Faro International Airport – also known as Algarve Airport – is the main tourist airport in Portugal and serves Algarve (the southernmost region of Portugal) as well as the nearby Spanish province Huelva. It is about 4km to the west of the city of Faro, the administrative centre of the Algarve region, and has seen an explosive growth in tourism over the years due to the region’s beautiful and diverse natural scenery as well as colourful history and ancient architecture. Though the airport currently already covers an area of more than 2,000 square miles and serves about 5 million passengers a year, plans are underway to develop the infrastructure to meet the increase in tourist demand and further its status as the gateway to the Algarve region.
To get from Faro airport to the city itself, tourists can take the local bus service which runs from the airport to the city every half an hour or so. With such a short distance between airport and city, the ride will take only about 15-20 minutes and set you back no more than 2-3 Euros. If you happen to miss the bus, fret not – taxis are also readily available outside the airport and can take you into the city at relatively inexpensive prices.
What to see and do
Once in Faro, there’s no lack of things to do and see. Known for its stunning natural formations such as steep cliff drops, rock formations, golden beaches that stretch over 200km and huge rolling waves, one of the first places you should go to in Faro is the beach. Though there are many gorgeous beaches in the region Faro beach is one of the best; it is located on a sandbar that wraps around the coastline so it is actually offshore, providing a whole new beach experience – you’d have the sea to one side of yourself and a lagoon on the other. With its safe bathing waters and abundance of water sports facilities, Faro beach is the locals’ choice and definitely should be yours too.
Another natural attraction not to be missed is the Ria Formosa Natural Park, recently declared as one of Portugal’s seven great natural wonders. Formed by a series of sandpits, the Ria Formosa consists of wetlands and a lagoon that separate the mainland from the Atlantic and is a hotbed of bird and marine life. With tidal and seasonal fluctuations constantly changing the appearance of the Ria Formosa – certain areas can be entirely submerged at some times but completely dry at others – just one visit to this natural wonder is not enough. To explore the vast park tourists are advised to travel by boat through the wetlands – preferably at high tide – and then continue on foot once they reach dry land. On top of being treated to amazingly beautiful scenery, you’d also be able to see tons of birds (including brightly coloured flamingos), shellfish, seahorses, and Portugal’s unique Water dog.
If you’ve had enough natural beauty for the day (if that ever happens) head on back to the mainland for a look at Faro’s famous historical attractions, one of which is the Old Town. With its 19th century architecture, cobbled streets and ancient palaces, you’d feel like you travelled back in town to the decadence of the Renaissance period. If you get lost within the maze of narrow streets, fret not – like how all roads lead to Rome, all streets in the old town reconvene at the largo de Se, where the town hall is. Have a look at the Bishop’s Palace and ancient cathedral and climb up to the cathedral tower for unrivalled views of the Old Town as well as the Ria Formosa, and the swirling Atlantic Ocean.