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Faro’s old town is not so old (it was burned down by English troops in 1596, later rebuilt, and then destroyed by the earthquake of 1755), but still beautiful and pedestrian-friendly. Next to the citadel’s ring-wall is the small harbour where the newer and livelier town stretches to the north and east. The gardens next to the harbour, Jardim Manuel Bivar, are a good point to start exploring. At the upper-end, the city’s main shopping area begins – a little network of pedestrian streets with all kind of shops, cafés and restaurants. North of here, you find some of Faro’s famous churches – for example, Igreja do Carmo – or going north-west via the Largo 25 de Abril roundabout, you arrive at the fresh produce market. Going straight to the west, you will eventually reach the slightly uphill Avenida 5 de Outubro, which ends in front of Faro’s magnificent Liceu (grammar school). Here you are rewarded with a broad vista of Faro, the wetlands of Ria Formosa and the sea.
The capital of Algarve is one the most typically Portuguese cities in the country. In Faro you have the chance to enjoy an amazing marina, cobblestone squares and green parks, as well as an old town sprinkled with cosy cafés and tiny traditional restaurants. But Faro can also be discovered by night, thanks to its massive student population that lights up every bar and plaza of the city, not to mention all the cultural activities you will be able to enjoy, including theatres, art exhibitions, majestic churches and historic monuments. Last but not least, do not miss the natural beauty of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa and the numerous islands scattered a few kilometres from Faro's pristine beaches.
Food in Faro revolves around seafood, mainly fish and shellfish. The Ria Formosa area is famous for its oyster and clam breeding, making mollusks an unbeatable choice. Meat dishes can also be exceptional, but in particular, chicken, lamb and black pig, porco preto, can satisfy any meat-lover's cravings.
The cafés in Faro are steeped in history and have plenty of personality. Whether you are in the mood for the classic Faro café experience or would like to go to a lively café and people-watch, you will find something that suits your needs.
Being an energetic student town, Faro boasts active and varied nightlife attractions. Most of the more serious dancing takes place at large clubs outside the city, mainly to the west towards Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura. But the Old Town and its surrounding areas offers hosts of small bars with live music, sports screenings, and much more.
Faro’s main shopping area is directly adjacent to Jardim Manuel Bivar. If you take Rua Dr Francisco Gomes, at the top corner you will arrive in central Faro’s car-free shopping precinct, with clothes, shoes and other accessories, sports, furnishing and textile shops in an area which stretches for three to four blocks in all directions. The pedestrian area ends to the north at the Praça Ferreira de Almeida market place. This is where one of Faro’s best wine shops, Garrafeira Rui, is to be found. If you take Rua do Lethes from here, and on the right beyond the theatre by the same name, go into Rua Dr Justino Cúmano, you will eventually arrive at Faro’s large fresh produce market, Mercado Municipal.
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