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Faro, Portugal may not be a household name for most North American travelers, but European sun-seekers have long known about the warm winter weather of this southern Portuguese city. The beach is pristine and only crowded in the height of summer, and there are a few nice resorts for those looking for a sun, sand, and cocktails kind of holiday. For travelers in search of a little more, Faro serves as a great base for exploring Southern Portugal’s Algarve region. And the historic part of town has some fantastic medieval buildings, including churches and museums that give you a real feel for the culture.
If you’re a fan of the obscure and the morbid, you’ll definitely want to check out the Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones in the Igreja do Carmo church. As the name would suggest, the chapel is decorated with bones and skulls of over 1000 monks. There are a few other bone churches like this scattered across Europe, and it’s certainly a sight to behold!
Another great excursion is to take a boat trip into the Ria Formosa lagoon nature reserve. The reserve’s 170 square kilometers is home to many bird species, not to mention some postcard-worthy scenery!
Cidade Velha, or Old Town is home to a great collection of 18th century buildings along a fantastic stretch of cobblestoned streets. It’s like stepping into history as you wander the ancient neighborhood! Be sure to bring your camera to snap some great shots of the architecture.
Of course, no trip to Faro, Portugal would be complete without a trip to the beach! Praia de Faro is the go-to beach in town, and with its wide stretches of golden sand, there is plenty of room to stretch out and soak some sun into that pale skin of yours. The beach is just a few miles outside the city, near the airport, so if you’re not staying close, you can just hop on the cheap airport bus, which conveniently stops at the entrance to the sand.
Many tourists only book flights to Faro, stay for a day, and then leave to explore other parts of Portugal’s coast, but there is plenty to see in Faro, and if you have time you should consider checking out what this city has to offer!