Here at dealchecker, we think the Algarve’s capital, Faro – traditionally the launchpad for the rest of the Algarve – has been overlooked for far too long! Next time you’re planning on only spending a night or two in this fascinating historic and culturally vibrant city, can we recommend you instead take the time to make the most of this Portuguese gem? Here are a few attractions that should hopefully convince you to add Faro to your travel bucket list, stat!
Capela dos Ossos in the Igreja do Carmo Church
Literally translated as ‘bone chapel’, Capela dos Ossos does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a chapel lined with bones. Let us explain. In a chapel located towards the rear of Igreja do Carmo Church, the bones and skulls of thousands of skeletons line the walls and ceilings. The bones were exhumed from the overcrowded Faro cemetery in the 19th century, and all belong to former monks that served the city. The church itself, with a beautiful baroque façade and ornate interior, is also well worth the entrance fee (€2).
If you’re anything like us, walking past a good meal is basically impossible. So we urge you to check out Portugal’s famous (and famously tasty) cuisine while in Faro. What should you eat? You can’t go wrong by trying out a few regional specialities. Lulas Recheadas à Algarvia is squid stuffed with chorizo, parsley and rice (we’re salivating already!), while fried baby cuttlefish with garlic is also getting added to our must-try list! We can never go past traditional codfish cooked every which way and, of course, pastéis de nata – the iconic, moreish custard tarts made best in Portugal.
Medieval cobbled streets: tick. Ancient buildings: tick. Peaceful squares: tick. Encased in walls built by the Moors, Faro’s Old Town dates back to Roman times, and offers a stunning array of architectural styles – evidence of numerous earthquakes that have hit the region over the year. Wander the lanes and head to Faro Cathedral, which boasts a grisly altar made of the bones of deceased priests. Less unsavoury is the panoramic view of the city from the cathedral’s bell tower. The Old Town is also home to the Museo Municipal, which covers the art, culture, history and architecture of this city, with exhibits relating to the various inhabitants of the city over the years.
Mercado Municipal de Faro
No visit to Faro is complete without a visit to its enormous indoor market. While it’s housed in a brand-spanking-new building, its wares are pure Portuguese tradition. Here you can buy fresh produce, sup on a coffee or just plain people watch. There are plenty of eateries for your munching pleasure, fresh seafood and meat sellers, florists and bakers.
Jardim Joao de Deus
Faro’s most impressive garden, built in the 19th century, has a former slaughterhouse on its grounds. But don’t let that put you off visiting – in fact, the building, of Neo-Arabic style – is pretty cool in itself. Peacocks roam the park freely, and a small woodland is home to other fauna and flora. There’s also a skating ring, mini-golf and enough palm trees to really drill home that you’re in the sunny climes of Portugal!
Time to plan your Faro fun with our super easy comparison tools!