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  • Address: Luz de Tavira, Portugal
  • Admission: Varies

The Algarve ATTRACTIONS See all

Ria Formosa Natural Park Tours

Located at the southernmost tip of Portugal’s Algarve, Ria Formosa Natural Park (Parque Natural da Ria Formosa) is a scenic swirl of freshwater lagoons, sandy islands, and lush salt marshlands. The park hugs the coast between Manta Rota and Vale do Lobo, and is best known for its varied topography and diverse bird life. 

The Basics
Ria Formosa Natural Park is an ideal day trip from nearby Faro. With its scattered islands and aquatic landscape, the park is best experienced by boat—whether you choose to join a boat tour or hop on a ferry to explore at your own pace. There are various options for Ria Formosa boat tours, including bird-watching cruises aboard a traditional painted boat (saveiro), bike tours through the park’s many coastal trails, and catamaran cruises that visit several islands in one day.
 
Things to Know Before You Go
  • Ria Formosa is a must-see for nature lovers. 
  • The park is a prime destination for bird-watching—look out for flamingoes, wigeon, black-tailed godwit, heron, and the rare purple swamphen.
  • The Ria Formosa visitor center is located at Quinta de Marim and offers information and maps of the park’s islands and nature trails. 
  • Shade is limited in the park, so be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen. 

How to Get There
Ria Formosa Natural Park is located near Olhão on Portugal’s southern coast. The closest international airport is in Faro, which is a 20-minute drive from the Ria Formosa visitor center. Ferries to the park’s islands run from Faro, Olhão, and Tavira. 

When to Get There
Summer (June through September) is the most popular time to visit Ria Formosa, when ferries run frequently and the weather is typically warm and sunny. The park’s tiny islands can get crowded during July and August, so set sail early if you want the beach to yourself. Ferries are much less frequent in winter and sometimes stop completely, so during this season you may need to charter a small boat. 

The Islands of Ria Formosa Natural Park 
Five barrier islands make up Ria Formosa Natural Park, and each has its own character. Ilha de Armona is known for its sandy beaches, Ilha da Culatra for its lively fishing villages and Portuguese Water Dogs, and Ilha da Farol for its landmark lighthouse. Remote Ilha da Deserta is a good place to escape crowds, while Ilha de Tavira is ideal for nature walks or bike rides, with easy-to-follow trails linking the villages.

Tours & Tickets

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Boat trip from Faro to Ilha Deserta by Ferry, Faro, null
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 1

Boat trip from Faro to Ilha Deserta by Ferry

4 star rating: Recommended 1 Review

The Ferry boat departs from Faro in direction to Ilha Deserta, taking 45 minutes through Ria Formosa Natural Park. Admire panoramic views over the ...  Read more

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

From USD $11.87
Half-day Ria Formosa Natural Park Four Islands Boat Cruise from Faro, Faro, Kid Friendly Tours & ... 
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Half-day Ria Formosa Natural Park Four Islands Boat Cruise from Faro

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 23 Reviews

Sail through the Ria Formosa Natural Park on this 4.5-hour (ftom May to September at 9:30 it's 5 hours and a half) sightseeing cruise from Faro. Journey ...  Read more

Location: Faro, Portugal
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $47.47
Ria Formosa Natural Park Two Islands Boat Trip, Faro, Day Cruises
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Ria Formosa Natural Park Two Islands Boat Trip

Sail through the Ria Formosa Natural Park on this 2-hour sightseeing cruise from Faro. Journey through the Ria Formosa channels on a 12-person boat and make ...  Read more

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

From USD $29.67
Ria Formosa Catamaran Trip from Faro, Faro, Day Cruises
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Ria Formosa Catamaran Trip from Faro

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 10 Reviews

Discover Portugal’s exotic natural wonders during this 3-hour catamaran trip to Ria Formosa from Faro. Board a comfortable catamaran with a small-group and ...  Read more

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

From USD $29.67
Ilha Deserta - Guided Nature Tour - Ria Formosa, Faro, Catamaran Cruises
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Ilha Deserta - Guided Nature Tour - Ria Formosa

4 star rating: Recommended 1 Review

The Eco Tour is nature tour, through Ria Formosa Natural Park’s channels, with a professional guide, that will share with you information about local ...  Read more

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

From USD $35.60
Bird Watching Guided Boat Trip in Ria Formosa from Faro Algarve, Faro, Eco Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Bird Watching Guided Boat Trip in Ria Formosa from Faro Algarve

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Review

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 will help ...  Read more

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

From USD $29.67
Bike Tour in Ria Formosa Natural Park, Faro, Eco Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Bike Tour in Ria Formosa Natural Park

Journey through the heart of Ria Formosa National Park on this 3hour guided bike tour. Venture out into Portugal’s wilderness with your expert guide, who will ...  Read more

Location: Quarteira, Portugal
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $59.34
Ria Formosa Natural Park Bike Tour, Faro, Bike & Mountain Bike Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Ria Formosa Natural Park Bike Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Review

Two and half hours tour at Ria Formosa Natural Park, enjoy the beauty of this paradise, learn about the flora and fauna and the amazing birdwatching. ...  Read more

Location: Faro, Portugal
Duration: Flexible

From USD $41.53
Small-Group Adventure: Cycling in Ria Formosa Natural Park, The Algarve, Bike & Mountain Bike Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Small-Group Adventure: Cycling in Ria Formosa Natural Park

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Review

Join this small-group biking tour and explore various regions outside of Tavira over the course of 8-hours. Explore our Route between forts and castles and ...  Read more

Location: Tavira, Portugal
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $53.40
Western Algarve Small-Group Day Trip to Sagres, Lagos and Silves, Portimao, Bike & Mountain Bike ... 
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 2 ADMISSION : 5

Western Algarve Small-Group Day Trip to Sagres, Lagos and Silves

Explore the western part of Algarve, where nature and heritage go hand-in-hand. From the breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean in Sagres to the Moorish ...  Read more

Location: Albufeira, Portugal
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $56.96

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