Visiting Sunny Faro, the Gateway to the Algarve


The Algarve. A region I hadn’t given much thought to before moving to London. After having countless colleagues visit and return with stories of Portugal’s sunny southern coast, I was keen to check it out for myself.

Already planning a trip to Lisbon in mid-November, I decided to add two days to the trip and start in Faro, then head north.

Originally, I’d planned on renting a car or spending a night in another one of the coastal towns in the Algarve, but coming down with the flu right before I left resulted in a change of plans that saw me spend two full days in Faro so I could rest before meeting friends in Lisbon for a long weekend.

With little time to plan, and not much surfacing on things to do in Faro during the off-season, I figured I’d explore the town and just focus on feeling better.

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Faro turned out to be exactly what I needed, a quiet, charming, relaxing start to a week in Portugal.

From wandering the old town, to admiring the city’s beautiful churches, and watching the sun set over the Atlantic from a downtown rooftop bar- I enjoyed a few calm, easygoing days in southern Portugal.

One day, I’d like to return to the region and see more of the Algarve, but I can see why Faro gets such rave reviews from travellers- it’s a great base to plan your travels around the south. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops to keep you busy, but not so many it feels overwhelming.

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A few of my favourite places and things to do: 

  • Wander the narrow, winding streets of Old Town and relax at a sidewalk cafe, sipping coffee or a drink watching life go by around you
  • The Arco da Vila is built on one of the medieval gateways to the city, and is the entrance to the Cidade Velha (old town)
  • Shop the cobbled, patterned streets, popping into local favourites, like the sardine shop, Comur
  • Relax at the city’s cafes, three of my favourites: Baixa (loved the breakfast and fresh teas here- grab an outside table!), Vila Adentro, and Padaria Urbana
  • Take a stroll down Jardim Manuel Bívar, it’s a beautiful street
  • Watch the sun set over the ocean in the distance at Hotel Faro
  • Capela dos Ossos is beautiful from the outside, and has a chapel of bones (a touch creepy) inside
  • Still recovering from being sick meant I mostly ate soup/eggs, but for one dinner out, I tried Paparazzi (pizza) and enjoyed it. Portuguese food is always tough for me as a vegetarian, but Faro is home to a few great, traditional restaurants if that’s your thing – search for them on TripAdvisor or FourSquare
  • Note: I didn’t venture outside of the city because of how I was feeling, but the beach and other activities in the region are as close as a 20-30 minute drive from city centre

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PS. Airbnb at Faro is super affordable- I stayed in a gorgeous place for a fraction of what I’ve paid in other parts of Europe 🙂


Have you ever been to Faro or the Algarve? Lisbon and Porto are still my favourite cities in Portugal, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed my first visit to the Algarve region. 

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