It is one of the most beautiful places in the Algarve; the Ria Formosa and its natural park is a site not to be missed during your visit to the region, the Ria Formosa has everything to change your scenery. With its lagoons populated by birds, endless beaches, charming alleys in Olhao and flower-filled sheds in the islands.
Discover what to see in Olhao and the islands of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and spend a perfect sunny.
Olhao is a small town in the Algarve less than 10km from Faro, the main town in the region. The town has a significant tourist interest today but previously fishing was its main activity. Many fishermen provide fish to the famous covered market in Olhao today.
What makes a visit and a walk in Olhao interesting is its architecture. The old fishermen's district is made up of small white houses with cubic shapes. As most houses do not have gardens, terraces are arranged on the roofs and the alleys flowered by the inhabitants.
The best way to get a good overview of the centre is to walk to the top of the Matriz Church in Olhao; the view of the whole fishermen’s districy from the bell tower is very nice.
Lose yourself in the labyrinth of alleys and discover small terraces: have a break, have a drink, relax…Do not miss the art works around you!
Olhao is the starting point to the Ria Formosa islands but before that we avise you to have a walk in the seaside gardens and visit the large covered market of Olhao, one of the most famous in the Algarve.
Ria Formosa with its calm waters is paradise on earth
Ria Formosa Natural Park is 60 km long; it is a protected area rich in wildlife and unique landscapes. There are few places like this where time seems to pass so slowly, suspended to the rays of the sun.
Ria Formosa has 5 islands that form a natural barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the mainland. Some of these islands are inhabited and others completely pristine.
Shuttles leave for Ria Formosa islands from the port of Olhao. The crossing (20 to 30 minutes) costs a few euros (between 1.10 and 2.15 euros each way). Please read the crossing times: they vary according to the season.
There are in fact two islands to visit: the island of Armona and the islands of Culatra and Farol which form one long island.
All the islands are more or less similar with long, natural beaches of fine sand. They all have a small harbour, charming little holiday cottages and a few restaurants open in summer.
The island that we preferred is Ilha do Farol for its small friendly port, its cafes and long beach at the foot of the lighthouse but if you want to spend an exotic day in a preserved natural setting, none of them will disappoint you.