Many tourists coming to rest in the Algarve, end up in Faro, which often becomes the starting point for a long journey through the south of Portugal. In addition, since 1756 it has been considered the capital of the region and still retains the attractiveness of an old fortress town. Faro is located in the south of the country, a few dozen kilometers from the Spanish border, on the shores of the Ria Formosa. People come here to see the sights of the old quarter (of particular interest to tourists is the eerie Chapel of Bones under the Carmo Church), admire the rare, brightly decorated chimneys in the surrounding villages and stroll along the port, get acquainted with southern Portuguese cuisine. In addition, Faro has good shopping opportunities. But for a beach holiday, it is not very suitable, to find good beaches, you will have to drive off towards Vilamoura.
Many locals, as in any major European city, speak some English, but are happy when they try to speak to them in their native language – even if not very successfully. For Portugal climate and geography, please check TopPharmacySchools.
Communication and Wi-Fi
Mobile phone prices in Faro are moderate, so it is more profitable to buy a local SIM card, especially if you often call home. A minute of an international call costs 0.10-0.20 EUR. The Portuguese operators MEO and NOS catch the best, Vodafone is also very popular. For only 15-20 EUR you can purchase economical tariff plans, which include not only the ability to call and write messages, but also the use of 3G. There are even maps created only for mobile internet. Cards are sold in company stores, tobacco and grocery stores, a passport for registration is needed only in official salons.
Almost all operators offer special tourist tariff plans. Their validity period is limited, but the package includes everything you need: from 200 minutes of calls and several hundred SMS, unlimited internet.
As for WI-Fi, things are a little worse with it. There is a free signal in hotels and tourist information centers (but usually a password is required). But in cafes and restaurants, the service is either paid or not available at all.
Faro has a long sandy beach – “Praia de Faro”, awarded the Blue Flag. It is located in a natural lagoon, so the bottom is flat, the water warms up well, you can swim with children. But it is worth remembering that the Atlantic Ocean is more powerful than any sea, there can be strong waves and a reverse current, so you cannot leave children unattended.
If you get into the reverse current, you need to swim to the side, along the coast, and not to it! If you try to fight the current and swim against it, then the forces will quickly run out.
When a red flag hangs on the shore, swimming is prohibited. The yellow flag allows sailing, but you should be careful. But with green you can swim as much as you like.
Entrance to the beach is free, renting a sunbed and umbrella will cost 8-10 EUR. The sand is very soft, so you can sunbathe on a towel. Praia de Faro has sports equipment rentals and a public toilet, but not a single shower. There are hotels and restaurants along the coast. Since Faro is a port city, many tourists prefer to sunbathe and swim in the neighboring villages or on the neighboring island of Baretta.
Entertainment and attractions
The most real adventure will be a walk around the city on your own two feet. The historic center, also known as the Old Town, is a beautifully preserved corner of Portugal in the 18th century, with cobbled streets and old buildings, the architecture of which can be traced to the influence of the Moorish culture. Both in the Old City and in modern districts, you can find outlandish vehicles, real marvels of automotive design – even a pickup truck with a motorcycle steering wheel and front wheel! There you will also see a lot of retro cars, say, Renault-4C, which you will not find in their native France during the day with fire, but here they come across quite often.
Being in deep thought, you can accidentally come across one of the most famous sights of Faro – the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos), one of the two most notable structures of this kind in the world (the second is located in the Czech Republic, in the town of Kutná Hora).
The walls and columns of the chapel are decorated with the bones of more than 1,200 deceased monks, and the inscription “These bones are waiting for their bones” is engraved on the entrance.
Although now the building is considered a gloomy monument to death, reminding the living of the transience of being, at the time the temple acquired such a strange decor, its purpose was purely practical. The chapel belonged to the monks of the mendicant order of the Franciscans, who, due to wars and epidemics, could not find new places for burial, and there was not enough space in the church cemetery. The monks began to dig up the old remains and put them in the basement, and bury new ones there, and this was repeated 3-4 times. When the cellars overflowed with bones, and the stench became unbearable, the monks found a way out – they cleaned the bones from the remnants of flesh, bleached in slaked lime and laid out the altar, walls and ceiling of the church with them.
Other attractions worth noting are the University of the Algarve, the picturesque seaport and marina, the 30,000-seat stadium, which was one of the stadiums of the European Football Championship 2004. Other places of interest: Faro Castle, St. Francis Monastery, Capuchin Monastery, St. Francis, St. Barbara, St. Peter, Bishop’s Palace, Belmark Mansion, Maritime Museum of Admiral Ramalho Ortigan.
4 things to do in Faro
- Climb the bell tower of Faro Cathedral to enjoy the views.
- Try fish soup-roast “caldeirada” in one of the restaurants in the port.
- Walk around the old town and look into the gloomy chapel of the bones of the Carmelite Church.
- Go to the market to buy elegant and stylish cork souvenirs or azulejos tiles.