Chances are that if you've visited the Algarve then Faro Airport was likely your gateway to the region. In this blog, we hope to convince you that Faro Town is also an excellent destination for a day trip.
We began our trip to Faro with a train ride from Vila Real de Santo Antonio. The journey lasts about 70 minutes, travelling along the coast and offering great views on the way. The train departs every hour from 6 am until 9 am and then every couple of hours until evening. The tickets cost €5.25 per person each way, we bought our tickets at the station but you can also purchase from the conductor on the train. Timetables, prices and more details can be found on the Portuguese Railways website: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en/train-times. There is also a station close to the villa (called Castro Marim, but actually located at Sao Bartolomeu), but note that not all trains stop here.
When you arrive at Faro station, exit and turn right and head towards the marina, it's a couple of hundred metres max. This will bring you to Jardim Manuel Bívar, a tree lined plaza. At this point you could take the Tourist train (http://www.delgaturis.com/#horario), it's relatively cheap (about €3) and lasts about 45 minutes. But full disclosure, the ride is a bit of a bone shaker and you can probably more comfortably see the sites on foot.
At the end of the plaza the decorative Arco da Vila gate leads into the old town. Take a look at how ingenious the storks have been in building their nests here. The main tourist information centre is just here also. Through the gate and a cobbled street leads to the main square of the old town (it's fairly narrow and open to traffic). The city hall and Se cathedral are located in the main square.
We visited the Se cathedral and small museum. You can climb the clock tower and get fantastic views over Faro and the Ria Formosa national park. You also get a great view of the planes flying low into the airport, visible a couple of kilometres away.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes around the marina and in the pedestrian side streets leading away from it. We ate in Baixacaffe (on Rua de Santo António), good quality food/snacks at really attractive prices and very friendly service. There are plenty of restaurant options in Faro and all tastes are catered for.
On our agenda was a visit to the Igreja do Carmo and the bone chapel. Unfortunately, we skipped this as the kids could not see the attraction of visiting a small bone chapel lined with the bones that were exhumed from the cities graves!
Overall, Faro is a fabulous location for a day out.