19 Fun things to do in Faro Portugal

Portugal has many amazing cities, and arguably one of the best of them is Algarve’s quaint capital, Faro. Often overlooked because of its famous neighbors, there are a lot of things to do in Faro with all of its natural beauty and cultural vibrance.

Faro is just as worth visiting as the nearby towns of Tavira and Lagos and epic Algarve cities like Albufeira and Portimao. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years and recently returned from a trip there. It’s just one of those small cities that embraces you.

It’s so easy to get lost in the tranquility of Faro. Tourist attractions like picturesque beaches, stunning architecture, historic sites, and Ria Formosa Natural Park will keep you busy for days. Whether you visit Algarve in the winter or in the summer, you’ll enjoy it just as much.

Faro is also a great base for day trips around the region, so there’s no reason to skip Algarve’s capital city.

If you’re planning on heading down to southern Portugal any time soon, I’ll show you the best things to do in Faro so that you can make the most out of your itinerary in the Algarve.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Best things to do in Faro Portugal - views of the marina from Faro Cathedral.

But first, is Faro worth visiting?

If you’re considering visiting Faro, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth the trip. There are so many amazing places to see on the Algarve so Faro can easily become a transit destination.

Yet, it’s a wonderful destination in Algarve, and you should at least go on a day trip to Faro if you can’t spare more time. From a bone chapel to a quaint historic center and not to mention look for flamingos in Ria Formosa Natural Park, there is so much variety to Faro’s attractions.

Faro is a more relaxed destination than the typical central and western Algarve destinations and I always find that it fuels my soul. If you need more convincing, read my complete post about reasons to visit Faro.

I assure you that no matter if you travel in summer or winter, Faro is lovely.

Me sitting on top of the letter F of an "I Love Faro" sign on the marina wondering what to do in Faro Portugal.


LUXURY: 3HB Faro -fabulous hotel with 2 pools and restaurants, bar, and a spa and wellness center.

MID-RANGE: Le Jardin Secret de Faro Guesthouse – beautifully decorated guesthouse in the heart of Faro.

BUDGET: Sunlight House – private rooms with options of shared or private bathrooms with a shared kitchen for making your own meals.

APARTMENT: A Casa D’Amelie – beautiful apartments in the heart of Faro Old Town, some of them with a terrace or balcony.

HOSTEL: Hostel Casa d’Alagoa – situated right outside the old city walls there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby. Lovely, young atmosphere.

You can also read my complete guide to the best areas to stay in Faro.


A Pinterest pin cover saying: "Best things to do in Faro Portugal" with pictures of a square in Fare, the I Love Faro sign, and street art.

Things to do in Faro, Portugal

Stroll around Faro Old Town

Faro’s Old Town is home to several medieval streets, the remains of Moorish castle walls, and several medieval churches. 

What I love about Faro Old Town is that it looks really old. The paint has fallen off walls, and there are abandoned buildings in between restored structures.

Old gates lead to busy squares with cafés and restaurants where you can sit down for a bite to eat or a cold drink.

Square in Faro Old Town with busy restaurants.

Search for street art

Faro is home to amazing street art so make sure you keep your eyes peeled as you walk around. I especially love the old man throwing a lemon in the air in Rua do Pe da Cruz. It looks like it’s drawn with a pencil which is super cool on the wall. There’s also an epic corner piece on Rua de Sao Pedro.

But there are also other pieces worth checking out so I highly recommend spending time walking around the back streets to look out some for yourself.

a painting of an old man throwing a lemon in the air on a wall in Faro Portugal.

Be mesmerized by the Faro Cathedral

When looking for what to do in Faro, make sure you step inside Faro Cathedral, also known as Church of Santa Maria or just Sé.

The Faro Cathedral, built in the 13th century, is one of the biggest and most impressive cathedrals in the Algarve and is a great place to visit for its architecture, artistic treasures, and impressive acoustics.

Once you enter, you’ll come to the orange gardens where there are a couple of chapels, including a small bone chapel worth seeing.

The cathedral itself is mesmerizing! The first thing I noticed when I entered was the beautiful organ which you can take a closer look at by climbing up the stairs.

But the entire church is incredible with golden decorations and blue and white tilework.

Make sure you also climb up to the rooftop for panoramic views of Ria Formosa Natural Park and the marina. It’s absolutely stunning and it gives you an idea of how blessed Faro is with its location as a gateway to Ria Formosa.

A golden chapel with blue and white tiled walls .

Take a boat trip in Ria Formosa Natural Park

Journey through the Ria Formosa by boat, one of the most scenic waterways in the Algarve, and explore the sand-blown beaches, remote islands, and mangrove forests. There are daily boat tours from Faro taking you there.

Dependign on the tour you pick, they take you along the coast of the Ria Formosa, the largest saltwater river in the Algarve, past barrier islands, like Tavira Island, Culatra Island, and Armona Island.

There are several different ways to enjoy a cruise on the Ria Formosa. You can choose from dolphin-watching cruises to exploring the barrier islands and even sunset tours.

During the journey, you’ll cruise right past the Faro Lighthouse and explore several inlets along the river.

Check availability for Ria Formosa Cruises here

Me on a boat trip in Ria Formosa.

Grab a bite to eat at Vegan Box

There are many lovely places to eat in Faro. Even vegan food! We especially loved Vegan Box, which is tucked away a bit out of the tourist trail, yet only a few minutes walk from the bone chapel.

It’s a friendly place that also welcomed our puppy Atlas and they have vegan Pastel de Nata! But they also have several tasty snacks and food to try from vegan burgers to traditional Portuguese street food that we enjoyed.

two coffies and a pastel de nata on the table in a café with colorful graffiti on the walls.

Travel in time through ancient Roman ruins

Only a 15-minute drive away, in Estoi, you can visit some really cool Roman Ruins. The ruins at Milreu are well preserved, and they give you a good idea of what life was like in the area during Roman times.

You’ll see the shape of several structures and a whole lot of mosaics, some of them pretty intact. I especially liked the one with the fish which you see in the picture below.

Besides the ruins, there is an old farm house you can visit where they have reconstructed a kitchen and there are more ruins inside.

Old Roman Mosaics of fish.

Go on a boat trip!

Look out for storks

Faro is full of storks! Yes, you read that right. There are so many stork nests on top of churches and buildings that you won’t miss out on them when you visit.

As an animal lover, it’s no surprise that one of my favorite things to do is to search for stork nests around the city. The giant birds are so beautiful there they sit guarding their little ones.

Storks sitting on top of a church in Faro.

Visit the Igreja do Carmo

The Igreja do Carmo is one of the most beautiful churches in the city, yet mostly known for its macabre bone chapel.

It dates back to the early 1700s at the time when King João V reigned the country. However, it experienced severe damage during the 1755 earthquake, so parts of it had to be rebuilt.

Inside, it’s filled with golden decorations on walls and the main altarpiece. It’s well worth a visit on your trip to Faro!

Golden walls and altarpiece in Carmo Church Faro.

Take a picture at the Arco de Vila

One of the most exciting things to do in Faro is to visit the Arco de Vila, an 11th-century Arab arch that was once part of the city walls. It was reopened in 1992.

The arch is now a popular tourist attraction and the intricate facade can be seen well from the Jardim Manuel Bivar. My favorite feature is all the stork nests on the top where you can see the giant birds towering over the stunning facade.

There are also several museums and churches in the area, including Fado performances.

Me and my dog Atlas walking through a large gate with a medieval facade and stork nests on top.

Hike the Ludo Trail

Faro is the gateway to Ria Formosa Natural Park which consists of wetlands, shrubs, salt marshes, and a wealth of wildlife.

It is an important resting place for migratory birds traveling between Africa and Europe and you can see so many different species all year round.

The Ludo Trail is an easy and popular hike that takes you through Ria Formosa Natural Park where you have the chance to see large groups of flamingos among other interesting bird species.

It’s easy to walk it with a stroller too and while the entire hike takes a couple of hours, you can turn around where you want (though the salt pans where you can see flamingoes are on the loop back (you can turn right through the salt pans instead of continuing straight if you want to take a short walk to see if you see them.)

Ludo Trail in Faro

People-watch at one of the busy squares

If you’re looking for a relaxing activity to do in Faro, people-watching and kicking back at one of the vibrant squares in Faro is a great way to recharge from a day of sightseeing.

Grab a cold drink and enjoy a sunny day while taking in every movement on the square. I love taking these moments in Faro as they really give a snapshot of everyday life as locals and tourists go by.

Besides the marina, I really enjoy the cafés across Praça de D. Afonso III. It’s such a cute little corner.

People watching in Faro at a busy square.

Take a tour to see some of the most beguiling natural wonders near Faro

Look for cute abandoned buildings

This is actually one of the best things to do in Faro Portugal. It might sound weird, but in a city with so many abandoned buildings, I love looking for the charm in them.

There is so much history within the abandoned walls and beautiful architectural details that are fading and plants growing out of windows are everywhere.

I love spending hours photographing these forgotten corners and trust me when I say Mohammed and Atlas get sick of waiting for me!

Abandoned house in Faro Portugal with green plants growing out of the walls and a bird sitting on the roof.

Get lost in Faro’s many museums

Faro’s attractions also include some great museums. The Faro Maritime Museum features an impressive collection of boats from around the world.

The Centro Cultural de Faro is a beautiful Art Nouveau building that houses several art galleries, a planetarium, and a cinema.

The Museu do Faro is an interactive museum that teaches you about the city and its history through fun games, films, and hands-on activities.

The Faro Archaeological Museum is another good place to visit, and it’s free to the public. It’s the oldest archaeological museum in the region, and it features a collection of finds from the area that dates back more than three thousand years. You’ll see pottery, tools, and even a few Roman coins. It’s well worth visiting while you’re in Faro.

Religious figures in a museum with a pastel-colored wooden ceiling.

Discover the spooky Capela des Ossos

Your Faro places-to-visit list should definitely include the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), also known as the Capela dos Mortos (Chapel of the Dead). It is part of the Carmo Church.

You have to walk through the church and out to the back courtyard to find it, but it’s well signposted and if you’re not sure, just ask the staff.

Legend has it that the chapel is haunted. Many visitors have reported hearing voices and seeing lights moving around inside the chapel at night.

Inside, there are thousands of human skeletons decorating the walls, ceiling, and altarpiece.

Bone chapel decorated with human bones all over the walls and ceilings, being one of the top Faro attractions.

Take Faro tourist train

Faro’s hop-on-hop-off sightseeing train is a great way to see the city. It starts and ends at Praça D. Francisco Gomes and stops at several places, including the Carmo Church where the bone chapel is, where you can hop off and on again when you want.

The ride includes an audio guide talking about the places you pass. Make sure you get tickets in advance to avoid any unnecessary waiting.

Faro tourist train

Relax in Praia de Faro

Praia de Faro is the main beach in Faro and arguably one of the best beaches in Algarve. The wide, white-sanded beach is usually jam-packed with people soaking in the sun and going for a swim. It’s also a great spot to take in the sunset.

The beach is the longest in the Algarve and set on Ilha de faro, which isn’t fully an island, but a long peninsula serving as a barrier island for Ria Formosa Natural Park.

There are places to rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to explore the coastline in the summer. 

You can also rent a lounger and umbrella to spend the day on the beachand several beach bars line the beach where you can grab a cold drink or lunch if you’re staying the day.

People sunbathing at their sunbeds at Faro Beach.

Take in the sunset in Ria Formosa

Ria Formosa Natural Park is one of my favorite places to take in the sunset in Faro. It is so beautiful over the saltwater rivers and lagoons as it reflects in the water, especially when it’s low tide. But on our last trip, it was high tide and it was just as stunning.

We usually go see it from the start of the Ludo Trail, you can walk a few minutes on the trail to find a good spot and there are even some benches you can sit on or just by the roundabout before crossing the bridge to Faro Beach.

There is a bus stop there and a bid parking area nearby if you drive.

Sunset over the water in Ria Formosa Faro.

Get hooked on Faro nightlife

As the sun sets, get ready for Faro’s nightlife. As a university city, you’ll be surprised by the great party scene this relaxing city hides. You’ll find rooftop bars, clubs, and restaurants for every taste.

There are plenty of options for drinks, live music, and dancing. There are also several clubs and bars along the beach, so you can enjoy the music and the view simultaneously.

Shop ‘til you drop

One of the best parts about visiting Faro is the shopping. The city is home to several upscale shopping malls, like the Forum Algarve. This is the largest shopping mall in the region, and it has more than 100 stores, big-name brands included.

In the heart of the Old Town, explore the shops in Rua de Santo António where you’ll find several big brands and boutique shops. There are also many restaurants and bars where you can recharge your batteries.

Faro shopping street.

What to do in Faro as a responsible traveler

Avoid unethical animal tourism in Faro

Unethical animal tourism is found pretty much everywhere, and unfortunately, the Algarve is no exception. There are several animal attractions like a zoo marine and a zoo in the region, and it’s easy to get lured into it with excellent marketing tactics, especially targeting children.

One of the best ways to keep your animal tourism ethical while in Faro is to avoid visiting the Zoo and Zoomarine where dolphins are kept captive for tourists’ amusement. They offer swimming with captive dolphins.

As World Animal Protection puts it, dolphins are not smiling and happy when you’re hanging onto them in a tiny pool. It’s simply the shape of their face.

Truth is, Dolphins silently suffer from depression of not being able to swim freely, to be with their families, and to be in a way too small a tank for their natural behavior.

In general, any activity that includes wildlife in cages or tanks, acting in shows, doing tricks, interacting with tourists, and other activities that are not natural behavior for them is unethical.

Fortunately, there are so many amazing opportunities to see dolphins in the wild in Faro. Ethically.

You can check out some of them here:

Dolphin and wildlife watching

Dolphin watching and cave tour

what to do in Faro - ethical dolphin safari

Take nothing and leave nothing

While it’s true that the town is definitely breathtaking, there is no excuse for taking away resources as souvenirs from the natural attractions of Faro.

This includes leaving sand and seashells on the beach. Removing it disturbs the eco system.

Things to see and do are so abundant that you can leave Faro with just awesome memories and great pictures.

However, there are also a lot of ethical souvenirs for sale that you can buy to support local businesses, to commemorate your visit to Faro.

Appreciate local culture (and the locals as well!)

When you travel, always keep this in mind – you are a visitor! This means you have to be respectful of the culture and environment of the area you’re visiting. You should refrain from doing anything that could cause offense to the locals or visitors to the area. 

Final thoughts on what to do in Faro

I hope this post has given you a good idea about what to do in Faro (and what not to do.) As you can see, there is no shortage of activities in Faro that will suit any type of traveler so I hope you found enough exciting things to look forward to your vacation.

It’s definitely worth spending a couple of days in Faro before venturing to other places in the Algarve.

READING NEXT: How to spend 3 days in Algarve