Top 10 Reasons to Go Birdwatching in The Algarve

originally published November 1 2019, updated 12 September 2023

Every year, more and more birdwatchers are visiting the Algarve on vacation. Some years ago, locals thought this was a strange way to spend a holiday. But, as you’ll see in this blog, the Algarve is a wonderful destination to explore birdwatching and more.

Portugal’s southernmost region is a beautiful tourist destination full of beaches, delicious food, and — as we’ll see — wildlife. At Lands, we love sharing Portugal’s beauty with visitors from across the world on our solar-powered eco-boat tours in Ria Formosa.

Ria Formosa was awarded protected status as a Natural Park in 1987 and more than 300 species have been recorded in the area’s 18,400 hectares. Whether you are a keen birder or want to try this activity for the first time, our Ria Formosa Birdwatching Boat Trip from Faro is a must.

Join the increasing number of Portuguese birdwatchers on a smooth solar-powered boat tour of the Ria Formosa lagoon and discover why the Algarve is becoming one of the most popular destinations for a birdwatching holiday in Europe. Get in touch to find out more about our tours.

1. The Algarve Has the Richest Avifauna in Portugal

With over 250 species of birds regularly observed throughout the year, the Algarve holds the richest avifauna in Portugal. In the Algarve, 95% of all bird species occurring in Portugal are present in a certain period of the year. Some of these recorded species are quite rare or endangered. The extensive natural habitats in Ria Formosa make it a prime position for migrating birds to rest on their travels each spring and autumn.

Bar-tailed Godwit in the Ria Formosa lagoon

Bar-tailed Godwit in the Ria Formosa lagoon.

2. The Algarve is Home to Many Rare Species of Birds

The Algarve is the region of mainland Portugal where you can see more annual wildlife rarities than any other place in the country. The Algarve has the highest occurrence of rare birds from Africa, North America, and northern Europe. This is due to an astonishing diversity of habitats: dunes and sandbanks, saltmarshes and saltpans, various watercourses, fresh and brackish water lagoons, reedbeds, woodland, and farmland.

Map of the Ria Formosa Nature Park, Algarve - Portugal

Ria Formosa Nature Park, Algarve – Portugal

3. The Algarve Has Diverse Landscapes to Explore

The great outdoors of the Algarve promises a memorable birdwatching holiday with many landscapes to explore like estuaries, coastal lagoons, reedbeds, dense cork oak forests, mountains, beaches, the open sea, coastal cliffs, farmland, Mediterranean scrub forest and more! Keen birdwatchers can explore the Algarve in many ways, such as by bike, on foot, and by boat. If you would like to discover the Algarve with Lands, please take a look at our Eco-boat Tour of Ria Formosa for an environmentally friendly adventure.


Private Eco Boat Tour in Ria Formosa out of Faro, Algarve

Our Ria Formosa Boat Trips use solar-powered electric boats to take you through Ria Formosa and out of Faro.

4. The Algarve Has Plenty of Environmentally Friendly Spaces to Travel In

Approximately 40% of the Algarve is protected, that meaning that your outings in the Algarve could include two Nature Parks, one Nature Reserve, two Classified Sites, and numerous Natura 2000 sites. Exploring in this way means that you are actively supporting conservation areas in Portugal’s Algarve and helping maintain this beautiful part of the world.

Sand Dunes on the Islands of Ria Formosa, Faro, The Algarve

Sand Dunes on the Islands of Ria Formosa, Faro, The Algarve

5. The Algarve Has 10 Important Bird Areas

IBAS is an acronym for Important Bird Areas. This designation is awarded by BirdLife International and denotes priority areas for bird conservation. In the Algarve, you can visit 10 of these important bird sites, which are:

  • Guadiana River
  • Castro Marim
  • Ria Formosa
  • Serra do Caldeirão
  • Caniçal de Vilamoura
  • Lagoa dos Salgados
  • Serra de Monchique
  • Costa Sudoeste (Southwest Coast)
  • Leixão da Gaivota
  • Ponta da Piedade

São Lourenço Walking Trail in Ria Formosa, Faro

São Lourenço Walking Trail in Ria Formosa, Faro

6. The Algarve is Only One Hour From Alentejo

Located only one hour away from Alentejo by car, a birdwatching holiday in the Algarve offers you the possibility to observe rare birds in the Alentejo on a day trip. Local birds of interest include the Great Bustard, the Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and the Spanish Imperial Eagle.


The Great Bustard is one of the notable birds of Castro Verde - Alentejo

The Great Bustard is one of the notable birds of Castro Verde – Alentejo.


7. The Algarve Has a Very Mild Climate

The very mild and pleasant climate of the Algarve offers you the possibility of brilliant outings all year round, meaning you can organize your birding holiday even in winter. As you’ll see in our Faro & Ria Formosa Birdwatching Guide, there are plenty of birds to see in the cooler months. For example, 49 bird species are wintering and migratory, such as the Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Greater Flamingo, and Eurasian Spoonbill.

The Spoonbill is one of the species that can be seen year-round in the Algarve.

The Spoonbill is one of the species that can be seen year-round in the Algarve.


8. The Algarve Has Plenty of Accommodation to Choose From

There is plenty of accommodation throughout the Algarve. You may choose hotels, pousadas, cottages, resort hotels and many more. The Algarve has a range of options to suit every budget and type of traveller.

Top view on the old town with Manuel Bivar garden in Faro in the south of Portugal

Top view on the old town with Manuel Bivar garden in Faro in the south of Portugal

9. The Algarve is Easy to Get to

As you organize your Algarve holiday, you’ll see that you have a wide choice of direct flights to Faro from several European cities. It is an accessible city with good access to taxis and public transport, making your upcoming birding holiday even easier!

A woman filming a plane landing on her phone.

A woman filming a plane landing on her phone.

10. The Algarve Has Delicious Mediterranean Cuisine

In addition to the friendly people, brilliant nature excursions, and array of birds you can expect to see, the Algarve is an amazing spot for delicious food and wine. Add all of these factors together and you have the making of a splendid birdwatching holiday!

While this brings our top 10 to a close, we hope this virtual exploration in the Algarve has inspired you to visit on a birdwatching holiday. At Lands, our professional team of local guides and biologist-informed tours are informative and enjoyable ways to experience this area.

Whether you would like to take our birdwatching tour by boat or bird watch on foot, both tours are equally exciting to intrepid travellers looking for a unique experience in the Algarve. We look forward to welcoming you to this beautiful part of Portugal! Get in touch if you’d like more information.

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