The best guide to Faro

Home Page > Faro Sights > Faro Beaches > Airport to Faro > Faro 3 days > Day Trip to Faro > Ria Formosa Boat Tour

Culatra Island - Ilha da Culatra

The Ilha da Culatra (Culatra Island) is a large sand bar island that is located south of the resort towns of Olhão and Faro. The island is part of the Ria Formosa national park and this has limited development, there are no paved roads on Culatra and the only method to reach the island is by ferry.

faro beach

A deserted beach near Faro

Along the southern side of the island there are golden beaches, with calm crystal clear waters while on the northern side there are the lagoons. The Ilha da Culatra is the location to head for to escape the crowds and even in the summer season peace and quiet can be easily found.

Why Visit the Ilha da Culatra

The main attraction of Culatra Island is the natural scenery and abundant wildlife that is combined with the great empty beaches that run the length of the Island. Ilha da Culatra has two small villages, one on the western side called Farol and the second on the northern banks called Culatra, both villages traditionally supported small fishing fleets but today tend for the tourist trade.



The majority of Culatra Island is sparsely developed, with large lagoons running the length of the northern side and long sandy beaches to the south. Ilha da Culatra offers tourists a calming and relaxed destination with great empty beaches that is only a short ferry ride form the mainland.

faro beach

Travel To Ilha da Culatra

Ilha da Culatra is connected to the mainland by a small passenger ferries which depart from Olhão or Faro. For both routes there are in excess of 10 departures per day in the high season but drop to only a handful in the winter. Departure times change seasonally (and even weekly) so check locally at ticket office especially for the last return ferry. There are expensive ferry taxi for missed departures.

Faro ferry

A Faro ferry on the way to the Ilha da Culatra

From Olhão the ferries depart from the main jetty and make two stops at Farol (€7.00 return, 45minutes) and Culatra (€6.00 return 30minutes) the journey takes a surprisingly long time due to the shallow waters of the Ria Formosa. The ferry service from Faro departs from the Porta Nova Pier and connects to Farol (€5.00 return 30 minutes journey) and Culatra (€6.00 return, 40 minutes journey).

What to do on the Ilha da Culatra

The most obvious activity on the island is to enjoy the glorious sandy beaches with the central and eastern sides nearly deserted even in the summer months. The beaches on the southwestern side tend to be slightly busier and are supervised by a lifeguard. For the slightly more active there is a popular walk from one village to the other the walk is along wooden walkways the closest the island gets to roads.

This route runs along the southern side of the island and most visitors arrive at one ferry jetty and depart from the other. The even more remote Ilha da Barreta (Deserted island) is just a short ferry ride from Ilha da Culatra but unfortunately there is no regular service between the two islands so a private ferry must be hired for €12.

The Best Guide to Faro

Why Faro?

faro portugal

Home page and

introduction to Faro

3 days in Faro

Faro in 3 days

A suggested 3 day tour and itinerary for a Faro holiday

Sights & Activities

faro portugal Sights Activities

There is a lot to see and
do within Faro, click here
to find out more

Estoi Day Trip

Estoi Day Trip

Small village with many
sights that is enjoyable
day trip from Faro

Need a Hotel?

faro hotel

Reviews of Faro's hotels
Find the best hotel at
the lowest prices!

The Algarve

 the Algarve an introduction

Introduction to the Algarve, where to stay and
best resort towns

Faro Beaches

faro beaches

There are glorious beaches near Faro but they
need effort to get to..…


Lagos portugal

Beaches, history and
buzzing nightlife,
Lagos has it all

Ria Formosa Tour

Ria Formosa boat tour

A boat tour is the best way
to explore the beautiful
Ria Formosa park


faro portugal

The largest resort
town is popular
for many reasons...

Faro as a day trip

day trip to faro

Faro makes for an enjoyable day trip from the large
resort towns, read why!


Vilamoura portugal

Refined and exclusive
holiday destination ideal
for a golf holiday

Praia de Faro

Praia de Faro beach

The best beach of the Faro region, and only short
bus ride from Faro


alvor portugal

Relaxed & mature,
ideal for families
and older couples

Airport to Faro

faro airport to faro bus train station

How to travel from Faro
airport to the city of Faro?

Bone Chapel

faro Bone Chapel

Faro’s creepy and macabre bone chapel - Scary!