Nature Reserves and Parks in the Algarve

A flower-filled meadow in the Algarve
Away from the coast are flower-filled meadows

To most people the Algarve with its magnificent sandy beaches, hot and sunny summers and mild winters is a well known holiday destination. But there is another side to the Algarve which increasing numbers of people value and travel great distances to enjoy - its wonderful wildlife habitats. Away from the coastal hotspots is a seldom-seen Algarve - one of peaceful river valleys, woodlands bursting with birdsong and flower-filled meadows all teeming with plants, birds, animals, reptiles, moths, butterflies and other fascinating creatures. This website is a tribute to the wildlife of the Algarve and, we hope, a way of helping more visitors to see and enjoy the side of the Algarve which we have come to know and love above all others.

At first glance the pace of urban development in the Algarve makes it seem an unlikely place in which to enjoy a wildlife holiday: the relentless spread of golf courses, hotels, villas and other thirsty developments puts enormous pressure on every natural resource, particularly water. It is not often that the casual visitor to the Algarve coastal region sees water flowing into the ocean from inland rivers.

It is to be applauded, then, that the Portuguese government has set aside large areas of the most beautiful countryside and designated them as Natural Parks. These Natural Parks are excellent places to see some of the wildlife featured on this website, and they are all within easy reach of most visitors to the Algarve. Ideal for beginners and experienced wildlife visitors alike, they are home to many of the iconic Mediterranean plant and animal species, both common and rare. Those who simply want to enjoy a drive or walk through outstanding scenery will not be disappointed, they are set in some of the most beautiful parts of the Algarve.

The unforgettable scenery of the Guadiana region
The unforgettable scenery of Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana

The five main Natural Parks and Reserves are:

Parque Natural da Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vincentina and Cape St. Vincent

Set in the far west, this reserve covers a vast area of both coastal and inland habitats. More information...

Ria de Alvor

Situated to the western side of the Algarve between Portimao and Lagos, Ria de Alvor is one of the finest nature reserves in the Algarve and is particularly well known for birdwatching. More information...

Parque Natural da Ria Formosa

Lying between Faro and Tavira in the more easterly part of the Algarve, this coastal reserve is an excellent place to see birds, plants and the elusive European Chameleon. More information...

Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real do San Antonio

Situated on the Portuguese border with Spain this reserve is a mecca for bird watchers. More information...

Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana

This Natural Park is the best place to see some of the rarest of the bird species of the Algarve including the Great Bustard and Little Bustard. The vast open grasslands, dotted with Cork Oak trees, makes for some of the most unforgettable scenery in the region. More information...

We hope that you have found this information helpful. If so we are sure you would also enjoy our books about Algarve wildlife and wildflowers. Buy them online here...

Wild Orchids of the AlgarveAlgarve Wildlife, the natural year, Second EditionWildflowers in the Algarve