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Many people say that Faro – the capital of the Algarve – is located on Europe’s most scenic coast, offering beautiful, long sandy beaches that stretch away into a horizon framed by rocks on either side. Faro is a charming old town with cobbled streets and leafy parks. Its location in the centre of the Algarve makes Faro the perfect starting point for round-trips.
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Do and see
The gardens next to the harbour, Jardim Manuel Bivar, are a good starting point. At the upper-end, the city’s main shopping area begins – a little network of pedestrian streets with all kind of shops, cafés and restaurants. North from here, you come to some of Faro’s famous churches – for example, Igreja do Carmo – or going north-west via the Largo 25 de Abril roundabout, you arrive at the fresh produce market.
Museu Municipal
Museu Municipal is also called Museu Arqueológico as it contains mainly archaeological finds. Located in the former Nossa Senhora da Assunção monastery inside the ring-wall, the gardens date from 1540 with beautiful, two-storey cloisters, form the heart of the museum. Among the most remarkable items is a Roman floor mosaic from the 4th-century with the head of the God Neptune in special detail.
Faro Cathedral
From outside, Faro’s cathedral is low and squat, a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque as a result of protracted renovations and additions following the devastation of war and natural catastrophes. The interior is equally mixed but with interesting features, including a large organ from the 18th-century with Chinoiserie decoration.
Igreja do Carmo
Of Faro’s churches, this one is the most popular, but not so much for its fantastically over-elaborate, gold-leaf laden, Baroque interior as for its Capela dos Ossos - a “bone chapel”. This was added in 1816, and is entirely decorated with the skeletons of monks.
Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
The Ria Formosa wetlands area was declared a protected natural area in 1987 because its unique conditions as a breeding place for wetland birds being threatened by the expansion of tourism. This way, the entire coast from Faro to Cacela Velha was able to avoid exploitation. A boat trip to one of Faro’s islands is one way to visit Ria Formosa.
The Palace and Gardens and Roman Remains of Milreu
The Palácio de Estoi, unique in the Algarve, is situated in the town of Estoi, just north of Faro. It is a private palace built in Rococo style during the second half of the 19th-century. This miniature version of the King’s palace in Queluz, outside Lisbon, is surrounded by very beautiful gardens that are open to the public. In Milreu – just outside Estoi – are the Algarve’s chief Roman remains.
There are many reasons to visit Faro but one main reason is of course the diving scene. Whether it is your first time diving or you have been doing it for years the diving school Hidroespaço will suit your needs. They are the only licensed diving centre for diving in the sea horses.
Capela de Ossos
The Chapel of Bones is a small chapel but never the less gives a lasting impression. The inside of the chapel is all made out of human bones. It might not be for everyone but if you dare to visit it you will most likely be fascinated.
Deserta Island
Here you have the opportunity to spend your day on a deserted island and enjoy the white sand and crystal blue water. Arrive either by boat or water taxi and do not forget to bring water since it is very hot under the sun. As there is only one restaurant on the island a good idea is to bring a snack.
Faro Airport
Faro’s international airport is located six kilometres to the west of the city, right by the sea. Buses 14 and 16 depart regularly for Faro centre, the trip takes approximately 20 minutes and costs approx. €2,30. You can buy the ticket directly from the driver but remember that it is good to have some small notes or the exact amount of money. A taxi takes just under fifteen minutes and costs from €10.
Public Transport
Faro’s train station connects the city with the rest of the Algarve and Portugal. There is also a well-developed bus network, EVA, usually more efficient, for trips in the region. In Faro itself, it is best to walk but if you rather take the local bus the companies name is Proximo. You find the bus station just south of the train station at:
For longer trips it is better to negotiate the price in advance as the driver has the right to various surcharges for returning empty if the taxi meter is used. Tips are not obligatory but appreciated, even if small. The cars are either beige, green or black and the best way to find one is to go to one of the taxi ranks or pre-book. One of the taxi companies in town is Faro Taxi.
To find a post office in Faro, look for the red sign saying CTT. Letter boxes are also red. Faro’s main post office is in Largo do Carmo and it is open from Monday to Friday.
Each district of the town always has one pharmacy open 24-hours (farmácia, with a green cross) in accordance with a schedule displayed in the window of closed pharmacies. Otherwise, opening hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. One of the pharmacies in town is Farmácia Alexandre and you find it at:
National code: +351 Area code: 289
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