The city walls that surround the old centre of Faro date back to Roman times, and the square at its heart was once the Roman Forum. It now holds the stunning 13th century Faro Cathedral and the 18th century Episcopal Palace. Bursting with history, it is also filled with a busy theatre calendar with world-class productions regularly staged in the marvellous theatres and halls of the old and new towns. The University of the Algarve is based here, and the city offers a nightlife that caters for this younger audience in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. Night owls of any age are welcomed, and there are venues for all tastes of music and dance styles within the many bars and clubs that line the streets around the town and harbour.
Location: In the very south of Portugal's Algarve region
Faro is continental Portugal's most southerly city, and enjoys a subtropical Mediterranean climate of hot summers and mild winters. Easily accessible all year round from nearby Faro Airport, it is the gateway for many people to the Algarve region. The 170 square kilometre Ria Formosa lagoon and nature reserve stretches along the city's southern border to the east and west, from Santa Luzia to Almancil.
Business: A growing trend in development
Once the centre of the cork industry, the city's economic heart is now found in tourism, but companies are looking again at Faro as a place to invest. In partnership with the University of Faro, high-tech industries are relocating their Research and Development offices to the city to take advantage of the forward-thinking practices of the University and its students. The hotel industry is taking notice of this, and offering more facilities to business tourism such as conference rooms and exhibition space.
Culture: A city of museums and churches
A walk through the streets of Faro will capture the imagination as you pass through narrow streets and cobbled walkways that lead to the centre of the old town. You will pass many museums and churches along the way; most notable is the Igreja do Carmo with its Baroque twin towers that stand over the Largo do Carmo. Make your way through the sacristy and cemetery to visit the compelling Capela dos Ossos, whose vaulted ceiling and wall are made of human bones and skulls.
Activities: A shopper’s paradise of boutiques and cafes
The side roads and narrow streets are full of little boutiques and shops that will bring out the inner shopper in all of us, but the main attraction for retail therapy is the Forum Algarve Shopping Mall. Here, you will find a large selection of shops and cafes around an open-air central square. In winter months, this square is full of people who come to skate on the ice rink and delight at the huge silver Christmas tree that dominates the area.