Algarve’s capital has a more distinctly Portuguese feel than most resort towns. Many visitors only pass through this underrated town – it makes an enjoyable stopover. It has an attractive marina, well-maintained parks and plazas and a historic old town full of pedestrian lanes and outdoor cafes. Its student population of 8000 ensures a happening nightlife, and its theatre scene is strong. Marvellously preserved medieval quarters harbour curious museums, churches and a bone chapel. The lagoons of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa and nearby beaches, including the island sands of Ilha de Faro to the southwest and Ilha da Barreta (aka Ilha Deserta) to the south, add to Faro’s allure.