When most people think of Portugal, they tend to think of sprawling Lisbon or historic Porto. But let me let you in on a little secret… Tucked away in the Algarve, on the southernmost coast of Portugal, is Faro; a city drenched in sunshine.

Faro (the city) may be small in size, but it still packs a punch. Colourful architecture beckons at every turn, complete with scrumptious eats, adventurous spots, buzzing nightlife and the kind of scenic beaches that will make you want to move there forever!

The greater Faro region is slightly more expansive and features a bunch of hidden gems, unique activities, some STUNNING islands and I’ll be honest, some of the best fish I’ve ever eaten.

Whether your idea of a great vacation is to lounge on the shoreline with your toes buried in the warm sand or eat your way around the city, you’ll never run out of things to do in Faro. Among the many fabulous attractions on offer, you’ll find quite a few free attractions, too – perfect for backpackers and budget travellers!

The 21 Top Things to Do in Faro

First up, let’s take a quick peek at some of the most popular attractions that await in Faro! Whether you’re making a quick stop in the city while backpacking Portugal or planning a longer stay, these are the attractions that you really can’t afford to miss.

So, let’s check them out.

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    1. Spend a Day at the Beach

    Beach in Faro Portugal
    Bet you didn’t expect this one…

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    If there’s something that South Portugal is known for, it’s those incredible beaches – and Faro’s no exception!

    Indeed, one of the best things to do in Faro is simply to lounge on the beach with your toes buried in that gloriously warm sand. The city’s main beach is Ilha de Faro, where you can enjoy various types of water sports. A super busy beach, Ilha de Faro is teeming with parties, live music, and dining and entertainment options.

    Now if you’re in the mood for something quieter, head over to Ilha da Barreta which is found on a deserted island just off the coast of Faro. The ferry crossing to the island takes around 35 minutes, and you’ll find several departures per day.

    • Entrance fee: Dependent on the beach  
    • Hours: N/A
    • Address: N/A

    2. Be Awed by the Benagil Caves

    Secret Algarve Benagil Caves
    This is one you cannot miss

    I’m sure you must have seen those iconic Benagil Caves pictures floating around on social media – but believe me when I say that the site is even more impressive in person! For sure, this is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.

    While several travellers simply sail past the caves as part of a boat tour, this two-hour activity takes you right inside those natural formations. Before your cave system adventure, you’ll even enjoy a relaxing kayak ride from Benagil Beach. Once at the grotto, you’ll be able to stroll around the place and take pics of the iconic natural skylight.

    This expedition also takes you past the Praia da Marinha, where you can observe Navy Beach’s unique arches.

    All the kayaking equipment is provided, so there’s no need for you to lug your gear around!

    • Entrance fee: $59
    • Hours: Multiple time slots per day
    • Address: Estr. de Benagil, 8400-400 Carvoeiro, Portugal
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    3. Sleep by the Ocean

    Timeless Sea II Apartment

    Faro is one of my favourite places to stay in Portugal, let alone the Algarve. There are so many amazing options when it comes to beachfront accommodation. But, a stay in this sun-soaked cocoon located just a few steps from the ocean is tough to beat.

    Boasting a minimalist yet modern decor, this apartment one-bedroom apartment is ideal for couples- although there’s a sofa bed in the living room to accommodate an extra guest if needed.

    While you’ll be close to some of the best restaurants in Faro, the apartment is also fitted with a spacious and well-equipped kitchen that you can use to rustle up a quick meal. There’s even an espresso machine so you can wake up to a fresh brew in the morning!

    Various points of interest lie nearby, including the Praia da Fortaleza Beach, Praia do Mini Golf, and the Benagil Caves.

    • Entrance fee: $92/night
    • Hours: Check-in after 3:00 PM, Checkout before 11:00 AM
    • Address: Armação de Pêra, Faro, Portugal

    4. Take in Some Culture at the Faro Municipal Museum

    Faro Municipal Museum
    Cos who doesn’t love a good museum day?

    An excellent destination for a (rare) rainy day, the Faro Municipal Museum is housed in a reconverted 16th-century convent.

    Easily recognisable by its Renaissance dome, this building draws plenty of visitors each year – and for a good reason! Some of its exhibits even feature objects that date all the way back to prehistoric Portugal. You’ll also find 9th-century Arab artefacts, Moorish coins, and 3rd-century Roman mosaics.

    Depending on when you’re visiting, you can also catch a special event or a temporary exhibit, so check the museum’s website ahead of time.

    After your visit, I would also recommend that you take a moment to explore the gorgeous gardens surrounding the convent. Keep your eyes peeled for a 13th-century statue of King Alfonso III hidden in the lush greenery!

    • Entrance fee: $2 (free entry until 2 p.m. Sundays)
    • Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weekdays), 10.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weekends)
    • Address: Largo Afonso III, nº 14, 8000-167 Faro

    5. Discover the Local Wine

    Quinta da Tor Winery
    Indulging in Portuguese treats 🙂

    Whether you’re on the prowl for romantic things to do in Faro or want to uncover the local wine scene, this is one activity that I can absolutely vouch for!

    Portuguese wine tours are fantastic. Whilst their wine may not be as famous as its French counterpart, the Algarve’s climate offers the ideal maturing conditions for at least seven different types of grapes.

    The tour kicks off in Loule, a charming city located 20 minutes from Faro. From there, you’ll be taken to Quinta da Tôr, a family-owned winery in the Algarve. Not only will you get to learn more about the wine-making process, but you’ll also sample four different wines.

    Oh, and did I mention that you’ll also be treated to a complimentary bread and olive oil tasting?

    • Entrance fee: $18.50
    • Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 2.30 p.m. to 4.40 p.m.
    • Address: EM525 9, 8100 Loulé, Portugal

    6. Visit the Faro Cathedral

    Church of Santa Maria Cathedral of Faro

    Here’s one for history and architecture buffs. Also known as the Igreja de Santa Maria, this cathedral is one of the most historically important sites in Faro. While it was originally built back in the 13th century, it was eventually destroyed before being rebuilt in the 17th century. You can still see parts of the original church ruins today.

    Despite its plain Gothic exterior, the cathedral features an ornate interior with antique inlays, panels, and tiles. Be sure to check out the two inner chapels, where you’ll find some of the finest 17th and 18th-century art collections in the Algarve.

    If you don’t mind clambering 68 steps up to the bell tower, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the city from the top.

    • Entrance fee: $3.80
    • Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday to Friday), 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Saturday) 
    • Address: Largo da Sé 11, 8000-138 Faro, Portugal

    7. Cruise Through Ria Formosa Natural Park

    Ria Formosa Natural Park
    This is my kinda weekend

    Okay, this one should be high on your list of top things to do in Faro! Portugal is home to plenty of incredible national parks – and Faro is no exception. In my opinion, one of the best places to take in the city’s natural beauty is Ria Formosa Natural Park.

    Perfect for a day trip, this activity starts from Olhão, a picturesque commune around two hours from Faro. You’ll begin your day with a guided cruise down the calm waters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Rest assured that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs or even go for a dip in the refreshing waters.

    With this activity, you’ll also get to mosey around Culatra Island to learn more about the local fishing culture.

    • Entrance fee: $43
    • Hours: 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. or 3.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.
    • Address: Av. 5 de Outubro, Cais T, Jardim Patrão Joaquim Lopes, 8700-302 Olhão, Portugal
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    8. Step Back in Time at the Roman Ruins of Milreu

    Roman ruins of Milreu Faro Portugal

    An excellent thing to do in Faro for families is a day out to the Roman Ruins of Milreu. This place is well-suited for travellers who wish to unearth a slice of the local history.

    Once a sprawling Roman village, Milreu used to house industrial and commercial buildings, grain mills, a winery, and even a temple. While most of the village has been severely damaged over time, the ruins still feature ancient bathing pools, a mausoleum, and even a thermal spa.

    I would recommend that you make a stop by the Interpretation Center to see what the village used to look like. The Interpretation Center is also full of exhibits and Roman bust replicas.

    • Entrance fee: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
    • Hours: $2
    • Address: 8005-411 Estoi, Portugal

    9. Take a Day Trip to Tavira

    Photogenic AF

    Are you looking for the best day trips from Faro? Then you really don’t want to miss a visit to Tavira, a lovely old town that lies just a 30-minute drive from Faro!

    With roots that date all the way back to the Bronze Age, this town is famous for its medieval hill castle surrounded by charming cobblestone streets. With plenty of Moorish and Roman architecture to feast your eyes upon, Tavira is also known for its beautiful shoreline. One of my favourite beaches in the area is the Praia de Tavira, where you can snorkel in the clear waters.

    For a fun experience, you can also hop on an electric Tuk-Tuk to explore various points of interest, like Tavira Castle, Praia do Barril, and Tavira Camera Obscura.

    • Entrance fee: Free
    • Hours: N/A
    • Address: Tavira, Portugal

    10. Enjoy a Romantic Sunset Safari

    Sunset Safari with Traditional Dinner

    A sunset safari has to be one of the best things to do in Faro for couples. A mere 40-minute drive from Faro takes you to the fisherman’s village of Albufeira, a rustic yet beautiful area overlooking a sprawling beach.

    Marvel at the Algarve coast from a Land Rover that’ll take you through the famous Portuguese countryside. Streams and lush rivers await, and you’ll even visit a local farm to taste fresh young honey and homemade liquor. Your guide will provide plenty of interesting titbits about the history of Portugal while pointing out popular points of interest.

    After the road trip, you’ll even be treated to a classic Portuguese dinner at a restaurant.

    • Entrance fee: $265
    • Hours: 6.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.  
    • Address: Various pickup points in Albufeira

    11. Check Out the Cork Factory

    Cork Factory Tour and Cork Shop

    The perfect activity for travellers looking for unusual things to do in Faro, the Cork Factory is all set to deliver a unique experience!

    A little-known fact is that Portugal is one of the main producers of cork in the world. In fact, the country has enough cork oaks to fill a quarter of the earth! Ancient Portuguese used corks in fishing equipment, buoys, shoes, and even as insulation.

    This activity not only takes you through the history of cork in Portugal, but you’ll also get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how cork is prepared and packed in a traditional factory. Afterwards, you’ll be taken to a cork shop where you can browse through fashion accessories crafted from cork fabric.

    • Entrance fee: $16
    • Hours: 11.30 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.
    • Address: Sítio da, 8150-048 São Brás de Alportel, Portugal

    12. Take the Kids to Aquashow

    Aquashow Waterpark Faro Portugal
    Shotgun the green one
    Photo: Joseolgon (WikiCommons)

    Families (or adult children like me), rejoice!

    An excellent destination for travellers visiting Faro in summer, the Aquashow Waterpark is ideal for soaking up that glorious Portuguese sunshine. Located just outside the city, this waterpark has an indoor as well as an outdoor area for both adults and kids.

    Outside, you’ll find plenty of thrilling slides, including the famous Free-Fall waterslide which, at 104 feet tall, currently stands as the tallest slide on the European continent! To really get your adrenaline pumping, you can also try the Mammoth Blash, which can accommodate five people with floats.

    Kids will also enjoy the Aquakids section, live shows, and mini trains zipping through the park.

    In the mood for something more laidback? Then check out the indoor relaxation pool encased in a soothing manmade cave.

    • Entrance fee: $35 (adults), $25 (kids 6 to 10 years)
    • Hours: 10.30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Address: Volta do Parque n.º 2, 8125-313 Quarteira, Portugal

    13. Stroll Through the Manuel Bivar Garden

    Garden Manuel Bivar Faro

    If you’re searching for free things to do in Faro, then be sure to check out the Manuel Bivar Garden!

    Despite its name, this garden looks like a quaint urban square, complete with well-manicured flower beds and various types of trees. In my experience, there’s no better way to wind down after a full day of sightseeing in Faro than to enjoy a relaxing afternoon stroll down the cobbled pathways that snake through the garden.

    This site even features a small café with terrace seating where you can kick back and people-watch over a cup of Bica (Portuguese coffee). Plenty of Moorish architecture surrounds the square, including the Igreja da Misericórdia.

    • Entrance fee: Free
    • Hours: Open 24 hours  
    • Address: Praça Dom Francisco Gomes 12, 8000-269 Faro, Portugal

    14. Mosey Around Old Town Faro

    Old Town Faro Portugal
    Just gorgeous, isn’t it?

    As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town almost feels like you’re stepping back in time. It’s blessed with those typically Portuguese red-tiled rooftops, narrow cobbled alleys, and whitewashed buildings.

    One of the highlights of the Old Town is no doubt the ancient walls that perfectly represent the city’s tumultuous history. Originally built by the Romans and reinforced by the Moors, the ancient walls are now in ruins, but you can still explore various structures and churches that were built within the fortifications.

    When visiting the Old Town, I can also recommend a visit to the Torre do Tombo, a ruined watchtower that dates back to medieval times. You can either hike up to the top or take a cable car to enjoy the 360-degree ocean and city views.

    • Entrance fee: Free (individual attractions charged separately)
    • Hours: 24 hours
    • Address: N/A

    15. Soak Up Some History at Loulé Rock Salt Mine

    I sure hope you’re ready for one heck of an adventure because this activity takes 754 feet deep under the surface! One of the deepest places in Portugal, the Loulé Rock Salt Mines lie just a quick 20 minutes drive from Faro’s city centre.

    An impressive sight to behold, the salt mine is still active, so you’ll be able to learn more about the underground mining process. An absolute labyrinth of chambers and galleries awaits down the 1-mile route that’ll take you through the history of salt mining in Portugal.

    Visitors can even tour a vast chamber with rock formations that date to several million years ago.

    • Entrance fee: $27.19
    • Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weekdays only)
    • Address: R. Combatentes da Grande Guerra 80, 8100-616 Loulé, Portugal

    16. Shop ‘Till you Drop at Rua de Santo Antonio

    Rua de Santo Antonio Faro
    Photo: Kolforn (WikiCommons)

    One of the most popular things to do in Faro is simply to wander the bustling Rua de Santo Antonio downtown.

    This is easily one of the most famous shopping streets in Faro: think Rodeo Drive except less glitzy. Oh, and way more affordable, of course! Plenty of quirky souvenir stores await in between the brightly coloured houses that dot the street.

    Even if you’re not actually planning on buying anything, this vibrant area makes for quite a pleasant walk indeed. The beautifully tiled pedestrian street is lined with both cafes and boutiques, so there’s always somewhere to sit for a quick snack.

    I recommend that you head there during the weekend to catch some street performances and live music.

    • Entrance fee: Free  
    • Hours: 24 hours  
    • Address: R. de Santo Antonio, 8000-151 Faro, Portugal

    17. Catch a Show at the Teatro das Figuras

    For a classy evening out, head over to the historic Teatro das Figuras, a beautiful theatre that’s said to have been a major turning point in the city’s cultural scene.

    This was actually the theatre in Faro that was fitted with versatile and high-quality equipment. As a result, the theatre was able to host a plethora of complex productions- something that wasn’t possible before!

    Owing to the sheer number and diversity of shows on offer, I strongly recommend that you check the program beforehand to see if you’d like to catch anything. In addition to various plays, concerts, and live performances, the theatre also offers artistic residencies.

    The main hall has an arched proscenium that often doubles as an orchestra pit- perfect for classical music fans! 

    • Entrance fee: Varies according to shows
    • Hours: Dependent on the show
    • Address: Rua João Brito Vargas, 8005-518 Faro, Portugal

    18. Discover the Local Cuisine

    Fresh fish with potato Faro

    Foodies, this one’s for you! Portugal is an absolute epicentre for excellent eats, so it should come as no surprise that munching your way through the city easily ranks among the top activities in Faro!

    If you’re a seafood fan like me, I can assure you that you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice in Faro. After all, the Algarve is known for its great seafood scene.

    Check out Ramos restaurant (located near the airport). It features a sprawling covered terrace and freshly grilled sardines- all washed down with a frosty pint of local beer of course!

    For something more authentic, I can vouch for Tertúlia Algarvia, a restaurant quite popular among locals and tourists alike.

    • Entrance fee: Dependent on the restaurant    
    • Hours: N/A
    • Address: Tertulia Algarvia, Praça Dom Afonso III 15, 8000-167 Faro/ Ramos, R. Prof. Dr. Egas Moniz 179, 8005-272 Faro

    19. Hit Those Waves

    Private Surf Lessons
    Surfing is just magical

    Ah, surfing. The Portuguese sport by excellence! Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a complete klutz like me, surfing is a rite of passage for people staying in Faro.

    This 2-hour lesson features all the equipment that you’ll need, including wetsuits, boards, and sports insurance. Participants will be split into smaller groups according to their level of experience and everyone will receive individualized attention from qualified instructors.

    For optimal surfing conditions, I recommend heading to Faro from September to April. Even though it’s a bit colder than in summer, the water maintains a fairly warm temperature.

    • Entrance fee: $55
    • Hours: Various time slots  
    • Address: Av. Nascente, 8005 Faro, Portugal

    20. Take Pics with the Local Mermaid Statue

    Okay, it’s admittedly not a mermaid, but the statue of a marine creature by the marina is often referred to as Faro’s answer to Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid!

    One of the most popular attractions in Faro, the statue depicts a mermaid-like figure with legs instead of a fish and a conch instead of a head. This copper statue is special because she was built to be completely submerged in water during high tides. When the tide is low, you can always sit next to the statue for a picture, but there may be a bit of a wait in peak season!

    • Entrance fee: Free  
    • Hours: 24/24
    • Address: 16, Praça Dom Francisco Gomes 15, 8000-168 Faro, Portugal

    Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance for Faro

    Good travel insurance is non-negotiable. Ensure you get your own back so you enjoy your vacation in Portugal without paranoia.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Faro

    I know that travelling can be unpredictable at times, but one thing you can be sure of: you’ll never, ever be bored in Faro! From nautical adventures to restaurants, boating expeditions, and family-friendly fun, Faro certainly has it all.

    For personal recommendations, I would say that visiting both Tavira and the Benagil Caves were the most memorable and enjoyable experiences. I also thoroughly enjoyed surfing in Faro and would recommend it to other beginners.

    Wherever you decide to do in Faro, make sure you have a great time. Rest assured that you’ll be in for one heck of a vacation!

    Looking for more info on travelling to Portugal?
    portugal flag
    Enjoy Portugal!
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

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