteco Do João – This stylish bar features exotic cocktails made with fresh fruit and spices, along with a solid selection of Portuguese wines and spirits. Upscale yet relaxed, with outdoor seating.
•Discoteca Number One – One of the largest nightclubs in the Algarve, open from 11 pm until 6 am. They host famous DJs and themed party nights with multiple rooms playing a variety of music styles like house, techno and pop.
•Buddha Bar – An upscale lounge and restaurant with a mix of Japanese and Thai-inspired decor. Their bar offers signature cocktails and premium spirits, with chill music for conversation or dancing.
•Teatro Lethes – For an evening of culture, see what’s on at Teatro Lethes. They host live theatre productions, music shows, dance and comedy acts. Event schedules vary by season, but always a unique nightlife option.
•Hard Rock Cafe – The iconic Hard Rock Cafe offers casual American fare, cocktails and frequent live music. Their bar is open until 2 am, and the music goes on as late as 4 am, for those looking to keep the party going.
•ODJ Spirit – A stylish cocktail bar in a historic building, open until 4 am. They offer creative drinks, quality spirits and occasional live DJ sets. Upstairs there is also a restaurant with panoramic views of the city. A sophisticated spot for late-night drinks.
Between bars, nightclubs, live music venues and shows, Faro offers diverse nightlife options for any evening. The Old Town and marina areas in particular have concentrations of casual and upscale bars for drinks, conversation or dancing the night away to the beat of your drum.