Faro is a small city in the Southernmost of Portugal. This means that this place is easy to explore for a one day itinerary in Faro. In my blog Spending winter holidays in Faro Portugal, I mentioned that going to this city during winter is a nice way to recharge from the dark and cold winters of Northern Europe. Going to Faro is cheap and this city opens opportunities to explore the other side of Portugal and Andalusian region. Of course, who will not love the beautiful coastlines and pristine sands of Portugal! Thus it is worth it to come to this place.
We stayed in Faro for three days to spend our new year. Given the activities that we did here, exploring and enjoying Faro can be compressed in one day. We were slow because we travelled as a family with young kids. Therefore we don’t want to take things into rush and we wanted to adjust to the pace of our kids. But in case that you travel as couples, with friends, or with adult kids, it is possible to have a one day itinerary in Faro as I outline below. At the same time, I also highlight alternative activities depending on how you want to spend your time in Faro and what is the weather condition.
Complete one day itinerary in Faro:
When you only have one day to spend in Faro, it best to start your day early. You avoid the crowd and feel more the place that you visit. At the same time, this gives you more possibility to do more activities that will make you feel fulfilled at the end of the day.
1. Tour the Old Quarter of Faro
Touring the old quarter of Faro might already consume your half day. But it is all worth it to be here, especially if you are a history fanatic. You can find both Christian and Moorish influences in this place, which are quite visible in the architectures and way of living of the people.
The first thing you will find when you enter the old quarter is the Arco da Vila. This serves as the entrance to the old town of Faro. The Arco da Vila is a design of Francisco Xavier Fabri, a Genoese architect from Italy. You can find in the middle of Arco da Vila the statue of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who is an Italian scholar from the 13th century. At the same time, you can also find in the entrance of Arco da Villa the Moorish designs, which are the original foundation of this architecture.
As you go further the old town you will find the Faro Cathedral. This was a previous Christian Basilica that was later transformed into a Moorish mosque. Afterwards, it was converted into a Catholic cathedral after the invasion of Alonso III in 1249. Similar to Arco da Villa, it is interesting to see the hybrid of Christian and Moorish influences in the outside construction of Faro Cathedral.
As you walk to the right of Faro Cathedral, you will end of seeing the long stretching walls facing the coast. The further you walk, you’ll find interesting wall crumbles. If you go straight at the end of the walls, you will reach another side of the town. But if you continue your walk in the left, you will keep exploring the old town. From there you can find some restaurants in the Old Town (Cidade Velha Restaurants). When dining in these restaurants, you can enjoy the view of the old city and the coastal area.
2. Visit the Bone Chapel.
After touring the old town, you may end up visiting the Bone chapel. This chapel is one of the most popular and most intriguing site of Faro. You can find in the walls of Bone chapel human bones and skulls of monks of the Carmelite order. The Bone chapel is an extension of the Nossa Senhora de Carmo church, which has Baroque style facade built in 18th century.
3. Enjoy Faro harbour.
There are a few things to do when in Faro harbour. You may walk around its area and see some of the ships docked in the harbour and the long-stretching sea. You’ll also find the symbol of Faro in front of this harbour. Simply resting in one of the benches, especially in a sunny weather, is a simple nice way to enjoy Faro.
4. If traveling with young kids, let them play in the playground close to Faro harbour.
The playground may not be as extensive as some playgrounds we have seen, but it is definitely a good entertainment for the kids especially after a long walk. Parents can simply rest while kids enjoy from the tiring adult activities.
5. Savour Portugeuse delicacies in the city center.
Tired of the long day walking and sightseeing? Now it is time to reward yourself with good foods! Around the city center, you’ll find many restaurants ranging from Korean, Japanese, Indian, Italian, and many international culinaries. But if you are in Faro, why not savour their delicacies such as seafoods? Most of them are freshly cooked and are quite flavourful. Tasting other international food culture while in Faro could be different experience as compared visiting the actual places where these food come from.
Alternative activities for the one day itinerary in Faro:
In addition to exploring the old and new city center of Faro, it is also possible to do other activities in Faro as an alternative way of spending your day. These could range from nature to shopping activities.
6. Spend a day in Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Ria Formosa is home of many sea and bird wildlife. At the same time, this natural park is a source of living for fishing communities who use sustainable method of catching fish and other seafoods. There are also many pristine From Faro, you can simply reach this natural park via boat tour. It may take half until whole day enjoying the beautiful natural park of Ria Formosa.
7. Visit Praia de Faro.
Praia de faro is just 5 minutes away from the airport. So if you landed from the airport, with limited time of stay and have less belonging with you, you can simply hopped on the bus going to Praia de Faro. The beach has long stretching coast with pristine sand. If you are a type who likes going to beaches, it may take a day to enjoy this beautiful nature.
8. Enjoy shopping in Forum Algarve.
Outside the city center of Faro you can reach the Forum Algarve, the largest shopping mall in Faro. It nice to spend a day here especially when the weather is not good to enjoy the nature areas. The are a 100 of shops including restaurants in the area.