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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.