15 Best Things to do in Faro, Portugal

1st March 2023

Faro is southern Portugal’s main entry point for tourists and backpackers. The city is located in the Algarve region and is alive with culture, history and wildlife. This, combined with the exciting buzz of visitors traveling through and locals going about their daily lives makes Faro a fun place to visit.

Faro’s alluring streets are lined with open-air cafes and bars which transform into a vibrant nightlife after the sun goes down. There are plenty of things to do in Faro that will appeal to anybody and everybody, and it is also the ideal city to use as your base for day trips.

For an alternative way to see the town, why not try out this guided segway tour of Faro! 

Faro is a charming and inviting city that provides an authentic and delightful Portuguese experience. Check out these best things to do in Faro and day trips too!

1 – SCUBA Diving

Faro is a perfect place to go diving. Hidroespaço Dive School and Dive Centre offers classes for beginners and several different experiences for all levels of divers.

If you have never been diving before, the center offers beginner classes to teach you everything you need to know.

Once you feel confident being underwater, or if you already have your diver’s license, you can then experience and explore shipwrecks, natural and artificial reefs, an intriguing underwater archaeology site and the Rio Farmosa, which is home to one of the world’s largest communities of seahorses.

SCUBA Diving is one of the best things to do in Faro, Portugal. 

2 – Kayaking Ria Formosa

Another top-rated thing to do in Faro is exploring the Ria Formosa by kayak. The Ria Formosa is a natural park and has recently been voted as one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal.

It is sheltered from the sea by 5 barrier islands and 2 peninsulas. During your exploration of the Ria Formosa, you are likely to see a variety of aquatic birds, chameleons, sea horses, and the rare Portuguese water dog.

You don’t have to have any experience to enjoy this kayak tour and you can choose from a duration of 2.5 hours, a half day or even a full day.

The Ria Formosa combines wetlands, canals, islands, marshes, and barrier island for one of the many unforgettable things to do in Faro, Portugal. 

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Alternative Rio Formosa Tours:

If a romantic sunset cruise is more your style then book this Colours of Ria Formosa: Sunset Boat Trip in Faro!

Or how about a Faro Bike Tour through the Beautiful Ria Formosa!

3 – Castle of Silves

This castle is thought to have been built during the Roman period and is highly popular with history lovers. It is one of the best-preserved castles in Portugal.

This red sandstone castle overlooks the town of Silves. The town was an important trading and culture center before the battles between the Christians and the Moors broke out.

The town was victim to bloody battles and deadly skirmishes for control over this important area which lasted until 1249. Today, the castle is open daily for you to walk around and explore.

Hopefully, you don’t scare easily, as the castle is rumored to be haunted.

4 – Lighthouses

Lighthouses always evoke feelings of power and safety. The Cabo de Santa Maria was built on Culatra Island in 1851.

It stretches 46 meters (150 feet) into the sky and its powerful light reaches 46 meters out to the sea.  The Cabo de S. Vincente Lighthouse is one of Europe’s largest lighthouses and has been operating since 1846.

It reaches 86 meters (282 feet) in height and its light reaches 32 nautical miles. Seeing these stoic lighthouses is a perfect day trip from Faro, and you can enjoy the stunning coastline while driving to see them.

5 – Dolphin Watching

Getting out into the open ocean to see these magical creatures is another top-rated things to do in Faro.

This 2-hour boat tour will get you up close and personal to dolphins and other beautiful sea creatures. Dolphins are super intelligent and extremely playful and love to put on a show and swim around the boats.

On this exciting tour, you will also be able to explore and swim in the jaw-dropping caves and grottos that line the Algarve coastline.

The Algarve waters are beautifully blue and alluring and are perfect for swimming.

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6 – Walking Tours

Another way to explore the Ria Formosa is by taking a guided walking tour through the marshes and pinelands.

This 3-hour tour gets you up close and personal with rare birds and other interesting wildlife. Your tour guide will also provide interesting local knowledge about the area’s history and culture.

Starting above the lagoon, you will follow your guide down to the woodlands where you will hopefully get the chance to see the elusive chameleon and the Purple Swamphen, which is the symbol for the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

You will also get to see and talk to locals working at the salt flats and clam farms.

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7 – Pirate Ship Cruise

Pirates are infamous throughout history and we all love to hear the legends and stories of these legendary outlaws. Take a trip back in time and pretend to be a pirate aboard this historic pirate ship, and set sail to explore white sand beaches, magical swimming grottos and caves.

There is a bar on board, of course serving rum, to make your pirate experience even more authentic. And of course, you will get a chance to walk the plank for a revitalizing swim in the sea.

This pirate ship cruise takes you past the beautiful beaches of San Rafael, Castelo, and Praia da Gale and out into the open Atlantic.

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8 – Garden of Alameda Joao de Deus

This park is a wonderful place to walk through or to have a picnic. There are brilliantly colored peacocks walking all around the park, adding a little something extra to your visit.

There is also a free mini golf course available to the public in the mornings. The park also features fountains and free workout equipment and plenty of play areas for kids as well.

This park is the perfect place to sit back with a good book or empty journal as there are various shady or sunny spots to relax in.

9 – Cape St. Mary

Described as being in the middle of nowhere, Cape St. Mary is endlessly beautiful and super secluded.

There is a 2.5-km boardwalk to follow as you stroll along the beach. You can spend hours here without seeing another person. You can collect seashells or go for a peaceful walk or an invigorating run.

You can go for a revitalizing swim in the sea or soak up the sun and solitude on the beautiful white sand beach. Cape St. Mary is the southernmost point in continental Portugal and is a highly recommended place to visit in Faro.

Cape St. Mary can get “crowded” in the summer seasons.

10 – Milreu Roman Ruins

These ancient ruins have been classified as national monuments and comprise a temple, mausoleum and industrial and commercial areas.

The ruins were discovered in 1877 and still feature some maritime mosaics on the walls. The ruins are a great way to venture back in time and see what Roman life used to be like.

There is also a museum on site to learn even more Roman history. It is the perfect day trip from Faro for anyone who loves history and is especially fun for kids.

11 – The Islands

Faro is well known for its islands. Enjoy a 5-hour boat ride and visit Deserta, Farol, Culatra and Armona Islands.

On Deserta Island you can enjoy a peaceful walk along the pristine beach, and on Culatra you will experience one of the most important fishing communities in Portugal, where you can learn about the local clam farms and oyster beds.

You will also have time to explore the rest of the islands as well as go for a refreshing swim in the sea. Keep your eyes open for sea creatures and aquatic birds.

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12 – Museo Maritimo

Being a sea town, Faro has a wonderful museum dedicated to the area’s history with the sea. The museum is made up of 3 rooms and is the perfect place to visit while in Faro, especially with kids.

You can see models of fishing boats, fishing equipment and peculiar things of interest that have washed up on the shores of Faro. The museum was created in 1910 and is one of the interesting things to do in Faro.

The museum is open Monday through Friday and is free for children under six.

13 – Faro Municipal Museum

This museum also features three rooms depicting artifacts from the Roman Period, the Iron Age, Latin and Islamic cultures as well as ancient paintings and mosaics.

The museum explains a lot of local history and is often not crowded, which creates a nice, quiet learning experience. Located in Old Town, this museum is perfect for a relaxing afternoon out of the sun. 

The museum offers free entry on Sundays.

14 – Day Trip to Gibraltar

This unforgettable day trip from Faro will be the highlight of your trip. Take a boat to the strait of Gibraltar, where you can explore caves that were formed during the ice age and other prehistoric attractions.

You will also get to see the rare Barbary Apes that make the rock of Gibraltar home. There is ample time to explore the area, as well as a scenic drive.

There is an additional experience you can add to the package that allows you to explore St. Michael’s Cave which sits nearly 1,000 feet above sea level.

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15 – Praia de Faro

This beach is known to be the best in Faro. It features 5km of soft sand beaches along one side, with lagoons and mud flats on the opposite side.

This beach is a secret amongst the locals and can only be reached by a single road bridge. The beach is super laid back and has some little beach bars to relax with a drink and people watch.

You can soak up the sun on the beach or try your hand at surfing. The beach can get crowded in the summertime but it is also a guarded beach and is perfect for families.

While most people just travel through because of the airport (don’t forget your Faro airport transfer), there are loads of day trips and things to do in Faro. Enjoy exploring! 

Related reading:
Check out the other best towns and places to visit in the Algarve
And all the best things to do across the Algarve region

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Faro is a charming city in the Algarve that provides an authentic Portuguese experience. Check out these best things to do in Faro and day trips too!

Faro is a charming city in the Algarve that provides an authentic Portuguese experience. Check out these best things to do in Faro and day trips too!

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