Nature reserves are abundant in the Algarve, but Quinta do Lago possibly holds the most attractions. The Ria Formosa Nature Reserve was formed in the 18th century by a great, and thankfully the area’s last, oceanic earthquake. Today it is a continually changing landscape of saltwater marshes, exceptional greenery and freshwater lagoons. Easy to get to by car, even if you are staying in one of the other resorts in the area, it’s a haven of peace and serenity. The lagoon is beautiful and, at sunset, the bridge across the estuary that takes you down to the beach really is the stuff of picture postcards.
Quinta do Lago also has 700 species of exotic flowers to enjoy, as well as the natural vegetation of the sand dunes and wetlands. Contrasting soil types means that you will see pine trees, palm trees and some species of shrub that grow much further north, although varieties are of course dictated by the warm Algarve climate.
The park’s two nature trails are great for walking, or you can hire a bicycle if you prefer. There are plenty of indigenous animals, reptiles and insects to see, including the chameleon, the marsh frog and the terrapin.
In addition there are many archaeological sites around Ria Formosa with fascinating remains of Roman and pre-Roman settlements. The combination of history amid this natural setting makes every visit unforgettable.
If you are not an experienced twitcher or wildlife watchers one of the many tours of Ria Formosa is recommended. There are so many ways to see the area whether you fancy biking, walking or floating through it is worth taking a guide. Or if you prefer you can eat, drink and enjoy the views of Ria Formosa at The Shack Bar and Grill, Casa do Lago or 2 Passos.