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The beautiful capital of the Algarve in southern Portugal, is a sun-seeker's mecca. Turn away from the lure of the beaches and bars, just for a moment, and you'll discover a town lined with whitewashed, colonial and Moorish architecture, quaint cobbled streets and magnificent sunset views.

At certain times of the day, you could hear a pin drop. As gateway to the Algarve, the sun-drenched region around Faro is full of whitewashed villas, hotels and beachside resorts.

In the city itself, Hotel Eva (Avenida da Republica 1) is a lovely mid-range spot with a rooftop pool overlooking the marina. Many make a beeline for Albufeira, 45km west, where modernistic five-star CS Sao Rafael Atlantic Hotel (Sesmarias), which has its own private beach.

Shopping in Faro's heart, Rua de Santo Antonio, and the streets surrounding it are pedestrianised and home to a range of clothing, gifts and souvenir shops.

There's a daily market in Largo Mercado but the biggest regional market is Saturday's Mercado Municipal (Largo Gago Coutinho) in Loule, 18km north of Faro.

Popular souvenirs include woollen items, Moorish-style pottery and other local crafts.

Ceramics enthusiasts can also take a day trip 20km west of Albufeira to Porches Pottery (EN125), a famous hand-painted pottery workshop in Porches.

Here you can see artisans fashionable, traditional terracotta tiles, plaques and crockery, or even request your own personalised pieces.

From piri-piri chicken to salt-dried cod, and fresh seafood washed down with local wines, there are many different flavours to tantalise your taste buds in the Algarve.

In Faro itself, affordable and authentic Algarvian cuisine is served under the shadow of the cathedral in Sabores da Se (Largo da se 10).

The long undisputed jewel in the Algarve's gastronomic crown is Albufeira's Vila Joya Restaurant (Praia da Gale), which often allows four lucky guests into the kitchen, to watch two-Michelin-starred chef Dieter Koschina at work.

An exciting new competitor on the region's haute cuisine scene is Ocean Restaurant (Vila Vita Parc) in Porches.

July The roar of exhausts, the sound of rock music and the smell of leather invade Faro in the middle of summer.

This is one of Europe's biggest biker rallies, drawing tens of thousands of devotees to town for everything, from tattoo contests to all-night bars, parades, a big biker fair and stunt riding displays.

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