Top 10 Things to Do in Faro – Discovering the Gateway to the Algarve

by Derek Wilder

From Author

Derek Wilder, known for his adventurous spirit, takes you on a thrilling journey through the top 10 things to do in Faro. As the capital of Portugal’s Algarve region, Faro offers a blend of rich cultural heritage, beautiful natural landscapes, and lively modernity. Let’s dive into Faro’s many wonders with Derek!

Top 10 Things to Do in Faro – Discovering the Gateway to the Algarve

1) Faro Old Town - A Stroll Through Time
A walk through Faro’s Old Town transported me back in time. The narrow, winding streets are lined with traditional whitewashed homes, some adorned with the region’s characteristic azulejos (painted ceramic tiles). I discovered the medieval Arco do Repouso, remnants of ancient Faro City Walls, and hidden squares where locals gather to enjoy alfresco dining. The blend of historical landmarks, lively markets, delightful cafes, and art galleries offer endless exploration opportunities. A leisurely walk through the Old Town, soaking in the authentic ambiance, is undoubtedly one of the top 10 things to do in Faro.
2) Arco da Vila - The Symbol of Faro
Arco da Vila stands as a monumental gateway and prominent symbol of Faro’s history. As I wandered through the grand arch, my senses were captivated by the whispers of ancient civilizations that once thrived here. The intricate stonework and fusion of Moorish and Neoclassical architecture are breathtaking. Nearby, charming cobblestone streets filled with local shops and cafes beckon exploration. The arch itself, located in Faro’s old town, houses a small museum showcasing artifacts from the region’s past. This historical treasure is a vivid reminder of Faro’s rich cultural heritage and definitely ranks among the top 10 things to do in Faro for history enthusiasts.
3) Faro Beaches - Sun, Surf, and Sand
The beaches of Faro are a true sun-lover’s paradise. During my visit, I had the pleasure to bask on the soft sand of Praia de Faro, surf the energetic waves at Ilha da Barreta, and explore the hidden coves of Ilha da Culatra. Each beach had its unique charm and character. The beachside cafes serving fresh seafood, the opportunities for water sports like jet skiing, and the beautiful walking trails made each day a new adventure. With miles of golden shores, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant beach life, these spots offer some of the top 10 Faro experiences for water enthusiasts and beachgoers alike.
Faro Beaches , Portugal
Faro Beaches – Sun, Surf, and Sand
4) Faro Cathedral - Spiritual Elegance
The Faro Cathedral, or Sé de Faro, struck me with its blend of architectural styles, including Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic elements. Its majestic facade invites visitors into a space filled with spiritual tranquility. I spent time exploring the nave, the chapels adorned with gilded woodwork, and the beautiful organ dating back to the 18th century. The climb to the bell tower, though steep, rewarded me with sweeping panoramic views of Faro’s old town, the harbor, and the ocean. This sacred site’s elegance and spiritual resonance make it a must-visit and one of the top 10 things to do in Faro.
5) Faro Jewish Heritage Centre - Cultural Insight
My visit to the Faro Jewish Heritage Centre provided an enlightening and educational experience. This significant site delves into Faro’s Jewish history, preserving the remnants of the medieval Jewish Quarter. The guided tour took me through the Jewish Cemetery, where ancient tombstones tell stories of a vibrant community. Inside the museum, a collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs illustrate the Jewish community’s contributions to Faro’s social fabric. This cultural journey is a vital addition to understanding Faro’s multicultural history.
6) Estoi Palace - A Rococo Masterpiece
The opulence of Estoi Palace, hidden away in the town of Estoi, took my breath away. I explored the grand halls adorned with intricate frescoes, ornate chandeliers, and luxurious furnishings. The palace’s symmetrical gardens, dotted with classical statues, reflecting pools, and fountains, invited leisurely strolls. I even had the opportunity to dine in the palace’s elegant restaurant, indulging in traditional Portuguese cuisine. The well-preserved beauty of this Rococo gem, coupled with its lush gardens, offers a taste of royalty and is a must-see among the top 10 things to do in Faro.
Estoi Palace, Portugal
Estoi Palace – A Rococo Masterpiece
7) Algarve Bike Tours - Pedal and Explore
Embarking on a bike tour through the picturesque landscapes of the Algarve was a unique and exhilarating adventure. Guided by experienced locals, I pedaled through orange groves, rustic villages, coastal paths, and lush countryside. The tour included stops at local markets, traditional restaurants, and breathtaking viewpoints. The bike routes cater to various skill levels, from beginner to advanced, making it a fun and active way to explore the region’s less-traveled paths and definitely one of the top 10 things to do in Faro.
8) Chapel of Bones - Memento Mori
Faro’s Chapel of Bones, or Capela dos Ossos, left a deep and lasting impression on me. The walls and ceiling of this small chapel are meticulously decorated with the skulls and bones of over 1,000 monks. A Latin inscription above the entrance serves as a sobering reminder of life’s transient nature. The artistic arrangement of the bones, the dim lighting, and the chapel’s silence create a contemplative space that invites reflection on existence’s impermanence. This unique and poignant site stands among the top 10 Faro’s intriguing and thought-provoking attractions.
9) Ria Formosa Natural Park - A Birdwatcher's Haven
My exploration of Ria Formosa Natural Park was an unforgettable experience filled with natural beauty. This sprawling nature reserve, listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal, boasts an extensive array of birdlife, including the rare and colorful purple gallinule. As I kayaked through tranquil lagoons and navigated dense marshes, I spotted countless species of birds, each more magnificent than the last. The park also offers guided tours where experts explain the diverse ecosystems and fauna. Hiking trails and picnic spots further enhance the experience. For those seeking an intimate connection with nature, Ria Formosa stands as one of the top 10 Faro adventures.
10) Mercado Municipal - A Culinary Adventure
My exploration of Mercado Municipal, Faro’s bustling local market, was a feast for the senses. The aroma of freshly baked pastries, the vivid colors of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and the energetic calls of vendors filled the air. I sampled local delicacies, chatted with friendly stall owners, and immersed myself in the flavors of Portuguese cuisine. The market’s atmosphere encapsulates Faro’s culinary heritage, making it an unmissable culinary adventure and rounding out the top 10 things to do in Faro.


Faro, with its multifaceted appeal, offers something for every traveler. From historical landmarks to natural beauty, from lively beaches to insightful cultural experiences, the top 10 things to do in Faro capture the city’s unique charm. Join Derek Wilder, The Adventure Junkie, on your next escapade to Faro, and dive into its rich tapestry!