Places to Visit - Ria Formosa Nature Reserve

Ria Formosa, is on the coast of the Algarve close to Faro.

A wonderful place for nature lovers to spend the day. Designated a protected nature reserve, the park covers 60km of coastline from Tavira in the east to Ancao in the west, encompassing almost the entire Formosa Estuary.

The park is made up of a narrow strip of land separated from the sea by vast sand dunes, behind which lies a labyrinth of lagoons and small sand islands, mud flats, marshes and canals.

The park holds special appeal for bird watchers, who flock to see a wide range of breeds such as the little bittern and purple heron, as well as egrets, white stork and the stone-curlew.

Many make this their breeding ground, while others use it as a migratory stopover. At the right time of year it's also possible to see the great spotted cuckoo, tawny Pipit, bluethroat, pied flycatcher and various warblers.

Some birds of prey, such as the hunting kestrel, are frequent visitors to this protected zone.

The park is also an area of great botanical interest, with woodland, marsh and dune vegetation.

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