City Break in Faro, Portugal

Faro might be known as the gateway to the Algarve, but there’s much to discover in the town itself. If you stick around to explore you will be surprise at what you will find.  A delightful mixture of Moorish remains and 18th-century Portuguese architecture, Faro’s cobbled streets and old city walls offer glorious sights wherever you turn.  And, with the temperatures still in the mid-20s throughout September, it’s the right place for those wanting a last minute summer get away.

To explore this ancient town start your journey at Vila-Adentro, the oldest part of town, after passing through one of the three medieval gates, or arches, in the city walls.  The Arco da Vila is the best starting point from which to explore, with the town stretching out in front of you.  Follow the cobbled streets and end up at Largo da Se, the orange tree-lined square that is home to the town hall, the Bishop’s Palace and the ancient cathedral.

Climb the cathedral tower for a spectacular view over the rooftops, across Ria Formosa National Park (also worth a visit if you have the time) and out over the Atlantic Ocean beyond.  Heading away from the square, the Museum of the City Hall of Faro is one of the oldest buildings in the town, and hosts an interesting collection of artefacts and relics.

Take your time to discover Rua do Santo Antonio, where open-air cafes and shops offer perfect place for a coffee and a pastry.  Refreshed, it’s time to head out the Arco da Porta Nova, known as the ‘Doors of the Sea’.  This provides the exit point from the old town and leads you to the Mouraria area, where the Moors settled back in the day, and which is now a busy  shopping area for you to while away a few hours.

When it comes to food in the evening, Faro has something for everyone among its many cantinas and modern restaurants.  Camane, situated on the waterfront, is famous for its seafood dishes, while Belle Epoque is a more authentic Portuguese experience in the centre of town.

Faro Marina is another must-see on any trip to Portugal’s ‘southern capital’.  Why not hop on a boat and take a short trip to the beaches that await nearby? Faro and its surrounding coastline are protected  by a series of sandpits.  They create shallow waters that are sheltered from the Atlantic waves and perfect for its flamingos and nearby nature trail. IIha da Armona, one of the largest beaches in the area are both accessible via a short boat trip, while IIha de Faro is easier to access and offers a wide stretch of sand and a variety of watersport activities for those who fancy doing something a bit more lively with their day on the beach.

If golf is your thing, then Faro is the perfect European destination. Some of the Algarve’s finest courses are all within a short drive of the airport – and the sunny weather continues late into the year.

Set in the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, among rolling woodland, the stunningSan Lorenzo is one of Europe’s  best courses and a must-play, if only for the spectacular water-heavy approach to the clubhouse that awaits you on the 18th.

Just around the corner, Quinta do Lago boasts three separate championship courses, including the iconic South Course, which has hosted the Portuguese Open eth times (will cost about 77 euros).

For the true Portuguese golfing experience, though, the renowed Royal Course at Vale de Lobo is hard to beat, and rounds are available from just (will cost about 150 euros). The lake on the seventh and the island green on the ninth will warm you up nicely for the spectacular cliff-top carry on the 16th. Enjoy the ocean views, soak up the late summer sun.

Faro has hotel from the basic 3 star to 5 star. The 4 star Holiday Inn Algarve is located right on the beach offering spectacular view and a short bus ride from town. 5 star Tivoli Victoria Vilamoura has three bars, four pools on-site sports activities and a courtesy beach club bus means you are spoilt for choice. Otherwise you can go luxury at the 5 star Conrad Algarve, a stylish hotel located in the splendour of Quinta do Lago. It has an on-site spa, five bars and restaurants, and shuttle bus to the nearby beach.

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