Advice, Travel

4 day Faro Itinerary: Exploring and Beaching

Faro, in the far south of Portugal, is often overlooked by the many many tourists that fly into its sunny airport in favour of the tourist resorts along the coast. With cheap flights, a chilled nightlife and a whole load of Portuguese culture, in addition to numerous beaches within a short ferry or train ride, Faro is one to add to your list of summer destinations. We had a full 4 days in the Algarve’s capital, getting a very early flight from Bristol and arriving at our hostel by 11am Thursday and not taking off from the airport until 10pm Sunday. Talk about making the most of 2 days annual leave!

Here’s our recommended 4 day itinary to help you plan your short break to this beautiful part of the Algarve.

Day 1

Grab a coffee and find the no16 bus into Faro. Not ‘praia de Faro’, that’s the beach (and not one we’d recommend). Once in town, find your lodgings, get your bearings and explore a bit. There are some lovely places to eat, both in the old town and in the town itself. For tasty Tapas and sangria, check out O11ZE, a café hidden in the old town. The staff are friendly, the food is Portuguese and yummy and the atmosphere is beautifully relaxing.

After lunch, throw in your beach kit and jump on a ferry boat out to Ilha de Faro for 3Euro return. You can pick up a parasol in one of the tourist shops in the Faro for around 7Euros, there’s no shade on any of the beaches so it’s totally worth it! Be sure to pass it on to someone that will use it at the end of your trip so it can carry on being a happy beach umbrella.

Ilha de Faro is fairly quiet, walk up the beach for a few minutes and you’ll find some solitude. There are a few restaurants/bars and houses near the ferry drop off and you can somehow drive here too but it doesn’t have a holiday resort feel, being a local hangout for many of the city dwellers just over the water.

Grab a bite to eat in the evening before taking a stroll around the old town at night. Everyone comes out when the sun goes down and the streets transform from a quiet sea-side town to a bustling cosmopolitan centre. there are a variety of festivals on throughout the summer, definitely one to check out before you go!

Day 2

Immerse yourself in the Portuguese culture and explore the history that the city has to offer.

The Chapel of bones is a must, for 2Euros you get access to the church and chapel, built using the femurs and skulls of over 1000 monks, it really is a different experience. The inscription above the door reads: Pára aqui a considerar que a este estado hás-de chegar, which we’re told translates to

“Stop here and consider that you will reach this state too”

The Algarve Regional Museum takes you through the areas history, mostly how the local people have lived and the industries they work in. With historic photographs and displays of local crafts, you will get a great insight into the history and live of the local Portuguese.

The old Town Cathedral is not to be missed, with decoration from centuries ago it is a museum of the cathedral through the different eras. After taking in the amazing artwork of the various alters and visiting the small chapel of bones (nowhere near as exciting as the other one!) be sure to climb the stairs to the look out and bell tower, the views across the city and sandbars are stunning.

The ‘Museu Municipal de Faro’, a 16th Century convent displays art and artefacts that give you an insight into the local culture and history. The building itself is worth a visit, with mosaic floors dating back to the Roman times. There are statues dating back to roman times aswell as artefacts from the Baroque and Renaissance periods.

Local Shops and Markets are a great place to check out the local produce and crafts. There are many craft and flea markets in the region as well as shops that sell locally made products including decorative tiles and cork products.

After a busy day check out 31 Bistro Vinho & Comp  for some stunning Portuguese food before sitting in a local bar and watching the world go by and the sun go down.

Day 3

Check the train times to Tavira and hop on one after breakfast. After 40 minutes, alight and explore this new town. It has a different feel to Faro that is difficult to explain, it’s bigger, brighter and more cosmopolitan while still maintaining the same Portuguese charm.

Walk downhill from the train station until you find the river, from here you can find a map or take the little tourist train up to the cathedral and old castle. Enjoy the view of the town and a sit a while in gardens or overlooking the rooftops while listening to live acoustic music and munching on fresh fruit from a local producer. We took the train, it was slow paced but we used it as shade in the middle of the day and saved a bit of dosh by eating sandwiches as we looked around. It also takes you out to the salt marshes allowing you to see the salt marshes where they’re using ancient practices and the sun to naturally remove salt from the sea.

After a spot of sightseeing and looking around the local crafty shops jump on the ferry to the Ilha de Tavira. Another of the islands just off the south coast with small bungalows, restaurants and bars without the resort feel. The sea here is stunningly clear and it’s an amazing place to spend a few hours in the sunshine.

Once you’re done in the sun, stop off at Restaurante Migu’s for dinner. The food is amazing, as is the service. When i panicked and asked about Gluten free, Vegetarian options the waiter had a few ideas that came across as no problem at all! Something that can be stressful was instantaneously simple and catered for and it was the best goat cheese salad ever. Seriously, how you make a salad so good is beyond me! One note to remember is to research and book this restaurant beforehand as it books up quickly, we were very lucky to get a table when we did.

Be sure to check the last train back as getting back to Faro would difficult should you miss it!

Day 4

Home time. Booooo

Not before a morning at Ilha de Farol. THE BEST BEACH WE WENT TO! This island was stunning and if you go nowhere else no one would blame you! The sea was calm and clear, the sand was white and it wasn’t too busy either. we could have stayed all day but alas the airport was calling.

We stayed at the hostel 1878, a gorgeous hostel that was very central yet just enough out of the main city centre to feel quiet. It’s a quirky building with wooden doors, triple deck bunk beds and the best toilet/shower rooms we’ve experienced in a hospital. The staff were very friendly and helpful and a simple breakfast is included in the cost.

let us know if you visit, we’d love to hear about your experience!

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