Centuries ago Faro became an important trading centre due to its strategically favourable location at the mouth of a lagoon. During the occupation by the Romans and Moors in the 15th and 16th centuries Faro was the starting point for many expeditions to foreign continents. The explorers brought wealth to the region and many magnificent monuments were built. In spite of the destruction caused by the earthquake in 1755, some of these wonderful monuments are still there to be admired today. The earthquake was also the reason why Faro is now the capital of the Algarve. Previously Lagos had been the capital of the region, but it was destroyed so much by the earthquake that the decision was made to move the government to Faro, which didn't suffer so badly.
The former Roman settlement is also very popular with nature-lovers, as Faro is situated near one of the most beautiful natural areas of the region. The nature park of Ria Formosa has numerous lagoons, sandy dunes and fantastic beaches and extends for over 60 kilometres. The beaches around Faro are part of the so-called "Sand Algarve" and you will not find any spectacular cliffs or rocks here. Instead there are kilometres of dunes, sand banks and gentle waves which are ideal for a relaxed family beach holiday. Many of these beaches are situated on the surrounding islands, known as the "Ilhas“. For example on the Ilha de Faro the beaches are well developed and you will find all necessary amenities here, such as bars and restaurants and everything else you can wish for to enjoy a great day at the beach. There are also remote, sandy dunes extending for many kilometres near Faro, such as on the island of do Farol.
Water conditions are ideal and the calm and relatively warm sea attracts swimmers as well as water-sport enthusiasts. As most of the beaches are on the offshore islands, many of them can only be reached by boat. The journey is well worth it though, as is also a longer trip by boat to explore the water mazes around the numerous sand banks. There are also special boat trips to the lagoons where you can watch birds nesting and even see flocks of flamingos.