I’m now back from my sunny trip to Portugal and I thought I’d tell you a little more about my experience of Faro.
Many holidaymakers see little more than the airport of this Portuguese city, using it as a gateway to get to the pristine beaches of the Algarve. However, we were in the market for a fly and flop holiday, wanting to really relax away from our London life so we were more than happy with a destination so close to the airport.
Hotels in Faro
I often use booking.com when it comes to booking hotels, as I find it really simple to use. After finding a few four and five star hotels I finally decided upon Hotel Faro. I say ‘I’ instead of ‘we’, as Arthur is so chilled he usually has little say in where we go or where we stay. The hotel was located overlooking a picturesque marina and it was complete with a rooftop pool (ideal for lazy days in the sun). I also eyed up Eva Senses Hotel (located just across the Marina), but it was actually the free shuttle bus to the beach provided by Hotel Faro that swung it for me.
Open arrival we were given a room upgrade (thanks to it being Arthur’s birthday) and then later on a bottle of Champagne and a birthday brownie arrived in our room. As well as these kind gestures, during our stay, the staff were super friendly and always happy to help. We had breakfast included in our room rate which was served on the rooftop – and who doesn’t like a breakfast buffet with a view?
Travelling around Faro
Before heading to Portugal we were advised multiple times to hire a car to get around. However, we decided to go against that because it’s only me that drives and I really wanted a relaxing break – and for me learning the rules of the road in another country would be pretty stressful. Instead, we relied on public transport (and as I mentioned before, the hotel shuttle bus) and to our relief we got on really well. We were frequent users of the number 16 bus as this goes from the airport, to the city centre of Faro (just meters from our hotel) and all the way to Praia Beach.
Beaches in Faro
Praia is the main beach in Faro and can be easily accessed via bus or car. I believe you can also catch a ferry service to get there. We were worried that this popular beach may have been overrun by tourists in July, but in fact we were pleasantly surprised – it was reasonably busy but there was still plenty of space to find your own stretch of sand to chill. Hotel Faro has it’s own beach club, with private rooftop area for hotel residents and also a bar and restaurant downstairs. Here I had the best caipirinha cocktail I’ve ever tasted!
One day, we also visited Deserta Island, which as the name suggests, is a deserted island (well, almost). It’s home to just one restaurant and the rest is unspoilt sand. We got a speedboat transfer there (costing 10 euros each) and the ferry back (costing 5 euros each). We spent four hours on the island, and decided to divide our time between sun bathing and dipping into the cool ocean (yes the sea is still chilly in July!). For us, four hours was enough time, but you could easily stay for longer if you wanted to try out the restaurant too. There are umbrellas there (so don’t worry about bringing your own) but definitely pack suncream, water and perhaps a few snacks.
Restaurants in Faro
The cobbled streets of this city are lined with incredible, authentic restaurants. But there are also chains like Macdonalds and Bella Italia if that’s more your thing. The first evening of our trip was Arthur’s birthday so I treated him to a Michelin-starred meal at Faz Gostos. I’d highly recommend if you’re in the market for fine dining and amazing wine. Fresh fish is of course a big thing here, being right on the coast. We sat in the shaded garden of Dois Irmaos one day to enjoy a fresh fish lunch. Italian food is also popular and we discovered a lovely restaurant called Chelsea that serves up amazing pizzas – but just ensure you leave room for the amazing selection of gelato they have for dessert!
Sights in Faro
As Faro isn’t a major city I didn’t have a long list of must-see sights to tick off like I do with many other destinations, however we did dedicate one morning to strolling around the streets to see a few points of interest. Igreja da Carmo is beautiful (definitely worthy of an Insta pic) and the Marina is the perfect place for a leisurely walk at sunset.
Bars in Faro
Wine bars and cocktail hangouts are around every corner in Faro so you won’t be short of places to have a refreshing drink. Hotel Faro had its own bar which is ideal for watching the twinkling lights of the harbour after dark. Alight the tiniest staircase inside Vila Adentro to discover their gem of a rooftop bar. Another really nice spot, with views across the water, would be O Castelo, which is just where you get the ferry to/from Deserta Island, so the perfect way to start or end your trip.
So if you’re looking for a holiday that’s close to home where you can experience the beauty of the beach and the buzz of the city, then the Portuguese destination of Faro should be top of your list.