Pretty Ports & Portuguese Charm: Faro, Portugal

Once regarded as something of a haven for retired Brits, the Algarve and its capital Faro have long since outgrown this stifling image. Whether it was the gorgeous year-round sunshine, the glorious beaches and landscapes or the ever-expanding activities on offer, the region is now a firm favourite with both young and old. One group in particular who’re realising what Faro has to offer are backpackers, and it’s not hard to see why when you get passed the glossy veneer of the resort-style tourism.

This unassuming destination may have slipped your attention in the past, but since the tourist invasion of the 1960’s first introduced us to its delights the area has slowly developed its offerings. Indeed, it’s not just new developments that have had people flocking here the past 50 years, as the Algarve is home to a plethora of cultural and historic attractions, not to mention the stunning natural beauty both in and out of the water.

With flights to Faro not only widely available but also very reasonably priced, arriving by plane is by far the most convenient of ways to get here. Frequent transfers will also help ease you into your backpacking experience, but be sure to book these ahead of time to save a few crucial Euro’s.

Though there isn’t the abundance of hostels you’d find in backpacking hotspots such as Amsterdam or Prague, the centre is home to a healthy selection. There’s nothing worse than finding there’s no room at the inn though, so again we’d recommend a little forethought and forward-planning to ensure you don’t have to resort to a hotel reservation.

Buying local produce and steering clear of tourist locations will help you stretch your budget, but that’s not to say some of these locations aren’t without merit. So here’s our little run-down of five things you won’t want to miss.

5 Things Not to Miss in Faro:

  • Faro’s Golden Beaches – You can’t beat a good old fashioned freebie, and when it comes in the form of a beautiful sun-kissed beach it’s an absolute must! Whether you’re just soaking up the rays or testing your water-wings, the shoreline of Faro is about as good as beach-life gets.
  • Old Town – As we touched on earlier, Faro’s Old Town is home to an absolute world of remnants from yester-year. Its 13th-Century cathedral is a great snapshot of many different architectural styles and houses its own mini-museum of historical relics, whilst The Chapel of Bones has an eerie allure many find hard to resist.
  • Sea Safari – Though you’ll for the most part be walking the path of the backpacker, it doesn’t hurt to every once in a while join the more mainstream tourist crowds. One such endeavour we’d recommend if you’ve got the money is the sea safari, on offer all along Faro’s coastline. Prices will vary, so make sure you get a few prices before stepping aboard.
  • Eat Locally – With a climate perfect for crops and a coastline alive with sea-life it’s no surprise that the food and drink of the Algarve is some of the finest in the world. Spending a few minutes chatting with locals will hopefully point you in the right direction for what to avoid and look out for.
  • Back To Nature – Another fantastic freebie is Faro’s Ria Formosa natural park, an incredibly diverse and at times quite stark escape from the tourist masses. Spread across the park you’ll find Roman and pre-Roman remains, the haunting fishing fleet memorial as well as some truly unique landscapes.

Check out more fantastic European destinations here on Top Backpacking Destinations

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