As the gateway to Portugal's pristine Algarve region, most travellers are already pretty familiar with Faro. The friendly city sits on the southernmost tip of continental Portugal and is characterised by traces of Moorish architecture, sunny beaches, and marshland. As culturally fascinating as it is beautiful, Faro and the surrounding Algarve region offer something for every type of traveller.
Portugal is a popular summer holiday destination for obvious reasons. You will certainly love Faro's sunny summers and white sand beaches especially if you hire a car which can make your holiday perfect and worry-free. Having a car puts Faro and the entire Algarve at your fingertips, and you'll have your choice between 100 pristine beaches stretched out over 200 stunning kilometres of coastline. Along the way you'll encounter traditional Algarve restaurants serving piri piri chicken, grilled sardines and other local specialities.
Of course, there is plenty to explore in Faro itself. The city's old town ('Centro Historico') is filled with architectural treasures, including original ancient Moorish walls. True beach lovers looking for a relaxing escape from the city can take a short boat ride from Faro to the Ilha da Barreta (sometimes called Ilha Deserta), located in the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. The island has been largely untouched and features 1 km of unspoilt beach, so it's never crowded. A haven for sun lovers as well as nature enthusiasts, Ilha da Barreta also has plenty of walking trails and is famous for its resident flamingos.
Back on the road, having a car means you can also discover great towns like Lagos. Full of history, lively markets, and a bustling old town, Lagos is a favourite with tourists. Not far from Lagos is the tiny town of Silves. Offering a small slice of rural Portugal to visitors, Silves is also known for its imposing red castle that looks over the town. Construction of the castle began as early as the 8th century and today the Castle of Silves stands as one of the best-preserved Moorish fortifications in Portugal.
Between the beaches, excellent restaurants, and cultural offerings, you'll never run out of things to do in and around Faro. Airlines fly direct from the UK to Faro multiple times a day throughout the summer, and high-speed trains are always available from Lisbon. The city's airport has plenty of car hire options for travellers, but it is best to book cars well in advance due to high demand.