Travel Thursdays: Exploring Portugal’s Algarve Region (Stop nr 2 – Faro)

by Karisa

It’s taking me a lot longer to get through these travel posts than I had hoped… apologies for that. For those clicking through for the first time, here’s a quick catch up: Last year I took 3 months off to do a bit of travelling through Europe. My first stop was sunny Portugal. So far I’ve blogged about Lisbon & Tavira, and in this post I’m going to talk about Faro, the capital of Southern Portugal’s Algarve region.

From Tavira it was a short bus trip to get to Faro. The bus runs almost every hour on the hour, so it’s really easy to get to other towns on the Algarve if you’re relying on public transport.

I stayed at Hotel Sol Algarve – it’s only a 2 star, so very basic, but the hotel has super lovely (and very helpful) front desk staff, it’s in a really central location, the rooms are neat & clean and it was a very affordable stay. So if cheap & cheerful is what you’re looking, I can highly recommend this hotel.

Walking around Faro was pretty interesting. Some parts are super pretty, while others are a bit gritty with lots of broken down buildings & graffiti, but I really loved that contrast. Faro also has a little harbour area from where you can do boat trips. No direct beaches, but some really beautiful ones just a short ferry away.

Let me show you a bit of scenery:

Faro also has an “Old town” which is surrounded by ancient city walls. Inside you’ll find lots of beautiful buildings including a gothic cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace, pretty cobblestone streets is pretty much the standard & there are also plenty of options for enjoying an ice cold beer.

As mentioned above, there are no direct beaches in Faro, but the reason I decided to stop here was to check out the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The park consists of a maze of canals, islands, marshes and barrier islands, stretching about 60kms along the Algarve coast. Faro seemed like a good spot to explore this park because they have this Hop on Hop Off Island Tour which departs from their harbour. You basically buy a 24 hr ticket & then you can explore the islands of Deserta, Farol and Culatra, all in one easy round trip.

My hop on hop off mode of transport…

The first stop was Ilha Deserta:

The 2nd stop was Ilha do Farol (my favourite – mainly due to the cute beach bar I stumbled upon right in front of the lighthouse):

And the 3rd stop was Ilha da Cultara – it’s a bit of a walk to the beach, but worth it:

Just remember that sunscreen kids. I was definitely not reapplying enough & after a long day out in the sun, I ended up looking like a lobster. Not ideal…

As far as food goes in Faro, I had some really lovely seafood tapas at a little place called Saudad em Português. Tapas prices ranged from 2 to 7 euros each, which I thought was pretty good & they had a really good selection too.

These mussels were my favourite…

But for a splurge experience, do check out the rooftop Ria Formosa restaurant at Hotel Faro. They do this set menu thing (which I opted for), or you can order from their a la carte menu. It’s pricey, but the views are totally worth it.

This was one of the courses from my set menu. The food was good, but didn’t compare to what you’d get in Cape Town the for the same price. But hey, we’re completely spoilt in that way. The views & setting is really what makes this a memorable dining experience though.

As far as other noteworthy “need-to-see” things go – if you like a bit of the macabre, how about a chapel made out of human bones? There are two of these in Portugal, one in Évora and the other in Faro. I love this kind of stuff, so this was very high on my must-see list.

The Chapel of Bones is located at Igreja Do Carmo which is a really pretty church to see in itself. Walk through the church & round the back and you’ll get to the small chapel outside…
It’s way more impressive to see in person, but hopefully this photo gives you an idea of the intricate detail, all created with human bones.

Faro (from what I understand) is mostly overlooked by travellers who are exploring the Algarve, but I’m really glad I made the effort to check it out. As you can see, there’s lots to do & see here and if you’re already in the area, it’s a very easy stop to do. I stayed for 2 nights which was plenty of time do to & see everything I wanted to. So it doesn’t need to be a lengthy stay if you’re wanting to see other spots along the coast. From Faro I headed to Albufeira – but I’ll tell you all about that in my next post.

To see lots more photos & videos of Faro (including a look at my hotel room for those who are interested), check out my Instagram accountctmylove.  I created story highlights for each city that I visited during my trip last year which you’ll find on my profile.  Scroll through these and select the one called “Faro”.


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