A popular destination for sun-seekers from northern Europe and the UK, Faro has a reputation as being an overrun party beach town for much of the year. Visitors who use it as a base to explore the more remote areas of the Algarve in the off-season will experience much more of what southern Portugal has to offer; but those looking for no more than a tan and cocktails won't be disappointed. In winter, it is a beautiful, peaceful corner of Southern Europe with plenty of sun bleaching the white-washed town with Iberian and Moorish-influenced architecture. The people are more friendly than other parts of Europe. Many speak a bit of English, but are very appreciative of any attempts at Portuguese.
Faro Airport (IATA: FAO) (ICAO: LPFR), . Many package tour and discount airlines arrive from the UK and Ireland, mainland Europe and Canada. There is a large group of Car hire agencies if you turn right after the main exit.
The Alpha Pendular - a high-speed train, runs at least twice a day to and from Lisbon. About 2,5 hours, €20 one way, €25 on first class. The Inter City trains run more frequently but take a little longer, with more stops - about 3.5 to 4 hours.
There are also regional trains along the Algarve coast to Lagos.
Car hire is an option for visitors. You can arrange car hire at the airport, however, as with many tourist locations it is wise to arrange your vehicle hire prior to arrival - this can save both money (the airport car rental desks can be far more expensive) and disappointment as availability during peak season may be very limited. Organising it from home before you arrive is now a very simple process with numerous companies specialising in pre-booking car hire in Faro.
Roads can be quite busy, but if you want to see a bit more of the city and indeed the Algarve region then driving by car is an easy option. Driving in the Algarve region is far easier than in the rest of Portugal, there are more non-toll roads and road-signs are plentiful and relevant.
There is a daily bus service from Lisbon and Porto in the north of Portugal, as well as from Madrid and Seville in Spain. A fare from Lisbon to Faro costs either 18 EUR (for a "Expresso" connection takes about 4 hours, stopping in Albufeira, Vilamoura and Quarteira) or 19 EUR (for a "Expresso Qualidade" direct connection which takes just over 3 hours and includes a movie projection, a stewardess, and a mini-bar service) and can easily be bought at the bus station just before boarding. This bus station in Lisbon is next to a subway stop called Jardim Zoológico.
Main harbours: Portimao, Faro.
Buses 16 and 14 go around the city and the airport of Faro. Tickets can be bought from the driver.
It can be difficult to find a parking slot in the center. Most of the parking stations near the restaurants and shopping malls are payable. However, there is a huge free parking station next to the ship yard from which tour boats depart.
Walking in the center is enjoyable.
Fans of automotive engineering will be intrugued by some of the weird and wonderful vehicles on Faro's streets. These include pick-up trucks with motorcycle front-ends, and various mopeds and micro-cars that never made it across the Channel. Renault 4s, now almost extinct in their native France, are still a common site in Faro.
If you're in a macabre mood then check out the Capela dos Ossos in the Igreja do Carmo church. This is a chapel decorated with the skeletal remains of over 1,200 former monks. There is a small admission charge.
Centro Historico - The Old City, or Cidade Velha, is a well-preserved section of town off the harbor with cobblestone streets and 18th century Portuguese and Moorish-influenced architecture. It is great place for a peaceful and almost private walk back in time in an area that has been virtually untouched by modernity.
Rio Formosa - Take a boat trip into the Rio Formosa - a nature reserve that stretches along the tip of Portugal into Spain. A two and a half hour trip costs €20 (in 2007) and includes a 40 minute stop-over on an island. The boat leaves from a jetty by the Centro Historico.
Praia de Faro - This beach is several kilometers long and so should never get crowded, even in the height of summer. Most of the beach is gently sloping though it can take a sudden dip in places. There are the usual beach-side stalls and a public lavatory, but no showers. Praia de Faro is just past the airport, the airport bus stops there and costs €1.65 (in 2009). A lot of people with early check-outs and late flights seem to go there on their last day.
Faro Jewish Heritage Centre, Rua Leao Penedo (In fron of Faro Hospital), ☎ 289829525, . 9.30-12.30 and 14.00-17.00. Oficially established in 1851, the Faro Jewish Cemetery is the only remaining vestige of the first post-Inquisition Jewish presence in Portugal. It served as a burial place for a thriving 60 family community (also known as "Little Jerusalem"). The Jews of Portugal fled the Inquisition from the end of the XVth century and settled in Gibraltar and North Africa. After the devastating 1755 Lisbon Earthquake their descendants have been invited by the Marquis of Pombal to help rebuild the economy. Although the community is long gone, the Cemetery still remains to remind citizens and travellers of its former glory. The Faro Jewish Heritage Centre features over one hundred graves in Sephardi style, with beautifully engraved slabs instead of headstones. Although the land has been purchased by the Jewish community in 1851, the first burial, that of Rabbi Toledano, dates back to 1838. Apart from the Cemetery, there is also a museum, housing many objects linked to the history of the Jews of Faro, like the furniture from one of the two non-existent synagogues of Faro or the facsimile copy of Gacon's 1478 Pentateuch in Hebrew - the first book ever printed in Portugal!free.
A Tasca, 38 Rua do Alportel, Faro, ☎ 289 824 739. This is a typical Algarvian restaurant serving typical regional cuisine at average prices. They do not accept Credit Cards.
Camané, Ilha de Faro, Faro, ☎ 289 817 236. A swanky beach restaurant with upmarket Portuguese cuisine. It's popular with business people and the richer Algarve socialites. They accept credit cards and are closed on Mondays.
Dois Irmãos, 20 Largo Terreiro do Bispo, Faro, ☎ 289 823 337. Found in an old small corner house located in the square opposite the Cathedral. International cuisine. They accept credit cards.
Hotel Monte do Casal, Estrada de Moncarapacho á Estoi, ☎ 289 990 140. A charming converted manor house in a comfortable rural hotel set back from the coast. The restaurant is run by a Michelin trained Chef called George who provides an exciting menu. Credit Cards accepted.
O Costa, Ilha de Faro, ☎ 289 817 442. Located on Faro Island to the south of the airport, O Costa serve well presented cuisine prepared by chef Fabienne Costa who does credit to traditional Portuguese Algarvian dishes with a touch of finesse.
Le Marquis, Monte da Palhagueira, Santa Barbara de Nexi, ☎ 916076540. Wonderful building and position, inside decor traditional in style but table settings and modern food. A very personal experience from Helma and Vincent. The menu was impressive, something for every palette.
Adega Nova, 24 Rua Francisco Barreto, 8000-344, ☎ 351 289 813433. A unique restaurant in the middle of Faro that appears like a pub from northern Europe. Busy and lively restaurant with smoking and non smoking areas. Attentive, professional staff. Reasonably priced
Bar CheSsenta, Rua do Prior 34. On the Rua do Prior which is the main bar / cafe street in Faro, this small bar is decorated with many photos of Che Guevara and attracts a 20s-30s crowd with reasonably priced drinks. They do karaoke on some nights also.
Conselheiro Bar, Rua Conselheiro Bívar 72, Faro, 8000-255, ☎ 966488531, . A one-stop place, which is very well known and always full. It is divided between three distinct areas: The main (as you enter) has a very wide bar that attracts the older clientele, in the next room is the dance floor and a well equipped bar, an ideal place for the more rowdy nights and a chill out room over two floors, ideal for relaxing, playing pool or video games.
Bora Bar, 1 Rua do Compromisso. 4am close. Located next to the Hotel Faro in the hub of nightlife of Faro, Bora Bar attracts a younger crowd and the staff are welcoming and friendly. Friday is ladies night and there are drink offers every night of the week.
Eddie's Bar, Rua de Loulé, 59 Santa Bárbara de Nexe, 8000, ☎ 351 289992282. Iron Maiden themed bar due to the bands friendship with the late Manu da Silva who used to be the manager and was a personal friend of the band. Popular with metalheads and bikers.
Upa Upa Café Bar, 51 Rua Conselheiro Bivar. Very popular with both the locals and tourists, Upa Upa draws a rich mixture of people. Tables overflow onto its spacious patio. It's a great place to have a drink while mixing with the locals and other tourists.
Dux, Rua do Prior 38 8000, ☎ +351 289282468. This nightclub is popular amongst the younger crowd and is frequented by both the locals and tourists. If you're looking to party until the early hours of the morning, this is the place to go.
Faro has a thriving trade in both package deal hotels and short-term apartment rental. If that fails, locals have become very comfortable renting out every scrap of space in their homes to desperate travellers. Book months in advance for the high season and note that many places are closed during the low season.
Low Cost Inn Rua Teófilo Braga nº38,40,42. The guest house is in the city centre, in a renovated 18th century building. The facilities consist of 22 spacious rooms and a dorm with 22 beds (with free internet and WiFi, common room, private bathrooms and shared bathrooms).
Pousada de São Brás de Alportel - São Brás, Charming Hotel, 8150-054 São Brás de Alportel, ☎ +351-289 842 305/289 842 306 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +351-289 841 726), . A charming hotel located in the Algarve mountain range, only half an hour from the coast and near the most famous beaches in Portugal, this has and still maintains the most genuine characteristics of the region's culture. Near this charming Algarve hotel are some golf courses, such as the Monte Rei, the Benamor and the Quinta da Ria golf course, these are some of the best greens for the practice of golf in Algarve.
Hotel Eva is a 4-star hotel overlooking the harbor and the Cidade Velha. It is walking distance from everything and is well worth the few extra euro.
Hotel Ibis Faro, E.N. 125 Pontes de Marchil, ☎ (+351)289 893 800, .
Hotel Mónaco, Rua João Baptista Severino Urb. Monte da Ria - Montenegro 8005-237 Faro (From all directions take directions to Faro/airport. Once on the EN125-10 (airport road - dual carriage way) take exit signs (Montenegro/Universidade), on the flyover roundabout follow the exit towards Faro and sign Hotel, descending from the roundabout, take the immediate right turn. Hotel is 100m away.), ☎ +351289895060, . checkin: After 2pm; checkout: Before noon. Hotel Mónaco is the nearest hotel to Faro airport, Algarve University and Algarve Stadium. Low/High: 45/55 EUR (single), 52/70 EUR (double or twin).
Faro Lounge Guesthouse, 72 Av. da Republica Sao Pedro, ☎ 1 969 989 369. A cheap guesthouse in Faro. They offer dorms for 12 and 16 people. I booked it well in advance and paid a deposit. A few hours before I got to Faro I received an email message telling me my reservation is canceled due to overbooking. I still haven´t received my deposit back.
Pensao Tivoli - Guest House Tivoli, Praca Alexandre Herculano, 6 (from the Arch of the Old City head along Rua da Misericordia then Rua Alexandre Herculano, after 5 minutes you come to the Praca and the Tivoli is the corner building on your left), ☎ 351 289 829 825, . A beautiful building with classic decor with restored antique furniture in most of the rooms. Clean and bright.
Residencial Dandy, Rua Filipe Alistão, . checkin: 1400; checkout: 1200. Fabulously old-school b&b in centre of Faro's old town. Do expect mishmash of furniture and curious plumbing. Don't expect toiletries or room service. Surprisingly good free wifi throughout. 25.