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TOP FREE Faro Attractions - Best Free Things to do in Faro

Top Free Attractions in Faro

Best Free Faro Attractions and Paid Attractions list

1. Deserta Island (Paid)


A boat trip to the aptly named Deserta Island is a real treat. An island paradise that has remained remarkably untouched, with a stunning 11km expanse of white sand and a diverse array of wildlife, it makes for a blissful and rejuvenating day out.

It takes 45 minutes to get there by boat. The water by the beach is beautifully blue and warm, with sunloungers provided by Animaris, the boat company. It’s the ideal place for a refreshing dip in the waves. There are no human inhabitants on the island, which helps to maintain its wild state, the only building being the Estaminé Restaurant, which serves up delicious and freshly caught seafood including bass, prawns and squid.

Among the animals you can spot are many bird species incuding the sacred ibis and Brant goose. There are also goats and rabbits, and by the sea you can spot a colony of seals and perhaps even a humpback whale.

Opening Times
  • Daily, leaves Faro at 11.30am and 3pm. Returns at 12.45pm, 2.15pm, 4pm and 5.30pm.

Getting there
Car Hire Faro Airport
Car Hire Faro Airport
Nearby Attractions

2. Centro Ciencia Viva do Algarve (Paid)


This fun and interactive science museum is a great place to take the kids, but it is also educational for the whole family. There are numerous hands-on experiments where you can learn about the natural forces governing our planet. The aquarium has a great collection of sea life, and there is a touching pool which recreates the nearby lagoon of Ria Formosa.

Among the activities is an Earthquake Experience which is highly popular. The staff are very friendly and ready to provide explanations of all the exhibits. Overall, this is a very entertaining museum which does a great job of being fun and educational at the same time. Numerous workshops are laid on, so it’s well worth checking the website to see what’s happening. Also make sure you see the outside areas, which include a greenhouse, a terrace with a breathtaking view of the Ria Formosa and a garden which explores renewable energies.

Opening Times
  • Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays, December 24, 25 and 31, January 1 and May 1.

Getting there

3. Faro Old Town (Free)


Faro’s beautiful Old Town is well worth a look, with its attractive old churches including a magnificent cathedral, and interesting little squares and streets with an impressive range of restaurants and cafes. You can dine al fresco, take in the colourful street life and see the pretty orange trees lining the streets.

Many people do not venture into Faro’s Old Town, so it is fairly unspoilt by tourism. The cathedral is a must see; you can ascend to the bell tower and take in spectacular views. Opposite the cathedral is the Bishops’ Palace with its expansive library.

Access to the Old Town is through a magnificent Moorish gateway dating from the 9th century. The entire citadel is surrounded by walls dating from the same period, making the area a time capsule of history.

4. Hidroespaco (Paid)


This renowned diving school will take you on a thrilling underwater journey along the coast of Faro, taking in historic shipwrecks, natural and artificial reefs, archaeological sites, and inside the Ria Formosa, where you can view beautiful seahorses. It is the only diving centre licensed to explore their domain, which may contain over 2 million of these fascinating creatures.

All skills and levels of diving experience are catered for, with fully accredited instructors and guides. Founded in December 1995, Hidroespaco is run by two local guides with an extensive knowledge of the Faro coastline and underwater world, and they are committed to sharing this passion with visitors to the crystal clear water. There is also a special program for disabled divers.

Excursions to dive sites elsewhere in the Iberian peninsula are organised, and they even offer training courses on becoming a professional diving instructor.

5. Milreu (Paid)


Milreu is a fascinating and quite well preserved example of a luxurious Roman villa, displaying all the trappings that would befit the lifestyle of perhaps a well-off governor of the time.

The site is located to the east of the village of Estoi. Although in ruins, it is quite easy to see the layout of the various buildings and pools, which feature beautiful mosaics of fish and dolphins, still in good condition. You can see the remains of the underfloor heating system.

The complex was inhabited from the first to the sixth centuries and from the third century saw use as a farm. There are remains of agricultural buildings, as well as evidence of wine production. Also to be seen is a temple, which later saw use as a church and mosque before it collapsed in the 10th century. In the 15th century, a residential house was built here, which now serves as a museum.

Opening Times
  • 9.30am-12.30pm and 2-5pm (to 6pm in summer). Closed Mondays, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, 1 May and 25 December.

Getting there

6. Praia de Faro (Free)


This is Faro’s main beach, a popular and idyllic stretch of golden sand and crystal clear water just five minutes’ drive from the airport. So you could go there to unwind before you even get to the hotel. The water is warm and temperate even at off-peak times of the year, but be aware that there is a rip tide further out, so stay close to the beach if you do take a dip.

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants where you could grab some shade and enjoy ice cold drinks and local seafood. The beach is equipped with toilets and showers too. You could even avail yourself of a surfing or kayaking lesson if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, if not then just lie back, feel your toes in the sand and catch some rays.

7. Faro Cathedral (Paid)


Situated in the heart of the Old Town (link), this lovely old cathedral has a number of interesting features which make it well worth a visit. Climbing up the bell tower will reward you with stunning views over the Old Town and the harbour. There is also a stork nest next to the bells up here and it is fascinating to see these magnificent birds at close quarters. You can even have a go at ringing the bells yourself.

The cathedral was built in the 13th century after Faro moved from Muslim to Christian rule. The ornate tiling and gold leaf dates from the 17th and 18th centuries. Along with other parts of Faro, the cathedral was significantly damaged by the earthquake of 1755.

Similar to Carmo Church (link), the cathedral has a Chapel of Bones in its courtyard, a striking feature which invites quiet contemplation. There are also some religious artefacts and paintings on display in a small museum.

  • 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday (mass only on Sundays). Closes 5pm in winter. Busiest during the summer months, Easter and Christmas.

Getting there

8. Archaeological Museum (Paid)


This fascinating museum displays archaeological artefacts chiefly from the Roman and Moorish eras of Faro. There is a stunning collection of mosaics, in particular a large and very fine one from the 3rd century AD which shows Neptune and the Four Winds. Also to be seen are a collection of Roman statues and busts, Roman and Moorish tombstones, and household items including a set of Moorish lamps. All exhibits were discovered in the local area.

The museum is also housed in wonderful surroundings, a former sixteenth century convent dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Assuncao (Our Lady of the Assumption). With its pleasant, shady cloisters, it is an archaeological exhibit in itself.

There are also some beautiful 17th and 18th century Italian paintings, mostly based around religious themes. Given the setting, this is rather apt. The museum also hosts regular temporary exhibitions, which have included paintings depicting Portuguese legends and some interesting cinema posters.

Opening Times
  • October-May: 10am-12.30pm and 2.30-5.30pm (to 4pm weekends). June-September: 9.30am-12.30pm and 4-7pm. Closed Mondays.

Getting there

9. Teatro Lethes (Paid)


A beautiful old theatre full of history and character, the building dates from 1599 and was originally a Jesuit college. After the Jesuits were banished, the college was occupied by French troops during the Napoleonic wars. It was rescued from dereliction and converted into a theatre in 1845 and since then has hosted spectacular performances of traditional fado, as well as jazz, opera, comedy, drama and dance. A night out here to catch a show is a real experience as there is a fantastic atmosphere to the old building. The box seats have a great view of the stage and the acoustics are second to none.

If you don’t manage to get tickets to a show, it’s possible to get a tour free of charge by ringing the doorbell on the left of the building. The obliging manager is only too happy to show tourists the concert hall and various other areas.

10. Estádio Algarve (Paid)


This impressive stadium was built to host the Euro 2004 tournament and is a popular venue for sporting and other cultural events. It has been the home of both SC Farense and Louletano DC (the inaugural match was between these two teams).

The venue is well noted for its innovative architecture. It has two curved roofs over the stands, which are 73 metres high and appear to billow like sails in the wind, reflecting the maritime heritage of the area.

It has also seen rugby, rally, motorcycle and mountain bike events, and hosts the final of the Algarve Cup, an all-women tournament. The capacity is 30,002, with 320 VIP seats. It’s especially pleasant to be here in the evening, when the sunset casts beautiful colours over the stage area. The stadium is also the temporary home ground of Gibraltar National Football Team.

11. Rua Dr. Francisco Gomes (Free)


Faro’s main shopping street, this is a great place to stroll along the pleasant pedestrianised cobbles and perhaps pick up a few bargains. There is an olde-worlde feel to the place, due to the quirky historical buildings and the lack of cars. The orange trees lining the street add a colourful touch.

It’s particularly nice to wander along here in the evening; many of the shops are open late and there are plenty of bars and restaurants. On a balmy night, you can dine al fresco and watch the passing scene by candlelight over a delicious meal and bottle of wine.

Another highlight is the traditional bakery, where you can try out the excellent marzipan desserts, baked on the premises.

12. Igreja Da Ordem Terceira De Sao Francisco (Free)


A less well known church in Faro, this is well worth a look, perhaps if seeking to escape the busy crowds. Translated as the Tertiary Order of St Francis, the initial church was built in the late 17th century and was later substantially enlarged to accommodate the ever growing congregation. This process happened from the mid-18th to early 19th centuries, at which time the facade was completed.

The interior is very pleasant, with some lovely blue and white tiling, notably the 18th century panels on the walls of the main chapel and vaults, with the Heart of the Virgin at the centre.

A very interesting feature is the collection of sculptures of St Francis and the roc, dating from the same period. Only the arms and head are carved, the rest being a skeletal wooden structure. These have been used in religious processions.

The church also has its own choir, which is a real treat to hear if you’re lucky enough to catch them.

13. Portuguese Guitar Recital (Paid)


These wonderful concerts of traditional Portuguese guitar sounds, including fado, take place frequently in the Galeria Arco in the Archaeological Museum. Guitarist John Cuña will captivate you with a virtuoso display of various styles, transporting you to a golden era of mellifluous music. He explores the cultural identity of the Portuguese guitar which is so important in the nation’s history.

Visit the Facebook page to check what concerts are coming up. There is also a CD available which you can order or buy at gigs, so you can relive this magical evening in your own home over and over again.