It’s called Ilha de Faro (“Faro Island”) but it’s really a peninsula and is also simply known as Praia de Faro (“Faro Beach”). It’s the beach closest to the center of the city and can be reached by bus.
It’s mostly frequented by the residents of Faro, and there are very few tourists, who tend to prefer the islands nearby. The water here is for surfers, not swimmers (the waves are usually quite strong), but the 5km (3 miles) stretch of sand makes it a good beach for sunbathing. Go for a long walk to the east (to the left when facing the sea), and you’ll find plenty of peace and quiet. The more secluded eastern side sometimes even becomes an unofficial nude beach, and the very end is known as Praia da Barrinha. The rest of the beach, however, can be very crowded from June to September. Also keep in mind that the western side has lifeguards in the summer, but the eastern does not. There are also a few wicker parasols for rent during the bathing season.
The access is on the western side, which is the most developed. It has many villas, restaurants and cafés. Follow a boardwalk to the east and it becomes nearly deserted, except for a few shacks on the dunes. On the northern side you have the lagoon of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and a view of Faro. You will also see migratory birds and fishermen looking for shellfish. It’s possible to rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to use in the lagoon.
This is a clean beach and the golden sand is soft. However, due to its proximity to the city, its Blue Flag certification isn’t always renovated every year.
It’s worth staying for the sunset. Unlike the other beaches around Faro, which are on barrier islands, this one has places to stay overnight. It’s all budget accommodation, mostly attracting young surfers and families. Take a look at the options below on this page.
Beach for: Surfers, Families
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
How to Get to Ilha de Faro
Buses number 14 and 16 of the local “Próximo” network depart from Faro’s bus station once or twice per hour. They end their journey by a narrow pedestrian bridge that leads to the beach, in about 20 minutes. You buy your ticket from the driver. If you have a car, head in the direction of the airport and you will see signs pointing to "Praia de Faro." You get there in just 10 minutes and can park a short walk from the beach, but you need to go very early, or finding a spot will be difficult. In the summer, there are also ferries departing from the center of Faro (from the Porta Nova pier, close to the marina). The journey takes about 30 minutes.
Beaches by Ilha de Faro
To the east is Ilha Deserta, literally a desert island with an official nude beach and reached by ferry from the center of Faro. Further east is Ilha do Farol, another island only accessible by ferry from Faro.
Hotels by Ilha de Faro
Golden Beach Guesthouse
Facing the ocean and featuring rooms with views, this is the best place to stay in Ilha de Faro. It’s a contemporary guesthouse, with small but comfortable rooms, and with a bar on the rooftop.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Golden Beach Guesthouse
Located across the road from the beach, this property is divided into studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments. Some open to a terrace facing the sea, while others face the lagoon of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Guests may prepare meals in the fully-equipped kitchens (there’s a minimarket nearby), and enjoy them on the terrace.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Apartamentos Barracuda
Faro Beach Life Hostel
Surfers and groups of young travelers prefer to stay at this hostel on the western end of the beach. It features a sun terrace facing the lagoon, and mixed and female-only dorms. There’s also a shared kitchen and living room.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Faro Beach Life Hostel
This highly-rated hostel occupies a villa overlooking the lagoon. It has dorms, a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, plus a sun terrace, a bar, and a restaurant. The beach is across the road.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Wax Villa
It’s the only standard hotel on this beach, but it’s a little dated. It could use a renovation, but it’s still a decent place to stay, especially for its excellent location, just steps from the beach and the bus stop. Many of the rooms have balconies facing the sea, and guests can enjoy local cuisine and fresh fish at the restaurant. It also provides bike rentals.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Aeromar Hotel