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Faro is the capital of the Algarve region of Portugal and also home to the airport for the reason. For this reason thousands arrive at Faro each year but many pass straight through and on to their final destination and miss the quiet charms of this pretty Portuguese town.
Faro is towards the eastern end of the Algarve coast. The town sits on the sea front and has a pretty Marina and also looks out over the Ria Formosa lagoon which is a Natural Park and full of bird life.
Along the sea front the main row of shops includes some beautiful buildings including the Bank of Portugal and you will find the very pretty and ornate Arco da Vila which is the arched gateway to the old town.
The tourist office is located next to this arch and they can give you a map with the main sights of the town.
Inside the old town most of the houses are painted white and often have the windows and doors painted in different colours, a very typical style for the Algarve.
As you wander through the quaint streets you will pass occasional bars and restaurants where you can sit out to eat or enjoy a glass of wine - including wine from Cliff Richard's local vinyard!
At the centre of the old town is the main square, the Largo da Sé, with the cathedral on one side and the Episcopal palace on another. The cathedral is very simple in style on the outside but inside it is rather more ornate with gilded carvings and decorated tiles.
You can walk to the top of the tower for views over the square and the old town.
Next to the cathedral the Episcopal palace is a long white building whose simplicity is made beautiful with its rows of identical windows and series of pyramid shaped rooves. Another style feature which is typically Portuguese.
One of Faro's more unusual sights is the Chapel of Bones. The interior of the chapel is decorated with bones and skulls of the monks who worshiped here! More than 1000 monks decorate the walls of the chapel.
Lagos was originally the capital of the Algarve region but the very destructive earthquake of 1755 which destroyed many buildings throughout the region was followed by an even more destructive Tsunami which caused lots of damage along the Algarve coast but from which Faro was protected by the sandbanks of the Ria Formosa.
Places to Visit Nearby
From the Porta Nova pier you can take a boat trip through the Ria Formosa Natural Park and the beaches of the Ilha de Faro islands. A very pleasant way to enjoy the unusual marshy scenery and the sea birds that feed here.
10km north of Faro is the village of Estoi with its beautiful pink palace and also some Roman ruins. The Estoi palace and gardens is now a hotel but can still be visited.
Continue westards along the Algarve coast to the buzzing marina and restaurants of the Vilamoura tourist complex.
Head east beyond the Ria Formosa park and you come to the pretty village of Carvoeiro, a former fishing village with pretty white houses, a lovely beach and the remains of a fort. It is also popular ith celebrities and Bonnie Tyler and Charlie Dimmock both have houses here and Cliff Richard has a house and vineyard here.
Photos of Faro
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Map of Faro and places to visit
Faro places to visit
See more places nearby in the Algarve guide