Faro Holidays – Capital of the Algarve
It may be the main entry point into the Algarve for international holidaymakers, but Faro is far more than just an airport and busy provincial city. A holiday in Faro combines culture with wonderful beaches, superb cuisine and a chance to explore the lush Ria Formosa nature reserve whose sand dunes and islands are forever changing, shaped by the tides. Faro is your ideal holiday destination.
The city is full of history, dating back to the 9th century, when it was a Roman stronghold. The oldest part, the Cidade Velha, lies to the east of the Marina. Pass under the Arco da Vila at the end of Manuel Bivar gardens, where the narrow cobbled Rua do Municipio leads you into the tree-lined Largo de Sé, and at the end is Faro Cathedral, with its beautiful gilded carvings and 13th century tile-work. For a creepy holiday memory visit the Capela dos Ossos in the Largo de Campo. This ‘Chapel of Bones’ is decorated by the skulls of over 1000 deceased monks, an eerie experience when the temperature is right and the moisture dripping from the skulls makes them look as if they are sweating.
The streets leading in the opposite direction from the Manual Bivar gardens lead you to a more modern world of cafes and restaurants sitting around cobbled squares, and onward to the waterfront.
When to go to Faro
The best time to go to Faro is whenever you want to. There is so much to do and see in the city and locality that you will always find something interesting and entertaining to do. As the regional capital, life is lived as it would be in any major city, with an abundance of good restaurants, lively cafes, excellent shops and plenty of theatres and art galleries. The compact central area of the city has everything you need within walking distance. If you want to see the Portuguese really celebrating, the Feira de Santa Iria in October is the city’s biggest festival, and always draws large crowds.
The weather in Faro
Like most of the Algarve, Faro’s summer months have temperatures around the upper 20s, low 30s, with Spring and Autumn a cool but comfortable 20-23ºC. If you plan on a weekend city break (very popular these days) this could be the ideal time to visit. Winter temperatures of around 17º in the sun mean that it would be advisable to take a sweater or warm jacket for an evening stroll. Expect some light rain from December to February, but considerably less than you would experience in the UK in June.
Getting the best deal to Faro
As most people think of the Algarve as mainly a summer destination – and so do most low-cost airlines – outside of July, August, Easter and Christmas, you could find great deals on flights and hotels. Being a commercial city, you probably won’t find so many all inclusive deals as you would along the coast, but it’s worth looking for them as they can spread the holiday euros more than paying for drinks and meals separately.
Think about businessman’s hotels, who often have large price reductions at weekends, but if you decide to hire a car make sure that the low price you are quoted really is a bargain. These days most hire companies supply the car with a full tank and say that it has to be returned empty, which is an underhand way of skimming a few more euros out of you because there will always be a few litres left in the tank – which you have paid for!
One of your best ways of finding the top deals is to have a look on our website and keep an eye on our late deals offers.
Airport and transport need to know
Airlines, most of them low-cost, fly from twenty regional airports in the UK, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast, as well as Luton, Stansted and Gatwick.
You aren’t going to get closer to an international airport in the Algarve than Faro town centre. It will cost you all of 10€ (£8) for taxi to your hotel, which is far more cost effective and convenient than paying the 2€ (£1.60) per person a bus will cost you if you are travelling as a family. Even the 20% surcharge a taxi will charge between 9pm and 6am and at weekends won’t break the bank.
It’s unlikely that you will want to explore Faro any other way than by foot, but should you feel like a ride out of the city, Eva Bus have regular services through the whole of the Algarve. Look under ‘Carreiras Urbanas’ on their website for local services, www.eva-bus.com.
The best beaches in Faro
The beaches around Faro are known as ilhas, sandspits, and despite what might seem as a bit of a derogatory name, they are delightful. An added bonus is that other than the Praia de Faro, Faro’s main beach, they are only accessible by ferry, which adds to the fun of a day at the beach.
Faro beach is also known as Faro-Mar or Ilha de Faro, and is on the Ancão Peninsula. Ilha de Faro is very long, and one of the six barrier islands separated from the mainland – although not strictly an island as it is joined to the mainland by a narrow road. It has plenty of trendy cafes and restaurants, some playing excellent music, and a few hotels and B&Bs.
There are two sides to the island, the lagoon and the Mediterranean. The lagoon is safe for swimming and very popular for a variety of water sports – jet-skis in particular. The brightly painted boats on the water and in the island slipways make for a very relaxed atmosphere. The seaward side is a splendid stretch of flat golden sand, easily accessible from the paved promenade that runs behind the beach. Windsurfers, sailors and jet-ski enthusiasts will find themselves in water-born heaven.
The Ilha da Barreta, also called Ilha Deserta, is an uninhabited sandspit island, with the only building being the Restaurante O Estaminé, which offers traditional local dishes. If you would like to try the fare you would be well advised to book a table the moment you get off the ferry. The ferry ride to the island is part of the delightful day out, as it passes through the Ria Formosa nature park. The trip takes about thirty minutes, at a cost of 7€ (£5.60) per person. You can hire sun beds and buy refreshments at the restaurant, but most people tend to take their own.
Areias Sao Joao
Armacao de Pera
Praia da Falesia
Praia da Luz
Praia da Rocha
Praia de Oura
Quinta do Lago
Vale de Parra