Flight and hotel Faro
Faro, the capital of the Algarve
The largest city on the Algarve, Faro draws millions of visitors every year. The city itself, set on Portugal's south coast, boasts a history dating back over 2,000 years. Today, Faro is a busy and cosmopolitan city, with large shopping centres, museums, galleries and restaurants. Even if your main destination on a Faro weekend is one of the beach resorts to the west of town, it's worth making time to explore the cobbled streets of Faro's Old Town.
Getting to Faro
Any Faro flight and hotel break will start at the large, modern airport to the west of town. All flights to Faro arrive at the same terminal, and airport facilities have been substantially upgraded in recent years to accommodate the flow of passengers. Flights to Faro from London are available year round with traditional scheduled carriers. In summer months, many budget and charter airlines offer flights to Faro from Manchester and Faro package holidays from other regional airports such as Glasgow, Newcastle or Bristol. Jump on one of the regular buses running from the airport to the bus station in the centre of town, or take a taxi for a 15-minute journey. Portugal is in the same timezone as the UK and uses the euro.
What time of year is best for my weekend in Faro?
The Algarve enjoys a mild climate year round, meaning there's really no bad time of year to visit. Spring and autumn are favourite times to visit, with an average temperature of 23°C in September. However, even in January, you can expect temperatures of 12°C and five daily hours of sunshine. Golfing breaks are a popular reason to book Faro package holidays – if you're planning to spend your days out on the course, it's probably best to avoid the height of summer.
What can I do on Faro city breaks?
Faro's position at the heart of the Algarve caters to all preferences. Nature lovers will enjoy the wide open spaces of the protected coastline and marshes, where flamingo are often seen. There are enough historic buildings and museums in the old part of town to delight any history lover, and if shopping's more your thing, Faro has both modern shopping malls with international brands and smaller independent shops. Just a short drive along the coast brings you to famous resort towns such as Vilamoura, Albufeira or Quinta do Lago, with miles of pristine sand, beach bars, watersports and other amenities. Head in the other direction along the A22 motorway, and within an hour, you'll be across the border and into Spain, where the pretty town of Ayamonte is well worth a visit.
Top visitor attractions in and around Faro
Faro city breaks usually start in the oldest part of town, home to narrow cobbled streets, pretty buildings and a huge cathedral. Close by is the Archaeological Museum, housed in an interesting old convent building. Here you'll find artefacts and exhibitions on all eras of Faro's history, from Neolithic to modern times. Kids will love the colourful and interactive Algarve Ciencia Viva Science Centre on the riverside, where they can explore exhibits and learn about science through doing and playing. Many visitors' favourite day out is at Zoomarine, to the west of Faro near Albufeira. It's part water park, part zoo and part theme park. You can even swim with dolphins here, although booking in advance is essential. Ria Formosa Natural Park covers 18,000 hectares of the coast and is one of the most important birdwatching and wildlife areas in Portugal.
Feast on traditional Portuguese cuisine
On a Faro flight and hotel break, you'll likely have dining options available at your accommodations, but it's worth venturing out to try some local favourites as well. One of the region's most iconic dishes is cataplana, a mix of seafood and spicy sausage cooked with wine, garlic and herbs, served with hunks of crusty bread. Spicy piri-piri chicken is also hugely popular, and sold everywhere, from roadside fast food joints to the most expensive beachside restaurants.
Souvenir shopping in Faro
The streets of Faro's Old Town are the best place to look for ceramics, jewellery and other small Algarve souvenirs to take home. Many small towns and villages around Faro have regular weekly markets with stalls selling leather goods, table linen and ceramics – don't be afraid to haggle with stallholders to secure the best price. Forum Algarve, the biggest shopping centre in the city, has a hypermarket selling Portuguese foods of all types and stores selling clothing from both Portuguese and international makers.