The 9 Best Things to Do in Faro, Portugal

Welcome to the vibrant city of Faro, which sits amongst the stunning coastline of Portugal’s Algarve region. 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. 

This unassuming destination may have slipped your attention in the past, but since the tourist invasion of the 1960s 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 for 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. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, a culinary adventurer, or a relaxation seeker, Faro has something remarkable to offer every traveller. 

Join us as we delve into the best things to do in Faro and the best things to see in Faro, Portugal, unveiling the hidden treasures and cherished moments that make this city a must-visit destination. Whether you’re planning a family getaway, a romantic escape, or a solo adventure, Faro promises an unforgettable holiday that will certainly top your list of European destinations.

Where is Faro in Portugal?

​​Situated on the southernmost tip of Portugal, Faro is a captivating city that serves as both a gateway to the Algarve region and a vibrant destination in its own right. Its strategic location makes it easily accessible and an ideal starting point for exploring the treasures of the Algarve.  

Basking in the warmth of the southern sun, the city’s prime location encapsulates the essence of what to do in Faro, offering a harmonious blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in its historical richness, indulge in culinary delights, and embrace adventures that unfold both within the city and along its pristine coastline. 

Faro’s coastal charm is accentuated by its proximity to the Ria Formosa Natural Park, and its positioning beside the Atlantic Ocean. To the west of Faro lies Lagos, known for its dramatic cliffs and historic architecture, while to the east, Tavira captivates with its well-preserved charm. The accessibility to these surrounding areas enriches the experience for visitors, allowing them to embark on day trips that offer a diverse range of activities in Faro, from picturesque beaches to historical exploration.

Things to Do in Faro, Portugal: Discover the Culture and History  

Faro’s Old Town 

Faro’s Old Town stands as a captivating testament to the city’s rich history and architectural splendour; stepping into its cobblestone streets is like stepping back in time.  If you don’t have more than a whole day dedicated to the old town, or you’re looking for respite from the heat whilst exploring, the tourist train in Faro is a great way to cover all the most important bases at your own pace. You can hop on and off whenever you please, so you can discover some of the town on foot. 

At the heart of this city lies the majestic Faro Cathedral, a symbol of the city’s spiritual and cultural heritage. Although its exterior is quite understated, the inside of the Cathedral is an awe-inspiring display of ornate alters, intricate designs, and stunning religious art. This alone deems it to be an unmissable attraction when visiting Faro. 

As you venture through the Old Town, you’ll come across one of the more iconic things to see in Faro. The Arco da Vila, once marking the only entrance to the city, is an archway that not only impresses with its grandeur but also holds many stories of the past deep within its stone walls. 

For travellers who are interested in uncovering history when visiting Faro, the Museu Municipal sits nearby, offering a deeper understanding of the city’s past. It showcases a diverse collection of artefacts and local artistry pieces; the biggest treasures are busts of Roman emperors found in the Roman site of Milreu, and a Roman mosaic unearthed in 1926 by Faro’s train station. Why not truly immerse yourself in the Portuguese culture and attend a Fado concert at the Museu Municipal? Wash down your newfound knowledge with a complimentary wine tasting after the show.

Beyond its historical landmarks, the Old Town also offers a charming shopping experience. Narrow alleys are lined with boutique stores, artisan shops, and quaint cafes, offering visitors a chance to indulge in leisurely strolls while discovering unique souvenirs and treasures. The fusion of the town’s contemporary shopping scene amongst the old-world charm adds a touch of modern allure, creating an enchanting ambience that beautifully encapsulates the essence of Faro.

Things to Do in Faro, Portugal: Get Back to Nature 

Rockclimbing in Lagos  

For those seeking the best things to do in Faro that embrace the beauty of the outdoors, rock climbing in Lagos is a unique and exhilarating experience. It is guaranteed to stand out as a favourite moment on your holiday.

The charming agricultural town of Bensafrim – just 15 minutes outside of Lagos –  is home to two distinct climbing areas, one of which requires a small abseil to gain access. The experienced tour guides can advise you on the 12 different routes available for you to choose from. Whether you’re a climbing enthusiast or a beginner wanting to build your confidence, Lagos’ scenery offers you the chance to reach new heights whatever your ability. 

Rock climbing is a great, fun way to conquer both physical challenges and breathtaking views. Scale the cliffsides that line the coastline, and feel the rush of accomplishment whilst you take in panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.

 Ria Formosa Natural Park

Among the most notable places to visit in Faro is the Ria Formosa Natural Park. This protected wetland is a sprawling oasis rich with flora and fauna and abundant in birdlife. It serves as a haven for the nature enthusiasts amongst us, being the perfect example of a diverse ecosystem that is an idyllic setting for birdwatching, hiking, and guided tours. 

You may want to try a more unconventional way of getting around the park with a guided segway tour, whereby the expert guides will take you to the best, hidden spots to witness an array of different bird species in their habitat. Marvel at the picturesque surroundings as you wheel your way around, turning every corner to be greeted by a different scenic landscape. Elsewhere in the park, you can discover the tranquil beauty of lagoons, salt marshes, and barrier islands that define the park’s unique landscape.

You may be considering other activities in Faro; kayaking in Ria Formosa stands out as an exciting experience that unveils the region’s pristine beauty from a unique perspective. Paddle along crystal-clear waters, marvel at rugged cliffs, and venture into hidden sea caves, immersing yourself in the Algarve’s coastal charm.

Things to Do in Faro, Portugal:  Make a Splash in the Atlantic

Benagil Caves

When it comes to the best things to do in Faro, water activities offer an array of opportunities to connect with the region’s breathtaking coastline and marine life. The Benagil Caves, often hailed as one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in Europe, beckon visitors with their mystical beauty. 

Located just a short boat ride from Faro, these sea caves are a testament to the power of nature’s craftsmanship. Carved by centuries of wind and waves, the caves boast impressive rock formations and hidden beaches, including the iconic Benagil Beach nestled within a cavern. 

Exploring the Benagil Caves offers an enchanting experience that unfolds like an adventure into a mythical realm. In order to get the most out of your visit, why not try a guided tour of the caves? This adventure will take you on a boat excursion, unveiling a perspective that only a lucky few have witnessed firsthand. As you navigate through the azure waters, the caves’ grandeur becomes evident when the sunlight filters through openings in the ceiling, casting an ethereal glow upon the surroundings.

Dolphin Spotting 

Setting out into the Atlantic on a dolphin-watching excursion is one of the best water activities in Faro to do. The Algarve’s coastal waters are known for hosting a diverse range of dolphin species, creating a thrilling chance to witness these mischievous and spirited beings in their natural habitat. 

The best way to be in with a chance to spot dolphins is to try a dolphin tour; the expert guides can use their years of experience to guide you to the best places to turn your dreams into reality. As your boat ventures into the open sea, and the anticipation builds, you will be delighted when you suddenly see the sleek forms of dolphins break the surface. Dolphins usually travel together too, so the likelihood is that you will always see more than one at a time. 

Their playful leaps and graceful arcs are a mesmerising spectacle for all who are fortunate enough to witness it. Watching these friendly souls of the sea leap and swim alongside the boat is a heartwarming and unforgettable experience, perfect for those seeking a closer connection with marine life. Travellers are guaranteed to take away a poignant reminder of the beauty and diversity that inhabit our oceans, as well as cherished memories. 

Things to Do in Faro, Portugal: Indulge in a Relaxing Paradise 

Faro’s Beaches 

Amid the array of activities and things to see in Faro, the sun-kissed beaches along its coastline are undoubtedly a highlight. Take a leisurely stroll along the sandy shores, indulge in the soothing sounds of the waves and the invigorating sea breeze, and bask in the sun-dappled sands for an escape from the hustle and bustle.

Praia de Faro is the main urban beach, offering easy access to vibrant surroundings as well as a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere. The soft golden sands extend for 5km along the shoreline, meaning there’s plenty of space for you to share with other visitors. There is a road following the beach in both directions lined with Portuguese holiday homes and beach bars, so you won’t have to travel far when you need your thirst quenching. 

The allure of islands like Ilha Deserta, Ilha da Culatra and Ilha Armona lies in their tranquil seclusion, accessible by a serene boat ride. These beaches present the perfect opportunity to unwind, sunbathe, or simply take a refreshing dip in the azure waters of the Atlantic. This sunset boat tour takes you to all three hidden gems. Your last stop will be a deserted beach on Ilha da Culatra where you will find a small community of 1000 people who are working towards a sustainability project with plans for completion by 2030. 

Faro’s Cuisine 

Faro’s culinary scene adds another layer of delight to any visit. Exploring the local cuisine is one of the top things to do in Faro, as the city boasts an array of charming eateries and traditional restaurants. 

The Algarve’s cuisine is a fusion of cultures, shaped by centuries of history and influenced by its coastal location. At its core, it celebrates the abundance of the sea, putting a lot of emphasis on fresh seafood. Among the must-try dishes is the aromatic Cataplana, a rich seafood stew simmered in a traditional copper pot. The combination of fresh fish, shellfish, and a medley of spices creates a symphony of flavours that captures the essence of the Algarve.

Grilled sardines, a coastal staple, are another treat you simply cannot miss. Served with a dash of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt, these simple yet delectable delights are a testament to the Algarve’s culinary authenticity.

Things to Do in Faro, Portugal: Have Fun with Family-Friendy Activities 

Aquashow Park 

For families looking for things to do in Faro that promise a day filled with excitement, the Aquashow Park stands as a vibrant day out filled with aquatic thrills. This water park offers a dynamic range of water slides, lazy rivers, and splash zones that cater to all age groups. The heart-pounding drops and twists of the slides create an exhilarating adventure, while the calmer areas provide a refreshing respite for those seeking relaxation. 

The stars of the show include the 32-meter-high Kamikaze slide which gives the sensation of surfing on a big wave, the Speed Race where you can compete with other guests for victory, and the White Fall which invites only the bravest for a unique and daring slide experience. There is also the mini-park world for a fun and safe activity with slides and other water attractions for your littlest ones, so they won’t feel like they’ve missed out. With its array of attractions, Aquashow Park is a fantastic place to visit in Faro, as it ensures that everyone, from the young ones to the young-at-heart, can revel in the excitement.


Mini-Golf, another engaging activity in Faro, brings families together for a dose of friendly competition and leisurely enjoyment. The city boasts several well-designed mini-golf courses that wind through lush landscapes and intricate obstacles. It’s an ideal way to spend quality time with loved ones while indulging in some lighthearted fun. 

Located in the heart of Albufeira, MiniGolf Adventure Park boasts a 20-hole course with magnificent waterfalls in the background. The size of the park means you will have plenty of time to perfect your technique, so whether you’re an expert putter or a novice, mini-golf offers an inclusive and entertaining experience, guaranteed to be a highlight of your family holiday.


We hope this article has provided you with ideas of the best things to do in Faro, and has inspired you to embark on your own adventure in this captivating city. From the historical wonders of the Old Town to the tranquil beauty of its beaches, the exhilaration of dolphin watching and the tranquillity of its nature parks, Faro offers a symphony of experiences that cater to every traveller’s desires. 

The rich tapestry of culture, nature, and cuisine that Faro weaves together creates an unforgettable journey that lingers in the heart and mind. So pack your bags, and allow this slice of Portuguese paradise to embrace you with its magic, creating memories that you will cherish for years to come.

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About the Author

Backpacker Boy

This blog is where I share my travel tales and advice picked up from more than 10 years of backpacking in various places around the world. I share my favourite places to visit, along with tips on how to travel cheaply whilst still going far.