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Ria Formosa

Ria Formosa: Our most recommended tours and activities

Faro: Ria Formosa Faro Islands Catamaran Tour

1. Faro: Ria Formosa Faro Islands Catamaran Tour

Sail to the beautiful Ria Formosa Natural Park by catamaran, with regular departures scheduled from Faro. The journey follows the Ria Formosa channels and includes stops at the magical islands of Farol and Deserta. See the imposing Santa Maria Lighthouse in Farol and enjoy time to explore and try island cuisine. In Deserta, admire the rolling dunes and unique landscapes. Look out for unique flora and fauna, including the chameleon. Enjoy plenty of swimming opportunities on both islands, with secluded beaches and pristine shores. On board, learn about the islands and the park with insightful commentary from your guide in various languages.

Faro: Eco-Friendly Ria Formosa Bird Watching in Solar Boat

2. Faro: Eco-Friendly Ria Formosa Bird Watching in Solar Boat

Ria Formosa is a place of extreme nature, with an environment that is always different at every hour of the day. This is due largely to the fact that the sea level rises and falls about 3 meters every 6 hours. Whilst there, you will discover a complete self-regenerating ecosystem, which allows a part of the local population to develop fishing and shellfish production. This provides all of the ingredients for the varied diets of the migratory birds that continue returning to this area year after year. Watch the hunting of predatory birds, or enter into a maze of canals where the only thing that you will hear is the sound of the birds calling and their interactions with one another. At the conclusion of your tour, you will return by boat to your tour's point of origin.

From Faro: 4 Stops, 3 Islands in Ria Formosa Catamaran Tour

3. From Faro: 4 Stops, 3 Islands in Ria Formosa Catamaran Tour

Enjoy a tour on a comfortable Catamaran, taking in the fauna and flora of the Natural Park of Ria Formosa. Cross the channels of the park and stop for 45 minutes at Deserta Island, where you will the opportunity to take a swim. Then, proceed to Farol Island where you will have another 45 minutes to discover its lighthouse and take photos. Sail to Hangares and see the culture of oysters and the military reserve. Lastly, arrive at Culatra Island where you will have 1.5 hours of free time to explore the traditional fishing village. You will also have the option to have lunch in a typical restaurant on Breech Island where the main course varies between fresh fish or seafood.

From Olhão: Ria Formosa 3-Island Full-Day Tour

4. From Olhão: Ria Formosa 3-Island Full-Day Tour

Begin your island-hopping trip with your captain who will act as your tour guide. First, stop at Lighthouse Island, where you can visit its village, get a drink, go to the beach, and explore the neighborhoods of beautiful houses. Continue on to Culatra Island for a few hours for a picnic lunch or visit one of the local restaurants. Culatra Island has beautiful swimming areas, if you prefer to play in the water instead of eating here. Stop on the island for 2 hours to enjoy lunch and to explore the village. Next, make your way to Armona Island or Deserta Island, depending on the season. In the summertime, Deserta Island hosts a beautiful, wild beach with no buildings. Explore either the Ria Formosa for a swim, or take in the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. The beautiful Armona Island is inhabited all year-long with locals and vacationers. Discover its deserted beach and take in the tranquil surroundings.

Faro: Ria Formosa Natural Park Segway Tour & Birdwatching

5. Faro: Ria Formosa Natural Park Segway Tour & Birdwatching

Explore the plant and animal wildlife outside Faro on a 1.5-hour trip through the nearby Rio Formosa Natural Park. There, you will take a Segway tour of the reserve and spend time bird watching at Ludo, a natural reserve near Faro Beach, located inside the park. This area is a stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods. The entire park is a protected area and home to several marine species and birds. It is a very special and quiet place where you can be in direct contact with nature. After pick-up, you will be taken to the park and given a Segway to use. This 2-wheeled electric vehicle uses the equilibrium of its driver to propel forward. Once you have been instructed how to operate your Segway, you will head out on the paths and trails in the park and discover the beauty and tranquility of this reserve. As you ride along, your guide will point out various animal species for you, exposing you to the natural and protected life of the region.

Olhão: Ria Formosa Boat Cruise

6. Olhão: Ria Formosa Boat Cruise

Set sail from the port of Olhão and travel through the Ria Formosa National Park. Discover beautiful scenery and rich biodiversity with your expert crew. Learn more about the national park and local culture with your expert captain. Cruise by marshes, barrier islands, islets, dunes, and sand bars which are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Spot local birds, marine life, and beds of clams and oysters during low tide. Stop at Culatra Island where 1000 people live and no cars are allowed; experience this European sustainability project that will be completed by 2030. Then, visit Armona Island and enjoy the serenity of a tranquil location accessible only by boat. While there, enjoy some time to explore the island or for a swim and take amazing photos

From Faro: Ria Formosa Lagoon Boat Tour

7. From Faro: Ria Formosa Lagoon Boat Tour

You set sail on a pontoon boat, and the marina of Faro fades behind you. On this tour you'll feel like a native of the Algarve as we explore the lagoon and numerous birds and wildlife who live in this protected landscape. You will sail through marshes and channels, and enjoy a nice boat trip with beautiful views of the walls of the Old Town of Faro. For anyone passing by Faro without much time to explore, this is the perfect way to get an overview of this fascinating city. The Ria Formosa is one of Portugal's Seven Natural Wonders, and you'll soon discover why! Come out and spend a beautiful time on the water.

Faro: Deserta Island and Farol Island Catamaran Boat Trip

8. Faro: Deserta Island and Farol Island Catamaran Boat Trip

When you’re in Portugal make sure to experience this exciting catamaran boat to Deserta and Farol islands that will take you through the spectacular nature of the Ria Formosa. Come see why this region was elected one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. Depart from the Marina of Faro sailing slowly through the channels of the Ria Formosa to fully enjoy the beautiful landscape. Along the tour you will see birds like the Grey Heron, the White Stork and many other birds that use this area as a feeding habitat. As you approach the islands and beaches you see the lighthouse of Culatra Island where you make our first stop. Looking around, one can observe the hard work of the people in the oyster and clam farms. A closer look towards the coastline and you will notice the market of the city of Olhão - an important fishing town. And off toward the ocean you can glimpse one of the most important sea entrances of the Ria Formosa. The next stop is Farol Island. Here, you can enjoy a walk around the streets of this small but friendly community. When passing by the lighthouse, go on until the very end to admire an extensive beach of fine white sand washed by calm warm waters. Leave the Farol Island and make your second stop at Deserta Island. This island is also known as Barreta Island. Here lies the most southern point of Portugal - the Santa Maria Cape. In this second stop you can choose to explore the fauna and flora of the island by an easy walk or simply enjoy the sunshine and bathe in the clear waters of the beach.

From Faro: Ria Formosa Sunset Boat Trip

9. From Faro: Ria Formosa Sunset Boat Trip

Come and relax in the Ria Formosa lagoon on a boat trip at the best time of day: sunset. Soak up the stunning natural surrounds aboard a solar powered boat as you cruise through this beautiful natural park. Sit back and relax as you depart from the Faro Marina on board an eco-friendly boat. The solar powered boat is beautifully quiet, and this trip includes a variety of views. Your experienced skipper will guide you through the lagoon, its beautiful channels and marshlands, and approach numerous species of birds that inhabit this protected area without any disturbance.  This small group trip is limited to 10 people, offering an intimate experience and a wonderfully relaxing end to the day watching the sun go down over the lagoon. Soak up the stunning natural surroundings and the beautiful views over the Faro’s Old Town as you experience a beautiful sunset and cruise back to the Marina of Faro.

Faro: Hop On Hop Off City Tour by Tourist Train

10. Faro: Hop On Hop Off City Tour by Tourist Train

Relax and enjoy a Faro tour on a special tourist train. During this tour, you will visit beautiful and important monuments of the city, including Old City, the Jardim Manuel Bivar, Igreja da Misericórdia, Sé de Faro, Teatro Lethes, Igreja do Carmo, Igreja São Pedro, Zona Comercial da Baixa de Faro, pass by the lagoon Ria Formosa and the new town. Via a multilingual audio system, learn curious facts and secrets as you pass by each location. Your ticket is valid for a full day, so you can stop at any of our stops, explore the surroundings and hop back in to the next stop. The stops are: Praça D. Francisco Gomes (where our tour starts), Jardim da Alameda, Ermida de Santo António, Mercado da Cidade e Igreja do Carmo.

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What people are saying about Ria Formosa

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 3,755 reviews

The communication was perfect. The night before I was contacted by WA and all details were sent through it. Meeting point, photo with it, everything necessary to have a stress free preparation. When we arrived, a bit late, the skipper was waiting for us. His name is William, a great character with a lot of experience sailing the region. Every minute it was safe and although we booked 4 hours we were in total 5 hours on the journey. 3 islands, great info/food! I recommend these guys! Really local and good value!

Miguel was knowledgeable, entertaining and ensured that all of us had a great time. The duration of the tour is perfect and we had a pretty awesome experience watching the sun sets towards the end of the boat tour which completes the icing on the cake. Would love to go on this tour again if I’m ever at Faro.

We had a lovely time. The skipper and the rest of the staff were helpful and super friendly. Highly recommend it.

The guide Miguel was excellent. The boat was comfortable and nice. The tour was well planned and managed

The activity was really something else! Thumbs up to the guide Fernando! I’d definitely recommend it!