A gateway to the Ria Formosa nature park, this city has a walled core of historic buildings surrounded by scenic sandbars, beaches and marshlands.
Medieval city walls encircle the churches and palace in the heart of Faro, while beaches surround the nearby islands. Divide your time between the walled relics of Faro’s Old Town and the marshes and mudflats of the nature park.
Initially constructed by the Romans, the Faro City Walls are a well-preserved set of ramparts enclosing Old Town. Pass through the walls via the 19th-century Vila Arch, which is carved into the base of a neoclassical façade with a belfry and an elegant clock face. See the whitewashed building enclosing the Repouso Arch in the district’s eastern wall.
The Faro Cathedral is among the highlights of Old Town. Study the religious relics in the museum and notice the mix of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque styles. Climb to the roof for views of the neighboring attractions and the mudflats beyond the walls.
Wander through the spacious Largo da Sé plaza and admire the 16th-century Episcopal Palace of Faro. Nearby, you’ll find the Algarve Living Science Center, the Archaeological Museum of Faro and the Antiga Fábrica da Cerveja, a castle and brewery.
North of the walls, learn about local history at the Algarve Regional Museum and stroll through the University of Algarve. Among the high points is the Carmo Church, with its stained-glass windows and gilded interior. Delve into the eerie Chapel of Bones, whose walls are lined with skulls.
Take advantage of the hot summers, with a trip to Ilha da Barreta Beach and Ilha da Culatra Beach. The most popular strand is Faro Island Beach, where kayaks and surf boards are available to rent.
The city occupies the indention in the central parting of Portugal’s southern coast, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) south of Lisbon. Fly to Faro Airport, a 10-minute drive west of the city center. You can also travel by train to the Faro or Bom João stations.
Beaches, islands and mudflats complement the historic treasures of Faro’s walled Old Town.