Portugal’s gorgeous Algarve region has a well-earned reputation as a popular destination for sun-seekers. But its capital, Faro, isn’t always at the top of a tourist’s list. Nevertheless, this is a stunning city with a great blend of history and nature that is the perfect place to choose as a home base while you explore the region. Here are the HolidayTaxis teams’ suggestions.
A Trip Back in Time
Faro’s Old Town is well worth a visit if you like history. It’s the perfect chance to escape the hordes of tourists on the beaches. As you wander down the cobbled streets, explore the well-preserved city walls, and admire the glorious Palacio de Estoi, you’ll find yourself plunged into Portugal’s romantic past. You can easily spend half a day enjoying the historical centre of Faro.
Hidden Treasures in Estoi
This tiny village, nestled 10km to the north of Faro, is the perfect choice for a day trip. Here you can find fascinating ancient Roman ruins, as well as the stunning Palacio de Estoi. This pink palace, built just over one hundred years ago, has been converted into a hotel. Even if you can’t afford to stay the night in such luxury, you can still enjoy the gardens and the wonderful views!
A Spooky Surprise
If you really want to do something different on your holiday, then make your way to the Capela dos Ossos, aka the Chapel of Bones. The name will tell you what to expect: inside this little church, you’ll find the remains of monks exhumed from graves around Faro. The bones of over a thousand monks, all on display around the chamber, make this a truly unique experience, and certainly not for the faint of heart!
Immerse Yourself in Nature
The Ria Formosa natural park is a true highlight of the region, accessible by boat from Faro. Portugal is understandably proud of this beautiful stretch of nature, and works hard to protect it. Seabirds and all manner of sea creatures live here, and you can also see traditional fishermen, who are committed to using the old methods passed down from one generation to the next. Sustainability is the name of the game here, and if you want to get more out of this eco-friendly paradise, you can enjoy excursions by kayak or snorkel, as well as birdwatching.
A Day at the Beach
Of course, what would a Portuguese holiday be without a trip to the beach? Faro has no beaches within the city itself, but when you get to the Ria Formosa, you’ll find several seaside options. The most famous beach is the Praia de Faro, popular with tourists from all over Portugal and beyond. But if you hate crowds, then you’ll want to go a bit further, and make your way to the Ilha Deserta. Here you’ll find one of the Algarve’s true hidden gems. The name, which means Deserted Island, is definitely well-chosen! Get away from it all and enjoy the 9km of pure white sand, without any of the tourist amenities that can be found elsewhere in the Algarve.
Around the Algarve
As the capital of the region, Faro is unsurprisingly well-connected. Heading west, you can find the posh resort of Vilamoura and its more wallet-friendly neighbour, Quarteira. Further inland is Loule, worth visiting on a Saturday for a great market. And if you go east, you’ll find Olhão, a great spot to visit if you want some fresh fish straight from the sea to your plate!
Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Faro by sushibarista; (2) Estoi by Bert Kaufmann; (3) Capela de Ossos by Nerea Villoria; (4) Ria Formosa by Rui Ornelas; (5) Algarve by Consuelo; (6) Olhão by Jose Moutinho