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A city with history; Destination: Faro.

GREAT weather, beautiful beaches and history and culture at every turn. It's easy to see why Portugal's Algarve region is a long-standing favourite among UK holidaymakers.

And the gateway for fun in the sun is Faro, the historic city which is home to the regional's principal airport.

Many visitors only pass through the town itself but it makes an enjoyable stopover with its pretty marina, parks, plazas and historic old town full of lovely walkways and outdoor cafes. It boasts well preserved medieval quarters with fascinating museums and churches.

There are also the lagoons of the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa and nearby beaches, including the island sands of Ilha de Faro to the southwest to enjoy.

EATING OUT 1. FARO'S 'ILHAS' (ISLAND BEACHES) THIS is where the tourists head in their droves and Ilha da Armona is one of the largest and most popular islands in the area. It is accessible by a ferry ride from Olhao or 15 minutes from neighbouring Fuseta. There are numerous beachside bars and restaurants in which to grab a snack.

2. THE OLD TOWN FARO is the capital of the Algarve region of Portugal and has a colourful history.

A tour of the Old Town and its medieval walls is a must, so you can learn more about the Arab, Roman and Christian settlements of conquests past and the beautiful buildings left behind.

3. TEE OFF IN THE SUN PLAY a round or two of golf at the picturesque Ocean Course in Vale do Lobo, above, or Quinta do Logo North - home of the Portuguese Open and challenging for golfers of all standards.

FACTFILE LANGUAGE: Portuguese. CURRENCY: Euro.

TIME ZONE: GMT FLIGHTS: Monarch Airlines is among airlines flying direct to Faro.

BEST MONTHS: Between April and June before the summer heat becomes too stifling. VISAS ETC: EU Passport holders do not require a Visa.

HOTELS POSH: Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, Vilamoura (www.tivolihotels.com) STAY at this five-star hotel and you'll be right next to the Vilamoura beach with all its attractions and amenities.

The Tivoli Marina Vilamoura is a great family hotel with a children's park for the kids and spa facilities for mum and dad.

Rooms are spacious with beach and sea views and there are dining options to suit all tastes.

BUDGET: Pinhal da Marina, Vilamoura (www.pinhaldamarina.com/en) LOCATED near the Aqua Show Park, Quarteira Beach, and Trafal Beach, the hotel Pinhal da Marina has a restaurant, bar-lounge and outdoor pool.

All units have their own kitchens, so you could eat out or prepare your own meals if you prefer.

EATING OUT RESTAURANTE O COSTA (www.restauranteocosta.com): Avenida Nascente, 7 Praia de Faro SEAFOOD fans will love Faro's restaurant scene and the cod dishes available (you are on the Atlantic Coast, after all).

Or for something different head for the Old Town which is full of little restaurants and bars offering freshly prepared tapas such as sausage, olives and grilled prawns.

Restaurante O Costa is one of the best seafood restaurants in Faro and its beach view location makes it worth visiting.

Specialities include grilled squid, monkfish curry and puff pastry stuffed with crab meat.

CAPTION(S):

The cathedral in Largo da Se, just in the heart of Faro, is among the historic sites on offer in the Portuguese city
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUPR
Date:Nov 2, 2013
Words:552
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