Located in the heart of the Algarve region of Portugal, Faro is the region’s capital city and is home to about 42,000 residents. As the capital of the region it enjoys not only steady tourism traffic but also the benefits that come from being the administrative center. As such, Faro caters to both tourist as well as working resident and provides activities, services and infrastructure to accommodate both.
Faro is uniquely situated; located on the Ria Formosa Lagoon it is also next to the famous Ria Formosa Nature Reserve. These areas enjoy protected status and as such Faro has maintained much of the natural atmosphere that comes with large tracts of land under protected status. Both the lagoon and the park are vastly popular with naturalists who come for bird watching or to just enjoy the diversity of the geography.
As a cosmopolitan city Faro is the location for the main international airport of the region as well as the university. It has everything a large city could have from sports stadiums to cultural events and festivals; this particular city is always hopping. The largest festival of the area is held in October each year. The Feira da Santa Iria festival is a huge draw and the city bursts at the seams each year as people pour in to enjoy the festivities. In addition, Faro is also home to the International Music Festival and a multitude of concerts and performances are held throughout the city.
Faro has been popular for millennia and from the Moors to the Romans and then the Christians; the stamp of occupation has been left behind for all to see. The oldest part of the city has a plethora of ancient churches, walls, monuments and a castle. Faro castle dates its construction back to the ninth century and was built but the Moors. Parts of it still stand today and are testament to an age long past.
One of Faro’s most visited historical sites is the Capela do Ossos. This building was built in the 19th century by the Carmelite monks and is built entirely of bones, bones from the monks of that same order. This chapel was built in this way to remind the order to live a sinless life and live each day to the best of their ability. The Capela do Ossos is open daily for visitors.
Like the rest of the region, the beaches in Faro are stunning. However, the beaches in Faro are unique. The majority of the beaches are located on the off-shore islands that form the barrier of the Ria Formosa Lagoon. These beaches are accessible via ferry service that regularly runs from the mainland. As the beaches are on islands under protected status, they are pristine and natural and are perfect for both scuba and snorkeling or just lying on the beach watching the birds or the waves roll in.
A stroll through the older part of Faro along its twisted cobblestone narrow streets inevitably leads to quaint restaurants serving local specialties or hidden boutiques offering some of the area’s handicrafts. Secluded alcoves and tiny park areas provide respite to weary feet for those who are exploring this gem of a city by foot.
Faro has all the modern conveniences of a large modern city while still retaining much of the charm that is Portugal. In addition the university, hospitals and airport all help make this area of Portugal immensely popular for people who want to purchase property. As an investment or primary residence, Faro has a huge variety of homes available from tiny apartments inside historic buildings to community townhomes and more spacious villas running alongside the nature park or the waterfront. Faro is also the perfect starting point for discovering all that Portugal has to offer as the vast railway system runs through this city.
With one of the most unique coastlines in the world, Faro has much to offer both the tourist and resident alike. Traditional Portuguese charm is combined seamlessly with modern amenities for a city that is cosmopolitan while at the same time traditional but still unique.