Faro, capital city of the Algarve, offers so much more than just a landing point in Portugal. It is a city full of history, great shops, restaurants and coffees, theatres and galleries, great beaches and the Ria Formosa nature reserve on the door step, one of the national Seven Wonders, that allow you to do several activities, such as kite-surfing, canoeing, windsurfing, boat tours and birdwatching, ensuring unique moments in contact with nature.
Manuel Bivar Garden, one of the main central squares of the city, it´s a great starting point to visit the City, you can sit, relax and plan what to see in the next few days! All the streets leading away from this beautiful garden.
you will find several stores of major international brands and other local ones, spread over the streets that, for the most part, are only for pedestrians. Stroll along Rua de Santo António, one of the main pedestrian arteries of the city and notice its traditional Portuguese sidewalk.
The oldest part of the city called “Cidade Velha” is on the eastern side of this garden. You can look up and see the most iconic storks nests. They have many years there and delights everyone that pass by.
Walk through the arch (Arco da Vila), one of the 3 doors to enter in the old part of the city, known as “Vila Adentro”. This monument was inaugurated in 1812 and is one of the most representative examples of neoclassicism in the Algarve.
Follow the narrow street, into the tree lined and at this point you are at Largo da Sé. This is the main square in the old city. Here you can find the statue of Dom Francisco Gomes do Avelar, who was a bishop of Faro in the 18th and early 19th century and now you can see the beautiful Sé Catedral de Faro, It is one of Faro’s most beautiful monuments. Inside is really huge and you can see a lot of golden details and sculptures, decorated tiles and works of art. It originates from the 13th/14th centuries, although much of the inside decoration is 17th century and despite having to be repaired after being ransacked and set alight by the Conde of Essex’s in 1596 and damaged in the earthquake of 1755, still has the original doorway and two original chapels. You can also climb up the bell tower by taking 68 steps. From the bell tower you have a breathtaking view over the surrounding area and the Ria Formosa.
Facing the Cathedral you will see the Episcopal Palace. It was built at the request of the Bishop of the Algarve, Francisco Gomes de Avelar, who was a bishop of Faro in the 18th and early 19th century and did a lot to restore the city of Faro after the earthquake. The Palace is still the official residence of the actual Bishop and is not open to the public.
In the southwest of Largo da Sé there is a small gate in the city wall. It is called Porta Nova (New Gate) and was built in the 15th century. It connects the waterfront with the old town. Through the gate you can see the coast of Faro with lagoons and sandy islands. There you can get a ferry to some amazing islands or get a boat trip thought the calm waters of the “ Ria Formosa” lagoon watching all the amazing wildlife.
We also recommend you to visit the “Carmo Church”. It is also, one of the most beautiful churches of the Algarve. It was built in 1719, but the earthquake of 1755 heavily damaged it. The reconstruction of the exterior only finished in 1878.
Inside the Carmo Church you can find the bones chapel. The walls of this chapel are covered with human skulls and bones. It is kind of a surreal feeling to stand in a room which is made from human bones. Above the entrance of the bones chapel, you can find the text: stop here and consider, that you will reach this state too. This Chapel is undoubtedly the highlight of the Carmo Church, but at the same time one of the creepiest attractions of Faro.
Back at the Manuel Bívar Gardens, there’s nothing like a refreshing drink while you rest at one of the terraces along the estuary; an if it´s time for a meal, you must look for a restaurant to taste the gastronomic delights, like the fish and seafood cooked in a “cataplana”, a copper utensil typical of the Algarve, which is also believed to be of Arabic origin. There are some great traditional restaurants inside the old city.
Faro can also be discovered by night as well, thanks to its massive student population that lights up every bar and plaza of the city, not to mention all the cultural activities you will be able to enjoy.
Another highlight that really worth to be visited, it´s the ESTOI PALACE. You have to drive by car, about 9 km from Faro to Estoi.
The Palace of Estoi is a rococo building , was built in the late 19th century and is the finest example of this kind of architecture in the district of Faro.
The Palace are exceptionally beautiful. A double staircase leads up to an impressive facade and the noble interior, with handcraft ceilings on the ballroom.
Surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains, it is really relaxing to walk around here. It is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset. Definitely worth a visit.
As you see the Algarve capital is not just a landing point , as many think! There is so much to see and do in Faro that it is even necessary to say ‘One destination, so many choices’ ????