5 star rating: Highly Recommended 3 Reviews

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  • Hours: Open daily 9am - 12.30pm and 2pm - 5.30pm
  • Admission: € 1.50

The Algarve ATTRACTIONS See all

Ria Formosa Natural Park

Like Porto’s Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa is a Portuguese national treasure created for the preservation of the the Algarve’s unique marshland and its flora and fauna. It encompasses a large lagoon area hugging almost 60 km (37 mi) of coastline between Manta Rota and Vale do Lobo. This lagoon’s diverse topography includes dunes, dune islands, marshland, saltpans and inland lakes. These wetlands are in turn a protected habitat for many species of birds.

What makes this park unique is its two distinct types of wetlands, the salt marshes and the freshwater lagoons. The latter is dotted with observation hides, and bird (and other critter) watching is a popular activity.

In addition to the birds, the park is home to Portuguese water dog kennels. This somewhat rare breed, known for its webbed feet and proclivity for swimming are bred and trained here, saved from the brink of extinction by dedicated dog-lovers and preservers of Portuguese culture.

Practical Info

The park boasts a number of nature trails, and its visitor center, located at Quinta de Marim, about 3 km (1.5 mi) east of Olhão is highly informative. Within the boundaries of the park are the ruins of the Roman town of Balsa. Most of these are inaccessible to visitors as they reside on private property, but five Roman salting plants are available for exploration near the freshwater lagoons. Dating back to the 2nd century, the salted fish produced at these plants were delivered all over the empire.

Tours & Tickets

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Ria Formosa Natural Park Birdwatching Segway Tour from Faro

4.5 star rating: Recommended 2 Reviews

Get close to nature during a 1.5-hour bird-watching tour from Faro by Segway. Travel around the Ria Formosa Natural Park in the Algarve with a knowledgeable ...  Read more

Location: Algarve, Portugal
Duration: 90 minutes (approx.)

From USD $56.90

Ria Formosa Natural Park Boat Trip

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Reviews

Take a 3.5-hour sightseeing cruise through Ria Formosa Natural Park. The journey is made by the Ria Formosa channels with stops at the islands of Armona, ...  Read more

Location: Faro, Portugal
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $34.14

Ria Formosa Catamaran Trip from Faro

Board a comfortable catamaran with a small-group of no more than 10 people to discover the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Visit the Deserta Island and Farol Island ...  Read more

Location: Faro, Portugal
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $28.45

Bird Watching Guided Boat Trip in Ria Formosa from Faro Algarve

Embark on an ecotourism experience in Ria Formosa on board a “Saveiro” (a traditional boat). In the company of a nature tour guide, this boat trip ...  Read more

Location: Faro, Portugal
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $28.45

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