Ria Formosa natural park is a system of barrier islands that connects to the sea. It is one of the most amazing places to visit in the Algarve because of its unique landscape and location. Ria Formosa lagoon is a protected area that is constantly moving and changing shape depending on the wind, ocean tides, and currents.
The Ria Formosa natural park is considered a home to numerous oceanic nurseries where fishes tend to spend their early stages of life. It is also a very significant layover point for migratory birds, hosting over 20.000 birds every year. On top of that, local farmers rely on Ria Formosa for their livelihoods. So you see, Ria Formosa is a very important part of the ecosystem that requires it to be protected. As a consequence, Ria Formosa became a natural park in 1987. And this new status gave the lagoon better protection of their flora and fauna, and every species that rely on this significant landmark.
How to get to Ria Formosa Natural Park?
Faro will be the first destination when you arrive in the Algarve. A perfect day trip from neighboring Faro is Ria Formosa Natural Park. With its fragmented islands and underwater scenery, whether you want to follow a boat tour or get on a ferry to explore at your own speed, the park is better visited by ferry. You can also take public transport in Faro, by train, bus or even a taxi. The fastest way to get there is by taxi, it’s about an 8 minutes drive. There is a direct bus departing from Faro Bus Terminal and arriving at Olhão Bus Terminal. Services depart hourly and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 20 min. A 3 hours bike tour from Faro will also be a fun journey along the way to Ria Formosa.
Exploring Ria Formosa: What to do in the national park?
Ilha de Cabanas (Cabanas Island)
Take a really affordable ferry to Cabanas village and find your way to the long white sand beach. Once a sleepy fishing village, now you can find boardwalks with amazing seafood dishes. It is not as crowded as other beaches in Faro and so it is the perfect place for someone searching for peaceful solitude.
Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island)
The island can be accessed by boats and it is unique because it is an area where naturalism can be legally practiced. The island has a Camping Park and restaurants which would be perfect for camping lovers. If you are not into camping, just take a stroll or rent a bike to discover its azure beaches and natural beauty.
Ilha da Armona (Armona Island)
Ilha da Armona is known for its unspoiled nature and tranquil vibes. To preserve the nature of the island, cars are not allowed here so we suggest that you get a bike rental for the easiest way to explore this island. There are campsites, restaurants, and tiny cute houses on the island, with two wonderful white-sand beaches that house many stunning shells for those who love shell-combing beaches. If you are a lover of pure nature, this is the place for you!
Ilha da Barreta ou Deserta (Barreta Island or Deserta)
One of the more isolated islands of the Algarve, Ilha da Barreta is the least developed of the three islands surrounding Ria Formosa natural park. The coastline stretches for 10 km and it is mostly deserted which complements the theme of the island. This is the island that you go to when you wish to escape large crowds. There are some seafood restaurants on the island but people mostly go there to enjoy its scenic beauty and wildlife spotting.
The Ria Formosa national park supports cycling holidays because of its eco-friendly priorities. If you are interested in a cycling holiday then you can book one of our guided bike tours. The advantage of getting a guided bike tour is that you will be able to learn more about the island and its wonderful qualities through your guide. It is also an alternative to a simple beach vacation but without the stress of making detailed plans for yourself because we will take care of that for you!
MTB Algarve provides a Ria Formosa Guided Bike Tour which is tailored for your specifications and interests. We will adapt the tour to your pace and difficulty with as many stops as you want for a drink of water, taking pictures, or even just to take in the jaw-dropping beauty of Ria Formosa. It is a family-friendly tour of all ages on flat land around the Ria Formosa coastline. Imagine a bike tour that is built for your enjoyment and this would be it!
Interested in bike rentals at the Algarve?
If you are interested in bike tours around Ria Formosa, Algarve bike holidays, or just renting bikes for yourself, then MTB Algarve is the place to seek! We have an array of different bike types to rent and all in good quality for a good price. On top of that, our bike tours are tailored for your specifications and needs so you don’t need to worry about your skill level or anything like that when attempting the Ria Formosa Bike Tour. We are located in Faro so come on by if you have any questions about bike rentals or bike tours. The staff at MTB Algarve are always ready to accommodate you with any difficulties or interests in mind.