Visiting Faro Historic Center in a Day
The capital of the Algarve is the destination for those who want to enjoy the best of European summer. In addition to being a gateway to the beaches of southern Portugal, the city of Faro also has a rich history that mixes cultures of different peoples over the years.
It is in the Old City, also called Vila Adentro, that we can learn more about the inheritances of the Algarve, a region that for many years was a Kingdom apart from Portugal.
Our itinerary takes you to the essentials and can be followed in an afternoon.
1. Faro Marina
Our starting point is the city’s charming marina, overlooking the small boats. Its location marks the center of interest in Faro, between Cidade Velha and Baixa de Faro, at the entrance to Ria Formosa.
It is in front of the marina that you will find the Faro city sign and guarantee that mandatory tourist photo! Up ahead is also the Faro obelisk.
In addition to being a beautiful and pleasant environment, the marina is central in Faro, just next to the bus station (bus) and about 5 minutes walk from the train station (train).
2. Arco da Vila
The beautiful Arco da Vila marks the entrance to Vila Adentro, the old town. The arch as we can see today was built in 1812 by order of a Portuguese bishop, decorated with an image of Saint Tomas Aquino, on top of what used to be one of the entrances of the ancient Arab walls that surrounded the city of Faro.
You can still see the old building when you are inside the arch, the Arab gate. It is considered a unique example of Arab architecture in Portugal, taking into account the good state of conservation and the fact that it is still in the place of origin.
3. Old Town
When crossing the Arco da Vila we enter the narrow stone streets of the Old Town of Faro. The oldest part of Faro, whose Moorish origins are, as well as in other important Portuguese cities, marked on the fortified walls and streets that imitate labyrinths. In addition, the city’s arches date back to the Roman era.
Also known as Vila Adentro, it is where the first inhabitants of the city lived. This charming area guarantees a pleasant walk and great photos.
It is here that the most important monuments of the city are located over its almost thousand years.
4. Faro Cathedral
One of the most important buildings in the region, the cathedral of Faro is also known as the Church of Santa Maria. The building was built on the ruins of an ancient Roman temple, which during the Arab occupation became a mosque and became a Catholic church after the Christian conquest of the Portuguese king D. Afonso III, in the 13th century.
This monument alone carries the entire history of the civilizations that passed through Portugal.
It is an interesting cultural visit and the ticket price is 3 €.
5. Faro Municipal Museum
Also known as the Archaeological Museum and Lapidary Infante D. Henrique, the Faro Municipal Museum is the most suitable museum for those curious about the history of Faro. The museum is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in Faro, originally a convent of the Queen Catarina’s order, built in 1548.
It is one of the most interesting points for those who like to learn the culture and history of the travel destination.
There are permanent exhibitions that tell the story of Faro, or as the Romans who lived in the region in the 2nd century, Ossóbona used to say. In the museum, there are on display prehistoric archaeological remains and also about the Islamic community that lived in the region in the 3rd and 4th centuries.
Visits to the museum are free for all audiences on Sundays for the first 3 and a half hours of operation. It is an activity different from that common to tourists in the Algarve, and definitely a place worth visiting!
6. Old Beer Factory
Built in the 19th century on the ruins of the old castle of Faro, the Old Beer Factory is a cultural environment that opens for visits at various events throughout the year, such as the Algarve Design Meeting, wine fairs, and parties with DJs on the terrace overlooking the Ria Formosa.
The original construction is attached to the city walls and dates from the 11th century. Worth knowing! Keep an eye on the cultural program and enjoy.
7. Castle Walls
Protecting the Old City of Faro, the walls were built even before the Roman presence in the Iberian Peninsula and were fortified according to Roman, Muslim occupations, destroyed and rebuilt in wars of Christian reconquest and English invasions.
These are walls with a lot of history and that still maintain the city’s historic charm and air today.
Local tip: stop for a drink at the bar O Castelo! It is located on top of the wall and has a beautiful view of the Ria Formosa.
8. Ria Formosa
Following the walls, nothing better than enjoying the view of the Ria Formosa.
Local tip: go watch the sunset from the pier in front of the marina. Follow along Faro’s marina, cross the train tracks and find a good spot on the pier. It is a wonderful sunset, all year round, perfect to see with a group of friends or that special someone.
9. Baixa – Downtown Faro
To end the tour, nothing better than getting to know Baixa de Faro, the neighborhood of the best restaurants, shops, and nightlife in the city, where cars can’t go, making it a great place for a nice walk.
If you want to know more about local commerce and also the agenda of events, enter the official website of Baixa de Faro.
Take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful streets, take a souvenir and order an imperial (draft beer). Mix with the locals and have fun!
We hope you enjoyed visiting the city of Faro! We loved it 🥰
Post written by Letícia Melo.Hi there, I'm Leticia! Living in Portugal since 2017, I'm a Brazilian writer passionate about traveling, discovering new cultures, beaches and music! Let's share our best experiences!