Dec 26

The Miser’s Guide to Faro, Portugal

by in Portugal

Capital of the Algarve and the southernmost point in Portugal, the rustic city of Faro is often overlooked by budget travellers for points further north. And that’s a shame. Faro has plenty of freebies and low-cost activities to offer even the stingiest of travellers. Here’s a sampling of what’s on offer:

The Old Town

Faro Portugal old town

WIth quaint restaurants and bars lining its winding cobblestone streets, the walled city of Old Town Faro is Portugal through and through. This is one of the few places where it’s possible to blend in like a local, and a stroll through the area is completely free of charge. The market might be tempting though, so prepare yourself (and your wallet) for that eventuality.

Ria Formosa

Known as one of the “Seven Wonders of Portugal,” Ria Formosa is the gateway to the port of Faro. A natural park that doubles as a bird-watchers paradise, it’s not unusual to see ornithologists (both armchair and professional) spotting hundreds of species of birds during the annual migration seasons during the spring and the fall.

Praia de Faro

Praia de Faro (Faro Beach) on the Ancão Peninsula is also sometimes called Faro-Mar or Ilha de Faro. With a bounty of budget Portugal flights — especially from the UK — this beach can be crowded, especially on weekends, but once you get there you’ll see what the big draw is — an expanse of beach where you can still find pockets of untamed beauty. Since it’s an island you’ll have to pay for the ferry ride, but sunbathing, swimming, and snorkelling to your heart’s content are well worth the small fee.

Deserta Island

Deserta Island Faro Portugal

If the crowds at Praia de Faro aren’t your thing, check out nearby Deserta Island — the name given to Cape St. Mary’s (just to confuse things, it’s also called Cabo de Santa Maria or Ilha de Baretta. There’s nothing here but one reasonably-priced restaurant and miles of deserted beach. It makes a great an inexpensive day trip for any budget traveller.

Associação Centro Ciência Viva do Algarve

The Algarve Science Centre is one of the highlights of a visit to Faro — and at only 8 Euros for a family pass, it’s one of the best deals in Faro as well. With rotating exhibits and events, it’s best if you check their website to see what’s on. Even though the museum leans towards the small side, there’s plenty to keep everyone interested for a great budget afternoon out.

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