Set three kilometres inland, either side of the Gilão river, Tavira is one of the Algarve’s most charming towns.
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 on 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 also 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 kilometres west of the Spanish border, and 41 kilometres 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 Moorish 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, the Old Town is convenient for walking.
Flowing through Tavira is the Gilão river, which meanders into the waterways of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The park is a haven for a diverse collection of migratory birds and aquatic life.
It is also ideal for a day out on a kayak.
Straddling the broad Gilão river, Tavira is actually set inland. South of the town are the pristine beaches of Ilha de Tavira, which are easily reached by a short ride on the ferry, operating all-year round.
Protected by the Ria Formosa Natural Park, Tavira’s beaches are some of the most unspoilt on the Algarve. There are seven kilometres of stunning beaches to choose from here, and the shoreline is never overcrowded.
Praia do Barril and Praia de Terra Estreita are the most tranquil 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 plenty of meat and poultry options, as well as many establishments with child-friendly menus.
While Tavira has a reputation for its laidback 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 UBI nightclub.
For a night out with a relaxed vibe, the rooftop bar at Porta Nova Hotel offers great cocktails and superb views of the town.
Popular day trips from Tavira include Santa Luzia, a village famed for its traditional fishing methods, and there are some great family-run restaurants on the harbour-front serving its equally renowned locally caught octopus.