Tavira is probably the most beautiful town in the Algarve (Portugal). What are the best things to do in Tavira? Check it out.
Tavira is a small town in the Portuguese Algarve, located between Faro and the Spanish border. A wide river (the Gilão) runs right through Tavira and because of this Tavira is sometimes called the Venice of the Algarve.
Tavira has a long history and has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. In the Middle Ages, Tavira was an important harbour city. Unfortunately, Tavira was completely destroyed by the Lisbon earthquake in 1755.
After that, the city flourished again and people now mainly live from fishing and tourism. Tavira is a beautiful city to explore, perhaps the most beautiful in the Algarve. Since it is not that big, Tavira feels very cozy. That feeling is all the more enhanced by the narrow winding streets and the beautiful sights on both sides of the river.
Fun things to do in Tavira
What to do in Tavira? Here are 15 tips.
Visit Castelo de Tavira for the best view
Located on a hill, Castelo de Tavira towers over the city. The castle dates back to the 11th century when the Moors ruled the Algarve. The castle walls have been beautifully restored and surround a beautiful courtyard garden. From the walls, you have a beautiful view of the city.
Castelo de Tavira is free to visit, but the gate to the courtyard is not always open. In summer it is open from 10 a.m. to 7 a.m. and in winter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Discover the most beautiful houses with Portuguese tiles
Portugal is known for the azulejos, the colorful tiles that are often used in the facades of buildings. Nowhere else in the Algarve have I seen so many houses with Portuguese tiles. One is even more beautiful than the other!
I saw most of the tiled buildings near Jardim da Alagoa and on the other side of the river around Rue Dr. Parreira.
Wander through Jardim Público de Tavira
There are several lovely little parks in Tavira and Jardim Público de Tavira is one of the most beautiful. This park is located in the city center, on the river. In the middle is a beautiful music chapel. A great place to take a break.
Drink coffee on Praça da República
Praça da República is the main square in the city and is located next to the Jardim Público de Tavira. In the middle is a large monument commemorating the First World War. On one side of the square is the town hall and on the other side various restaurants and cafes with very nice terraces. This is the place to drink a cup of coffee (tip: go to Veneza) and enjoy the city from the terrace.
Walk along the Gilão River
The wide Gilão River runs straight through the city center and it’s highly recommended to go for a walk along the river. In most places, there is a wide sidewalk or a promenade, with some benches to relax on. Along the river are several beautiful colored houses and you can also see many fishing boats.
Visit the market hall
Along the river is one of Tavira’s most beautiful sights: an old market hall. This was originally a fish market, but now it is mainly a beautifully restored hall with several restaurants. A nice place to wander through and discover the beautiful details.
Stroll the Ponte Romana de Tavira
The most notable bridge over the Gilão River is the Ponte Romana de Tavira. Dating back to 1667, this bridge was one of the most important bridges to cross the Gilão at the time. Now it is a pedestrian bridge and from the bridge, you have a great view of the river and the buildings along the river.
Relax in Jardim da Alagoa
Jardim da Alagoa is a very small park at a crossroads. Although there are occasional cars passing by on all sides, it feels like an oasis of tranquility. There are beautiful trees and plants and from the benches in the park, you can see a beautiful church and various buildings with facades full of colored tiles. In addition, there are also many cafes with terraces at this intersection.
Get lost in the narrow streets
This is a must in any Portuguese city you visit: get lost in the narrow streets. And in Tavira this is even more beautiful than in many other cities. Everywhere you see the beautiful colored houses and flowers. In the higher streets, you’ll be rewarded with a nice view of the city every now and then. So put that phone away and get lost on purpose!
Visit Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura is a striking structure next to the large Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo. It is an old water tower and converted into a special attraction. A guide will tell you more about the city and you’ll have a panoramic view (360 degrees) of Tavira. Very interesting!
Please note: opening hours are limited. You can only visit Camera Obscura on weekdays between 11 am and 3 am.
Check out the Ruínas Fenícias de Tavira
A bit hidden among the narrow streets is an archaeological site called Ruínas Fenícias de Tavira. It gives a good picture of the turbulent history of the Tavira. For example foundations of Moorish buildings from the twelfth century have been found here, but also remains of a house of a rich Portuguese family from the seventeenth century.
There are fences around it, but you get a good idea of the size of this site from the street side.
Take the boat to Tavira island
Tavira is close to the coast and along the Algarve coast, you have many beautiful beaches. From the city center, you can take a boat (€2.20 per person for a return trip, price in 2021) to Tavira Island. The perfect place to spend warm summer days and take the occasional dip in the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Discover the best Portuguese restaurants
There are so many great cafes and restaurants in Tavira! For that reason alone, you can easily spend a week (or more) in Tavira. The Portuguese dishes (mostly fish) are very tasty and it is, therefore, a good idea to taste various dishes.
Personally, I always like to visit local places and I would highly recommend a place like Tempero Caseiro. The staff speaks mostly Portuguese (although they do have an English menu), are super friendly and the food is cheap and tasty.
Fun day trips from Tavira
Tavira is a good base for a vacation in the Algarve because you can make many fun day trips from here.
Only half an hour’s drive from Tavira is the capital of the Algarve: Faro. In Faro, you will find several beautiful buildings, a cozy harbor, and many interesting churches.
Tavira is less than 30 kilometers from the Spanish border and after only half an hour’s drive, you are in beautiful Andalusia. Here lies one of the most beautiful cities in Spain: Seville. Visit the beautiful Royal Palace of Seville, the cathedral, the famous Plaza de España and wander the streets in search of the tastiest tapas.
Loulé is a town in the countryside of the Algarve, northwest of Faro. The biggest eye-catcher in Loulé is the beautiful market hall from 1903, which has an oriental style. Head here especially on Saturdays to see the market in full swing.
How to get to Tavira?
Tavira can be reached by car, train, or airport transfer.
Tavira is easily accessible by car from all over the Algarve. It is not far from the A22 (this is a toll road). In addition, the N125 also runs right through the city.
Parking is free at various places near the center, for example at Rue George Rosado or along the river at the Ponte de Santiago.
Travel to Tavira by public transport
Tavira has two train stations (Tavira and Porta Nova) and is therefore easily accessible from Faro. However, the trains in the Algarve don’t run very often (sometimes only once every two or three hours), so plan your trip in advance on the website of CP (Comboios de Portugal).
Tickets can be purchased online, via the app (at least fifteen minutes before departure), or at the station. Is there no counter open? You can also buy a ticket from the conductor.
Do you just need to get from the airport to Tavira? Booking an airport transfer from Faro Airport to Tavira is really easy. This will drop you off in front of your accommodation.
Where to stay in Tavira
Tavira is a wonderful place for a holiday in the Algarve. What are the best places to stay in Tavira? A few recommendations:
- Bea’s Bed & Breakfast – perfect B&B for solo travelers or couples in the center of Tavira.
- São Paulo Boutique Hotel – beautiful boutique hotel with luxurious rooms and a swimming pool close to the beautiful Jardim da Alagoa.
- Calcada Guesthouse – nicely decorated guest house in an old house in the center of Tavira. With cozy communal area and a large terrace.
Would you like to check it out yourself? Check Booking.com for an overview of all available accommodations in Tavira.
Book a trip to the Algarve
Do you fancy a trip to the Algarve? These websites are useful for booking your trip.
- For a vacation in the Algarve, you fly to Faro Airport. Check Skyscanner to find the cheapest tickets.
- Prefer sustainable travel? Traveling by train is of course also possible! You can reach Portugal by train from everywhere in Europe. It might take a while, but it’s a great and relaxing way to travel. Check Rail Europe for timetables and prices.
- A rental car gives you complete freedom during a vacation in the Algarve. Check Discover Cars and Rental Cars to find the best deals.
- You can book a lot of fun tours in the Algarve. For example, jeep safaris, kayaking, or boat trips. Check Get Your Guide for all possibilities and prices.
Read more about the Algarve and Portugal
Planning a trip to the Algarve? With these travel guides you will learn even more about this beautiful region:
On this website, you can also find a lot of information about traveling to Portugal. For example, check out these articles:
- Silves, the oldest town in the Algarve
- The best things to do in Albufeira, Portugal
- The most beautiful places in Aljezur
In addition, I regularly share fun travel stories and tips for the most beautiful destinations in my monthly newsletter. Subscribe here.
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