14 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.

It’s so easy to get lost in the elegance and tranquility of Faro. Tourist attractions include picturesque beaches, stunning architecture, historic sites, and many more. Whether you visit Algarve in the winter or in the summer, you’ll enjoy it just as much.

There are also simply so many attractions in Faro that you won’t run out of things to see and do. Hike in the serene Ria Formosa Natural Park, or just relax at the beach. Explore the villages, towns, and cities along the coast. Take in the historical sights, visit museums, and discover the old town. 

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.

Things to do in Faro Portugal

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 popular destination in Algarve, and you should at least go on a day trip to Faro if you can’t spare more time.

If you’re looking for a lot of excitement, Faro will likely be a lot of fun as there are a lot of things to do. Some Faro tourist attractions, however, might be a little too busy for you if you’re looking for slower-paced travel.

If that sounds like you, you might want to base yourself in quieter places like Tavira or Olhao. With that being said, you should have a look at some of these things to do in Faro because you might change your mind.

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

Things to see in Faro


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.

Things to do in Faro, Portugal

Explore Old Town Faro

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

Step back in time and explore narrow winding streets lined with whitewashed buildings and red-tiled roofs. Wander through the alleys and passages, soak up the atmosphere, and try some delicious local foods and drinks.

The worn walls of the historic center tell the tales of Faro’s intriguing history from the Moors to the dramatic Reconquest of what was the last Moorish stronghold in Portugal.

Faro old town

Be mesmerized by the Faro Cathedral

Suppose you’re wondering where to go and what to do in Faro from Old Town. In that case, you can visit the Faro Cathedral, also known as the 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 Algarve and is a great place to visit for its architecture, artistic treasures, and impressive acoustics.

The cathedral is home to beautiful and intricate carvings and elaborate blue and white Azulejos.

You can climb all the way to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of the city. The views are absolutely stunning, so be sure to go up early or late in the day to avoid the crowds.

Things to do in Faro - visit the cathedral

Travel in time through Algarve’s ancient ruins

There are two ancient ruins near Faro worth exploring: Milreu and Aljezur. The former was an ancient Roman settlement, and the latter was a Município (town).

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 can take a guided tour of the ruins, which will provide you with a better understanding of how the Romans lived.

For a different kind of exploration, head to the Faro Cliff Railway, a narrow-gauge railway that runs along the side of the 400-meter-high cliffs.

It’s the oldest funicular in Europe, and the journey to the top gives you stunning views of the coastline and the city of Faro. Things to do include relaxing and spending the whole afternoon, especially since tickets are moderately-priced.

Go on a boat trip!

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, the stained glass windows stand out as do the elaborate wood carvings. It’s well worth a visit on your trip to Faro!

things to do in Faro - Carmo Church

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, a medieval arch that was once part of the city walls.

The arch is now a popular tourist attraction, and it has a variety of shops and restaurants that line its narrow streets. There are also several museums and churches in the area, so keep your eyes open for more sights to discover.

faro things to do

Get close to nature

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.

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

Faro things to do - flamingos

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.

Faro what to do - Largo da Sé

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

Get lost in Faro’s many museums

If you’re not into walking or hiking, these Faro attractions should definitely be on your list. 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 date 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.

If you want to spend a few hours in one place, visit the Faro Cathedral Museum, a museum showcasing the history of Faro. The best part? It’s completely free!

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.

The Capela dos Ossos is a chapel built into the side of a limestone cliff. Legend has it that the chapel is haunted. Many visitors have reported hearing voices and seeing lights moving around inside the chapel at night.

You can climb inside the chapel to better look at the structure, which is decorated with intricate carvings.

things to do Faro

Relax in Praia de Faro

Praia de Faro is the main beach in Faro, arguably one of the best beaches in Algarve, and it’s where most visitors end their day.

The wide, white-sanded beach is usually jam-packed with people soaking in the sun and going for a swim. It’s also the best spot to take in the sunset.

The beach is the longest in the Algarve and is lined with palm trees and the typical whitewashed houses you’ll see in the old town.

There are several small crescent-shaped beaches that are good for sunbathing, and the water is usually calm.

If you want to get even closer to the water, rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard and explore the coastline. 

You can also rent a lounger and umbrella to spend the day on the beach. In the evening, you can catch a few performances on the beach or head to one of the bars and restaurants that have been built right on the sand.

Places to see Faro beach

Cruise the 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.

It takes you along the coast of the Ria Formosa, the largest saltwater river in the Algarve, past the barrier islands, like Tavira island, Culatra island, and Armona island.  

The water is a beautiful blue color, and you can often see dolphins, porpoises, and even whales while on tour. You can see the coastline change as you sail between the small villages and parks of the Algarve. 

There are several different ways to enjoy a cruise on the Ria Formosa.

You can take a narrated cruise, which will take you along the Ria Formosa from the Marina do Gerês to the Marina da Ponte do Guadiana, or you can take a private tour, which is led by an experienced guide and includes some free time in the villages and parks on the waterway.

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

Faro attractions

Get sporty

Looking for a taste of live-sports-watching adrenaline? Algarve Stadium is located between Faro and Loulé and hosts football games for fans.

If you prefer getting active yourself, go for a jog in Ria Formosa Natural Park where you can follow different trails through the salt marshes.

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.

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 things to 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.

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