Ilha do Farol – the #1 guide
Ilha do Farol is the name of the area around the village of Farol, situated on Ilha da Culatra. The area is known for its tall lighthouse, as well as its beautiful beach. No wonder that many local families come here to enjoy their weekends in the summer. In fact, this is the perfect destination for a day trip. Discover why Ilha do Farol is worth visiting.
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Would you like to see Ilha do Farol up close? Then watch the following video.
The small fishing village of Farol is situated on the western side of the island of Ilha da Culatra. This is one of the barrier islands that protect the Ria Formosa natural park. The area around Farol is often referred to as Ilha do Farol, but in fact it is the same island as Ilha da Culatra. There are people living on the island permanently and most of them are fishermen or work in tourism. You can see many holiday homes in Farol as well.
Other parts of the island are the small fishing village of Culatra, which attracts some tourists, and an area called Hângares, which is named after an old hangar and is more quiet. Culatra and Farol are the only villages on the island. Farol is a bit more touristic than Culatra though. There are no paved roads on the island and it can not be reached by car.
Praia da Ilha do Farol (or simply Praia do Farol) is named after the characteristic lighthouse behind the beach. It is quite wide and stretches as far as the eye can see. The area with the beach and the village are also known as Ilha do Farol. The total length of the beach on this island is about 6 kilometres. Praia do Farol is backed by dunes.
The sand of Praia do Farol is white and soft. The water of the Atlantic Ocean is very clean and transparent. It is great for swimming or snorkeling. However, the water can be a bit cold.
Most people who visit the beach stay near the point of arrival. In the summer this part can become quite crowded. However, the more you walk to the east, the more quiet it will become. If you walk for 10 minutes, the beach probably is deserted. This is awesome, since it gives you the feeling of being on a deserted tropical island. Enjoying the island, the beach and the water are the main activities at Ilha do Farol.
Ilha do Farol lighthouse
In Portuguese, Farol means lighthouse. The village of Farol is named after the lighthouse. This lighthouse is called Farol do Cabo de Santa Maria and is 50 metres tall. It was built in 1851 and it was the first lighthouse in Portugal at that time. Nowadays this lighthouse is the most well-known structure of the island.
The lighthouse is a beautiful sight, even from the sea.
On the southwest side of the beach, there is a pier. There is a pathway here, which is nice for a walk.
From the pier you have a nice view over the beach. You can also clearly smell the fresh air of the sea here.
How to get there
You can access Ilha do Farol by ferry from Faro or Olhão. This boat ride takes you through the Ria Formosa natural park. The journey itself is thus quite pretty, especially if you like nature. When you depart from Faro, the journey takes about 30 minutes to Farol. A round trip costs € 5 for adults and € 2,50 for children. When you depart from Olhão, the journey takes about 40 minutes to Farol. A round trip costs € 6,50 for adults and € 4,50 for children.
Another option is to take the ferry to Culatra and walk from there to Farol. This is a quite long, but very beautiful beach walk.
Even though it is an island, you don’t have to worry about food. There are several good restaurants in Farol. Our favourite restaurants in Farol are:
- Restaurante À do João. This restaurant serves Portuguese food and makes amazing fish. The service is great and the view is fantastic.
- MarAmais. This restaurant/beach bar has a great vibe and nice food. Located right on the sand. It is the perfect place to sit, relax, read a book and enjoy your holiday in the Algarve.
There are no hotels on the island of Culatra. However, you can find several good hotels near the harbour, which is the departure point for the ferry to Ilha do Farol. We recommend any of the following hotels near the harbour of Olhão:
- Real Marina Residence. These luxurious apartments in front of the Ria Formosa have everything you need for a great holiday. There is a swimming pool and you have a great view over the natural park. The apartments have a fully equipped kitchen, so you can cook your own meals if you want to.
- Apartamentos Sol & Ria. These modern apartments near the harbour of Olhão have colourful decoration, which gives it a fresh and friendly look. Some apartments even have a terrace with barbecue facilities and views over the Ria Formosa. Highly rated.
- Real Marina Hotel & Spa. This is the most exclusive hotel in Olhão. The Real Marina hotel has five stars and offers amazing service. The hotel has several swimming pools with panoramic views, as well as several wellness facilities. Some rooms have a sea view as well.
After the busy summer season of last year, we recommend to book your hotel now, as it will probably sell out. Below you can find a map with the location of hotels in Olhão. By changing the date of your holiday, the map will show you the current prices.
Ilha do Farol is a great destination for a day trip. Surely you will have an amazing day visiting Farol. However, there is much more to see in the area. For example you should check out the natural park of Ria Formosa. There are several boat tours to explore this beautiful scenery. Also, there are excursions to discover special sights in the region, such as a cork factory. Below you can find our favourite excursions in the area.
Praia da Ilha do Farol is a Blue Flag beach, which means the beach conforms to certain quality standards. For example, there are lifeguards on Praia do Farol and there are good facilities. Basically it has everything you need for a great day trip.
Facilities in Ilha do Farol:
- Restaurant: yes
- Bar/club: no
- Toilet: yes
- Shower: yes
- Water sports: yes
- Sunbeds: yes
- Parking: no
- Lifeguards: yes
- Blue Flag beach: yes