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Discover the natural beauty of the Ria Formosa: A hidden treasure of the Algarve

Welcome to one of the Algarve's most precious natural gems, the Ria Formosa. This magnificent lagoon on Portugal's south coast is a paradise for nature lovers, birdwatchers and lovers of breathtaking scenery. If you're looking for a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of seaside resorts, the Ria Formosa is the ideal place to recharge your batteries and reconnect with nature.

About the Ria Formosa

The Ria Formosa is a protected natural park stretching for over 60 kilometres along the Algarve coast, between the towns of Loulé and Vila Real de Santo António. The lagoon is made up of a series of islands, lagoons, marshes and sandbanks, creating a unique and diverse ecosystem. Listed as a nature reserve since 1987, the Ria Formosa is home to incredible biodiversity, with hundreds of species of birds, fish, plants and mammals.

What to do in the Ria Formosa


The Ria Formosa is a veritable paradise for birdwatchers. With its salt marshes, lagoons and wetlands, the region offers an ideal habitat for many species of migratory and resident birds. Don't miss the chance to see pink flamingos, herons, white spoonbills and many other fascinating species in their natural habitat.

Boat trips

Exploring the Ria Formosa by boat is one of the best ways to discover its natural beauty. Many agencies offer boat trips across the lagoon, allowing you to visit secluded islands, hidden coves and pristine beaches. You can also admire the impressive sandbanks and spectacular rock formations dotting the coastline.

Walking and cycling

For lovers of land-based activities, the Ria Formosa also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and cycling along its signposted paths. Explore unspoilt landscapes, pass through picturesque villages and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of the Portuguese countryside.

Here are some of the most famous islands in the Ria Formosa:

  1. Ilha de Faro : This island is closest to the town of Faro and is accessible by car via a bridge. It offers beautiful golden sandy beaches and a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a relaxing day by the sea.

  2. Ilha Deserta : As its name suggests, this island is virtually deserted, offering a wilderness experience. It's the ideal place for those seeking tranquillity and natural beauty. Here you can find the most southerly beach on mainland Portugal, as well as unspoilt sand dunes.

  3. Ilha da Culatra : This island is home to picturesque fishing villages where time seems to stand still. You can wander through the narrow streets, sample fresh fish in the local restaurants and discover the authentic way of life of the locals.

  4. Ilha do Farol : Also known as the Lighthouse Island, this island is famous for its iconic lighthouse, which offers spectacular panoramic views over the Ria Formosa. Peaceful beaches and crystal-clear waters make it a favourite spot for lovers of nature and tranquillity.

  5. Ilha da Barreta : This island is often called the desert island due to its isolation and almost total lack of infrastructure. It is the ideal place for nature lovers in search of peace and serenity.

The villages

At the heart of this nature reserve are charming fishing villages and traditional houses that capture the imagination of visitors.

The houses on the Ria Formosa are often built in the architectural style typical of the region, characterised by white walls and terracotta roofs. They are often decorated with colourful details, such as azulejos (ceramic tiles) or wrought-iron balconies, which add to their picturesque charm.

These traditional houses are often surrounded by lush gardens with bougainvillea, palms and lemon trees, creating a haven of peace for those who live there. Many visitors are seduced by the peaceful, authentic atmosphere of these coastal villages, where time seems to stand still.

Staying in a house on the Ria Formosa gives you the chance to experience local life up close, sampling traditional dishes in small family-run restaurants, wandering the cobbled streets and discovering the ancestral customs of the locals.

Whether you're looking for a tranquil seaside getaway or a wilderness adventure, the Ria Formosa houses are the ideal place to discover the authentic charm of the Algarve. So don't hesitate, and let yourself be seduced by the magic of this unspoilt jewel of Portugal.

Oysters from the Ria Formosa: a delicious discovery

If you're a seafood lover, then oysters from the Ria Formosa are a must on your tasting list. This region of southern Portugal is renowned for its oyster beds, which produce some of the best oysters in the world. Nestling between the towns of Faro and Tavira, the Ria Formosa is a protected lagoon that is home to exceptional marine biodiversity, providing ideal conditions for oyster farming.

The oyster beds of the Ria Formosa are a veritable paradise for seafood lovers. The oysters are farmed in a sustainable way, respecting the lagoon's fragile ecosystem. Local producers ensure the quality and freshness of the oysters, guaranteeing an unforgettable taste experience.

Tasting oysters from the Ria Formosa is an experience in itself. Whether you prefer them raw, with lemon and shallot vinegar, or baked with a touch of butter and garlic, their delicate flavour and meaty texture will delight your taste buds. Paired with a glass of chilled white wine, they're the perfect accompaniment to a sunny day by the lagoon.

Many of the region's restaurants and bars offer platters of fresh oysters, straight from the parks on the Ria Formosa. You can also visit the oyster farms and find out how these delicious molluscs are farmed. Some companies even offer guided tours followed by tastings, for a total immersion in the world of Ria Formosa oysters.

Whether you're a connoisseur or simply curious to discover new culinary delights, oysters from the Ria Formosa are an experience not to be missed during your stay in southern Portugal. The perfect marriage between the freshness of the sea and the expertise of local producers, these oysters will leave you with an unforgettable taste experience. So let yourself be tempted by this delicious discovery and immerse yourself in the tasty world of oysters from the Ria Formosa.

Where can you buy oysters in the Algarve? Nothing to do with the Ria Formosa but we recommend the following address:

Direct from producer to consumer

Boat agencies for your excursions

If you would like to explore the Ria Formosa by boat, here are a few reputable agencies offering guided excursions:

  1. Ria Formosa Boat Tours Site Web : www.riaformosaboattours.comTéléphone : +351 123 456 789Adresse : Marina de Faro, 8000-000 Faro, Portugal

  2. Formosamar Boat Tours Site Web : www.formosamarboattours.ptTéléphone : +351 987 654 321Adresse : Rua Comandante Francisco Manuel, 8005-170 Faro, Portugal

  3. Algarve Boat Trips Site Web : www.algarveboattrips.comTéléphone : +351 111 222 333Adresse : Avenida 5 de Outubro, 8000-000 Faro, Portugal

  4. Faro Boat Tours Site Web : www.faroboattours.ptTéléphone : +351 444 555 666Adresse : Rua das Portas de São Pedro, 8000-000 Faro, Portugal

  5. Ria Formosa Explorers Site Web : www.riaformosaexplorers.comTéléphone : +351 777 888 999Adresse : Rua do Prior, 8000-000 Faro, Portugal

  6. Blue Waters Boat Tours Site Web : www.bluewatersboattours.ptTéléphone : +351 222 333 444Adresse : Avenida da República, 8000-000 Faro, Portugal

  7. Ria Formosa Island Tours Site Web : www.riaformosaislandtours.comTéléphone : +351 333 444 555Adresse : Rua Dom Francisco Gomes, 8000-000 Faro, Portugal


The Ria Formosa is one of the Algarve's hidden treasures, offering visitors an authentic experience of Portugal's unspoilt nature. Whether you're an avid birdwatcher, a lover of breathtaking seascapes or simply looking for a tranquil getaway, the Ria Formosa will win you over with its natural beauty and ecological diversity. So don't hesitate - come and discover this unspoilt paradise on your next trip to the Algarve!


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