The Algarve, Portugal’s wave-sculpted southern coast, has long been one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. As is true of the French Riviera and Spain’s Costa Brava, this means you need a carefully crafted itinerary to enjoy the region beyond the crowds.
On a recent trip to Portugal, I decided to do something almost no one ever does: Explore Faro, the region’s largest city and the location of its busiest airport. I’ve rushed through the arrivals hall numerous times on my way elsewhere, but this time I took a cab into town and discovered that it is an unexpectedly charming place.
Though not a luxury hotel, the Hotel Faro & Beach Club was a pleasant, well-located base in which to spend the night, with an excellent rooftop restaurant — try the sautéed baby clams and the Portuguese beef fillet in Madeira sauce — and a dramatic rooftop plunge pool. My comfortable suite was filled with light and provided lovely views over Faro’s port.