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Why Visitors to the Algarve Should Visit Ria Formosa Natural Park

Discover why you should check out Ria Formosa Natural Park the next time you visit the Algarve. Stunning views, charming wildlife, and more. Read on!

If you’re planning a trip to the Algarve in the future, we’d like to draw your attention to Ria Formosa Natural Park, hopefully doing justice to this spectacular nature park. This beautiful lagoon is bursting with animal life, making Ria Formosa one of the best spots in Portugal to get your dose of wildlife, water, and adventure. Here at Lands, we specialise in eco-friendly, solar-powered boat tours, all led by local biologists with a passion for animals and conservation. If you’re spending a few days in the Algarve and you’re looking for things to do, we hope you’ll consider Ria Formosa Nature Park!

The Algarve’s Best-Kept Secret

Experience a beautiful boat trip at sunset around Faro.

The Algarve has no shortage of beautiful beaches, decadent golf courses, and charming seaside towns. The sunny weather, idyllic setting, and friendly locals have cemented the Algarve as the most popular tourist area in Portugal. But, despite the numbers, Ria Formosa remains somewhat of a hidden gem. While most head to Faro for fun in the sun, a rich experience immersed in nature is just a short drive away!

Sea Kayaking in the Ria Formosa Lagoon

Explore the channels of Ria Formosa on our kayak tours around Faro

If you like to get hands on and you’re looking for a mini adventure, then you can go sea kayaking in Ria Formosa. This is the perfect family activity as you head out for a relaxed, leisurely paddle along the tranquil waters of Ria Formosa. Just being out in the water is special, but you will also learn about the nature park — about its history and about the incredible animal life found here. In particular, you’ll get a glimpse of the staggeringly diverse birdlife found in the lagoon, but that topic deserves a section all to itself!

The Birdlife in Ria Formosa — A Birdwatcher’s Paradise

Ria Formosa is one the best places to observe Spoonbills in the Algarve

With over 250 species of birds living or visiting the Algarve each year, Southern Portugal is, by far, the best place in the country for birdwatchers. And within the Algarve, Ria Formosa’s rich conservation area is a paradise for birdlife as its rich land and lagoon serves as the perfect stopover point for birds travelling between Europe and Africa.

A great habitat for birds makes for a great travel destination for ornithologists or just anyone who loves seeing birds out in their natural habitat. With over 200 species of birds in Ria Formosa, we can’t possibly list them all here, so you’ll have to book your spot on our birdwatching tour of Ria Formosa or our birdwatching boat tour of Ria Formosa.

Depending on the time of year, here’s a small list of some of the bird species you can look forward to finding:
  • Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
  • Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
  • Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  • Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)
  • Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
  • Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
  • Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
  • Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
  • Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
  • Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)
  • Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
  • Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
  • Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
  • Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
  • Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
  • Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
  • Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
  • Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
  • Curlew (Numenius arquata)
  • Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
  • Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia)
  • Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei)
  • Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii)
  • Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
  • Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)
  • Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
  • Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)
  • Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cooki)
  • Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
  • Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
  • Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis)
  • Black-headed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus)
  • Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)

Hiking in the Algarve's Ria Formosa

Our nature walks take you to discover the natural beauty and wildlife of this protected wetland area of the Algarve with a local guide.

While for many it’s best to get out on the water in this beautiful lagoon, there is plenty to see and explore by foot. Bird watching is one of the main reasons people walk through Ria Formosa, but others simply want to enjoy the numerous beautiful paths and seaside views. Taking a walking tour of Ria Formosa offers a completely different experience from touring the area by boat or kayak and we highly recommend it. This is a 3-hour tour but it’s fairly gentle, so a high level of fitness is not required.

Conservation is Paramount at Lands

Anyone who has spent longer than five minutes in Ria Formosa can recognise how valuable this unique nature park is, and Lands has spent almost two decades here. We have explored its waterways by boat and walked its banks and its pathways — showing guests just how special Ria Formosa is at every step (or paddle) of the way. This is why conservation is very important to us; in fact, it’s at the core of who we were from day one. We believe that Ria Formosa is the most valuable natural habitat in the entire Algarve, so we go to great lengths to protect it.

We’ve taken great care to invest in the best possible boats that make zero environmental impact. Instead of choosing motorboats for our tours, we opted for solar-powered boats that do not consume fossil fuels (Zero Fossil Fuel) and do not produce greenhouse gases (Zero CO2 emissions). Their electric motors do not spill oil or generate exhaust fumes (Zero hydrocarbons dumped in the water).

Feel Inspired?

We hope we’ve inspired a few people to visit Ria Formosa Natural Park in the near future. Walking, paddling, or sailing through this stunning park is one of the best ways to spend a day (or at least a few hours) in the Algarve.

If you have any follow-up questions for us, please feel free to reach out below…

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