Top 5 sights for first-timers
Sé de Faro was built in 1251, but mostly destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. The tower gate is original but most of the rest is a reconstructed mishmash of styles: Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. There are some fine azulejo tiles and you can climb the bell tower for views.
Largo da Sé
Faro Municipal Museum
This interesting museum is housed in the beautiful Renaissance Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Exhibits of particular note include a Roman mosaic of Neptune as well as Roman statues excavated from the site nearby in Estoi.
Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção
Igreja do Carmo & Capela dos Ossos
The baroque church of Igreja do Carmo leads to the sinister Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), which is cheerfully decorated in monks’ bones acting as a ‘memento mori’ (reminder of the inevitability of death). These gruesome building materials were disinterred from a nearby cemetery.
Largo do Carmo
Arco da Vila
Built by an Italian architect, this 19th-century arch was built over one of the city’s medieval gates. The statue of St Thomas Aquinas is also Italian. Inside retains the horseshoe gate that was part of the Moorish walls.
Rua da Misericórdia
This is a long spit of white sand, edged by turquoise-blue lagoon on one side and sparkling Atlantic Ocean on the other.
Ilha da Culatra
Top 5 sights for old hands
Ria Formosa Natural Park
This beautiful protected area covers 18,000 hectares, a seaside landscape that encompasses lagoons, sandbanks, saltpans, dunes and islets. It’s a great place for cycling, walking, boating and birdwatching.
Part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, this 10-kilometre, white-sand beach is one of the most remote-feeling along the coast. The sandy island is the most southerly point of Portugal, and is accessible via boat from Faro during the summer months.
Faro Jewish Heritage Centre
The Jewish Cemetery has beautiful marble gravestones and a small museum that houses a recreated synagogue.
Museu Regional do Algarve
With implements and artefacts from peasant life, this museum illustrates how life used to be in the area, with evocative exhibits such as an old wooden milk cart.
Praça da Liberdade 2
Faro’s Mouraria (old Moorish quarter) is an interesting place to wander, with decorated facades adorning mainly 16th- to 18th-century buildings. Examples include Palacete Belmarço, Casa da Antiga Rua do Pestana and the oldest café in the city, Café Aliança.