December 23, 2012

Arco da Vila Faro

The neoclassical Arco da Vila in Faro is a main entry gate into Faro's Old Town (Cidade Velha). The Arco da Vila was designed by Genoese architect Francesco Xavier Fabri, commissioned by Bishop Francisco Gomes, who supervised the reconstruction of Faro after the devastating earthquake of 1755.

Arco da Vila Faro, Algarve, Portugal

The top of the arch of Arco da Vila includes a clock and bell and the figure in the niche at the front of the arch is St. Thomas Aquinas. The archway stands on the site of the ancient entry gate into the Moorish city. Nesting storks may also be seen here.

Arco da Vila Faro, Algarve

Architect Francesco Xavier Fabri (1761-1817) was responsible for the design of the nearby Igreja da Misericórdia, the Seminário Episcopal and the Ermida de São Luís. The Tourist Information Center is virtually next door, to the left as you look at the arch. Walk through the arch and up to Largo da Se (Cathedral Square).

Arco da Vila Faro

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December 22, 2012

Igreja da Misericórdia Faro

The Igreja da Misericórdia on Praça D. Francisco Gomes in Faro dates from 1581 and is a noted historic building in the town.

Igreja da Misericórdia, Faro

The church was built on the site of the earlier Igreja Manuelina do Espírito Santo.

The Igreja da Misericórdia is designed in the shape of a Greek Cross. The facade and attached hospital were rebuilt by the noted Italian architect Francesco Xavier Fabri (1761-1817), who was responsible for the design of a number of buildings in Faro including the Arco da Vila, the Seminário Episcopal and the Ermida de São Luís.

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November 23, 2012

Murals in Faro

Faro has some good murals on the walls of shops and other city walls and is relatively free of the graffiti that scars much of the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

Faro mural, Algarve

Other attractions in Faro include the Maritime Museum (Museu Maritimo) on the marina (Doca de Recreio) close to Faro Railway Station, the Adega Nova Faro restaurant and the Comboio Turistico tourist train.

Murals in Faro Portugal

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October 26, 2012

Metropol Parasol Seville

Seville is known as a city of historical architecture with such famous buildings as Seville Cathedral, La Giralda and the Real Alcazar drawing in crowds of tourists each day.

Metropol Parasol, Sevilla

Seville also has its share of striking, modern buildings none more so than the Metropol Parasol aka Las Setas de la Encarnación, which claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world.

Designed by German architect, Jürgen Mayer-Hermann and engineered by Arup the structure was completed in 2011 after 6 years in construction. The project went way over the proposed budget.

Built in wood, granite and concrete, the architect was inspired by the vaults of Seville Cathedral and wished to create a "cathedral without walls."

Metropol Parasol

A market has stood on this spot at La Encarnación Square for centuries and the modern building's ground  level serves as such today. There is an underground level with a museum displaying Roman and Moorish antiquities unearthed during the construction phase. The upper levels are viewing platforms with great vistas over the city.

Metropol Parasol, Sevilla

The Metropol Parasol is within easy walking distance of many of Seville's main sites including Seville Cathedral, La Giralda and the Real Alcazar. Also close by are the historic El Rinconcillo tapas bar and the recommended Hotel Baco.

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September 12, 2012

Seville Metro

Seville's metro system (Metro de Sevilla) is a quick and easy way to get around this charming Spanish city. A light rail system, the Sevilla metro travels both above and below ground.

Seville Metro, Spain

Initially planned to have 4 lines, at present only one line, Line 1 is in operation and opened in 2009. Line 1 runs west to east from Mairena del Aljarafe (Ciudad Expo), San Juan de Aznalfarache, Montequinto (Dos Hermanas) and Oliviar de Quintos with a total of 21 stations at present.

Sevilla metro map
Click to expand (c) Metro Sevilla

Trains run from 6.30am to 11pm from Monday to Thursday, 6.30am to 2am on Friday, 7.30am to 2am on Saturday and 7.30am to 11pm on Sunday.

Tickets are purchased using a rechargeable e-wallet (monedero electronico). A one day tourist fare is available.

There are metro systems in the following Spanish cities: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao and Palma de Mallorca.

Metro Sevilla
Tel: 954 032 100

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September 11, 2012

Buses in the Algarve

Faro is a major bus terminal for local buses to destinations throughout the Algarve as well as buses to Seville in Spain and to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Buses in the Algarve, Portugal

Local buses leave Faro Bus Station just to the east of Faro Railway Station to Almancil, Bordeira, Estoi, Olhao, Albufeira, Tavira, Lagoa, Lagos, Loule, Portimão, Vila Real Santo Antonio on the Spanish border and other destinations.

There are also buses to and from Faro Airport (around 20 minutes) beginning at 7.08am from the airport.

Buses in the Algarve are punctual, comfortable and good value for money.

Buses in the Algarve, Portugal

Tickets can be bought in advance or on the day of departure. Getting around by bus is certainly an option to be considered as well as car hire, train and cycling in the Algarve.

Buses in the Algarve from Faro

EVA buses

Tel: 289 89 97 30/31
Tel: 282 40 06 10

August 27, 2012

Tavira Castle

Tavira Castle (Castelo de Tavira) in Tavira in the Algarve is one of the town's most visited attractions and a pleasant place to wander to enjoy the garden at the top beneath its stone walls and fine views over the town and the Gilão River. The present castle has its origins in the 11th century though some kind of fortress has probably stood here since Phoenician times in the 8th century BCE.

Tavira Castle

The castle was defended by the Moors when Tavira fell to Paio Peres Correia, the Grand-Master of the military Order of Santiago during the Reconquest in 1242. Further construction was undertaken on the castle in the 1290s by King Dinis, before Tavira Castle was damaged in the earthquake of 1755.

Tavira Castle, Algarve

Tavira Castle is located on a hill in the centre of old Tavira and is about 1km from Tavira Station.

Tavira Castle, Portugal

Visitors to Tavira Castle can admire the fine garden contained below the walls and towers of the fortress.

© Portugal

July 25, 2012

Seville's Bullring - Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza

One of Seville's most popular attractions is its bullring - the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, Seville

First built during the late 18th century the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is a majestic sight with its white and ochre walls and the dramatic sand of the interior ring.

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza stables

Tours of the bullring begin from the main entrance on Paseo de Colon and include a view of the interior bullring from some of the over 12,000 seats in the arena and then continues inside with a number of rooms dedicated to the history of bullfighting in Spain and Seville with paintings, swords, weapons, capes, costumes and other articles connected with bullfighting on display. The tour is conducted by the guide in both Spanish and English.

Matador, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza

The tour also takes in the chapel where the matadors pray for success and the stables where the horses of the picadores are kept before the corrida begins.

Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
Paseo de Colon 12 Tel: 95 421 03 15

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June 22, 2012

Pumpkin Bar Lisbon

Lisbon's thousands of neighborhood bars – boteco – like bars anywhere, often strive to differentiate themselves from others. This little bar located not far from the Museo da Marioneta on Rua da Esperança stopped me in my tracks with nothing more unique than a massive pumpkin - or, abobora, on the obviously very sturdy glass cabinet.

A wonderful symbol of autumn hospitality, this scene summed up the color and occasional quirkiness of Lisbon and its culture.

Pumpkin Bar, Lisbon

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May 27, 2012

El Rinconcillo Tapas in Seville

If you do make the short and easy bus crossing from the Algarve to Seville in south western Spain, you will discover a city of delights, including some culinary classics.

El Rinconcillo, Seville

If you are a fan of Spanish tapas head out to the El Rinconcillo, said to be the birth place of tapas. Located in the La Macarena district of the historic city, El Rinconcillo dates back to the 1670s and the atmospheric, woody interior is the setting for some great food and drink. Specialties include Huelva hams, vegetarian chickpeas and spinach, and the catch of the day from Cadiz.

Wash down your tapas with some fine wines, while your bill is totted up on the wooden counter of the large barrels that serve as tables.

El Rinconcillo

Remember it is standing room only in the bar area and there are no seats. If you wish to sit there is a separate restaurant area with tables and chairs.

El Rinconcillo is close to the Iglesia de Santa Catalina and the Iglesia de San Pedro, where the painter Velazquez was baptized. The cozy Hotel Baco is nearby and the whole area is within 20 minutes walk of Sevilla Cathedral and La Giralda.

El Rinconcillo
Calle Gerona 41-45
Tel: 954 21 31 83

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May 22, 2012

Lisbon Car Hire Discounted by 25% in Celebration of Holiday Autos Birthday

To celebrate its 25th birthday, Holiday Autos is offering a great big 25% off car hire for 25 days across 25 different locations!

The offer applies for all pick-ups until the end of October 2012, with a different location available each day. This celebratory deal continues on the 22nd of May with car hire in the wonderful city of Lisbon!

Situated on the North banks of the River Tagus at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, culturally rich Lisbon offers a beautiful blend of cathedrals castles and urban neighbourhoods.

Belem, Lisbon, Portugal

It is estimated that Lisbon is over four centuries older than Rome, making it the second city to be founded in Europe after Athens. The many different civilisations that have at one time ruled the city are woven into its architecture, giving the city a patchwork-like quality. A visit to Lisbon has to include a trip to see the Belem Tower; built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbour. The tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland.

To get up high and look out over the city, then the millennium old walls of the Castelo de Sao Jorge (St George's Castle) are the best place to head. And if you've got a head for heights, you might also like to perch atop the Águas Livres - the largest aqueduct in Europe!


For a taste of the life aquatic, Lisbon is home to one of the largest oceanariums in the world. Acclaimed for accurately recreating various world underwater ecosystems, make your way there to experience incredible diving.

Tagus River

If you'd rather check out the real deal, then Lisbon offers something for that too! The city is surrounded by a number of varied and interesting beaches, each with their own character.


The BBC listed Praia da Adraga among the most beautiful beaches in Europe, and one of our personal favorites. Most days you will find it virtually deserted. A short distance away is a completely different beach experience - Costa da Caparica is a crowded beach with a festival atmosphere. The beach also offers some great places to eat and some lively night life. Lisbon is a large sprawling city offering plenty to see and do. With access to a car you will be able to travel back and forth through its history and beaches with ease!

For further details on the Holiday Autos sale, the complete list of locations included in the offer, and to look over the terms and conditions, visit

May 14, 2012

Litoral Ecovia Cycle Route Faro

The Litoral Ecovia is a cycle track running 214km along the coast of the Algarve from Cape St Vincent, near Sagres, and ends in S. Antonio on the Guadiana River, near the boat dock in Vila Real de Santo Antonio.

The Litoral Ecovia passes through Albufeira, Lagos, Portimao, Faro and Tavira to Vila Real de Santo Antonio. Around 12% of the route is completely unmotorized and the cycle path passes through some very scenic areas, close to a number of shaded picnic areas as well as cafes and restaurants.

  Litoral Ecovia Algarve (in Portuguese)
Tel: (+351) 289 880 800

© Portugal

April 11, 2012

Faro Maritime Museum (Museu Maritimo)

The Maritime Museum (Museu Maritimo) in Faro is located on the marina (Doca de Recreio) close to Faro Railway Station, the Adega Nova Faro restaurant and the starting point for the Comboio Turistico.

Faro Maritime Museum (Museu Maritimo).

The Maritime Museum shows the importance of the sea to the region of the Algarve with displays of model ships, including the boats that took part in Portugal's "Age of the Discoveries," nautical instruments, fishing tackle, sea shells, naval knots, and marine life.

Faro Maritime Museum (Museu Maritimo).

Rua Comunidade Lusiada
8000-168 Faro
Tel: 289 894 990

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April 7, 2012

Storks in Faro

One of the features of rooftops in Faro on the Algarve is the number of storks that have made their nests up there.

Visitors can see the large and unruly nests high up in the belfries of Faro's churches and even on communications masts. The birds make a distinctive sound with their bills during the day but go quiet at night.

Storks in Faro.

In fact, the large white storks (cegonha) can be seen all over the Algarve region of southern Portugal helped by the preservation of the natural environment in the Salt Marsh Natural Reserve in Castro Marim and the Rio Formosa, which runs from Faro eastwards to the islands off Tavira.

Storks in Faro.

White storks are large carnivores that can weigh up to 4-4.5 kilos. Their diet is taken from the ground and consists of amphibians, insects, fish, reptiles, small mammals, and even small birds. Storks migrate south to Africa from their European breeding grounds in summer a journey that can take well over a month.

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April 4, 2012

Getting From Faro to Sevilla By Bus

It is not possible to go directly by train from Faro in the Algarve in Portugal to Sevilla in Spain along the southern coast route.

There are direct buses, however, that leave Faro Bus Station close to Faro Railway Station via Olhao, Tavira, Vila Real Santo Antonio on the Spanish border, then to Ayamonte, Huelva and then Sevilla Bus Station in Plaza de Armas on the east side of the river.

Getting From Faro to Sevilla By Bus.

The buses, jointly operated by Eva and Damas leave Lagos at 6.30am, calling in Portimao 30 minutes later, Lagoa, Albufeira (after about one hour) and then Faro at 8.20am and 3.35pm taking about 3 hours and 20 minutes to reach Seville.

The Faro-Lagos bus may stop at the border for passport checks and just over the Spanish border for a 15 minute stop at a service station for refreshments and toilets.

Getting From Faro to Sevilla By Bus.

March 29, 2012

Hotel Sol Algarve Faro

The Hotel Sol Algarve, a short walk north of Faro Railway Station and the bus station, is a recommended hotel to stay in Faro, the main town in the Algarve region of southern Portugal.

Hotel Sol Algarve Faro.

The Hotel Sol Algarve staff are friendly, speak English and can point you in the right direction for eating, drinking and touring the Algarve area.

The rooms at the Hotel Sol Algarve are clean, with some of them south-facing with pleasant balconies. The free Wi-Fi is reliable and the buffet breakfasts more than filling. There is also a lovely outdoor breakfast area open in the summer months.

Hotel Sol Algarve Faro.

Hotel Sol Algarve is close to most of Faro's many attractions including the Old Town, Largo do Carmo and the Chapel of the Bones, Largo de Sao Pedro, and the excellent Portuguese-style eatery Adega Nova Faro, just round the corner on the way to the station.

Hotel Sol Algarve Faro.

Hotel Sol Algarve
Rua Infante D, Henrique, 52
8000-363 Faro
Tel: 289 895 700/1/2

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March 28, 2012

Tavira Station

Tavira Station in Tavira in the Algarve has local train services to Olhao, Faro (40 minutes) and Vila Real Santo Antonio on the Spanish border. Change at Faro Station for onward trains to Lagos, Portimao and Lisbon and to Coimbra (once a week) as well as to Porto via Lisbon.

Tavira Station, Algarve, Portugal.

There is a great little bar right on the platform for a refreshing drink while train-spotting.

Tavira Station, Algarve, Portugal.

Tavira Station is about 1km west of the centre of town, exit the station and walk straight ahead. Look out for the life-size statue of a soldier at the station with his wife or girlfriend waving at him from across the road.

Tavira Station, Algarve, Portugal.

© Portugal

March 27, 2012

Adega Nova Faro

Adega Nova Faro, a short walk north of Faro Station, is a warm, traditional Algarve eatery, well worth a visit if you are staying or passing through Faro.

Adega Nova, Faro, Algarve, Portugal.

Choose from an extensive a la carte menu or ask for the recommendations of the day. I chose the tuna with exquisite boiled potatoes and a fine house wine.

Adega Nova, Faro, Algarve, Portugal.

Round off your meal with an expresso coffee and a local Algarve liquor. The wait staff are friendly, attentive, knowledgeable and speak English. Highly recommended.

Adega Nova, Faro, Algarve, Portugal.

Adega Nova
Rua Francisco Barreto, 24
8000-344 Faro
Tel: 289 813 433

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March 21, 2012

Faro Station

Faro Station in Faro in the Algarve has local train services to Olhao, Lagos, Loule, Albufeira, Tavira (40 minutes) and Vila Real Santo Antonio on the Spanish border.

There are daily mainline train services to Lisbon from Faro Station (around 3 hours to 3 hours, 45 minutes) and to Coimbra (once a week) as well as to Porto via Lisbon.

There is a bar and small shop on Faro Station which is a short walk from Faro Bus Station. Both the bus and train station in Faro have a number of taxis waiting for hire

Hotel Sol Algarve is very close to Faro Station. There Faro Station area of Largo da Estação has some excellent bars and the recommended Adega Nova restaurant.

March 20, 2012

Faro Comboio Turistico

The green trackless toy train, aka the Faro Comboio Turistico, circles the main sights of Faro taking in the cathedral or Sé, Faro Marina, the Capella dos Ossos and the Museu Regional do Algarve.

Faro Comboio Turistico.

The train is a leisurely way to get a feel for the town of Faro and is especially welcome in the hot summer. The sightseeing train is built by Deltrain, who also provide a similar service in nearby Tavira.

Faro Comboio Turistico.

February 1, 2012


Praia de Zavial on the Algarve near Sagres is a favorite with surfers as the beach can get sizeable waves.

Zavial, Algarve, Portugal.

Zavial is a gorgeous beach, with an incredible view from the cafe/restaurant. From Sagres drive through Villa de Bispo to Raposeira and turn right at the traffic lights, then follow the road round.

There is a cave at one end of the beach, but be careful of rockfall.

Zavial has a nudist beach at one end. There is a lifeguard on duty in season. Good cafe/restaurant.

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