Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Faro
Faro is home to about 55,000 people, but despite its relatively small size, it is the administrative center of the Algarve region. Prior to its modern incarnation, Faro was occupied by the Romans and then later the Moors, serving as a trading hub for both; ruins of both invading civilizations can be found throughout the city. As it grew in importance over neighboring towns such as Silves, Faro eventually became the regional seat.
Like Porto, Faro has an old town. Inside a spacious open square that was once the site of the Roman Forum is a 13th century Cathedral that faces the 18th century Episcopal palace. Much of the city is now composed of apartments and there are attractive shops and a particularly artistic theatre. Faro is also the home of the Ria Formosa lagoon, a nature reserve of over 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) and a stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods.
Of course, Faro is also a favorite place for seaside leisure, though it is not often very crowded. The beach is about 7 km (4 mi) from the city and is a long sandy near the International Airport. The city holds various cultural events here such as concerts and festivals.
Hailed as one of the best beaches in the Algarve, Praia de Faro boasts soft, golden sands that stretch for more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) along Faro Island. One side of the beach overlooks the sea, while the other side offers views of Ria Formosa National Park, home to mud flats and wetlands that can be explored by bicycle or boat.
A sandy, uninhabited island off Portugal’s Algarve coast, Barreta Island (Ilha Deserta) is a popular beach destination and wildlife refuge inside Ria Formosa National Park. With freshwater lagoons, salt flats, sand dunes, and more, the park has a diverse range of habitats—each with its own resident population of birds and other species, including chameleons.
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