Ria Formosa

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Ria Formosa: Tours & Tickets


Ria Formosa: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Faro: Ria Formosa Faro Islands Catamaran Tour

1. From 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. Don't forget your swimsuits and towels - there will be plenty of breaks for swimming! The guide on board will provide information in Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish. The modern catamaran has a capacity of up to 11 passengers and provides a pleasant and comfortable way of exploring the islands.

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

2. From Faro: 4 Islands, 4 Stops 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.

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

3. 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. You may be able to watch the hunting of predatory birds, and will also be able to 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.

Faro: Deserta Island and Farol Island Catamaran Boat Trip

4. 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.

Olhão: Ria Formosa Boat Cruise

5. 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, sand bars, and saltpans which are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Spot local birds, marine life, and beds of clams and oysters. 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 make a short visit to Praia Deserta and enjoy the serenity of a tranquil location accessible only by boat. While there, enjoy some time for a swim and take photos before returning to Olhão.

Olhão: 4-Hour Ria Formosa Islands Tour

6. Olhão: 4-Hour Ria Formosa Islands Tour

Navigate the waterways between the barrier islands of Ria Formosa off the coast of Olhão and discover a paradise of nature. Enjoy great views of the Farol Bar and Santa Maria Lighthouse on Farol Island. Stop for lunch in the fishing village of Culatra, home to about 1,000 residents with shops, a school, church, medical office, and even its own football pitch. Savor the local fresh fish at a typical restaurant or go for a nice picnic on the beach. Continue to Armona Bay and island, where you will stop for another 30 minutes to appreciate the nature. Return to Olhão, passing close to several tuna factories and the fishing harbor. See a larger area of Ria Formosa than most other tours, and benefit from the expert knowledge of your skipper to learn about the flora and fauna.

Boat trip from Faro to Ilha Deserta by Ferry

7. Boat trip from Faro to Ilha Deserta by Ferry

Discover a hidden paradise of the Algarve on a catamaran cruise from Faro. Climb aboard to journey through the channels of the Ria Formosa Natural Park on a 45-minute trip to see seabirds and native plants. Then, dock at Ilha Deserta (also known as Barreta Island and Santa Maria Cape Island). Only accessible by boat, the island remains unspoiled and it’s hard to believe such a natural jewel still exists in Europe. Go to a unique beach at the southernmost point of Portugal and sample the traditional flavors of the Algarve at the environmentally-friendly Estaminé Restaurant. Opt to stay on the island for a few hours or the entire day, and return to Faro whenever you want. Avail of a number of return crossings for your convenience.

From Olhão: Ria Formosa 3-Island Day Tour

8. From Olhão: Ria Formosa 3-Island 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 to take in a picnic lunch, or you can visit one of the local restaurants to dine at. Culatra Island has beautiful swimming areas too if you prefer to play in the water instead of eating here.  Next, you’ll arrive at either Armona Island or Deserta Island, depending on the season. In the summertime, Deserta Island hosts a beautiful beach, wild with no buildings. Explore either the Ria Formosa for a swim, or take in the Atlantic Ocean side of the island.

From Olhão: Ria Formosa Sunset Tour

9. From Olhão: Ria Formosa Sunset Tour

After boarding your boat, head out into the sheltered waters of Ria Formosa. Depending on the season you will get to discover one of two islands. In May, stop on Armona Island and drink a coffee on the beach or take a swim and explore the island. From May to September your first stop will be at Praia Deserta, one of the most pristine beaches in the Algarve. From the beach, head to the village of Ilha da Armona and enjoy a refreshing drink while you contemplate the amazing views. The final stop on your tour is at a deserted beach on Culatra Island, a small community of 1000 people that is to be a sustainability project by 2030. Here you can relax and, in summer, enjoy some swimming. After about 40 minutes to enjoy the beach and the sunset, you'll board your boat for the return trip to Olhão.

From Faro: Ria Formosa Hop-On Hop-Off Island Tour

10. From Faro: Ria Formosa Hop-On Hop-Off Island Tour

Discover 3 of Ria Formosa's barrier islands and admire the wonderful world of the fauna and flora of this part of the Algarve coast. Travel by hop-on hop-off boat and enjoy the flexibility to choose the time you want to spend at each of the islands. A professional team of boat skippers will be here to guide you and provide all the necessary information ensuring you'll have a pleasant and enjoyable stay. With regular departures scheduled from the pier in Faro, aboard a speedboat or ferry boat heading in direction of Desert Island which will be your first stop. Spend the day exploring the only uninhabited island and enjoy the tranquility of this peaceful place. Relax on the beach, observe the wildlife or take a walking tour to Cape Saint Mary. Swim in the ocean’s clear waters, sunbathe or enjoy a memorable meal at Estaminé during your visit to Desert Island. Next, visit Farol Island and the small village of Farol. Take a stroll along the sea wall, visit the island's namesake lighthouse or enjoy a drink at one of the beach bars. On the last stop of the tour, visit the small fishing village of Culatra Island. During low tide, observe the oyster farms that are exported internationally. Visit the church and school, meet the locals, and observe traditional fishing gear before heading back to Faro.

Other Sightseeing Options in Ria Formosa

Want to discover all there is to do in Ria Formosa? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Ria Formosa

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,669 reviews

Well worth the train ride from Lagos. Swimming in the beautiful waters around the island was a highlight, great lunch (you can go to restaurant or pack a lunch) and lots of fun on the boat. Miguel made sure everyone on board was included and had fun “don’t worry, be happy”

It complies with everything that the ad says and you can always ask the guide anything, we did the journey in reverse starting from Culatra and it gave us time to see all the islands

If you don’t mind the push and shove to get on the train go for it!! The tour itself is lovely and informative.

We had a very nice time and the person who drive the boat was friendly and charming.

Punctual and easy to find. Used this ferry to get to lunch at Estamine.