The Voyage: 48 Hours In Faro, Portugal

January 5, 2018



It’s tough to have it all—seemingly impossible, even. But Faro does just that.

Located on the southern tip of Portugal, this coastal resort city enjoys both the balmy climate of the Mediterranean and the surf-ready waves of the Atlantic. Rich in history, it boasts a medieval quarter packed with museums and cultural sites, but stays up late into the night thanks to its large student population. What’s more, Faro doesn’t let things go to its head—this low-key gem flies under the radar, meaning you’ll always find a spot on the beach or at the cafe.

We couldn’t ask for a more charming, picturesque setting for our January Lookbook. We’ll be back for a long weekend soon—and here’s how we’ll spend it.

 

DAY ONE

9am: Breakfast on the Go
When Portuguese beaches are on the itinerary, we like to keep breakfast short and sweet. Stop by Padaria Urbana for a quick coffee, fresh pastry, and snacks for later. Don’t miss the pão de sal, a traditional salted roll that’s the very definition of a simple pleasure.

10am: Beach, Please!
As mild as Faro’s temperatures tend to be, it’s not quite sunbathing weather in January. Experienced surfers take advantage of the off-season to enjoy some quality wave time, but you might prefer a scenic beach stroll or bike ride. Easily accessible by bus, Praia de Faro, the town’s main beach, has miles of powdery golden sand.

1pm: Lunch with a History
Seating since 1925, Dois Irmãos is Faro’s oldest restaurant and one of the oldest in Portugal. Originally a bare-bones tavern popular with bartering port merchants, it became a see-and-be-seen destination in the ’60s and has been bustling ever since. Keep it simple with a grilled catch-of-the-day, or cozy up to the bar and sample your way through the tapas menu, a favorite among locals.

3pm: Afternoon at the Museum
Located in a domed 16th-century convent, Faro’s Museu Municipal is a work of art itself. Inside, you’ll find 2,000-years worth of Portuguese art and history, from salvaged Roman mosaics to contemporary works.

8pm: Dinner with the Locals
Local favorite A Venda has earned a loyal following with its trendy take on Portuguese comfort food and a cozy, casual atmosphere. Although the hearty tapas and seafood dishes are popular, the menu also includes vegan-friendly specialties using house-made seitan. If you’re lucky, you’ll drop by on a local music night.



DAY TWO

10am: Start Off Sweet 
The Portuguese are known for their cakes, meaning you get a pass on a healthy breakfast. Swing by Pastelaria Gardy for coffee, pastries, and doces finos, a local marzipan specialty.

11am: A Walk in the Park
One of the “Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal,” the Ria Formosa Natural Park is a sprawling, amazingly diverse coastal nature reserve that’s not to be missed. Serious birdwatchers flock here to spot rare aquatic birds enjoying their winter holidays, and flamingos have even been known to drop by. Other high-profile park residents include endangered chameleons, the world’s largest population of seahorses, and Portuguese water dogs, who work the docks along with the fishermen. Explore it on your own by foot, bike or kayak, or book a guided tour.

2pm: Culture at the Cathedral
History buffs and architecture enthusiasts will want to pay a visit to the Faro Cathedral. Built in 1251, it has since endured fires, raids, ransackings, and an earthquake, making for a quirky mix of Renaissance, Gothic, and baroque styles. Today, it’s open to the public, and its towers offer sweeping views of the city and coast.

8pm: A Treat-Yourself Dinner
Tucked away in Faro’s historic Old Town, Faz Gostos serves up gourmet Portuguese cuisine with a French wink. Opt for one of the set menus to get a true taste of the classics, including salted codfish, tomatada, and almond cake.

11pm: Farewell Drinks
Every good trip deserves a good sendoff. Raise a glass at Columbus, a cocktail bar in the heart of Faro’s nightlife district. Grab a seat on the terrace for views of the city gardens and marina, and plan to arrive fashionably late—things don’t get started until around 11pm. Cheers, Faro!


WHAT TO PACK
Winter in Faro is generally mild and sunny, with temperatures rarely dipping anywhere near scarf-and-hat weather. Leave your bulky coat at home and plan for lighter layers that can stand up to sea breezes. It’s not quite bikini time, but invite your beachy dresses along—we can’t wait to wear this maxi from Faithfull—and pack a couple cardigans to warm up as needed. In addition to your go-everywhere, MVP jeans, consider statement denim that can go from day to night and save you an outfit change (and valuable suitcase space). Sneakers are a must if you plan to take advantage of Faro’s beaches and parks (we love this tasseled pair from Soludos), as are sunglasses.

Photography by Erin Nikaido