The Ludo Trail, Faro – our detailed guide
Embarking on the Ludo Trail is a delightful day-long adventure through the enchanting Ria Formosa Natural Park in Faro, Eastern Algarve, Portugal. This well-loved route caters to walkers, runners, and cyclists, guiding them through the picturesque wetlands of the São Lourenço river, tranquil saltpans, and serene pine and eucalyptus forests.
Table of Contents
Ludo Trail route description
Your journey on the Ludo Trail unfolds as a circular path, with both the commencement and conclusion taking place at the same point.
Section 1. Wetland Wonders
Spanning from 0 km to 2.6 km
This segment bustles with activity, especially from cyclists. The trail, resembling a lengthy bridge, is flanked by bodies of water on either side, offering a spectacular view. As you walk, you’ll encounter a variety of fresh and saltwater birds, adding to the trail’s allure.
Section 2. The Verdant Forest (São Lourenço Trail)
Covering 2.6 km to 4 km
This leg of the trail winds through a pine forest, occasionally interspersed with eucalyptus on the right and golf courses on the left.
Tracing the São Lourenço Trail, this part provides a refreshing shade. Keep an eye out for small Roman ruins, remnants of ancient salting tanks used by the Romans to preserve fish.
Section 3. Saltpans
Stretching from 4 km to 6.5 km
As you tread through the salt flats, you’ll be treated to the sight of numerous flamingos and seagulls, often at close proximity. This section, with its unique blend of saltpans and flamingos, emerged as a personal favorite. Early on, you’ll pass a “mining area” dedicated to salt collection, occasionally witnessing machinery in operation on weekdays.
Important: Around the 5 km mark, the trail diverges. Opt for the right path leading through the saltpans, guiding you back to the starting point. The left route, although labeled as the Ludo Trail on official maps and Google Maps, veers off to the suburban area north of Faro’s airport. From there, it’s a 2.5 km road journey back to the trailhead and parking lot.
Where does it start: Where to Begin Your Ludo Trail Adventure
Your journey on the Ludo Trail commences at Estrada Praia do Faro, nestled between Faro Beach and the airport. Easily identifiable on Google Maps as the Ludo Hiking Trail, the entrance features a gate and is accessible 24 hours a day, with no closing restrictions. Best of all, entry to the trail is free of charge.
How long is the Ludo Trail?
The Ludo Trail unfolds as a 7-kilometer circular route, taking approximately 2 hours to complete. While the official map outlines linear trails requiring a backtrack, we opted for the circular route, beginning and concluding at the same point. For those seeking a longer trek, consider incorporating the Loulé boardwalk, merging with the Ludo Trail at 1.6 km. This additional 4-kilometer boardwalk concludes at Praia do Garrão, allowing you to customize the length of your adventure.
How difficult is the trail?
The Ludo Trail is a leisurely journey suitable for all. With no significant ascents or descents, it provides a pleasant stroll, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the surrounding scenery.
How to get to the Ludo Trail?
Driving is the most convenient mode of transportation to reach the Ludo Trail from any location in the Algarve. Simply input “Ludo Hiking Trail” or “Parque de estacionamento da Praia de Faro” (the nearest parking lot) into your GPS. A spacious, free parking lot located 500 meters south of the trailhead on the left ensures ample parking, even during peak seasons.
If you’re relying on public transport from Faro, Buses #14, #16, and #17 link the city with Faro Beach. Routes #14 and #16 originate from the Faro bus station, while #17 starts at Penha. Regular stops throughout the city provide convenient access. Check the official website for departure times and routes. Disembark at the Ludo stop, just before the beach, after which buses operate regularly from 7 am to 10 pm at a cost of 2.3 euros per one-way ticket.
In the days before we had a car, Uber was a reliable option for getting around. Depending on the season and time, a one-way Uber trip from Faro to the trail typically costs between 6 and 8 euros.
When is the best time for hiking: Optimal Hiking Times for the Ludo Trail
The Ludo Trail welcomes hikers throughout the year. In the summer months, spanning from May to September, it’s advisable to embark on your hike early in the morning to escape the intense heat. Given the limited shade along the trail, sun exposure is constant. During cooler seasons, you have the flexibility to walk at any time, with early morning and evening emerging as the most enchanting periods for a stroll.
What is the terrain like on the Ludo Trail: Navigating the Trail’s Terrain
Meandering along a flat gravel road devoid of hills, the Ludo Trail proves accommodating for various modes of exploration, including bicycles, baby strollers, and wheelchairs. Personally, we traversed the trail with our 1-year-old daughter comfortably seated in a stroller, attesting to its accessibility. During our journey, cyclists outnumbered hikers, highlighting the trail’s popularity among biking enthusiasts.
What is the scenery like?
The Ludo Trail unfolds a tapestry of diverse landscapes, encompassing marshy terrains, lush forests, and captivating saltpans. Within a concise 7-kilometer stretch, you’ll witness a remarkable transformation of scenery with every turn, creating a captivating visual journey.
This region, graced by the Ludo Trail, serves as a haven for bird enthusiasts. As you tread the path, keep an eye out for various bird species, including flamingos, storks, Black-winged stilts, and a variety of ducks. Binoculars are recommended, as some birds may be at a distance. Additionally, the trail occasionally reveals glimpses of hedgehogs, chameleons, frogs, and tortoises—we were fortunate enough to spot one.
In the initial trail segment near the airport, the spectacle of planes landing or taking off becomes a unique feature. Despite the occasional noise from passing planes, it doesn’t seem to disturb the local bird population, creating an intriguing intersection of nature and modernity.