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48 hrs in Faro - What to pack, where to stay, what to eat

Looking for a quick weekend getaway? Step no further than Faro, the capital city of the Algarve region in the southern part of Portugal. Only 2-2.5hrs from the U.K., Faro is a great destination to escape the rain, darkness or cold and exchange it for sunshine! In this blog, we will guide you through the essentials of making the most out of your short but memorable visit to Faro. From packing tips to accommodation recommendations and delectable food choices, let's dive into the details of this vibrant city.


How to get around:

Once you land in Faro airport, the best way to get to the city center is to take an Uber or Bolt. It usually costs between €5-7 depending on demand, but this is the normal rate to expect. We have been unable to find a walking route from the airport, so you are somewhat limited in that respect.


You can also grab a bus, but it is not overly frequent. If you want to go for it, look for the bus stop just outside the airport terminal. The route number 16 or the "Aeroporto" bus will take you to the town center. Bus schedules may vary, so it's recommended to check the timetable in advance. There is no need to rent a car as the Faro town centre is walkable once you get there - or even in a pinch, you could get a quick Uber/Bolt if you needed to.


What to pack:

If you are only doing a quick weekend away, here are the essentials that we always take with us:

  • Backpack - This has been our tried-and-true backpack for ages! It has so much great storage, is comfortable and a perfect size for both short and long-haul trips. For such a short-trip in particular, a backpack is all we feel is required. Feel free to supplement with your travel style, but we like to keep it simple and ensure we have something easy to walk around with. It is always annoying to drag a suitcase around with you or have to remember to collect it at the hotel if they store it for you, so we avoid luggage where we can. Plus, we don't want to pay extra fees on the airline for it, we would rather put all that money towards food and experiences!


  • Resistance bands - If you have read some of our previous blogs, you will know we take these babies everywhere we go to keep fit, even for a quick trip, we can use these to keep consistent.


  • Beach Towel - This has been a great buy for us that we always just latch on to our backpacks with a clip and comes with us everywhere. It is sand-repellent and really easy to shove back in its case. Weirdly, the only strange thing is when I go through security, people always ask me, is that an Nintendo Switch? It needs to come out of its case! I always say no its a beach towel and show them that is says 'towel' on the outside, but they still give me a side-eye. In any case, never any issues - just a funny question that comes up pretty much every time we go through the airport.


  • Beach Tent (I actually got from Decathalon in PT, but this is a good example you can buy before you go) - and it is honestly fantastic! It is something I actually bought in Portugal when we went to the beach and it fits perfectly upright in my backpack, so I can be sure to keep out of the blazing sun and protect my skin on the beach, while still enjoying the outdoors.


  • Portable knives and forks (for on the go snacking!)


  • Reusable Water Bottle - As you will have seen before, we don't go anywhere without some type of refillabe water bottle. Our one of choice is made by LARQ (click on image to link to LARQ website).


  • Cinnamon (pastel de nata) - Strange I know, but if you are as into Pastel de Natas as we are, we bring some cinnamon with us so I can always just pour as much as I want on my pastel and really have the perfect bite every time!

Bonus - Toadvice: Sunscreen - Although it is only a short time, you can find good deals on sunscreen at Lidl. For a regular sized bottle, you pay about €3 for either 30 or 50 spf. If it is peak summer and depending how many you are traveling with, it might be really useful to buy when you arrive instead of using up any precious liquid space!


Where to Stay:

Best Western: Dom Bernardo (budget)

This is the hotel we would typically stay at if we were going to Faro for a weekend trip. Generally, the price is reasonable and it is located very near the Faro Municipal market which is a great bonus. You are also of course walking distance to the main town center, about 10 minutes easy.


Also, if you happen to have a status at perhaps one of the other major chains (Marriott Bonvoy, IHG, Hilton, etc.), you can always get a status match with Best Western before you go. While the perks aren't anything crazy, you can still get boosted points, complimentary water, and possible upgrades to enhance your experience - even on a budget!



AP Eva Senses (mid-range)

This hotel is again right in the centre and by the Faro Marina, so you have a great view and excellent access to everything Faro has to offer. By being in the center, you are closer to the train station and main bus station. While it still isn't a great walk either way, if you are planning on visiting other towns at any point, the access is beneficial. Perhaps more importantly, you are very close to the boat that takes you to Faro Beach and also are overlooking the Ria Formosa, so a definite win!


Hotel Faro & Beach Club (mid-range/pricier)

Similar to AP Eva sense, this is a 4-star hotel and very near by to Eva Senses. We put this one as mid-range, but it does tend to be higher priced than the Eva Senses on average.


3HB - Faro Centre (pricier)

If you are looking to be right in the town center and stay at a bit more luxury, we would recommend the 3HB hotel. It is a 5-star hotel and the price reflects that. It does also have great reviews and if you are looking to splurge, this is better value for money than most.


AirBnB

We have not actually stayed at an AirBnb in Faro as they tended to be too expensive, have a minimum stay requirement, and there is a very limited selection (often times it appears to just be rooms in houses), so we have stuck with hotels. For such a short-trip, it works out to just find a hotel that is comfortable and has the basics. We ideally would always want a fridge of some kind just so we can stock up on snacks and drinks, but really it is the AirBnB's that tend to have them. In any case, still not really an issue for a 48-hr trip!


What to Eat & Where:

1. Peri Peri Chicken - Mr. Frango: Head to Mr. Frango in Faro for what we consider to be some of the best value for money peri-peri, not to mention it is just so good! Whilst you can also go to get just peri peri chicken, we tend to go for the mixed grill (grelhado mista) which is only available at dinner and is a mix of chicken, sausages, pork belly, and beef. It comes with unlimited fries, salad and rice. With drinks, you spend around 18-20 euros. Honestly, incredible!!


2. Pastel de Nata - Mercado Municipal (Faro Market): While is it not as famous as the Pastel de Nata from Lisbon, you absolutely need to go to the Faro Market and head to pastry shops there to get some pastel de nata! They are so fresh and taste amazing. There are also loads of other pastries you can just pick from the window to try out and explore... not to mention, coffee (my preference: meia de leite... half milk / half espresso). In the picture below, we have a pastel de nata, cheesecake de maracuja (passion fruit cheesecake) and salame de chocolate (chocolate salame slice).



3. Local cuisine - Pingo Doce (shopping centre - Forum Algarve): Head to the Forum Algarve shopping centre area and check out the massive Pingo Doce right next to it for some great local cuisine and its cafe. You can pick from a variety of dishes such as grilled fish (cooked in front of you), pizza, or local dishes to Portugal (Arroz de Pato - duck rice; Bacalhau Gomes de Sa - cod fish; Stroganoff de Peru - Turkey Stroganoff). It gives you the option to pick and choose from a variety of meals at a really good price. They also have specials for dishes of the day, so you can maximise your budget!



4. Gelado - Vanilla Gelateria: Once you have Gelado, you just don't really want to ever go back to ice cream. It is true, we have become gelado snobs and honestly just love the flavours Portugal has to offer! Pretty much all of the gelado places you come across have some form of hazelnut, ferrero, nutella esq flavour - so Victor is in heaven! I always end up going for something like coconut, coffee, or salted caramel type flavours. Although Vanilla Gelateria is a bit on the pricey side compared to other gelado places we have visited, the portions are reasonable and the gelado is fantastic.


5. Prato do dia (dish of the day) - O Seu Cafe: Head to a crazy large cafe in Faro, called O Seu Cafe, and try their dish of the day. They tend to have a few options to pick from (fish and meat) and you essentially have a three course meal (soup starter, main, dessert + espresso shot) for around 7 euros each. Crazy! Only thing to note with this restaurant is that the service can be very slow. It is a large restaurant, but everyone there is just taking their time eating and serving, so if you are looking for something quick, this is probably not for you. If you are happy to spend about 2-hrs for a lunch just relaxing and people watching (it is a peaceful area of Faro), and are happy to absorb into the culture a little bit, then definitely have a try. The food is absolutely worth it and somewhere we come back to time and time again!



Other dishes to try: 1. Bitoque (thin steak with a fried egg on top, served with chips or rice & salad) 2. Cataplana (seafood stew)

What to do: Instead of planning a full day out with a strict itinerary, here is a selection of itinerary items that you can mix and match depending on your travel preferences:

  • Explore the Old Town (Cidade Velha): Wander through the narrow cobbled streets of Faro's Old Town, enclosed by ancient walls. Visit the impressive Faro Cathedral (Sé de Faro) and the charming Largo da Sé square. Don't miss the opportunity to climb the tower for panoramic views of the city.

  • Relax at Faro Island (Ilha de Faro): Hop on a short ferry ride (30minutes; €3.75 round trip) barrier island known for its pristine beaches. Enjoy sunbathing, swimming, or taking a leisurely walk along the golden sands. This is where the tent and beach towel will come in handy.

  • Stroll through the paths of Ria Formosa: You can take a nice walk through the salt marshes once you are on Faro Island and explore. The paths give you an opportunity to explore the different ecosystems that make up the Ria Formosa as well as see some unique bird species - or at the very least, ones you wouldn’t expect to see, such as flamingos!

  • Visit the Church of São Francisco: Admire the stunning architecture of the Church of São Francisco, known for its intricate Baroque interior and beautiful tile work. Explore the adjoining Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) adorned with human bones, offering a unique and eerie experience.

  • Visit Faro Marina: Take a stroll along the marina, lined with colorful boats and yachts. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, waterfront cafes, and restaurants offering fresh seafood dishes. It's a great place to relax and soak up the coastal ambiance.

  • Explore the vibrant Mercado Municipal: Immerse yourself in the local culture, browse fresh produce, and even grab some traditional snacks.

  • Visit the stunning Faro Municipal Theater: Catch a performance if there's one scheduled during your visit.

  • Discover Faro's Archaeological Museum: Delve into Faro's rich history at the Archaeological Museum, located in the Convento de Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Explore the archaeological exhibits showcasing artifacts from different periods, including Roman, Moorish, and medieval times.

  • Attend a Festival or Event: Check the calendar for local festivals and events happening in Faro during your visit. From music festivals to traditional cultural celebrations, there's always something happening that showcases the vibrant spirit of the city. There also are athletic events such as running races or cycling events, so if you want to take part or just cheer those involved on, also keep on the lookout for those! Generally, we find that is can be difficult to always know these events are happening without being there (seeing local billboards!), but we often go on facebook groups and see what is being promoted to sign-up or attend that way.

  • Get lost: Faro is a very easily walkable city and it is a beautiful place to just wander around - so we would encourage you to just spend some time wandering and seeing what you can find around the city. It is 100% how we found Mr. Frango and we have been grateful ever since!

  • Take a sunset walk along the harbor: Capturing the breathtaking views of the city, grab some gelado and just take a stroll!


With just 48 hours in Faro, you can create lasting memories and experience the best that this captivating city has to offer. From the vibrant streets of the historic center to the tranquil beauty of Ria Formosa, Faro promises a delightful blend of history, nature, and culinary delights. So pack your bags, get ready to explore, and prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure in Faro, Portugal. Happy travels, boas viagens!


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