Faro, a sleepy provincial town twenty years ago, now has all the facilities of a modern European town, with an attractive shopping area, some decent restaurants and a "real" Portuguese feel in contrast to many nearby resorts.
Excellent beaches , too, are within easy reach, and in summer there's quite a nightlife scene, as thousands of travellers pass through on their way to and from the airport, 6km west of the town.
Sacked and burned by the Earl of Essex in 1596, and devastated by the Great Earthquake of 1755, the town has few historic buildings. By far the most curious sight is the Baroque Igreja do Carmo (Mon-Fri 10am-1pm & 3-5pm, Sat 10am-1pm; ?2.50) near the central post office on Largo do Carmo. A door to the right of the altar leads to a macabre Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), its walls decorated with bones disinterred from the adjacent cemetery. This aside, the most interesting buildings are all in the old, semi-walled quarter on the south side of the harbour, centred around the majestic Largo da Se and entered through the eighteenth-century town gate, the Arco da Vila . The Largo is flanked by the bishop's palace and the Se itself (Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sun for Mass only), a miscellany of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, heavily remodelled after the Great Earthquake. More impressive is the nearby Museu Arqueologico (Mon-Fri 10am-6.30pm; ?1.50), installed in a fine sixteenth-century convent. The most striking exhibit is a third-century Roman mosaic of Neptune and the four winds, unearthed near Faro train station.
Informatioin courtesy of Travelnow and Rough City Guides Lda