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Often somewhat undersold as the 'Gateway to the Algarve', Faro is more than just an arrival point from which to discover the area's beaches and golf courses.
Faro began life in the 9th century and its rich legacy is evident everywhere you look. Inside the medieval city walls in the heart of the city is the Cidade Velha, an evocative tangle of pedestrian lanes and outdoor cafes. The Arco da Vila, a decorative 19th-century archway designed by Francisco Xavier Fabris, is one of the finest examples of neoclassical architecture in the Algarve. And inside the doorway you will find a very special gate from the pre-Moorish period, with its own legends attached.
The centrepiece of the Cidade Velha is the Sé, a castle-like cathedral first built in 1251. The site is thought to have once housed a Roman temple, then a Visigoth cathedral, and then a Moorish mosque. What remains now is a fascinating mix of baroque, Renaissance and Romanesque-gothic features; a typical representation of the different influences that go into making Faro so special.
To the south of the city lies Ria Formosa nature reserve, voted one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal in 2007. A protected wilderness of tidal flatlands, shingle islands and blue lagoons, the park is home to more than 270 species of water birds and other aquatic creatures. It also contains a number of stunning beaches, including the 'desert island' of Ilha da Barreta.
Whether you experience Faro on an all-inclusive basis in one of the many resorts out of town, or stay in one of the guesthouses and hotels in the city itself, Faro holidays offer a tasty blend of history, nightlife and café culture, all just a stone's throw from glorious beaches.
*ATOL (Air Travel Organiser's Licence) is a financial protection scheme for package holidays: It provides support to consumers in the event their holiday provider collapses. Booking with an ATOL holder ensures that you won't be left out of pocket and you won't be left stranded abroad. All package holidays compared using TravelSupermarket are protected by ATOL.
ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) offers similar cover for packages booked with its members. However, while ATOL predominantly covers flight-based packages, ABTA covers non-flight based holidays (such as rail and cruise) and linked travel arrangements. If you are unsure whether or not your trip is covered by ABTA, check with your provider.
What's cheaper, an all-inclusive holiday or a self-catering break? There's more to it than you think. See which board type will save you more money on your next trip away.Read moreabout All-inclusive vs self-catering: The great holiday dilemma
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