Introducing Faro

By day Faro is the place to wander cobbled streets past ancient architecture and centuries-old churches. By night, the city’s lively theatre scene and bustling tavernas come to life. If a day of rest is on the cards, board a boat at Porto Nova and escape to an Ilha de Faro beach. Or sail through the unspoilt surrounds of Rio Formosa Nature Park. A stay in a boutique hotel here has all the elements of cosmopolitan city break, with the best parts of a country retreat.

Things to do

Most visits to Faro start at Arco de Repouso, the medieval gateway to Cidade Velha – the Old City. Spend time following winding streets to the Bishop’s Palace and cathedral, where you can climb to the roof for panoramic coastal views. The Museu Municipal, housed in a magnificent 16th-century building, gives a glimpse of Algarve history. Or, for something a little more macabre, seek out Capela dos Ossos in the Igreja do Carmo church. The chapel is made from monks’ bones.

With a bustling marina at its heart, it’s no surprise Faro is famed for seafood. Pick from grilled sardines, stuffed squid and dishes made from razor clams. When it’s time for dessert, feast on fresh figs. And be sure to top dinner off with a glass of Medronho – a punchy brandy made from sweet, strawberry-like fruit. Locals call it ‘firewater’.

A short boat ride from Faro is Ria Formosa – a little piece of paradise just moments from the city. Barrier islands, saltpans, dunes and marshes surround this lagoon and nature reserve. Bring your binoculars to look for chameleons, the native Portuguese Water Dog and rare birds. Book a private bird watching tour and you could spot kingfishers, flamingos and purple swamp hens – the symbol of the park.

Top Tip from SLH

Nibble fresh nuts or churros as you meander around Estoi market – a monthly event that draws visitors from across Southern Portugal.