Are you drawn to the capital of the Algarve? Would you like to settle there permanently? One thing’s for sure: you’ll never run out of things to do there. Often overlooked, this historic city has an undeniable charm and boasts many opportunities for visits and outings. This short guide gives an introduction to Faro and concentrates mainly on activities that can be done in the city itself. What to see first, where to find the best shops, where to spend your evenings in Faro: you will discover all the essentials in this article. But if you choose to live there or spend more time there, you will soon learn that the entire region offers many places of interest. You will never be short of things to do in and around Faro!

Discover Faro:
the main sites to visit in the city

Take a tour of the Cidade Velha and admire its historic monuments

Faro’s old town (Cidade Velha), also known as the ‘Vila Adentro’ (the city within), is the historic heart of the Algarve’s capital. Surrounded by magnificent walls dating back to the 11th century, it houses most of Faro’s emblematic monuments. As you wander through its narrow cobbled streets, you will find yourself fully immersed in the wonderful Portuguese architecture and the authentic atmosphere.

It can be accessed through various medieval gates, including the iconic Arco da Vila. Located right beside the seafront, this pedestrian passageway with its neoclassical ornamentation is in itself a monument worth visiting. You can also enter the old town through the Arco de Repouso (the ‘Gate of Rest’) or the pretty and more modest Porta Nova.

Inside the walled area, Faro Cathedral, also known as the Igreja de Santa Maria, is the most visited religious building in the city. During you visit, we encourage you to climb to the top of its tower: the exceptional views over Vila Adentro and the landscape of the Ria Formosa make it worthwhile! Just a short walk from the cathedral is the Museu Municipal de Faro, which gives a detailed account of local history.

Discover Faro’s marina and amble along the waterfront

This is one of the most pleasant areas of Faro. Popular with locals, expatriates and visitors alike, it is the ideal place for a stroll at any time of day. Take time to relax and enjoy the view of the boats slowly rocking in the marina as you enjoy a cocktail on the terrace or dine in one of the many waterfront restaurants. You can also take a ferry from Faro marina to the various islands and their long sandy beaches. Or why not take a nice day trip to the Ria Formosa Park?

Directly opposite the marina is the Jardim Manuel Bivar, a beautiful park with well-manicured gardens. As you walk through the square, you will be surprised to learn that the park was in existence as early as the beginning of the Christian era, and that it was long considered the real beating heart of the city. Today, the gardens offer visitors a welcome retreat from the hot summer sun where they can stroll beneath the shade of the trees.

Other activities in Faro

To truly discover Faro you will need more than one day: the city offers many opportunities for visits and activities that only those who live there will have the time to experience. Here are just a select few of some other must-see sites and monuments to explore:

  • The Palacete Belmarço: a perfect example of the early 20th century Art Nouveau style, this remarkable residence is said to be the most beautiful building in Faro. Once the property of a wealthy merchant, after whom it was named, the palace now houses the city’s administrative services.
  • The Igreja do Carmo and the Capela dos Ossos: an unusual attraction that will not fail to impress. The Carmo Church is worth a visit of its own, but the Chapel of Bones at the back of the church is particularly spectacular thanks to an unusual feature. It is decorated with an impressive collection of human bones belonging to the monks who once officiated in the church.
  • The city of Faro is also home to several very interesting museums on a wide variety of themes. Be sure to visit the Museu Marítimo Almirante Ramalho Ortigão (Maritime Museum), which pays tribute to Portugal’s greatest explorers, or the Centro de Ciência Viva do Algarve (Algarve Science Museum), to name but a few.

Where is the best place for shopping in Faro?

Window shoppers will be pleased to know that Faro offers an array of boutiques and shopping centres. Here are the main shopping spots in the Algarve’s capital:

  • The Mercado Municipal de Faro: this is the best place to mix with locals and immerse yourself in an authentic atmosphere. Open every day, from early morning until 2pm, here you will find all the fresh produce you need including meat, fish, vegetables, flowers, cereals, etc. In the afternoon, you will be able to browse several shops in the shopping arcade.
  • The Algarve Forum: this large, well-stocked shopping centre is located on the outskirts of the city. The complex is spread over two floors, in the middle of which is a beautiful square with fountains and palm trees. You can easily spend a full day perusing its 120 shops or enjoying its restaurants and cinema.
  • Rua de Santo António, in the city centre: this beautiful pedestrian and shopping street is home to many well-known regional and international brands. In addition to its high-end, fashion, clothing and accessory boutiques and souvenir shops, the street also has several cafés and restaurants where you can take a well-deserved break from shopping.
  • The MAR Shopping Algarveshopping complex: have you still not found what you’re looking for in Faro’s many boutiques? There’s no need to worry, simply visit this large 8000m2 shopping centre. With an IKEA, more than 85 shops, a large food hall, as well as a children’s playground and cinema, it is sure to meet all your shopping needs.

What is there to do in the evening in Faro?

In the Algarve’s capital, party-goers will not be disappointed… As the night draws in, head to Praia de Faro, the largest beach near the city. Just a short bus journey from the city centre, it is the ideal place to watch the sunset while enjoying a cold drink with family and friends.

But if you’d prefer to take a romantic walk, consider returning to the Cidade Velha. Well-lit at night, you can admire the main monuments in the peace and quiet, knowing that you are completely safe. The marina is also one of Faro’s nightlife hotspots. On summer evenings it is a very pleasant place to enjoy a variety of concerts and street performances in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

If you prefer a more upbeat vibe, there are several bars and discos to keep you entertained until the early hours. In the city centre, Rua de Santo António and Rua do Crime are the best places to party in Faro. You can also visit the famous Columbus Cocktail & Bar, which won the award for best bar and menu, or the First Floor club and the Prestige Dance Club.

The Algarve’s capital offers a wide range of activities to those who relocate there. To get to know Faro better, why not invest in a prestigious property in this popular part of Portugal? The luxury villas of the Quinta de Faro estate, ideally located just a stone’s throw from the city centre, will allow you to enjoy this beautiful region all year round.