Winter is now officially over but it has been cold, long and dreary and south-bound Ryanair flights are at their cheapest in February, so there is no valid reason not to book a sun-scape to Faro, Portugal.
Faro is actually a lovely city with a reasonable number of tourist attractions, but we were there with the sole purpose of catching some sunshine and therefore we ticked none of them, except the beaches and the restaurants. We chose, instead, to spend our time as if we were locals, sitting at the beach, strolling around, drinking cheap but delicious wine outside.
Still I collected some suggestions that you might find useful, regardless of the level of touristic-ness you want you achieve.
Visit: Ilha Deserta, one of the uninhabited islands in the Ria Formosa national park, with miles and miles of beach and only one (pricey) restaurant; The Old city, inside the city walls.
Drink: glasses of delicious wine for 2 euros. We particularly liked the Se7e Pedras, in Travessa dos Arcos, which you can translate into Arch Alley and it’s a lovely little street in itself.
Eat: seafood. I suggest the garlic fried shrimps, anywhere, but especially at O Palhacinho in the food market. A note: fried here means pan fried, not battered and deep fried; garlic indicates that slices of garlic are floating the oily pan. Scoop the oily garlic with some fluffy Portuguese bread.
Go: to the beach, only a 20 minute bus ride away. Soak up the sunshine and eat some more fried shrimps.
Take pictures of: pretty balconies, tiled walls and stork nests on the city walls and on lampposts!
Had I been able to, I would have brought back the sunshine, the sea waves and their soothing sound, the wine and garlic fried shrimps, and maybe a pretty tile or two.
On the other hand, I was glad to leave behind the smoking in bars and restaurants. It’s great at first, when you are smoking, drinking wine and listening to a Farense singer, all at once (I realised I can actually multitask!); it’s a whole different story when you come back home smelling like an ashtray.