Ria Formosa natural park makes a great day trip from Faro and surrounding destinations on the Algarve coast. It offers a variety of landscapes and a unique natural location. The estuary area is a winding labyrinth of beaches and marshlands and home to many wildlife species.
What is Ria Formosa natural park?
Created in 2004, the National Park of Ria Formosa is a national monument (NEA). The area takes its name from the 170km² natural landscape and its unique landscape feature of a winding estuary, surrounded by a narrow lagoon-type coastal zone that surrounds it. The park was created in order to protect, maintain and protect the estuary and the flora and fauna living there. What can I do in Ria Formosa natural park? The national park offers the chance to see and get close to wildlife like the dolphins and basking sharks. You can also see sea turtles, guano birds and much more. The waters off the coast are renowned for having a large number of rays, migratory birds, dolphins and manta rays. There are many scenic little walks, several car parks and stunning views along the coast.
Getting to Ria Formosa natural park
The closest railway station is Faro station, which is just under an hour away by train. Travellers with smaller vehicles can also park in the free car park in the town of Faro and take a local bus to the park. For a better walk down the harbour, consider going by coach. You can choose to either make a round trip to Ria Formosa, or start and finish at a different place in Faro, if you like. If you’re wanting to see the surrounding area, you could do this as a day trip, then the return journey will take you along the coast to another nearby natural park, like Prainha, Lopes Mendes, Facho, São Jorge, Rosa Maris, Rui Bonino, Ribeira da Glória, Montanhas and also Povoação Velha. Canal Cove, Portimao Canal Cove is an outcrop of rock with a beach, situated in the north of Portimao.
What to see and do in Ria Formosa natural park
Due to the age of the area, the infrastructure is rustic. The highlight of the natural park is the limestone and dune beaches. Parque do Agosto beach, 9km from the centre of the park, is very popular with families. The beach has a circular protected area of shallow water and a lifeguard. The beach is considered one of the best in the Algarve and its clear waters and white sands make it well worth the trip to Ria Formosa. Another family favourite is the Parque da Piedade, a small area of fresh water criss-crossed by some rock outcrops. The waters are very shallow, only about 2.5 metres. Possible day trips from the centre of Faro include Santa Catarina or Cabeço. The latter is a small cove only accessible by boat.
What to eat in Ria Formosa natural park
Named one of the world’s top 10 beaches in 2015, Ria Formosa is a wonderful place for a day out. Visitors can hire a bike, hire snorkel gear or bring their own, and make a beeline for a beach spot. There is the great variety of sport available, from windsurfing and kite surfing to beach volleyball, although a swimming pool is also located at Bica Alta beach. At the right time of year, turtles make their annual migration from the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the small lagoon in the far south of the park. You can view them in their migration right along the coast, but don’t get too close!
How to get back to Faro
You can fly direct to Faro Airport. Keep in mind the last flight to Faro leaves Faro Airport at 2:00pm and the first flight to Faro Airport at 8:00am. Travel time to the nearest bus stop is 30 minutes. You will find more information on the bus system from Faro bus stations. Easy ways to explore the Ria Formosa natural park Getting there Ria Formosa is located about an hour drive north of Faro, in the middle of the Algarve coast. It’s not very close to any large cities and it takes about one hour to reach the park by car. Alternatively, if you drive in Faro, you can take the 958 Bus, stop at Benavente bus station.
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