Many British visitors to the popular Portuguese holiday destination of the Algarve never even venture beyond the beach, preferring instead to soak up the sun for a fortnight rather than soak up some culture. Yet one of Portugal’s most beautiful and interesting cities is only a short distance away from these popular tourist areas and is easily reachable by public transport if you don’t have a hire car. If you’re on a package holiday, you may also find that your travel company organise day trips to the historic city of Faro.
Sun worshippers can even take their swimming costume with them and catch some rays on one of Faro’s many beaches, if they can’t stay away from the sea for a whole day, even though the town is not one of the main Algarve resorts. Similarly, you can try a wider range of restaurants, many serving Portuguese cuisine, and join the locals as they party at the weekend.
However, the main reason to visit Faro is to experience something a little different from the resort where you are spending most of your trip. The town’s medieval quarter, also known as the Cidade Velha, is crammed with picturesque squares and ancient architecture, with many buildings dating from the Middle Ages onwards.
Highlights include the Museu Etnografico, a museum about the history and culture of the region, the stunning Igreja do Carmo church and the Nossa Senhora Assuncao convent, built in the 1500s and home today to hundreds of pieces of religious treasure and artwork.
Most visitors to Faro inevitably find their way to the harbour; the heart of the city for generations. Still used by local fishermen today, some of the best seafood restaurants on the Algarve can be found in the streets around the historic port while the weekly market is the perfect place to buy local produce and a few gifts for friends back home.