From Quinta do Lago to Ilha do Faro, Algarve,
text by Ruth Drake
This is a favourite walk of ours for leisurely days enjoying both the countryside and the coast. You have two options, for a longer walk (or bike ride) you can start in Quinta do Lago, stop for lunch in Ilha do Faro and then walk back either the way you came or along the beach or for a shorter trip you can drive to Ilha do Faro and explore from there.
The island itself is home to lovely unspoilt golden beaches, restaurants specialising in very fresh and tasty fish and seafood dishes and little fisherman's cottages. Although it attracts some tourists, and quite a lot of Portuguese day trippers at the weekend it has kept its laid back, genuine atmosphere. It is very popular with watersports enthusiasts and if you're feeling adventurous it is possible to have canoeing, wind surfing and surfing lessons on Ilha do Faro.
Between the island and the main land there are lagoons, salt pans and marshes.These form part of the Ria Formosa natural park and are a haven for bird life. Bird watchers (and indeed birds!) come from around the world to these peaceful waters and even if you're not an expert its fun to watch the birds going about their daily lives. If you peer down to the waters edge you'll soon spot lots of little scurrying crabs and other intriguing water creatures. At certain times of the year you can also watch the local people harvesting shell fish.
Ilha do Faro photos copyright: Portugal Sport and Adventure
If you've ever flown into Faro you may have noticed the Ilha do Faro and the lagoons around it as it is close to the airport. Luckily the wildlife seem oblivious to the aeroplanes frequently taking off and landing and I do not find the noise too obtrusive.
If you're walking from Quinta do Lago you should park in the beach car park, then walk to the left edging round the golf course. You'll find yourself on a little pathway and there are boards offering information on the local wildlife. Just follow this path through the salt pans until you come to some large gates at the far end, from there turn right and cross the bridge to Ilha do Faro. You can then return the same way or you can walk all the way back along the beach.