Travellers arriving in the Algarve by plane touch down at Faro, the province’s capital and an important port city. Though Faro is a coastal city, it is bordered by the Reserva Natural da Rio Formosa, a large nature reserve made up of a series of islets that effectively cut off the city from the sea.
After being completely razed by fire around the end of the 16th century and destroyed twice by earthquakes, Faro has almost no historic monuments left. Still, the inner-city old quarter has kept some of its Old World charm and is definitely worth a visit.
A foray into the old city should begin at the imposing Arco da Vila, one of the three doors in the medieval wall that encircles the old city. Along the main street beyond it are lovely homes, most of which date back to the 18th century. A little farther on, a short alley branches off to the right of the main street and leads to Largo da Sé, where the cathedral is situated. Upon entering, you will see several attractive azulejos, as well as an altar of talha dourada.
For those who like religious architecture, this town is certainly blessed -- it has no less than 32 churches and chapels for a population of only 7,000 inhabitants! Start your visit by strolling along the pier that runs along the Rio Gilão, where you will find the Roman bridge. Cross the bridge to reach the Praça Dr. Padinha or the Antigo Convento dos Ermitas de São Paulo, a church with seven magnificent carved wooden retables.
Farther on, after the Arco de la Misericórdia, you will come across a small alley that leads you to the Igreja de la Misericórdia, famous for its Renaissance-style portal. By taking the Travessa da Fonte, you will end up in front of the Castelo, built in the 18th century.
Tavira’s other main attraction is Ilha de Tavira. Forming an integral part of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, this long (about 11 km or 7 mi), sandy beach will delight swimmers and sunbathers.
Like many seaside destinations,
there are plenty of bars and restaurants situated along Faro's most popular beach areas.
The beaches to the west of Faro are the most frequented, and during the high season
Albufeira is one of the liveliest areas, where you will also find lots of
Where on earth
Situated about 300 km (186 mi) from Lisbon, Faro is the capital of the Algarve. Its most picturesque beaches, which lie in sheltered coves, are at the feet of beautiful, reddish-coloured cliffs located west of the city. Those found to the east of town are surrounded by a landscape of flat terrain.