Set 3 km inland, either side of the Gilão river, Tavira is perhaps one of the most charming towns of the Algarve.
With its relaxed atmosphere, Tavira is a great location for couples, families and those seeking a peaceful holiday destination.
Tavira is an ancient Moorish town with a plethora of historic buildings, decorative churches, pretty plazas and some of the least developed beaches of the Algarve.
Following the great earthquake of 1755, Tavira was reconstructed, resulting in the colourful townhouses and mansions that grace the town today.
Tavira is the place to go in the Algarve if you are seeking truly authentic Portuguese charm.
The height of the tourist season is from June to August inclusive. Spring and autumn are still a great time to visit, when the weather isn’t so hot and the town is less crowded.
Set on the eastern side of the Algarve, Tavira is located 25 km west of the Spanish border, and 41 km east of Faro Airport. It will take you a mere 30 minutes by car to get to Tavira from the airport.
Historic buildings and the old town
There are many remnants of the Moors era to explore in Tavira, and there is a great view of the town from the castle ruins at the top of the hill.
Other interesting sights include the ancient city walls, and a variety of mosques that have been turned into churches.
There are 36 churches in Tavira, ranging from Gothic to Renaissance. Many are ornately painted and adorned in azulejos tiles.
The most spectacular has to be the Renaissance Misericórdia.
For sightseeing and wandering, the old town is easily walkable.
Flowing through Tavira is the Gilão river, which meanders into the waterways of the Ria Formosa Nature Park. The nature park is a haven for a diverse collection of migratory birds and aquatic life.
A day out on a kayak here shouldn’t be missed.
Straddling the broad Gilão river, Tavira is actually set inland. South of the town are the pristine beaches of the Ilha de Tavira, which are easily reached by a short ride on the ferry, which operates all year round.
Protected by the Ria Formosa Nature Park, Tavira’s beaches are some of the most unspoilt beaches of the Algarve. There are 7 km of stunning beaches to choose from here and the shoreline is never overcrowded.
Praia do Barril and Praia de Terra Estreita are the most peaceful beaches.
Tavira has an excellent range of authentic Portuguese restaurants for all budgets.
If you are a fan of fresh fish you will be in heaven, and if not, there are lots of meat and poultry options too, as well as plenty of places with child-friendly menus.
While Tavira has a reputation for its laid-back ambience, and definitely isn’t a destination for anyone looking for the vibrant nightlife associated with other resorts such as Albufeira or Lagos, hidden away in an old factory in Tavira is the cool nightclub, Ubi.
There’s not a loud drinking culture in Tavira, but there is some nightlife hidden away should you want to seek it out.
For a night out with a relaxed vibe, the rooftop bar at the Porta Nova Hotel offers great cocktails and splendid views of the town.
Popular day trips from Tavira include the fishing village of Santa Luzia, which is famed for its traditional fishing methods and its octopus.
There are some great family-run restaurants on the harbour front serving up the locally caught octopus.