Every year, the sunny region of Algarve attracts more than 4 million tourists with its gorgeous beaches, soaring cliffs, and cavernous bays. But that’s not all this heavenly beautiful destination offers to its guests.
I’m guessing you’d like to visit Algarve and get away from the crowded villages and beaches? In the following article, you will find all the information needed about visiting the Algarve Islands.
What are the best Algarve Islands?
- Culatra Island (Ilha da Culatra) ;
- Armona Island (Ilha da Armona) ;
- Tavira Island (Ilha de Tavira) ;
- Algarve Deserted island.
Continue reading to find everything you need to know about each of the Algarve Islands, including information on how to get and what to do there.
Culatra Island (Ilha da Culatra)
Just south of Faro and Olhão, the Culatra island (Olha da Culatra) is a beautiful island with golden sand stretching though miles. The Culatra island is one of the isles in Ria Formosa Natural Park.
How to get there?
The only way to reach Culatra Island is by small, passenger ferry.
In the peak of the summer season, there are about 10 departures from Faro and Olhão, however, we recommend checking the schedule at the ticket offices.
In the meanwhile, it might be interesting to see our guide on Algarve Airport.
Prices of ferry
The prices vary depending on the time of the year.
The ferries from Faro leave from the Porta Nova Pier and make two stops – Farol island (duration: 30 minutes; the price of the return ticket: 5 EUR) and Culatra (additional 10 minutes; 6 EUR return ticket).
Ferry from Olhão to Culatra Island itinerary
If you’re planning to depart from Olhão, keep in mind the ferries go from the main pier in the town and also make two stops – to Culatra first (duration: 30 minutes; 6 EUR return) and then Farol island (duration: 45 minutes; 7 EUR return ticket).
We’ve also shared an article about things to do, accommodation and how to visit Faro.
Activities on Culatra island
If you are a beachgoer and planning to spend your next holiday in the sunshiny Algarve, organizing a day trip to Culatra island is something we exclusively suggest if you are looking for some tranquillity away from the buzzing crowds.
You can either sunbath peacefully on the beach which usually doesn’t get busy even in the peak summer months.
Famous 1.5 hour walk
Even though there are no paved roads on Culatra island, for the more active visitors there is a famous 1.5-hour walk from the village where the ferries stop to the other village where you can depart from.
Half of the trail is a long wooden walkway and the other half passes through the beach.
The Deserted Island in Algarve (A Ilha Deserta)
The Deserted Island (Ilha Deserta), commonly known as Barreta island, is the least developed and inhabited of all islands in Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Located south of the city of Faro, Ilha Deserta attracts visitors with its 10 km coastline containing one of the most divine beaches in Portugal.
How to get there?
The easiest and fastest way to get to Ilha Deserta is by ferry from the Porta Nova Pier in Faro. The cost of the return tickets is 10 EUR.
The ferries leave from Faro at:
And they return from the Deserted island at
Duration of journey
The duration of the journey is about 35 minutes, more or less.
Alternatives to ferry
For those of you who insist on visiting Barreta island, there is an option to get a private ferry taxi from Culatra. However, keep in mind the service is quite pricey.
Activities on the Deserted Island of Algarve
The island is an ideal spot for beach lovers and birdwatchers. As it’s a part of Ria Formosa, loads of migratory birds, like flamingos and terns, can be spotted on Ilha Deserta.
Besides, we highly recommend having lunch in the renowned Estamine Restaurant – famous for serving the most delicious seafood in the region of Algarve.
Armona Island (Ilha da Armona)
Armona Island is one of the most popular Algarve Islands.
The Armona island (Ilha da Armona) is a true bit of paradise. With its romantic cobbled streets and pristine, white sand beaches, Armona is the perfect escape from the vibrant mainland.
If you’re thinking about spending holidays in Algarve, see why the rich love to go to Quinta do Lago.
How to get there?
The closest town to Ilha da Armona is Olhão. The ferries depart from the main harbour and the journey takes about 20 minutes.
The price of the return ticket is 4 EUR.
We would suggest sitting near a window as the ferries take you through the Ria Formosa National Park, so you can make some nice, National Geographic-like photographs of rare bird species and local fishermen.
Activities on Ilha da Armona
Unlike Ilha Deserta, Armona offers a wide range of cafes, bars, and rental beach houses to its guests.
Moreover, along with the sunbathing sessions on the beach, there are excellent opportunities for water sports like scuba diving and kayaking.
Last but not least, Ilha da Armona is a great spot for picnicking. It has a supermarket and 3 other small shops to buy everything needed.
Have you been thinking of visiting or living in the Algarve? Then, our guide about renting an apartment in the Algarve might be useful.
Tavira Island (Ilha de Tavira)
Ilha de Tavira (Tavira Island) is a small, sublime island located near the town of Tavira.
Its’ 11-km coastline is consisting of 3 wonderful beaches.
Praia da Ilha de Tavira (beach)
In the east is situated the main beach called Praia da Ilha de Tavira. It is encircled by sand dunes which make it one of the most stunning beaches in the region of Algarve.
Praia da Terra Estreita (beach)
Then, Praia da Terra Estreita is positioned in the centre of the island, followed by Praia do Barril in the west.
Praia do Barril
The last one mentioned (Barril Beach) is popular for the old tuna factory and the anchor cemetery (great location for artsy photos).
How to get there?
Most of the visitors take a ferry from Quatro Águas peer in the town of Tavira.
The small ferry boats operate daily during the year, except if the weather is stormy.
Boat departures in high Season
In the peak season, the first boat departs from Tavira at 8 a.m. and the last one comes back from Ilha da Tavira at 20 p.m.
Boa departures in low season
In the colder months, the first ferry is at 9 a.m. and the last one from the island is at 17 p.m.
How long is the journey?
The one-direction journey takes up to 20 minutes and the cost of the return ticket is 2 EUR.
Activities on Ilha da Tavira
Once you get to Tavira island, there is a bunch of cool activities to do. Some of them are relaxing on the beach, trying on some watersports (such as diving and surfing), joining an organized olive oil tour, birdwatching and many more.
Also, if you are an adventure seeker, why don’t you go camping on Ilha da Tavira? There is a lovely campsite opened between May and September, offering a full range of facilities.
See also one of our most read articles: Living in Algarve, the good, the bad and the ugly.
When is the best time to visit Algarve islands?
The best thing is that each one of these islands can be visited at any time of the year, however, you might need to take into consideration your main purpose of the visit.
See here what is the Algarve Weather in detail.
To go for the beach
For instance, if you are a true beach lover, you should visit one of the stunning islands around Algarve in the summer. You would be able to skip the buzzing crowds and find some peace and tranquillity on the breezy, sandy beaches.
Do some Birdwatching
In case you want to do some birdwatching, the best time of the year to visit is in the fall.
The water sports, such as surfing and kayaking, can be practised during the whole year if you’re well equipped with a wetsuit.
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Have you been to some of the Algarve Islands? If not, would you and which one of them seems the most suitable for your personality?
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I'm a freelance copywriter, creative content strategist & ghostwriter who has lived in Portugal for a while. I'm very passionate about creating content that people can easily connect with. Loves black coffee, rainy days and cats. Veggie person. :) Enjoying the simple delights of travel.