Faro is often overlooked merely as the gateway to the magnificent Algarve region in the south of Portugal, but it makes for a nice day trip or a good base for exploring the neighboring towns. On its own, Faro offers something to do for a day, max. two, at least if you want to be active and spend your days doing something else than just lying on the beach or eating your way through the region’s delicacies (nothing wrong with that, though).

Portuguese feast

The town, especially the old part, offers a lot of great photo opportunities and you can eat fresh seafood caught right outside of the city, but all in all, Faro is mainly a passing through point. In terms of something outside the traditional Portuguese culture, the town has one juice bar and a cool cocktail bar that northern Europeans would maybe call a gastropub, but speciality coffee seems impossible to find. Shopping in Faro is limited to tourist shops and your usual Mango&Zara. However, if you are into Portuguese architecture and picturesque streets, Faro might tickle your fancy at least for a little bit. 

Quirky contrasts and creative doors in Faro

Cranes residing atop a church

What you can do if you end up finding yourself in Faro is, besides feasting on the seafood, is go to the beach. The beach in Faro is either a bus ride away or you can take a boat, but it makes for a nice half-day activity to lie in the sand and listen to the waves. At least during my visit, there were no people selling you stuff, which is always a bonus in my books. 

One tourist destination and “top x things to do” in Faro is visiting the bone chapel, Cappella de Ossos. This eerie room was built using the skulls and bones of monks, not just for decoration, but it is actually utilizing femurs and other suitable human parts in the structure. Apparently, there are bones of 1245 monks! The room as a scary symmetry to it, and it is accessible through the Igreja do Carmo church. Entrance fee is 2€. 

Skulls and bones on a wall in Igreja do Carmo

I've never seen bones so up close before

Once you've eaten your belly full, chilled on the beach, seen all the cute colourful doors and maybe the bone church, make your way to Lagos or Sagres.