Mural with three faces
Photographing Public Art,  Portugal,  Street art,  Travel galleries

Gallery: art on the streets of Faro

Never go back, they say. And in fact, I rarely do. We do tend to go again and again to Paris, which is pretty much on our doorstep. And there are a couple of other places we’ve visited more than once, such as New York City and Berlin. On the whole, however, each trip we go on will take me to somewhere new.

But occasionally I make an exception; especially if I have fallen for a place while visiting without my husband and want to introduce him to it. Riga and Tallinn were in the past such places, and now Faro, on Portugal’s Algarve coast, has joined them.

For most visitors to the Algarve, Faro is a place to fly to, not to visit. But they are missing out. It is very close to the airport and during the day planes fly overhead and land almost constantly; yet few of the alighting passengers linger longer than it takes to grab their bags and find the bus that will take them to their resort along the coast.

Those that do stop, however, will find that Faro is much more than an airport. It has a small but picturesque old town, some characterful architecture, a lovely cathedral and a natural park of some ecological significance just offshore. There are good seafood restaurants and a busy marina, although for beaches you must travel out of town.

I spent two very pleasant days here in the company of VT friends back in 2016 and could happily have lingered longer. So when we were looking for somewhere to spend a few days recently, with the likelihood of early spring sunshine, Faro was an obvious choice.

Street art in Faro

I’ll be sharing our explorations of this likeable town over the next few weeks, no doubt. To start with, here are some examples of its street art for the Photographing Public Art challenge. I should mention that street art in Faro is somewhat gritty. A lot of the graffiti is just that, graffiti. There are tags and slogans everywhere, often over the more sophisticated art pieces. I like this unpretentious roughness, but it won’t appeal to everyone!

I’ll finish with a couple of rather different images:
Stylised sculpture of a woman sitting on the ground by water

This sculpture of a water nymph sits on the steps of the marina. It was the work of José Luís Costa, created in the 1980s for an exhibition. For some years afterwards it was stored in a council warehouse until someone had the idea to take it out and display it here. At low tide, when I took this photo, the sculpture is completely exposed, but at high tide the nymph is immersed in the water. The sculptor’s widow has been quoted as saying the location is unsuitable as the water will corrode the copper, but I have to say that I rather like it!

Man sitting by a table displaying small paintings
Artist selling his works in the Jardim Manuel Bivar

This isn’t exactly public art, since the pieces are for sale, but while they are displayed on the artist’s stall they are for a short while free to view!

I visited Faro in April 2022


  • stadttiger

    Dear Sarah thank you so much for this lovely article, I love Streetart and Portugal and just booked a flight to Faro to catch some more sun, I’m super excited. Lisbon and Porto are great spots to discover streetart as well, they even offer tours and workshops to try it yourself. Your blog is brilliant! Greetings from Basel, Switzerland

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much for the kind comments 🙂 I’ve never been to Porto but Lisbon is one of my favourite cities. If you’re looking for sun in Faro I recommend catching a bus to the beach one day and taking a walk along the boardwalk, stopping off for seafood perhaps.

  • rkrontheroad

    These are fun – the first reminded me of Banksy. Interesting idea to have a sculpture that appears to be swimming in the sea at times, would be cool to see it emerging as the tide recedes.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks Ruth, I see what you mean about Banksy in the figure of the child. In two visits to Faro I’ve only ever seen this sculpture clear of the water like this. I do wonder if maybe it’s been moved further up the steps? I know there was a campaign by the sculptor’s widow to place it somewhere else as she felt the sea water was corroding it too much, so I guess it’s possible they moved it although I’ve seen no record of that in my research.

  • Marsha

    Sarah, you outdo yourself every week. You saved the best for last, but as I strolled by them all again looking for the red birds, I have to say they each have their charm and beauty. The water nymph picture takes about 10 scroll backs to the rest of the photos 2-3. At first I thought the background was painted as well. Then you comment made me believe that the shoreline was real water, not the bottom of the painting. It would be a charming town to visit. How long did you stay?

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much for the lovely detailed feedback Marsha 😀 I have no idea why your comment required moderating when you’ve commented here so many times before – I’m sorry about that!

      The water behind the nymph is that of the town’s marina, with a nearby hotel reflected in it. You can see another photo of that reflection, without the nymph, in one of my previous Faro posts: It’s a lovely little town and on a beautiful coastline. We were there for four nights which was enough to see the town (it’s only small) and do a day trip to nearby Tavira, also charming. I have a post from the latter lined up for this week’s PPAC so watch this space!

  • leightontravels

    Very well captured Sarah, as always. I also have a soft spot for gritty street art, some of the bits here remind me of the kind of art I enjoyed in Malaga when I lived there. We are currently considering a short term (possibly even long term) stay in Portugal towards the end of the year, so your post made me look into Faro as a potential base. Cheers!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks Leighton. I think Faro could make a great base for a Portugal stay, as the transport links to the rest of the Algarve are so good. I don’t know that it would work for a long terms stay but if you decide on a shorter visit I would certainly recommend the studio apartment we rented. Very cute, very clean, well located and with friendly owners 🙂

  • rosalieann37

    My daughter-in-law told my granddaughter that there would not be any graffiti in Europe, which of course was wrong. I had some arguments with my granddaughter about whether street-art type graffiti was vandalism. She thought that any wall painting was vandalism, and I thought some of it was art.

    I’d love to go back to Portugal. My previous visit was in 1964 by train so I never got to Faro. If I ever get back, I’ll be sure to look around

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I’m with you – proper paintings on walls as definitely art, whereas just scribbling a name or a rude word is vandalism. Faro has both! It also has a train station so in theory is reachable by train, but it’s only a little local route along the coast. We used it to get to Tavira one day 🙂

  • lisaonthebeach

    Very cool, Sarah! And I will say, the bottom two photos are my favorites!! …and I also must say that blue painting in the bottom photo, with the boat…that one really catches my eye!! 💙💙💙

  • Manja Maksimovič

    Excellent, Sarah. I don’t see gritty. I see pretty and interesting. I especially like the two birds and the two man with the child by the boats. How lovely that you went back so that your husband can have your experience too.

  • Annie Berger

    Never heard of Faro in our all-too-short a time in Portugal unfortunately. After seeing your post on the street art and hearing you rave about the town, we will definitely have to add Faro to our places to see in Portugal if and when we make it back there. Looking forward to what else we will want to see in your upcoming posts, Sarah.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I’m sure you’d like it! Lisbon is one of my favourite European cities and this Algarve coast is beautiful, as long as you avoid the ‘stags and hens’ in places like Albufeira (and even there there’s a lovely old town that I bet most of the party-goers never see!)

Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you! And please include your name in case WP marks you 'anonymous' - thank you