Discover the beauty of the shapes and colours of the Algarve´s plants. Explore the diversity of vegetation, where over 2500 different species of plants exist. We will use our eyes, ears and nose to get immersed into a culture in which plants have been used for centuries. Enrich your knowledge by joining us on short walks and some small travels by road.

The Algarve is included in the Mediterranean bioclimatic zone. Leading to an eclectic blend of flora, dominated by native species to which other naturalized species imported over time from other latitudes were added.

Situated on the Southern Coast of Portugal, the Algarve is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and its climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild winters with little rain. In the winter, nights can be cold and humid, whilst during the day the sun can be accompanied by fresh wind, with storms and heavy rain at times. It never snows, frosts are very rare, and on most days the weather is comfortable.

As the days get longer, daily temperatures rise considerably, often exceeding 20ºC in the second half of February.

The increase in sunshine hours and temperature encourages the local flora to display an exuberant floristic diversity from January onwards. The diversity of habitats (marshes, dunes, pine forests, Bridal broom shrubland, riparian galleries, rural areas, maquis shrubland, barrocal, meadows, cork oak forests, mountains), in small areas of the territory, allows for considerable biodiversity. It is possible to visit several of these habitats on foot, or with short road trips.

Despite the existence of various rare and endemic species, the richness of this region lies in the diversity of species that are frequent and easily found.

Searching and observing the richness of the flora of the Algarve is an outdoor activity with guaranteed success. You may not be able to see the entire 2500 species of the region, but you will certainly be amazed by the numerous amounts of plants that can be spotted in a single morning out in nature.

Olhão is a stunning area in the Algarve that showcases a variety of captivating natural wonders, stretching from the coast to the Barrocal. The dunes at Ria Formosa Natural Park are teeming with vegetation, including Coastal Crucianella (Crucianella maritime) and Sea Daffodil, (Pancratium maritimum). Two examples endemic plants are – Echium gaditanum and Ononis variegata.

In the lagoons of Ria Formosa there’s an abundance of marine meadows of Cymodocea nodosa and Zoostera spp which play incredibly important roles when it comes to carbon sequestration, stored in the peat, otherwise known as ‘blue carbon’. Small Cordgrass (Spartina maritime), Suaeda albescens , and Salsola vermiculata are examples of the different species of plants that inhabit the lush marshes.

Under the protection of pine trees located on the sandy banks of the Ria Formosa lagoons, numerous species of plants grow. Dianthus broteroi, Halimium halimifolium, and the endemic Thyme (Thymus lotocephalus) are small samples of the diverse flora of the pine forest. Also located close to the wetlands, Bridal broom shrubland is home to an abundant diversity of plants such as the Pycnocomon rutifolium and the endangered Linaria pedunculata.

As we move away from the coast, typical dryland farms begin to appear, consisting of Carob trees (Ceratonia síliqua), Olive trees (Olea europaea), and Almond trees (Prunus dulcis) that once were the livelihood of the local population. The wild artichoke (Cynara cardunculus), the Aristolochia baetica and the wild  Woodcock bee-orchid (Ophrys scolopax) represent a small example of the abundant rural flora. In this place, we often find meadows that in spring display a spectacle of admirable beauty where there are explosions of colour in a hue of several pleasant fragrances.

The Serra de Monte Figo, located a few kilometres from the coast, has an ecosystem with very specific characteristics due to the rocky and limestone soil and greater thermal amplitudes than on the coast. In this strip of territory, species well adapted to these conditions abound. Just a few examples: the Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), the Sedum mucizonia, the wild Thyme (Thymbra capitata),  and the Purple Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis purpurea). Teucrium algarviense and Narcissus calcicola are two of the endemic plants of this region.

For millennia, the bounty of plant life has been an endlessly renewable source for human survival and evolution. We have seen plants move from a mere food supply to becoming foundational elements in our sedentary lifestyles due to agriculture; further used as raw materials for everything from clothing and construction, along with medicinal practices that are still being used today.

In the Algarve region, there are numerous uses of plants by the local population, plants are also associated with various customs that emphasize the culture and identity of the region and create their authenticity.

There are many examples such as :

The Wild artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) has been used as curdle in cheese-making.

Lesser calamint (Calamintha nepeta) has long served as an aromatic herb in marinades for olives since Roman times.

The existence of Esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima) in the region played an important role in the development of fishing and fishing communities because it was used for the production of fishing nets and ropes. Ropes have always been essential for navigation as it was not possible to perform the necessary manoeuvres to control the sails and the boats without them.

The Dwarf Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) was used as a raw material in the artisanal industry of chair seats, baskets, saddlebags, brushes, brooms, hats, ropes, mats, mattresses, etc.

  • Duration : Half day

  • Price : 30€/pax

  • Duration : Full day

  • Price : 50€/pax

Includes :

  • Nature guide

  • Binoculars

  • Telescope

  • Flora Field guides

  • Fauna Field guides

  • Transports

  • Insurances

  • Taxes

Timing recommendation: All year round

This activity is suitable for visitors staying in Olhão / Faro area. Visitors staying outside of this area, an alternative meeting point will be arranged.