Located in the Algarve, Ria Formosa is a Nature Park since 1987.
It’s the largest wetland in the South of Portugal and covers almost 11,000 hectares along approximately 60 km (38 miles) of coastline, between Ancão (Loulé) and Manta Rota (Vila Real de Santo Antonio). It forms an estuarine-lagoon system, where a large area of marshes, islets and channels is protected by robust sand belts, which form 2 peninsulas (Ancão and Cacela) and 5 barrier islands (Barreta, Culatra, Armona, Tavira and Cabanas).
This beautiful Nature Park is a must see during your holiday in Algarve and these are 10 landscapes you can’t miss in Ria Formosa.
1. Aerial view of Ria Formosa
Upon your arrival to Faro airport, keep your eyes peeled for Ria Formosa. This is an impressive landscape and you can only have an idea of how incredible it really is from air.
2. View of Ria Formosa from the Cathedral of Faro
The Cathedral, in the church of Santa Maria, is located in the Old Town of Faro. Make sure to climb all the steps up the bell tower for one the must-see points in Faro.
For those who are not residents, you have to pay the entrance fee, but this visit to the bell tower is a not to miss in the Algarve with a spectacular view of Faro and the Ria Formosa.
3. Sunset from the docks next to the Marina of Faro
The floating platform on the dockside, designed for the mooring of boats is one of the best places in Faro to enjoy the sunset in Ria Formosa.
4. Cacela Velha
Cacela Velha is an unspoiled village on a low cliff facing the lagoon. Located in the easternmost area of Ria Formosa, this whitewashed village is a reminder of how the Algarve must have looked half a century ago. Take your time to enjoy the exhilarating views from the clifftop of the picturesque Cacela Velha.
5. The salt marshes of Ria Formosa
The stunning marshlands of Ria Formosa are one of the richest and most productive of all ecosystems on Earth and are continuously covered and uncovered by the rising and falling tide.
6. The landscape from the top of the Lighthouse of Cape Santa Maria
The lighthouse of Cape of St. Mary is a lighthouse with 47 meters located on the island of Culatra. The view from its top is breathtaking.
7. Barra da Armona in Fuzeta
Barra da Armona is only accessible by boat and it’s a place where you can enjoy unspoiled nature, numerous birdlife and off beaten beaches with vast stretches of sand and crystalline waters.
Tavira is one of the most beautiful and charming towns in the Algarve. From the city limits you can admire its beaches separated by the coastal lagoon of Ria Formosa and orchards covered hills.
9. Barril Beach
Barril is an idyllic beach in the Algarve located on the island of Tavira, known for its anchors cemetery. It was once home to a small tuna fishing community. Lining the sand dunes of the beach are the anchors that were once used by the tuna fishing fleet and this unique rusting memorial is known as the anchor cemetery.
10. The Salinas of Ria Formosa
The geography and climate of the Algarve is perfect for the use of one of its natural resources: sea salt. Originally salt-marshes, these large rectangular saltpans (salinas in Portuguese) cover a considerable area and are still producing salt nowadays. Although a man-made habitat these areas are a favorite feeding group for wading birds. It is also in the salinas we can see the Greater Flamingo and many other species of birds.
If you’re on holiday in the Algarve and looking for things to do, have a look at the eco-friendly solar boat trips and tours we have available in Ria Formosa with departures from Faro.