So we are back from the most amazing 48 hour break in Faro, Portugal. I’d never been there, in fact it wasn’t even on my radar, but I saw Ireland West Airport posting about cheap flights and the rest is history!
For those who don’t know Jono is disabled due to kyphosis and scoliosis. He used to love travelling but is unable to go anywhere on his own these days. I encouraged him to come with me and the fact that Ireland West is just half an hour from home made things so much easier. The flight took just under 3 hours and we arrived in rainy Faro! I’d booked an airport transfer with Stork and our driver was waiting for us. His English was excellent and he was telling us places of interest. On the return trip to the airport he was outside our guesthouse five minutes before we were due to leave – so handy.
Our first place to visit was Forum Algarve. This is a shopping centre close to where we were staying. Thanks to google maps (who was absolutely useless) we got lost. We ended up getting a taxi. For €3 this is the way to do it. The shopping centre was nice, some really well known shops and a gorgeous home-ware shop, a big food court and a massive supermarket. Jono had food from Wok to Work which is cooked in front of you, they also do tofu for the vegetarians out there. I ended up with a pizza slice from Pizza Hut – eejit that I am.
If I had more of a budget I would have gone for Hotel Eva – right beside the marina and the views must be magical. Or Hotel Faro, again overlooking the marina. I also noticed a place called Stay which looked very nice too.
So what can I say about Faro? It’s beautiful! I wandered around exploring the old city delighting in the smells of the orange blossom and sitting watching the boats leaving the marina early in the morning, listening to the birds singing and wandering around looking at the street art and the different colours. I enjoyed breakfast in a local bakery where you could see the pastries being made. It’s a very, very, special place. I felt safe and relaxed and stress free.
There were a lot of things I would have liked to do such as a boat trip to the deserted island and a trip to the beach but I made a conscience effort not to push myself and just enjoy the things I did. After all I will be coming back again and hopefully in better weather. Temperature wise it was perfect for me but I could have done without the rain showers.
I spent almost an hour sitting in the rain, covered in a lobster throw (thanks Lucy), waiting for a bus back to the guesthouse from the Mar shopping centre. The shopping centre has an IKEA and a Primark as well as many other shops. It’s very futuristic and the location in front of the mountains is spectacular….but it was completely quiet when I went there…perfect for me who doesn’t like crowds (or shopping) but very much lacking in atmosphere. It was hard to find information on how to get to the centre so I’m imagining it’s quite new but the Algarve Tourist Office are brilliant and gave me a timetable for the bus. It took around 35 minutes to get there from Faro bus station and was €6 return.
I enjoyed visiting The Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), it’s fascinating. It’s located at the back of the stunning Igreja do Carmo and is €2 to get in to.
You might see the resident cat too. There are some beggars at the front door of the church but they won’t hassle you.
I visited the Alameda Garden but it isn’t worth going to especially. It was nice to see the peacocks roaming freely but I was saddened to see the rabbits and some other birds locked in grubby cages. There are fountains and mini golf but they weren’t in use when I was there.
Faro is spotlessly clean, I saw street cleaners out at 7am and still working in the evening. I love the different bins for food waste, plastic and paper – a simple idea but effective. I also thought having dog poop bags readily available was a great idea – no excuse for dog poop everywhere and in Faro there isn’t. The people are helpful and friendly – not overly friendly but that suits me just fine. I felt safe and wasn’t in the slightest bit uneasy. I’d recommend Faro to anyone and I can’t wait to go back. I feel relaxed and like I’ve had a proper, long, holiday.
Some tips and advice:
Bring a rain jack and jumpers. In fact at this time of year bring what you would normally wear in Ireland.
Don’t worry about the language barrier. All the menus are in English and almost everyone speaks English.
The Algarve Tourist office are well worth calling into. They were so friendly and helpful, they’ll give you a free map of the area and any advice that you need.
Shop around when eating out. Faro is an up and coming tourist location and some places have copped on to that fact. We did see a place charging only €6.50 for a lunch special; starter, main course, drink and dessert.
Alcohol is very cheap! We got a one litre carton of white wine in the supermarket for €1.50!
Shop around with the boat trips. I was looking some up before I went to Faro and was being quoted a lot of money – better to book something when you arrive.
Do book an airport transfer. The bus from the airport runs once an hour and if you don’t know where you are going it would be stressful. Far better to go door to door in comfort.
Take the little road train around Faro, at just €2.75 it’s well worth it. During the 45 minute trip you hear about some of the places of interest. In fact it’s a great way to decide what you want to visit. I went to the Alameda Garden after seeing it from the train.
A lot of places close for a siesta from 1pm until 3 or 4pm.
Look up – you might see nesting storks – depending on the time of year.
It’s expensive to eat at Faro airport so bring something with you.
If you are travelling with a person needing assistance MyWay at Faro airport are fantastic! You don’t have to sit with others boarding the flight or go through the boarding gate. You will be taken up in a lift to board the plane and they are just so helpful!
I hope this post is of interest. I have to say Faro is certainly one of the best breaks I’ve ever had. Relaxation from start to finish. I’m looking forward to my next visit already.