An atmospheric spot in the Algarve

Faro, the capital of Portugal’s Algarve region, is a city of contrasts – a cultural hotbed where you’ll find history, outstanding food and natural beauty. As well as bustling plazas, shopping streets and a modern marina, Faro has its fair share of age-old monuments.

Alongside its medieval cobbled streets there are Roman ruins and a Gothic cathedral. Faro holidays are great for seaside relaxation, thanks to the expansive Praia de Faro. It’s a short bus ride away, and there is 5 kilometres of sand to enjoy.

Another must-visit is the Ria Formosa Nature Park. Take a boat tour of its wildlife-filled lagoon, or spend a day enjoying one of its secret beaches, Ilha da Barreta and Ilha da Culatra. Faro is also great for foodies. Restaurants serve freshly caught fish from the Atlantic, and seafood from the nearby Ria Formosa. With so much to see, do and eat on holidays to Faro, the hardest part is deciding how long to stay for.

Your Faro questions, answered

Set on Portugal’s southern coast, Faro is the capital of the Algarve. It includes the Ria Formosa Nature Park, an important migratory spot for birds and wildlife.
With its gorgeous warm summers – where the sun shines for up to 12 hours a day – and mild winters, Faro is an attractive year-round destination.
You can visit Faro at any time of the year as the Algarve has a mild, short winter and a long spring and summer. In July and August, the temperatures may top 30ºC, but they'll rarely drop below 10ºC in the winter. Between December and March, you can often find cheaper hotels and fewer crowds. If you choose May or October, you'll have warm enough weather to swim but cool enough to sightsee in Faro's old Moorish city. Golfers will find courses open throughout the year, while the spring and autumn months are popular with hikers and bikers.
The Ria Formosa is home to many shellfish beds – try the fresh clams and mussels, as well as Portuguese dishes such as grilled sardines and cod.
As well as Faro beach, Culatra Island beach and Farol, or Lighthouse beach, you'll also find the endless stretches of Quinta do Lago beach running further west. Faro beach runs into Quinta do Lago, and then you can just keep on going for kilometre after kilometre of sandy shore. On the other side of Faro beach are East Faro and Barrinha beaches, then there's a channel that cuts you off from Barreta beach. This is almost a desert island, and if you want total isolation and no facilities, you should ride a ferry over from Faro marina.
You'll find Faro a splendid place for a holiday, with many beaches, golf courses and the old Moorish city. You'll love exploring its narrow streets and little bars, where you can often see storks nesting in the street lamps or chimney pots. You'll find delicious food down at the town's marina, which also has ferries to the surrounding islands. The Ria Formosa nature reserve and national park offer you the chance to observe endangered wildlife and migratory birds. You can visit the reserve on a guided walk or bike tour, by boat or in a kayak.
It’ll take you a good three or four hours to drive from Faro to Lisbon. You can also go by taxi, or travel by train, which takes about three and a half hours. A direct bus departs every hour and will take you approximately three and a quarter hours. You could also fly in only 45 minutes but it has the associated waiting times in the airports. Bike enthusiasts might like to explore the country over several days cycling with an adventure ride club.
If you're not into beaches or sunbathing, Faro is a great place to visit as a city break. The old Moorish town has stretches of 9th-century wall and huge medieval gates. The downtown district is one of the city's most popular destinations, with streets paved in the traditional calcada style of Portugal. You'll also find numerous cafes and pastry shops, including one that many think is the third oldest cafe in the country. You can try the seafood restaurants at the marina and pop into the craft shops to pick up souvenirs.
You can book family-friendly hotels in Faro and find plenty of distractions to keep the kids amused. The beaches are generally sandy with shallow water and you'll find activities from volleyball to paragliding. You can take a boat trip around the islands or the nature reserve, or drive to a couple of water parks. Older kids will enjoy the Active Science Centre, where you'll have hands-on experience of marine life in their touch pool. You can also feel what an earthquake is like, see a live tornado and find out how many calories you eat in a pizza.

Best things to do in Faro

Explore the Ria Formosa

This luscious natural lagoon just off the coast of Faro is a haven for birds and wildlife. Birdwatchers should look out for storks, razorbills and flamingos.

Hit the beach

In addition to enjoying Faro’s sunny shores, take a boat to discover some of Ria Formosa’s beautiful sandy beaches, including Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Barreta.

Soak up the history

Faro might have a modern centre, but it has ancient walls and historic ruins that tell of the city’s colourful past, dating back to the Romans and the Moors.
Beaches