Places

Why you should explore Faro, Portugal

We are firmly back on the travel trail as I’ve finally sorted out pictures from my recent trip to Faro, Portugal.  So sit back and let me show and tell.

Now in the past my knowledge of Faro has been an airport for those wanting to escape to the Algarve. Apparently it has 45 airlines flying in, including the largest number of low cost airlines.   Faro sits on the south coast of Portugal and is a town steeped with history….and it gets HOT in the summer months.  You can see many of my holiday criteria are already being ticked.  If you want to find out more about Faro’s history etc take a trip to the Wikipedia site but not just yet!

We landed into Faro Airport late on a Sunday afternoon wearing jeans, trainers and a rain jacket (don’t forget I’d left my house in Buxton UK in the morning). It was baking, the sky was the bluest sky I’d ever seen. I was going to see a lot more of that colour before the end of the holiday.  Having navigated out of the airport, not always straight forward for me navigating out of large buildings.  I once got trapped in Oslo railway station and inside a massive hotel in Los Angeles, but they are other stories.

There was a bus stop just outside the airport and we took the local bus into Faro.  Our backpacking adventure had begun.  The room where we were staying (all the details at the end) was about a 15 mins walk up a gentle hill from Faro bus station. I’m used to hills…..just not heat.  Once we’d settled in and replaced our clothes with something more suited to the climate we were off to explore.  But not before soaking in the view from our terrace, it was fab.

faro view from apartment

Now I’m not going to take you through and blow by blow account of what we did,  I just hope to give you a feel of the place.

The Town

Faro town centre is a very pretty maze of narrow streets that meandered us towards to the harbour front.  The shopping areas are well punctuated with cafes and restaurants, with tables spilling out into the black and white tiled streets, especially by night.  I loved the canopies draped from building to building to keep the streets shady.

The buildings and squares around Faro provide a very pleasing backdrop for a stroll.

And you can also go stork spotting, they seemed to be nesting on every tall build.  Their nests were remarkably large. Spot the two on the tips of the towers

Then a relaxing promenade along the marina.

faro marina

The food

The choice of places to eat and drink was never ending, too much choice is not always a good thing as I’ve said before.  We did a lot of walking trying to decide where to eat and then ending up in the first place we passed, sounding familiar? I like to try local food rather than eat what I’m used to, and if next to the sea love to have a bit of seafood.  Mr Husband is not so keen on the seafood front but was willing to share this big cataplana, which I since found out is the name of the pan used to prepare Portuguese seafood and it was big, the size of a wok. There was much cracking of shells, squirting of juices and generally getting in a bit of a mess, however it was delicious and sitting outside on a warm evening with a glass of dry white, it was perfect.  I also took a trip to the local undercover market.  There was a vast array of fresh bread, pastries, fish, meat and vegetables and if we had been staying in a self catering apartment I would have made much better use of the place. But let’s take a look at that cataplana…..

cataplana faro

The beach

What better way to work off a hearty cataplana than a trip to the beach.  I’m guessing the reason Faro is not more holiday-fied is because you have to make a little effort to get to the beach. I’d already done my research at home (all in the holiday folder!) and saw there was a regular bus to from the town to the beach, about a 20 minutes ride.  However that was all put to one side as the person who showed us around our room mentioned she really enjoyed getting to the beach by boat and pointed us into the direction of the harbour.  There were plenty of opportunities for boat rides around the Ria Formosa, the coastal lagoon that separates Faro from the Atlantic.  If you’re a nature lover its definitively worth an explore (rare birds & seahorses). Our little trip to the beach using the ferry boat allowed us to enjoy the lagoon on the way.  The trip took about 30 mins each way.  The pictures below show the boat and the beach with golden sand stretching as far as the eye could see…… there was no overcrowding here and the waves were great. I’ve inked out the lady lying on the beach!! If it’d been a pic of me I would have left it in but it wouldn’t have been pleasant.

OK so we’ve done the beach, the food, strolling in the streets, so that just leaves the chapel of bones!  I wasn’t going to visit the Chapel as seemed a bit gruesome, but for you I went. Apparently the 4 by 6 meter sized chapel is built of the bones of more than 1000 Carmelite monks and has been inaugurated in 1816. It is situated behind the main church (Igreja do Carmo) and contains also 1245 skulls.  I didn’t count the skulls or stay too long.

To sum up

So what did I think of Faro.  If you like busy streets, a beach on the doorstep, burgers and fries and lots of attractions then Faro is not for you.  However, as these are all the things I try and avoid I loved it.  Small enough to explore on foot and yet enough to do to keep you very occupied for 3-4 days without having to go further a field. I looked forward to returning Faro at the end of my trip, which must have been a good sign.  But for now it was backpacks packed and a downhill stroll to catch the bus to Seville so keep following.

Do you think Faro might be somewhere for you to  visit?

Accommodation facts

3 Nights Bellavita City Apartments Faro.  We stayed in a room on the top floor so had a great view.  Room and terrace was very spacious and clean.  We had access to a shared kitchen and fridge but its not somewhere you would cook, just heat up food if needed. We just used the plates and glasses etc.  About 10 minutes walk downhill to the marina and of course a 10 min walk uphill back to the apartment. I would stay here again.

2 Nights Hotel Sol Algarve.  Central place for one or two nights.  It had a nice little courtyard for breakfast.  Only a few minutes walk from the bus station and main areas of the town (all flat).  Looking at the pictures on the site I think room size varied, maybe ours was not the biggest.  I would stay again but politely ask for a room with a private terrace or balcony.

explore faro

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