There’s more to the capital of the Algarve than just an international airport. From sophisticated Portuguese wine bars to raucous Cuban-themed bars, these are the must-visit watering holes for your next visit to Faro.
Most travellers skip Faro in favour of the coastline’s famous resorts, but don’t make the mistake of neglecting this vibrant, historical city. Whether you’re a nighthawk or sundowner fan, this Algarvian city has plenty to offer when it comes to bars and pubs. One sip of a cocktail watching the sun set over the lagoon and you’ll be hooked.
If you have a head for heights, then try the Cosmopolitan Rooftop Bar, which shares a terrace with the Ria Formosa Restaurant at the top of the Hotel Faro. This innovative bar has created a list of rather wacky, concept cocktails, such as the candle-shaped Church cocktail with a lit flame, and the At the Stadium cocktail, served in a sports bottle. Drink in the views over Faro harbour and the islands of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
This fun and rowdy bar has only a hint of Irishness, eschewing a full-on theme and instead adopting the welcoming atmosphere. Of course, you will find Guinness and Jameson, but you can also expect Portuguese wines and cocktails. The live music is popular here, which is apt as it’s right in the heart of the nightlife centre, just a few streets back from the harbour – and the dancefloor gets lively after dark.
If you’re looking for a wow-worthy view, then head for Lab Terrace. The terrace looks directly onto the harbour and Ria Formosa, which means you can smell the salty air as you sip your G&T. Live music, such as mellow guitar solos, are common in the summer months. The cocktails are certainly worth a try, namely the punchy caipirinha. Go in the evening for spectacular sunset vistas.
This place – tucked away in the old town, just a few minutes’ walk from the historic wall – feels like a real locals’ bar. The cool terrace with overhanging trees is a lovely place to people-watch in the evening. It specialises in Poncha de Madeira, a citrusy, honey-based drink from the Portuguese island. The metre of different-flavoured Poncha shots is something to remember – or maybe not.
Duck under the traditional brick vaults by the waterfront and you’ll find yourself in the classy Columbus Cocktail and Wine Bar. It’s a shining behemoth of a bar with an extensive offering of multi-award winning cocktails – plus a white grand piano taking centre stage (especially during live music nights). Try the smooth hygge, made with vodka, lemon, sweet cinnamon, black pepper, basil and egg white.
Sometimes, all you need is a glass of wine and a few nibbles to cap off a day of sightseeing. For this, 8 Tapas has you covered. Grab a table outside on the cobblestone lane and watch the tapas plates waft past you, while you browse the menu. Try a glass of ice-cold white wine from the Vinho Verde region, paired with the fresh octopus. Enjoying the setting? Stay on for dinner, as they serve up a full menu, beyond tiny plates.
One of the best things about Faro is how easy it is to find a stretch of sand. Amare Beach Club is practically on the Praia de Faro, just over 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of the city. Take a break from sunbathing and enjoy a cocktail or two, just metres from the water’s edge. Tuck into small plates including oysters and fish tacos – but note, it shuts at 8pm, so it won’t be your late-night party pit stop.
Looking for somewhere to watch the big game? From the World Cup to the Super Bowl, 3 Points shows them all. Sitting on a busy thoroughfare in the centre of the city, it has a large outdoor terrace with plenty of space to gather around the TV. Expect classic sports bar fare, from burgers and nachos to wings, as well as perfectly poured pints. Just watch what you say when Portugal are playing – artwork of national hero Cristiano Ronaldo is plastered everywhere.
If you’re really into your wine, then head to Epicur. The owners are experts in local wine and stock more than 200 Portuguese vinhos. Enjoy an Alentejo wine, accompanied by tapas from the curated menu. Not sure what to order? Just ask the staff what to order – they really know their stuff. Real wine buffs can book onto one of their workshops and wine tasting events, held year round.
Dance ‘til dawn in this low-ceiling, sticky floor kind of joint, heavily decorated with portraits of Che Guevara. Needless to say, this bar is Cuban-themed, popular for its live Portuguese and world music played until the early hours. You can expect crowds (and sometimes, karaoke) as it’s in Faro’s busiest bar zone; make the most of the happy hour deals and generous shots. The Cuban mojito is definitely worth a try.