20 Best Things to Do & See in Faro

Faro is so much more than just an airport! Once a Roman settlement, later an important Moorish port, many of the historic buildings that once stood here were destroyed in the 1755 earthquake.  But Faro still offers those spending a few days or longer here plenty to see and do. The Ria Formosa Natural Park is right on your doorstep and there are some great beaches on the sand spit islands just a short ferry trip away.

Showing 1 - 15 of 20

  • Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) - Faro
    Capela dos Ossos - Faro
    Jonny Joka

    Without doubt the most macabre of Faro's many attractions is the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones), a minuscule ossuary chapel lovingly decorated with the bones and skulls of over 1000 human skeletons. The chapel forms part of the beautiful 18th century Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel) Church, with its whitewashed Baroque exterior and richly gilded interior. Towards the back of the church, on the right hand side, a small door leads to a walled garden and this is where the Capela dos Ossos...

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    Faro
    Churches Unusual
  • Arco da Vila - Faro
    Arco da Vila - Faro
    Morgan Davis | BY-SA

    Faro's fine neo-classical archway is the entrance to the Algarve city's old quarter (Cidade Velha). It was built on the site of a much older medieval gateway in the city walls by order of Bishop Francisco Gomes do Avelar in 1812. He oversaw much of the reconstruction of Faro after the devastating 1755 earthquake.

    The design is the work of Genoese architect Francisco Xavier Fabri. Also hailing from Italy is the statue set in the recess above the arch - it is a figure of St Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Italian religious scholar.

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    Faro
    Monuments
  • Faro Cathedral
    Faro Cathedral

    Whilst much of the cathedral you see today date back to the 13th and 14th centuries this site has considerably more history. The oldest records show that there was a Roman forum built here around two thousand years ago. Following this a mosque was built here. With the Christian reconquest of Faro in 1249 the mosque was torn down and the Sé (cathedral) put up in its place. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary the cathedral is also known as the Igreja de Santa Maria de Faro.

    The cathedral was considerably extended in the 15th century as the population of Faro increased, although the main...

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    Faro
    Churches
  • Faro City Walls - Cerca Seiscentista
    Faro City Walls
    Sónia Lopes | BY-SA

    Faro's ancient city walls (Muralhas de Faro), parts of which form a broken ring around Faro’s compact Cidade Velha (Old Town) have an interesting history, reflecting the town's tumultuous past.  The Romans, who called the town Ossonoba, made their presence felt here and built a wall around the area which would have contained the forum and various important buildings. 

    The Moors who later held the town from the early 8th century for almost 500 years reinforced the defensive structures and today Moorish influences can still be seen in the arches around the various...

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    Faro
    Castles
  • Faro Museu Municipal / Convento Senhora da Assunção
    Faro Museu Municipal
    Nol Aders | BY-SA

    Also known as the Museu Municipal, this was founded as an archaeological museum in 1894 and is well worth a visit if you are in Faro.  It occupies the site of the 16th century convent of Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady of the Assumption) whose peaceful, cloistered gardens alone make the visit worthwhile.

    Most of the exhibits here are of Roman artefacts, but there are also collections from pre-historic, Moorish and medieval periods, including a gallery of religious artworks and some 20th century paintings by local artist Carlos...

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    Faro
    Museums and Galleries
  • Igreja do Carmo, Faro
    Igreja do Carmo
    CanStockPhoto/Philipus

    The Igreja do Carmo in Faro, with its Baroque façade and twin bell towers is one of the finest churches on the Algarve. The Carmelite church was built throughout much of the 18th and 19th centuries, starting in 1719. Disaster struck in 1755 when the great earthquake that hit Portugal badly damaged the church. However, a new facade was designed by mason Diogo Gonçalves including the now iconic bell towers.

    Although the exterior of the church was not completed until 1878, the lavish interior was complete 150 years earlier...

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    Faro
    Churches
  • Teatro Lethes - Faro
    Teatro Lethes
    Rafaelade Almeida

    The Lethes theatre building may look a little tired on the outside, but don’t let that put you off.  Step inside and you will be transported to the latter half of the 19th century.  The décor of plush velvet, painted ceiling and exquisite wooden carvings will make you feel as though you are in a bijoux version of a historic Italian opera house. There are four tiers arranged around the intimate auditorium and if you go to a performance here try to get seats in one of the boxes for that once-in-a-lifetime experience.  It won’t cost any more than the ordinary seats. The acoustics here are...

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    Faro
    Museums and Galleries
  • Ilha Deserta beach - Faro
    Praia da Conchas on the Ilha Deserta
    Animaris | BY-SA

    Deservedly known as the "deserted island", Barreta is a narrow 7 km long sandbank off the coast of Faro. It is in fact the closest of a number of sandy islands that make up this stretch of coast. Forming part of the Ria Formosa National Park, this is one of the best destinations for those wishing to escape the crowds and experience the remote calm of an undeveloped wilderness.

    Ferries and speed boats depart daily from Faro.  Be sure to check the time of the last boat back-this island has no...

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    Faro
    Natural
  • Palacio Bivar - Faro
    Palacio Bivar
    C.M. Faro

    Faro’s Bivar Palace, close to the marina is a fine example of the Neoclassical style of architecture and is probably the best example on the Algarve.  Built in 18th century, with later additions in 19th and 20th centuries, the two storey palace has a symmetry which is very pleasing to the eye.  At the front there are bay windows, each topped with a triangular pediment. There are wrought iron balconies and a balcony window with a lookout tower. 

    Unfortunately, the building is not open to the public. Part of it is still used as a private residence by members the Bivar...

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    Faro
    Palaces and Historic Houses
  • Faro Maritime Museum
    Faro Maritime Museum
    Benoît Prieur | BY-SA

    Faro has a seafaring tradition going back to the times of the Phoenicians and in the small but interesting Maritime Museum you can learn about all things nautical connected with the area.  It only costs around €1 to enter and is free for children under 6, and you can easily spend some time admiring the vast collection of exhibits on display in the museum’s three rooms. 

    The collection includes scale models of fishing boats and some of the seafaring vessels connected to Portugal’s Age of Discovery, as well as fishing equipment and some interesting finds that have...

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    Faro
    Museums and Galleries
  • Ermida de Nossa Senhora do Pé da Cruz - Faro
    Ermida de Nossa Senhora do Pé da Cruz
    Nol Aders | BY-SA

    The Ermida de Nossa Senhora do Pé da Cruz (hermitage of Our Lady at the Foot of the Cross) is Largo do Pé da Cruz (formerly Largo do Poço dos Cântaros), a little way away from Faro's other sights. 

    The original chapel was built here around 1644 but was almost completely destroyed by the Great Earthquake of 1755.  The understated, whitewashed Baroque style building we see here today was built in 1861. 

    The Roman Catholic church contains a single altar, dedicated to Our Lady. There are some very nice gilded wood...

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    Faro
    Churches
  • Faro Marina
    Faro Marina
    Benoît Prieur | BY-SA

    It can be fun to spend some time admiring the flashy yachts on display in the marina, maybe stopping off for refreshments in one of the waterside cafes.  Just around the corner is the Porta Nova Pier, from which boats take day trippers out to enjoy the birdlife and beaches of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.  On balmy summer nights, it’s a pleasant stroll from the marina, down the waterfront promenade to the Old Town.

    Also worth a look is Faro's Maritime Museum...

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    Faro
    Unusual
  • Paço Episcopal - Faro
    Paço Episcopal - Faro
    Marc Ryckaert | BY-SA

    The whitewashed building of the Bishop’s Palace (Paço Episcopal), with its distinctive red-tiled roof, dominates the tranquil square of Largo da Sé in Faro's Old Town quarter.

    The Palace was completed in 1585, but 11 years later was almost destroyed when Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and a favourite of England’s Queen Elizabeth I, sacked the city of Faro.  Before destroying the building the English troops ransacked the palace’s library which included many precious manuscripts, including Portugal’s first ever printed book, a Hebrew Old Testament...

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    Faro
    Palaces and Historic Houses
  • Arco do Repouso and Hermitage - Faro City Walls
    Arco do Repouso and Hermitage
    Concierge.2C | BY-SA

    The Ermida Nossa Senhora do Repouso (Hermitage of Our Lady of Rest) is a small chapel with a Baroque-style façade. The building we see here today was mainly built in 18th century under the sponsorship of the Queen.  A notable feature of the church is that it is built into the Arco do Repousa, one of the ancient Arabic arches of the defensive walls of Faro's Old Town.

    Legend tells that King Afonso III rested here in 1249 after expelling the Moors from the city and that he experienced a vision of Our Lady.  From...

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    Faro
    Churches
  • Ermida de Santo António do Alto
    Ermida de Santo António do Alto
    Paulo Moreira

    A steep climb up to the highest point in Faro will bring the visitor to the Hermitage of Santo Antonio do Alte, a small church dedicated to St Anthony.  The saint most usually referred to as St Anthony of Padua was actually born in Lisbon and for this reason he has a special place in Portuguese religious sentiment.  In Portugal he is considered to be the patron saint of lost things, of unmarried men and women looking for a spouse and of the newly married.

    The church building is believed to have been built in the 15th or 16th century, with significant alterations made in...

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    Faro
    Churches Viewpoints

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Faro

Faro travel guide »

Surrounded by fertile fields of trees bearing fruit, olives and the almonds for which the Algarve is famous, Faro is a large town of over 50,000 inhabitants, the administrative capital of the province, lies at the heart of the...