Exploring Faro, Portugal

Or How to spend 2 perfect days in Faro

Hey guys! Just a month ago I went on my first backpacking trip in Portugal and it was amazing! I decided to share my journey, what I saw and what I did while I’ve been there and maybe that will inspire you to visit this wonderful country on your own!

My first destination was Faro city. I had a direct flight from Bristol and arrived around 8 pm. There are a bus running all day long from Faro bus station to Faro beach and it stops at airport. You can check the bus route and time schedule here https://www.proximo.pt/uploads/schedules/Linha_16_2.pdf

It costs just 2.35€ for a single ticket. Also you can take a taxi or, I saw that there is a car rental outside the airport so you can do that. I’m not driving (yet) so I took the cheapest and best option. So there are a lot of options to get from airport to the city center.

I stayed at the Casa da Madalena Backpackers Hostel for 2 nights. I really recommend this hostel – amazing staff, rooftop terrace, big kitchen, spacious fridge, comfy beds, not overcrowded and pancakes for breakfast! What can be better???

So how to spend a really good two days in Faro?

First evening when I arrived I went wander around the streets. No matter how tired I am I like to get to know the place where I’m staying. I’m always very excited to get to know the city where I am staying, to see the streets, architecture, people, cafes and bars. So the first evening I went for a walk around the marine and wander around the streets next to my hostel. I saw a small small little bit of a night life in Faro. Apparently it was a bit too early for a real night life (10 pm) but it’s ok.

You can start your morning however you like but I woke up early and went out to have my first coffee in Portugal (I really recommend doing that). I found a cute little place ‘’Demo bakery’’ with a few tables outside where locals were going for breakfast. First coffee and first Pastel de Nata! It’s a famous Portuguese pastry with vanilla custard filling. You should definitely try it once in Portugal! I bet you won’t stop eating it… At least I couldn’t…

First coffee and Pastel de Nata at 'Demo bakery'

Go for a walk around the harbour and take some pictures with huge Faro sign. Because if you don’t have a picture with Faro sign have you ever been in Faro then?

Faro sign

After that I went back to hostel to have a those pancakes that they were serving for breakfast. And what I like in hostels – meal time is always a good way to meet interesting people, find new friends, go on adventures together. I think that’s what makes travelling special. But you don’t have to do that. You can start your day however you like! I have my morning routine and I believe lots of people do. It’s just the way for me to get to know the place better.

After breakfast run down to the place called Arco da Vila (which apparently was one of the two walled city entrances long long time ago). It is a meeting point for a free walking tour around Faro. I bet there are a few different walking tours so you can check up online. I like to go on those ‘free’ walking tours because guides usually are locals in town and they earn money from the tips that people are leaving so they are trying their best to make your tour as informative and as fun as it could be. 

Old town of Faro is really beautiful with it’s cobblestone streets and 8th century Portuguese and Moorish influenced architecture. It’s a really great place for a peaceful and quiet walk back in time.

Faro old town

After a few hours tour and walking in the heat you definitely need to have a rest and get something to eat! I had a lunch with one girl I met at the oldest Faro restaurant right in the middle of the old town ‘’Cervejaria Alianca’’. It’s a bit pricey but a lovely place to eat. So if you want you can visit that place or choose from a hundreds of other nice places around the town.

Next on my list to do was famous Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones). Yes yes you heard that right – Bone chapel. This chapel is a part of Igreja do Carmo (the Carmelite church which was built in 18th – 19th century). All chapel inside surface is decorated with over 1200 bones and skulls of Carmelite monks who once served in the church. It was built as a reminder of the simple and holy lives of monks and the fact that life is temporary thing. Even an inscription over the door is saying ‘’Para aqui a considerar que a este estado has de chegar’’ which means ‘’Stop here and consider that you too will reach this state’’. Creepy huh? But really really worth your time, so if you are not afraid of seeing skulls – go there! Entrance costs 2€ and keep in mind that it’s not opened all day long. I had to wait through their lunch break (1-3 pm) to get in there. So check the opening times before you go!

Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel), Faro, Portugal

If you are like me and love living like locals when you’re on your holiday – go and visit Faro market ‘’Auchand supermercado Faro’’. It’s a big building where you can find locals selling fish, fruit and veggies, a few coffee shops and a big supermarket. If you want to do your food shoppings – it’s a very good and cheap place for that. I recommend visiting it in the morning while the locals are still selling stuff. Oh and don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy your time while you’re there.

After a half day of walking it’s time to go and relax ON THE BEACH (Praia da Faro). So go and take the same bus that you came from airport and go to the final destination. Faro has a beach a little bit outside the town centre. It takes 25-30 min to go with a bus. But it’s worth the drive. That place is like a separate island where you have to cross the bridge, very long sandy beach, lots of sunbeds, shops and restaurants. Enjoy your afternoon under the hot Portuguese sun with ice-cream and doughnuts (guys are walking and selling on the beach). 

Faro Beach is outside the city

Go back to the city whenever you’re ready (or hungry) and go to explore a Faro nightlife. There is a street called Rua do Prior which is the main bar/cafe street of Faro. Go and have a dinner with a drink or two there. And if you’re still full of energy and in the party mood I heard that there are a few good night clubs where you can finish up your night. 

I didn’t went out that night because we had a Barbeque night in hostel which was more interesting for me. Rooftop bar with food, drinks, music and lovely people – that’s the best night for my taste. 

Faro old town

Day 2 in Faro

After the night out I bet you will be sleeping until late. But if you can wake up early in the morning (or as early as you can) have your breakfast at the hotel or go explore the city centre and have a coffee and Pastel de Nata where the locals go ‘’O Seu Cafe’’ (this place was recommended by our walking tour guide).

After that let’s head back to the old town and visit Faro Cathedral (Igreja de Santa Maria). It’s a unique Cathedral built in 13th-14th century. It costs 3.5€ to get inside but it’s very interesting and worth paying. In the main building you will see lots of beautiful artwork made out from tiles (that’s a Portuguese thing that I really like). Also by walking around the Cathedral go outside to visit small bone chapel (yep, another one in Faro). And the best thing in here – the rooftop view. There are a really narrow and kind of steep stairs to the rooftop where you can see all Faro. It’s really worth visiting. You will notice how busy is Faro airport. I spent 10 minutes in there and I saw like 10 landing planes (most of them by Ryanair).

View from Faro Cathedral

Near the Cathedral you will find a harbour where you will take a boat trip to one of 4 islands near Faro (or maybe all of them). I took a taxi to one island – Ilha Deserta (desert island). Unfortunately nobody gave me any free desserts but it was really nice to walk around that island. You can get there by joining tours or buying tickets for ferry or hiring a water taxi. There are plenty of choice. Once you’re on the island – go on the right hand side and follow the wooden road into the dunes. It’s quiet a long walk so make sure you have a bottle of water and head cover as there are no shade at all. Although there is one restaurant in the island if you ran out of snacks or drinks or even if you need a little break from the sun. It might be a pricey one but it’s better than nothing right?

Views in Ilha Deserta, island near Faro, Portugal

After walking miles and miles and miles (I’m joking, it’s not so far away) you will reach the beach (finally) and you’ll see some weird sign in the dunes. That is the Cabo de Santa Maria – the most southerly location in Portugal! It’s amazing isn’t it? And now the best part – the beach is yours! There are going to be just a few people on the beach so you will have almost a private beach to relax, get some tan and swim in the ocean!

Cabo de Santa Maria and Ilha Deserta beach

After exploring the islands go back to Faro and enjoy your evening by walking around the cobble stoned streets, eating a good Portuguese food and drinking refreshing cocktails or go to next city like I did! After exploring Ilha Deserta I went to buy a bus ticket to Albufeira! I had to wait an hour for the bus so I went to grab some lunch, buy some snacks. I actually almost missed my bus because I started talking with one of the shops owner and the conversation was so interesting that I lost my track of time and I had to run very fast to get on the bus. 

Faro Marine and it's fantastic view

Here in Faro you just have to go and explore – architecture is amazing, especially old town with its buildings and cobble stoned streets. There is also a few shopping streets where you can find lots of stuff – clothing, shoes and souvenir shops. You will see that this town is really special. Quiet during the day and loud during the night. You won’t regret spending at least a day or two of your trip.

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